With the scent of the pancakes, chocolate chip and blueberry, still hanging in the air from breakfast, I walked toward the sink with my dishes and told Ms. Claus, “Anya, we need to check up on the children in Cincinnati today and I thought the Cincinnati Museum Center would be a good place to go. They have the Duke Energy Children’s Museum and several new exhibits that have recently opened. It should be busy with many of our little friends to watch, not to mention that we get to see some fun things there.”
“That sounds fantastic! Can we can see their Egypt exhibit?”
“Yes, you know I love their special exhibits.”
With Anya in agreement, I called over to the reindeer barn. “Highstep, Ms. Claus and I are heading to Cincinnati today. Would you get a sleigh and reindeer together for us?”
Anya, while cleaning off the table, interrupted, “Can you tell Highstep I’d prefer to use my sleigh, the Dulcet, for the trip?”
“Sure. Highstep, Ms. Claus would like to take the Dulcet, if you don’t mind. Would you radio Carl and let him know we are coming down today.”
“Be sure to ask him if we can use his car to get to the museum?”
“I can do that. See you in a little bit.”
Carl is a J.A.T.S., ‘Jolly Assistant To Santa.’ He is one of my Scout Elves, keeping a watchful eye on the children in his area to see if they are being naughty or nice. J.A.T.S. also look like me, and during the Christmas season they will meet with children, when I cannot be there. As you know, while I can get to every house in one night, I cannot be in more than one place at a time.
I also use the help of my J.A.T.S. to get around when I visit outside of Christmas morning. When I’m delivering presents, all air traffic is stopped so that I can get everywhere I need to be. But the rest of the year they cannot stop all the planes from flying just for me. So in order to get to different places to see the children, J.A.T.S. will let me use their car.
As I moved towards the door, I reminded Anya, “Don’t forget, it is summer down there.”
Turning to look at me, Anya said, “I know. The weather report it said it will be in the 90s and very humid. I’m going to wear shorts with my Rose Lavelle shirt to show my support of women’s sports. After all, she was on the team that just won back to back World Cups.”
“Sounds good. I’m going to go change now and then head down to the reindeer barns.”
“I won’t be far behind you,” Anya said, filling the sink with water to clean the dishes.
With my warm weather clothes under my heavy winter coat, hat, and gloves, I headed outside. Just beyond the pasture where many of the younger reindeer were playing, I entered the barn through a single red door trimmed in green. Inside the barn, I could smell the reindeer food, which consists of lichen, which is a type of moss, grass and other plants. The sweet scent reminded me of the flowers we would smell once we arrived in Cincinnati.
From down the row of stalls on my right, Highstep, the elf in charge of the reindeer, hollered, “Hey Santa. It will be just a few more minutes before the reindeer are harnessed to the sleigh.”
“Which reindeer are you using?”
“I was going to use Clarice and Olive. Is that okay with you?”
“Absolutely, they are two of our best reindeer.”
I was chatting with Vixen in her stall, when I heard “Santa” in stereo. “Did you two rehearse that?” I asked. Anya approached from the left, ready for our trip, while Highstep approached from the right.
“I’m ready and can’t wait,” Anya said smiling.
“Sleigh and reindeer are waiting outside,” Highstep chimed in. “I talked with Carl, and he will be waiting for you, and he said using his car would not be a problem.”
Helping Anya into her sleigh, I said, “Highstep, thanks for getting the sleigh and team together for our trip.”
“My pleasure Santa, enjoy your day.” Highstep responded as he began spreading a bale of hay in a reindeer stall.
With that Ms. Claus took the reins of her sleigh, and guided it out of the eastern tunnel and headed for the Greater Cincinnati area.
When we arrived at Carl’s, Anya landed the sleigh alongside his barn, and before either Anya or I could get out one foot out of the sleigh we heard, “Santa, Ms. Claus, so good to see you again! I have the car all ready for you.”
“Thanks Carl. There is a lot to do today,” I said. Opening the car door for Anya I looked at Carl, “If you decide to put the reindeer in the pasture with your horses, you may want to keep an eye on them. You know how they love to tease horses about not being able to fly.”
“No problem, they will be just fine. I will see you when you get back and have the sleigh and reindeer ready for your return trip to the North Pole. Oh, and I do have some updates on the children I’ve been watching for you. I’ll give you all my notes when you return as well.”
As we drove off, I saw Carl in the rear-view mirror, tending to the reindeer. Anya and I looked at each other and smiled in anticipation of the perfect day ahead of us.
When we arrived at the Cincinnati Museum Center, it was getting close to lunch time. Knowing most of the children would be taking time to eat and rest we decided to visit Egypt first.
The exhibit allowed us to travel back in time to over 5,000 years ago. We were able to explore the realities of the daily life of one of the most advanced civilizations along the River Nile, in ancient Egypt.
After seeing the Egypt exhibit, we walked around the museums watching children and taking notes. We spent the majority of our time in the children’s museum, where most of the children were playing. There were so many nice children exploring and learning, that we filled four notebooks with our comments.
Later that night, after our return from Cincinnati, sitting by the fire place, Anya said, “Did I ever tell you how wonderful it is to visit places like we did today? And that exhibit on Egypt, all I can say is Wow! What fun learning about the Pharaohs and the common people from that time. I learned so much about them today.”
“I could not agree more. And we saw plenty of our young friends, who were so busy having fun, that not one of them even noticed we were there!”
Note from Santa: 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