Sitting on the couch in my office, Ms. Claus waited patiently as I organized my files for our weekly production meeting. Hearing loud voices coming from the conference room, Anya and I gave one another a worried look. “The elves are upset over something. We better go.”
“I’m ready,” Anya said and we headed into the meeting.
As we entered, I was shocked to see many of our workshop supervisors and managers pointing fingers at each other. “Oh my stars, what’s going on here?”
After a brief moment of silence, several of the elves continued to shout at each other. Raising my hand to quiet everyone, I asked, “Bernard, what’s going on?”
As Bernard began, Ms. Claus and I took our seats. “Well Santa,” he stated, “it’s only one thing. All of us are worried that we won’t have enough materials to make the toys needed for the children this year.”
The elves nodded in agreement; some even folded their arms on their chests. “I’ve been watching this situation closely,” I remarked, “and you are right. We are facing a shortage of materials for the first time in North Pole history. Ms. Claus and I believe, however, that we have a solution.”
“Is this because of the pandemic?” Frolik, the elf in charge of the Sports and Outdoor Activity Workshop, asked.
“I’m afraid so. I was talking with some of our suppliers yesterday and they told me that many people are still afraid of returning to work,” I explained, “even though most companies are doing what they can to make it as safe as possible.”
“Just get vaccinated or wear a mask when around people, like we do, and it’ll be fine, right Santa?” Patches asked.
Grinning at my supervisor for the Doll and Dollhouse Workshop I replied. “If only it was that simple, but it isn’t. Recently I discussed this with two of our suppliers, and they explained that the bigger obstacle seems to be the shortage of truck drivers to move their products. Even the commercial toy makers are having the same problem.”
“What are we supposed to do then?” Bernard demanded as he looked around at all the other elves.
“As I said earlier, Ms. Claus and I do have a plan. First, all of you must send Bernard a report estimating how many of the toys, clothes, and shoes, you think you can make given the supplies we have or know we can get. Then Ms. Claus, Booker, and Sophia will examine the Nice List for those who are in need.”
“So, you’re going old school?” Hobbs from Arts and Crafts inquired.
“I guess you can say that,” I said, nodding in agreement. “Children in need should be our priority.”
“Santa, I’m not sure I understand,” Patches stated as many of the elves shook their heads in confusion.
“Well back in the first century when I began, I only gave gifts to families who had very little. They received things like food, clothes, and shoes. I have followed that idea since then.”
Woody, the manager of the Wooden Toy Workshop, raised his hand and questioned, “Are you saying we should ignore the children on the Nice List unless they have a need?”
“Not at all. I’m saying those in need should have priority for things we can make that will help them. Yet we will still give the children on the Nice List something. It just might not be everything they wanted.”
While the elves commented loudly, Anya stood and waited till everyone in the room grew quiet. “Remember,” she announced, “parents often add things under the tree that are not from Santa, but let the children think they are from him. Although,” she added, “they may have the same problem finding toys as we have finding supplies.”
“As always, you hit the mark!” I exclaimed as Ms. Claus returned to her seat.” I think we should make sure the materials we can get go to clothes and shoes, as well as toys that have some value in helping children learn.”
Parlor raised both hands, and without waiting suggested, “So games would make great gifts this year! After all, if the boys and girls are not receiving as many gifts this year, maybe a good board or card game could bring the families closer together on Christmas by giving them a reason to sit down and enjoy each other’s company while playing.”
Smiling at my Board and Card Games Workshop manager, I exclaimed, “Parlor, I could not agree more! I believe educating families about the true nature of the toy shortage as well as how they can turn what appears to be a bad thing into a good thing will be necessary.”
“I have a better idea,” Anya began as she looked at each of the 17 elves sitting at the table. “Let’s not worry about helping parents understand what the material or toy shortage will do to Christmas. Instead, I propose we spend our time helping everyone return to the true meaning of Christmas!”
Every single elf, including myself, stood and applauded. As the room returned to silence, I whispered into Anya’s ear, “Love the way you think,” and kissed her cheek. “Brilliant!” I announced turning to face all my managers and supervisors. “Reminding children that it is not about what or how much you get on Christmas, but what you can do or give to someone else will make a difference in bringing peace and comfort to this crazy world.”
“Love. That’s what it’s all about,” Ms. Claus declared, giving my hand a squeeze. “Let’s teach everyone to care for each other and help those who are less fortunate. Once they realize how good the act of giving makes them feel, I don’t think they will stop,” she finished.
Standing I announced, “Okay, I think we have a plan to deal with this shortage. We have less than three months to pull this all together.” After all the supervising elves left the conference room, I turned to Anya and gave her a hug. “This may turn out to be one of the best Christmases ever!”
Notes 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 . . .
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Illustration by Dave Granlund