Troubling Times at the North Pole.
Now back at the North Pole, the entire town is fully prepared to welcome home their native son. The lights are all hung, the trees all trimmed. The “Welcome Home” banner hangs proudly over the town square. In the distance, the faint sound of sleigh bells cues the community band director to ready his troops to commence the celebration music. In just a few moments, St. Nicholas and his faithful reindeer would touchdown at center stage, ending yet another annual round-the-world excursion. The crowd broke into a wild applause as Santa stepped from his sleigh.
Yet this year, as I told you earlier, was different. As much as the elves had wanted Santa’s welcome home party to be special, it was pretty obvious to most observers that St. Nick was not smiling. If anything, it looked more like a scowl.
“Howdy, Santa…welcome back!” Sam the Elf calls out in his ever-so-jolly high-pitched voice. Sam has served as head elf for nearly five hundred years now and everyone knows that if anyone can cheer up Santa, it certainly will be ‘ole Sam.
“Made good time tonight, Santa. It’s only a few minutes after midnight!”
But nothing Sam could say this evening could help cut through the fog surrounding Santa’s mood. No, indeed. Santa was in no mood tonight for cordial how-do-you-dos. Not even Mrs. Claus’ warm welcome could overcome the hard cold fact that Santa had brought back with him over 25,000 unwrapped packages this year. Think of it! Over 25,000 hand-crafted gifts, specially designed by Santa himself for 25,000 special children. All of them refused. All of them not necessary. No sir. Not needed anymore. These 25,000 kids wanted better gifts than these, and sure enough, their parents made sure they got ‘em.
Everyone at the North Pole realized that business was declining. Some elves secretly feared layoffs, and now that the Christmas season was finally over, the hard times were most likely here to stay. With 25,000 returned gifts, most of the elves knew that things would be hard around the workshop this year. Yet to be honest, while everyone was fearful of the situation, no one, not even Sam, expected to hear the words that came out of dear old Santa’s mouth that dreadful Christmas night.
“I’m through! Finished. Done.” Santa complained. “Christmas is just not the same, anymore. I’m not the same anymore. It just doesn’t matter. To them. To me. I quit!”
Mrs. Claus tried to calm the situation with a few kind words.
“Listen, get this straight, mamma.” Santa exclaimed. “I’m never going to do another Christmas! And that’s final!”
Santa walked right past the community elf band without saying a word. He huffed and puffed, and mumbled and grumbled himself right past the twenty-five foot Christmas tree and right into his house. From there he pulled off his famous red coat and sash, threw it on the kitchen floor, walking right by Mrs. Claus’ fabulous home-cooked ‘Welcome Home’ Christmas breakfast. With a mighty slam, the bedroom door swung shut. Everyone and everything at the North Pole stood quiet and still. Nothing was stirring, not even a mouse.
“He’ll be better in the morning, Sam.” Mrs. Claus whispered. “Don’t worry. I’ll talk to him. It’ll be OK. You elves go ahead and come on inside. Help yourself to Christmas breakfast. Let me go talk to him.” Mrs. Claus headed toward the kitchen. Before she went inside she turned briefly toward the crowd and waved, “Goodnight, Sam. Goodnight, all. Merry Christmas.”
Mrs. Claus took off her beautiful full-length Christmas apron and made her way quietly into the house, stopping only briefly in the kitchen to pickup Santa’s coat and sash. She took one last look to see if all the breakfast was ready to serve, and then walked through the living room, up the spiral staircase, and then toward the bedroom door. With a smile and a little wave, she looked back at some of the elves who had gathered in the living room below. At the foot of the stairs, Sam waved goodnight. The rest of the elves stood there, wondering what tomorrow would bring.
As we celebrate the Advent season, I’d like to share with you one of my personal favorites, a Christmas-time short story I call…Joy Comes in the Morning: A Short Story for Christmas-Time Reading. You might want to bookmark our homepage to keep the whole story in one place! Enjoy!
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