Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who's nice (and who's naughty)

I just stopped in at the North Pole for Mass and breakfast with my dear wife, then I'll be off again.

One thing people don't realize is that during the Christmas season I have so many visits to make - malls, parties, special events, breakfasts. Good thing with time displacement (don't ask me how it works!) I can be in so many places at once.

Besides visiting, I'm also doing some checking up on the nice and naughty lists - especially of the folks who are on the edge of switching from one list to another.

Yes, I'm checking up on some of you!

I see how you behave in the malls, standing in lines waiting to see me, when we visit. Are you behaving, or misbehaving?

I'm checking my list.

Even during the rest of the year I visit places. I might just be that fellow in the line behind you at the checkout. Or the man sitting on the bench watching you play games. Or the guy serving you in the cafeteria or in the restaurant.

Pout and fuss, throw a tantrum, yell at your sisters or brothers or parents - I might just see it. Be polite, be patient, help someone - I might just witness it.

And then perhaps I'll have to change my list.

So keep in mind that you never know if I'm watching!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving at the North Pole

A number of my Canadian and U.S. friends send me their Christmas lists early, and at the same time they wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. Some even just send me Thanksgiving greetings - and save their lists for later.

Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated in Canada (in October) and the United States (November). It is not a world-wide holiday like Christmas.

But that does not mean it is not celebrated here.

We have a number of American and Canadian elves, and they have their own gatherings and feasts. The often invite me - my belly is not just due to all those cookies at Christmas!

In their honor, we take the two days off. Thus yesterday we all relaxed. And Mrs. Claus and I went to three different Thanksgiving celebrations.

Let me tell you, at this time of the year, more than the turkey gets stuffed!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Priority Mail 5

I took a sip of my hot chocolate.

"Here's my problem, " I began. I get so many of these letters. The bag you saw me carrying is just a few days' worth, and as we get closer to the Christmas season, I get more and more."

She nodded.

"I want to give them the attention they need," I said. "Especially the ones I can respond to in some way."

"That's like you, Santa," Nendia squeaked.

"Ah, but with so many to read, it's hard to keep track of them all, to sort them out," I said. "That takes careful reading. That takes time. And ..."

I shrugged and help up my hands.

"And you have so many other things to do," she said.

"Exactly. You see it so clearly."

She smiled. But what can you do?" she asked slowly.

"I have been thinking this over. You gave me an idea."


"Yes. You."

I leaned toward her. "I need your help."

"Me? Help?"

"It suddenly hit me that I need someone who is careful, who takes the work seriously, to help me. You are just that sort of person."

"But...but, what can I do?"

"What I need is for someone to read all the letters, carefully read them all, then to sort them into requests I do something about, ones I can respond to directly or through one of my helpers, and, of course, the ones that need some special care."

I smiled.

"Will you help me?" I asked.

"I, I will do whatever you need, Santa."

"Wonderful. I knew I could count on you."

"But what about the legs?"

"Yes," I said, "it will be hard to find someone who takes as much care as you and does such a fine job. But I'm sure that we can train someone for that job. This special requests assignment requires someone who has shown those skills."

"Oh, she said, trying to keep her smile in check. "Yes. When do I start?"

"Why not today? I will have the mail elves clear a space for you and I'll have this sack delivered back there for you to get started. Come up with whatever system works best for you. Once you begin, we can meet on a regular basis so I can act on the requests as best I can."

She seemed dazed.

"And I'll make sure there are some cookies and hot chocolate every time we meet. Thank you for your help."

"I'm honored. Oh, yes, honored."

"Good. Now, when you finish your hot chocolate, go get your things from the doll workshop and head over to the mail center."

She gulped her hot chocolate, thanked me repeatedly, and hurried out. My dear wife came in.

"Don't they already sort the letter for you at the mail room?" she asked with a knowing smile.

"Yes, but now they won't have to. That will make it easier on them."

"And on Bucky and the other doll elves?"

"Perhaps. But I also think Nendia cares so much she will do a wonderful job,a and will enjoy it even more than making legs."

I sipped my hot chocolate. "But now I'd better head back to the mail room to let them know."

