Popping my head into the kitchen, the aroma was amazing. “Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies make my mouth water,” I announced loudly while patting my stomach.
“Don’t want to disappoint you,” Doheny said, slipping me a cookie. “Don’t worry, Santa. I won’t tell Ms. Claus.”
“Thanks Doheny,” I replied. Taking a bite, I savored the taste of the cookie and then whispered, “That’s why you’re my favorite baker at the North Pole!”
Turning to leave the kitchen, I could feel that someone was watching me. As I looked around, the only elf I saw was Doheny, and she was busy making cookies. “I must be afraid Anya is going to catch me,” I thought to myself.
Turning left down the hall, I headed to the mail room to see if any important letters had arrived. Knowing that Anya might be in the mail room, I fluffed my beard and dusted any cookie crumbs off my shirt before opening the door.
Entering the mail room, Carter, the elf in charge, said, “Santa, good to see you. Are you looking for your special letters?”
“I am Carter. Is Ms. Claus here?”
“No, you just missed her, but her assistant Sophia has your letters. She is over there,” Carter replied, pointing to the back right corner of the room.”
“Thanks Carter,” I responded as I headed in that direction.
Looking up from her work, Sophia smiled and handed me an envelope. “I just got the letters together for you. There are only two today.”
“It amazes me how you can find these special letters so fast with all the mail we get at the North Pole,” I replied, taking the envelope from her.
“Ms. Claus and I worked hard on our system, and it is quick and efficient, even if I do say so myself.”
“I could not agree more. You’re my favorite special letters elf.”
As soon as I said that, I again felt like someone was watching me and looked around the room.
“Something wrong Santa?” Sophia asked. “You look a little lost.”
“I just keep getting this feeling that someone is watching me.”
“Just your imagination, I’m sure,” Sophia said as she went back to her work.
“You’re probably right. If Ms. Claus comes back, tell her I will be in my office going over these letters.”
Arriving at my office, I stopped and looked down the hall in both directions before entering. Not seeing anyone, I shrugged my shoulders. “If eating a cookie without Anya knowing is going to make me feel like this, I think I have to stop sneaking extra cookies.”
Sitting at my desk, I started reading one of the sensitive letters when Bernard entered. “Sorry to bother you Santa, but I thought I should update you on the bicycle workshop.”
“No problem. Did you fix the issue?”
“Wheelie and I worked all morning on it. Not only did we fix it, but we also made some improvements. The workshop is back on line and on track to meet its quotas.”
I rocked back in my chair and responded, “That’s great news Bernard. I don’t know what I’d do without your management skills. That’s probably why you’re my favorite.”
As soon as I said that, both Bernard and I heard whispering and mumbling coming from the hall. When Bernard opened the door, he found Brixton and Stanley, workers from the stuffed animal workshop, standing together just outside my office.
“Were you two listening to our conversation?” Bernard asked.
His stern expression embarrassed the two elves. “Sort of,” responded Stanley, his face as red as an apple. “You see Brixton and I decided to find out who was Santa’s favorite elf, and have been following him today to see if we could figure it out.”
“What!” I exclaimed. “I guess it was not my imagination that someone was watching me all day after all. The two of you were spying on me.”
Not wanting to be known as a spy, Brixton was quick to respond, “We were not spying, just curious.”
“Did you get your question answered?” I asked.
Stanley looked down and in a low voice responded, “Not really. Seems every elf you talked to today was your favorite.”
Smiling, I paused before pointing to the couch. “Have a seat.” I then swiveled in my chair to face the two elves and continued, “If you had come to me and asked, I would have told you the answer. You see, my favorite is Ms. Claus, but she is not an elf. Honestly, I like and appreciate all the elves.”
Brixton looked up for the first time since sitting down and asked, “If that is true, why did you tell so many elves that they were the best or your favorite today?”
“I’m not sure you realize this, but all elves at the North Pole have their own qualities and skills,” I explained. “When they use them to do something for me, I appreciate that. When I thank them, I always make sure that they hear me say what makes them my favorite. For instance, who’s the best cookie baker in the entire village?”
“Doheny!” yelled the two elves without any hesitation.
“Exactly,” I responded grinning. “So today when she gave me a chocolate chip cookie straight from the oven, I could truthfully say you’re my favorite cookie baker. I want her to feel good and continue using her special skill.”
Perking up, Stanley hesitated and then asked, “Does that mean Brixton and I are your favorites for something?”
“Why of course! Brixton you are the best at stuffing the animals, and Stanley, no one is better at sewing up the back of the animals than you are. That makes you both my favorites for your special talents.”
The two elves stood up together and said, “Santa we are sorry for following you, and especially for thinking you had favorites.”
Walking them to the door, I reminded them, “The next time you want to spy on me, just ask. I’ll always tell you the truth.”
“Thanks Santa. No more spying!” With that the two elves linked arms and laughed as they made their way back to the stuffed animal workshop feeling good about their special talents.
After the elves left my office, Bernard turned and said, “You’re the best at making everyone feel special Santa. It’s no wonder that all the children and elves love you so much!”
“Thanks Bernard, I appreciate that, but it’s not hard to compliment others as long as I see their value as children and elves.”
Notes From Santa
To read more about Sophia please check out: Ms. Claus Gets Some Help, which was posted on November 11, 2019; Sensitive Letters, which was posted on November 18, 2019; and A Little Bit of Elf Magic, which was posted on April 20, 2020;
To read more about Stanley and Brixton please check out: When Tempers Flare at the North Pole, which was posted on August 12, 2019;
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one next Monday. 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 . . .
Illustration by FireMane Studio