The White Feather

I sat behind my desk staring nervously at my computer screen. When I needed to talk with members of my J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants To Santa) Corps in the past, I would take a sleigh to meet with them in person. Because of the COVID-19 virus, I was now meeting virtually using my computer.

My communication director, Telsa, had set up the meeting with a couple dozen of my helpers. Not knowing a lot of how virtual meetings worked, she assured me that it was like a conference call, only we would all be able to see one another.

Looking at the clock on the wall, I clicked the icon Telsa put on my computer and the meeting started. I watched as members of the Corps began showing up on my screen. “Welcome to the North Pole, Santas,” I began. Hearing me address them as Santa brought smiles to their faces. “I’m new at this video meeting thing,” I explained, “so I hope you will be patient if I mess something up.”

While all the Santas chuckled as they nodded in agreement, I continued. “I thought today we could address any issues you had this past Christmas before you forget about them. That way we can resolve the problem before the next season. So, let’s begin.”

Watching the images on my screen, I noticed one of my workers raise his hand. “Santa Art, do you have something you wish to talk about?”

“I do Santa, and I think maybe other Corps members may have run into this as well.” Santa Art straightened up in his chair and leaned in towards his video cam. “I was wondering if any of the children have ever caught you delivering their presents.”

“Ho Ho Ho,” I responded. “It happens more often than you might think. Why do you ask?”

“Well Santa, I have had some children wonder what would happen if they ever saw you.”

Not waiting for me to call on him, Santa Pat broke in, “I’ve had children tell me that if they catch Santa leaving their presents, he will take all of them back!”

“Whoa!” I shouted as the discussion erupted with everyone trying to talk at the same time. “Let’s slow down. One at a time, please. Santa Michael, I saw your hand go up. Do you have something to add?”

“Yes I do,” he answered quickly. “One child told me that you would sprinkle pepper in his eyes if he was caught spying on you. And another told me that Mr. Sandman would visit and throw sand in her eyes if she was discovered peeking in on Santa.”

Shaking my head, I responded, “Where do these children get their imaginations? Let me assure you that nothing like that happens to the boys and girls who catch me delivering presents.”

Looking relieved, Santa Art pushed his glasses back up his nose and asked, “Then what does happen?”

“As I said before this occurs more often than you realize, and when I do catch children watching me, I invite them into the room.”

Surprised, Santa Jay asked, “Do you give them their gifts to open?”

Wagging my finger from side to side, I explained, “No, I would never do that. Instead, I take them out to the kitchen and we get some cookies and milk.”

“But they already left you cookies and milk, didn’t they?”

“Oh the milk and cookies are not for me. It’s for them,” I informed the group. “While I unpack the toys, they sit on the couch, watch, and enjoy their snack. When I finish setting out the presents, I join in and relax. Then I allow them to ask me anything they want about the North Pole or myself.”

Looking a bit confused, Santa Ed asked, “You answer all their questions? Do you tell them your secrets?”

“Of course I do! I would never tell a child anything that was not the truth.”

I could see that many of the members were scratching their heads. “Santa Tom, do you have a question?”

Santa Tom squirmed in his chair for a moment and inquired, “If this happens often, and you tell them anything they want to know, why don’t they say anything to us? Well…. at least no one has told me about any secrets, and from the look on everyone’s face, I’m not alone.”

“I guess this is a good time to tell you another secret,” I whispered. Reaching over to my desk I picked up a small black leather pouch. “I keep the magic here in my pouch.” I opened the bag and pulled out a metal box, opened it, and removed one small white feather.

“Your secret is a feather!” exclaimed Santa Art.

“It is a special white feather from an Ivory Gull that only lives at the North Pole. You see, after they ask their questions, I drop the feather and when it hits the floor, the children will be back in their beds sound asleep. When they wake up on Christmas morning, they will have no memory of catching me putting presents under their trees,” I explained.

Wanting to be sure he heard me correctly, Santa Jay asked, “They don’t remember anything from your visit?”

“Not a thing.” I leaned back in my chair and let the details sink in with the J.A.T.S. After a few seconds I continued, “Some children have caught me more than once, and they still do not remember anything.”

Clasping his hands together and resting them on his bulging belly, Santa Tom asked, “So do you clean up the cookies and milk before you leave?”

“Actually, I don’t. While the children are too excited about their gifts to notice anything like that, I leave the extra plates and glasses, and even the feather on the floor, for the parents to find.”

In disbelief, Santa Pat raised his hands toward the ceiling and shrugged his shoulders. “For the parents? That does not make any sense.”

“Over the years, I’ve come to learn that many parents begin to recall things about their youth. Though their memories are not as sharp, often when they see the extra plates and glasses, and the feather on the floor, it sparks something in their minds. This reaction brings back their favorite Christmas memories. For a moment, many think they remember catching me delivering their toys.”

“Is this to help them feel like a child again and enjoy Christmas with their families even more?” Santa Ed asked.

“It is. The smiles on their faces and those of their children tell me that they are happy and that makes me smile as well.”

“Can we share the story of The White Feather with the children?” Santa Michael asked.

“Yes you can, and if any of you ever have questions about it, please let me know.”

Santa Michael cleared his throat and announced, “I think I can speak for everyone that this was a unique experience. I never dreamed you’d share one of your well-kept secrets with us.”

“Well thank you Santa Michael, it was my pleasure, but keep in mind….”

As I was about to finish, Santa Pat interrupted nervously, “Just one more thing, Santa. How do you know about the reactions of parents and others in the families you visit at Christmas?”

Smiling, I glanced at the clock and realized I had about fifteen minutes to get to my meeting with Bernard. “Well this has been quite an experience,” I said satisfied. Realizing, however, that my helpers expected an answer, I added, “Though Santa Pat brings up an interesting point, some of my secrets are mine to keep. After all, the magic of Christmas is for everyone, even members of J.A.T.S. Till our next virtual meeting, stay safe.”

As everyone waved and said good bye, I let out one last ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and clicked the End Session button.

Notes From Santa

To read more about J.A.T.S. please check out: Santa’s Summer Exploration posted on August 5, 2019; and  J.A.T.S. Training posted on March 2, 2020;

Thanks to Stephen Gillham, Triangle Santa, for the foundation of the White Feather Story 

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 . . .

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