I picked up the sack of special needs letters to take them back.

"There are many kinds of special needs," my dear wife said. "The world is lucky to have such a caring rogue like you."

"And I'm lucky to have caring dears like you, and Nendia."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Priority Mail 4

"Some of them make requests for family and friends," I continued. "There are a lot of prayers for mothers and fathers in the military."

Nendia nodded.

"They ask for cures, or that loved ones come home, or that someone who has died will come back."

"You can't do those things," she said slowly.

"No. And that makes it hard," I said. "I try to answer them in some way."

Nendia sipped her hot chocolate.

"Do you write to them? Or visit them?"

"I have written to some. Sometimes I visit them in disguise, or I make sure I get a message to them through helpers. Or I talk to people who can help them. Sometimes, though ...." I held up my hands to show my helplessness.

"But now," I said, "this problem with Bucky."

She looked at me puzzled for a moment.

"Oh, too fast."


"She won't slow down."

She sipped her hot chocolate.

"Or maybe I'm not fast enough."

"I'm sure you do a good job."

"Oh, Santa, my legs are always exactly right. The best quality. Never a complaint. "

"Yes, I wouldn't be surprised."

"But ... maybe ...."

I smiled. "Try one of the cookies. My dear wife will be unhappy if she finds none of them have been nibbled."

Nendia took up one cookie and took a small bite. She smiled nervously and took another bite.

"They are good, aren't they?" I asked.

"Oh," she squeaked, "Yes. Very good."

She pushed the cookie into her mouth and chewed in an exaggerated way.

She sipped her hot chocolate to wash the cookies down, coughed, then looked at me seriously.

"Maybe you should put someone faster in charge of the legs," she said softly.

I smiled broadly.

"I'm not concerned about the speed at all. But I do have something in mind."

She looked at me quizzically. ...

(To be continued)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Priority Mail 3

We arrived at the big house - my house - though it took longer than normal. I had to keep slowing down and even stopping to let her rest and catch her breath. The poor dear.

When we walked in the door, my dear wife popped her head out of the kitchen.

"Oh, a visitor," she said brightly.

My lovely bride does love visitors. It gives her an excuse to fuss and offer treats - especially since I sometimes try to avoid both (even though I secretly enjoy them!).

"Ah, my dear, this is Nendia," I said. "You remember her - one of the talented doll elves."

"Of course," she said, taking my cue. "You do such a wonderful job."

"Legs are important," Nendia said, beaming.

"I invited her over for some hot chocolate," I said. "We have to talk over some business."

Nendia smiled even more broadly.

"Oh, of course," my darling wife said, nodding sagely. Then she looked at the bag. "More special requests?"

"Yes," I said. "I have to look these over tonight."

"Of course," she said. I'll get some hot chocolate so you two can get to your business."

I ushered Nendia into my office and dropped the mail next to my rocking chair in front of the fire place. She looked around the room, taking in the decorations, the desk, the big stuffed chairs.

"You've been in here before," I said.

"Oh, but not in a long time," she squeaked. "It's too big."

"It doesn't seem so big when I get all the naughty and nice lists and all the gift lists to review just before Christmas," I said, then waved my arm. "Piled high to the ceiling."

She looked up, her mouth open. Then she looked at the bag.

"Special requests?"

Mrs. Claus came in with a tray bearing two steaming cups of hot chocolate, and a platter piled high with cookies. She placed the tray on the coffee table in front of two of the stuffed chairs.

"Ah, thank you, my dear."

"You two have a good meeting," she said. "I have some work to do."

She left.

"Please," I said to Nendia, gesturing to one of the chair. "Sit and have some."

She sat and picked up one of the steaming cups. She took a sip, then put it down.

"Santa," she said in a serious voice. "I've heard of special requests."

She stopped and looked at the sack.

"What have you heard?" I asked.

"Well, the elves say, some of the elves, that is, that, well, there are children who will not see Christmas this year."

"Yes," I said slowly, "some of the special requests involve such children."

"Oh," she squeaked.

"Not all," I continued. "But some."

To be continued ...