Returning From Vacation

“Welcome back Santa and Ms. Claus,” Highstep said as Ms. Claus landed her sleigh, the Dulcet, just inside the east entrance to the North Pole.

“It’s good to be back home again,” I replied getting out of the sleigh.

“Any issues with the reindeer,” Highstep asked as he began to unhitch the team.

“Not at all. Clarice and Olive were great. Your training has paid off.”

Sensing a bit of uneasiness in my voice, Ms. Claus said, “Santa, I can tell you are anxious to talk with Bernard and catch up on things. So, if you want, I can get a couple of elves to help me unload the sleigh and take our things back to the house. That way you can go right over to Bernard’s office.”

“That would be great. Thanks Anya!”

Moving through the barn I suddenly found myself just standing there, taking in the scent of the barn and reindeer. Thinking about how much I had missed the scent of home, Highstep opened the door, to bring Clarice and Olive in. Seeing me standing in the middle of the barn, he said, “Is everything okay Santa?”

“Just lost my focus for a minute,” I explained smiling, and started walking toward the office again.

Reaching for the handle to open the door to the administration building, I heard, “Santa! You’re home. We all sure missed you and Ms. Claus.”

Looking back over my left shoulder, I saw Chumley heading toward me. “Chumley, good to see you again. We missed all of you as well.”

“Did you visit Ben & Jerry’s?”

“We did and I tasted your Chunky Monkey ice cream.”

“It’s really good isn’t it?”

“It is. They had big posters of the top ten flavors, lining one of the walls. I took a picture of Chunky Monkey for you. After we settle back in, I’ll bring it to you.”

“Wow, thanks Santa,” Chumley shouted as he skipped off singing, “I’m getting a picture of Chunky Monkey, I’m getting a picture of Chunky Monkey, I’m getting a picture . . .”

Feeling delighted to have made Chumley so happy, I entered the building and headed toward Bernard’s office. Looking in, I saw something I never thought I’d see. Bernard was lying on his couch, sound asleep.

Deciding to let him rest, I turned to leave when I heard, “Santa?. . . Santa! When did you get back? I was just . . .”

“It’s okay Bernard. I left you with a lot of extra work, so I understand you wanting to get a little nap in. I’ve done that many times myself.”

“To tell you the truth Santa, I was a little bored.”

“Bored? You’re joking right?”

“I’m not kidding. When I told the department heads that you and Ms. Claus were taking a little vacation before the season, Fizzlepop, your elf in charge of the electronic toy shop, decided to do more. As he put it, ‘I think we should all pick it up a bit. That way we can show Santa we are up to the task when he needs it.’”

“All the supervisors agreed, without hesitation, and it has been a pretty easy three weeks. That took a lot of pressure off me, and found I did not have as much to do.”

“I’m really proud of everyone. Not just the supervisors, but all of the elves.  But I have to ask, what did you do with all your extra time?”

“Remember how you were concerned about the production line for the L.O.L. Surprise! Bigger Surprise?”

“I do. I’m concerned we won’t be able to make enough for all the children who want one.”

“Well, Quinten, from over in Research and Development, worked on the line with me. After some adjustments we were able to increase production by 25%!”

“Wow! That is a load off my mind. Sounds like you made great use of your extra time.”

“Thanks Santa. You know none of us like it when we can’t make enough of a popular toy.”

“That’s my favorite part of all the elves and dwarfs here at the North Pole. Sounds like everything is under control. If there is nothing that needs my immediate attention, I guess I should go help Ms. Claus unpack.”

“I think we are good Santa, but you will probably need to spend some extra time in the mail room tomorrow, to catch up on the children’s letters. The Mail Elves were pretty busy while you were gone. The children are starting to make their lists for Christmas.”

“I may read some tonight. See you in the morning, Bernard,” I said turning towards the door.

Walking into our apartment, I was greeted with the question, “It was all under control wasn’t it,” from Ms. Claus.

“It was as if they did better without me,” I said as I sat in my favorite easy chair.

“Oh Santa. You know the reason it all went so well. They like you too much to disappoint you.”

“I know. I’m feeling so loved right now. I can’t wait to share that love with all the children at Christmas. I guess the old saying, ‘You get what you give,’ is still true.”

Note from Santa: I hope you enjoyed today’s story. Next Monday I will tell you how Dasher got his name and on my team. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until next week . .

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