Scout Elf Shortage

Carter, the elf who oversees the mail room with Ms. Claus, hung up his hat and put on a green plastic visor. Since most letters sent to Santa arrive during the months of October, November, and December, only a handful of elves now manned the tables sorting the mail.

Walking into the room he asked, “Do you have all the letters with requests for Scout Elves separated from the rest?”

“Just finished a few moments ago. We have them all sorted in stacks by country on the table to the right of Ms. Claus’s desk,” Stamper said. “We’re working on ‘sensitive letters’ for Ms. Claus and her assistant Sophia now.

As Carter walked up to the table, he heard the door to the mail room open. Looking back, he saw Ms. Claus enter. Grabbing an apron from the rack to protect her dress, she said, “Good afternoon everyone.”

In unison all the elves in the room responded, “Good afternoon Ms. Claus.”

“I think you should see this,” Carter said looking at Anya as she headed toward her desk, tying the apron.

“What are all of these letters?” she asked surprised.

“We were noticing a lot of letters asking for Scout Elves and thought we better separate them out for Santa. I thought you’d like to see them before we call him.”

“That’s quite a few. Many more than usual for this time of year.”

“I was thinking the same thing. Ever since 2004, when some of the Scout Elves started staying in the homes with the children, the requests have increased a lot,” Carter responded.

“Well we need to get Santa in here to see these. Call Telsa, our communication receptionist, and ask her to contact Santa. We need him in the mail room.”

“No problem,” Carter said as he hit the intercom button.

“Ask her to call Birdie as well. I’m sure Santa will also want to talk with the elf in charge of the Scout Elves.”

“You got it!”

As Ms. Claus looked over the letters with Carter, the door soon opened again. “Telsa said you wanted to see me. Is there an issue?” Walking over to Anya, I gave her a quick kiss on the check and then noticed stacks of mail.

“Yes,” Anya responded giving my arm a squeeze. “The elves have gone through all the letters we received since Christmas, and these are all the ones we found requesting a Scout Elf, or Elf on the Shelf as the children call them,” Anya said pointing to the stacks on the table.

“Wow! I don’t think we have enough Scout Elves to fill all these requests,” I stated while scratching my head. “I need to talk with Birdie.”

“I thought you might. Telsa is going to have Birdie . . . “

Before Ms. Claus could finish, Birdie entered the mail room. “What can I do for you Ms. Claus and Santa?”

With both my arms outstretched, I nodded toward the table, and instructed, “Look at all these letters from children requesting a Scout Elf for next Christmas.”

“Oh my!” she exclaimed. “That is quite a few requests. I could not possibly fill all of them with the elves I have now.”

“That’s what I feared. Is there any way to find enough elves and get them trained in time for the season?” I asked.

“Well I could visit Korvatunturi Mountain in Lapland, Finland where most of the elves live. I might be able to find enough of them willing to come to work at the North Pole.”

“Getting the elves is only part of the problem. Would you be able to train them all in time?” Anya asked.

“Since we found out about the shortage so early in the year, if we can get the elves to move here by the end of March, I should have plenty of time to get them trained.”

“That is a lot of ifs. You know how anxious I get as the Christmas season draws closer. Getting everything done in time, worries me,” I stated.

“Santa you know that it always works out in the end?” Anya remarked. “The elves always come through for you. You have to trust Birdie. If she can’t make it happen, no one can.”

“You are right, but I never want to disappoint a child.” Looking at Birdie, I continued, “I guess before I get too worried, we should see if you can find enough elves to cover these requests.”

“I can leave this afternoon to find some elves if you would like,” Birdie responded.

“I think that is a good idea. Then find me as soon as you return.”

“I will most certainly do that,” Birdie said as she walked toward the door.

After Birdie left, Anya walked over and gave me a much-needed hug. “Santa, I’m sure Birdie will be able to find enough elves to fulfill all the children’s wishes.”

“I sure hope so!”

*     *    *    *    *    *

A few days later, Bernard, my head elf, and I were making some adjustments to the train production equipment, when he asked, “Is something on your mind today Santa? You seem lost in thought.”

“I’m getting nervous. Birdie left four days ago to try to find enough new elves to fill all the requests we have for Scout Elves. I expected her to only be gone for a couple of days.”

“I’m sure she will be back soon. You know she also has family there and probably took some time to visit them.” Bernard, picking up a ¾ inch wrench, continued, “I have this under control. Why don’t you go over to the kitchen and see if they have some fresh baked cookies? I’m sure Ms. Claus would understand.”

“That’s a good idea. I’m really not much help around here today.”

The scent of cinnamon and vanilla filled the air as I approached the kitchen. Before opening the door, I heard someone call, “Santa,” from the area of the sleigh barn.

Turning to my left, I felt a smile growing on my face. “Birdie! You’re back!”

“I landed just a few minutes ago and was heading to your office.”

“Did you have any luck?” Forgetting about the cookies, we started walking toward the administration building.

“I did. There were too many elves who wanted to help, so I decided to talk to each of them and pick the very best for the job of Scout Elf.”

“Amazing!” I exclaimed as my spirits began to rise.

“We’ll have enough to cover the children’s requests with enough extra just in case you get more letters,” she said as I opened the door to my office.

“That is such good news,” I said sitting in the chair while Birdie settled on the couch. “But will you have enough time to train them?”

“I’d be lying if I said it was going to be easy. The basics of teaching them to listen and watch what is going on, and reporting back to you each night will be a piece of cake. Training them to control their magical abilities in order to manipulate what the children see and experience will not be as easy.”

“But you can do it, can’t you?”

“If I have some of the older Scout Elves help with the training, we should have them ready to go by November.”

“When will you start?”

“They will be arriving next week to begin training.”

“That is wonderful,” I said sighing with relief. “I can’t tell you and the elves how much this means to me. I sometimes wish the Scout Elf, Syrup, had never gone into that house years ago to stay with the children. It was so much easier when they just peeked in the windows to see what the children were doing.”

“And we could do it with fewer elves. However, since they stay in the homes, you have learned a lot more about what children are doing and what their wishes are for Christmas.”

Seeing relief on my face, Birdie continued, “Santa, we all get overwhelmed sometimes at the tasks staring us right in our faces. What sets some of us apart from others is that we aren’t afraid to ask for help when we need it.”

“You are so right!” I exclaimed. “I do not know what I would do without all the help I get from elves. It feels so good to know that when I start stressing over getting things finished on time, I have so many others ready and willing to help me out.”

Santa’s Notes:
To learn more about the ‘sensitive letters’ that were mentioned in this story, please check out “Sensitive Letters”, which was posted on November 18, 2019.

To read more about Scout Elves, please check out “Scout Elves Are Coming”, which was posted on November 4, 2019.

To read more about the mail room, please check out “Translating Letters For Santa”, which was posted on August 19, 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 from Hibiscus in SL

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