I've somehow managed to write more than twenty short stories for the Christmas Season. All about life in Santa's Village, the stories follow the adventures of beings in the village. The magic of Christmas will be familiar to most of us who grew up with Santa Claus. Written for the fun of it, no one was more surprised than I to find so many stories had worked their ways through my tapping fingers. Perfect to read by the fire during the Christmas Season.
Cover art is on order but I am putting up one of the stories below while we wait.
ELVIN ELF’S CHRISTMAS SURPRISE
Elvin Elf perched on a bench of carved ice and watched the young reindeer learning to fly. They’d run and then jump as high as they could, each jump longer and higher than the one before. As soon as they realized they were flying, their confidence grew, and soon they were laughing and charging at each other.
The older reindeer had chosen a practice field covered in deep snow because, every so often, a youngster would fall into the drifts in a puff of white. They’d dig themselves out and were soon airborne again.
Elvin sighed. How he wished he could fly. But he was an elf, and elves didn't fly anymore. Old legends said they used to. He didn't think that was fair. He snugged his coat close about his neck to keep out the cold wind.
Daylight was fading when the adult reindeer called the youngsters to supper in the stables. As usual, there were pleadings to stay, but soon they were headed home, bragging about how high they'd flown.
Elvin slipped on his skis. Christmas was next week. How he’d love to go with Santa to deliver presents! If he couldn't fly though, he'd be extra weight on the sleigh, and the reindeer had enough to pull. Only one small elf named Minty went along.
Elvin tugged a woolen hat low over pointed ears, tightened a long red and green striped scarf, and set off for the workshop. He had several wooden trains to paint. Not that he minded. Like all elves, he loved making toys. It was a good thing Santa gave them away every year, or they'd soon have no place to put them.
At the top of a long hill, he looked into the valley and, as always, took time to enjoy the view of the perfect little village of snow-covered buildings. Light spilled from windows to paint the snow with golden squares, and colored lights lit icicles that decorated rooftops. In the middle of the village common area, there grew an enormous Christmas tree. It was trimmed with tinsel, toys, and colorful lights, the snow around it glowing like a rainbow.
Elves in coats of red and green scurried about. Everyone was in a hurry to get their work done before Christmas. Next to the storage shed, some elves were giving Santa’s sleigh a new coat of red paint.
The lovely sound of chiming bells drifted up the slope. The night was crisp and still. His breath made little clouds as the Northern Lights filled the night sky with dancing, colored ripples.
Even though he couldn't fly, he thought he was one of the luckiest elves in the world to live in such a wonderful place. As a rush of Christmas spirit filled him, he pushed his ski poles into the snow and skimmed along the trail that wound into the valley.
As he passed the festive tree, he heard someone call his name. He stopped and tipped his head back.
"Hi, Bron!" he called. His wide grin crinkled freckles on his cheeks. "The tree looks great!"
A round cheerful face emerged from the branches. Red curls poked from beneath a green cap. "I got the lights fixed! Have you had supper yet?" Bron always looked like he was on the verge of laughing – which he often was.
Elvin shook his head. "I was watching the flying lessons. They’re always good for a laugh."
"I'll be right down." Bron's face disappeared followed by a lot of scuffling and a few “ouches”. He crawled from beneath the low branches picking twigs from the white trim of a green jacket.
"You know one of the reindeer would carry you," said Elvin. "It would be a less painful way to decorate."
"Until I fell off!” Bron removed more twigs, "I'm not much of a rider, and I can't fly. I don't mind climbing a tree, but that's as far as I go."
Alvin tipped his head back. "Where's the star for the top?"
"It’s with the rest of the decorations. I'll find it." He gazed at the tree. "Isn't it beautiful? It’s even better than last year. And when we take the decorations down, we can eat all the new candies. I can't wait!"
Elvin had heard that human children shouldn’t eat sugar, so he was glad to be an elf. Elves could eat lots of candy – which made them perfect to work in Santa's workshop.
The two friends made their way to a building with a wide-railed porch covered with hundreds of twinkling lights. They pushed through wooden doors and stepped into the aroma of cinnamon cookies and apple pie. This was the dining area where anyone in the village could eat.
Mrs. Claus emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray of cookies, chubby cheeks glowing red, blue eyes twinkling behind round glasses. She bustled over as Elvin and Bron shook snow from their coats.
"You look cold," she said, pushing the tray towards them. "Have some gingerbread cookies. They’re hot from the oven, so they'll take the frost from your fingers and toes."
"Thank you, Mrs. Claus," mumbled Elvin around a cookie. "I do love gingerbread." He hung his coat, scarf, and stocking cap on a hook. After exchanging ski boots for red slippers, he ran a hand through curly black hair and considered it combed.
"You boys sit by the fire and warm up. I'll send hot stew with bread and butter." Mrs. Claus bustled away to put the remaining cookies in one of many jars.
Elvin and Bron chose a table near the fire where the warmth soon had them nodding. After their third yawn, two elves arrived with heavy bowls of fragrant stew and cups of hot apple cider. Bron laughed when Elvin's stomach growled. The only sound after that was the clinking of knives and spoons as they slathered butter on the bread and dipped it into the stew.
Bron finished his bowl and sat back with a satisfied groan. "That was great!” He rubbed his belly. "I may not have room for dessert."
Which made Elvin laugh. His friend always had room for dessert!
A movement at the window caught Elvin’s attention. He scraped away some of the frost and grinned as he recognized Frosty Snowman. He made a gesture for Frosty to meet him at the door.
He picked his coat off the rack, shrugged into it, and stepped into the cold. "Hi, Frosty! What's up?"
“I wish to speak with you for a moment.”
Frosty Snowman spoke like he came from England. Perhaps it was the top hat he always wore. Short, round legs gave him an odd tipping walk and, if he fell in the snow, he got bigger. Some of the elves would then trim the extra snow away. Frosty had moved to Santa's village three years ago because he’d kept melting everywhere else.
Frosty talked around the pipe in his mouth. "You always watch the reindeer flying lessons, don’t you?”
Elvin nodded. "Of course. It's great fun."
"Did you notice anybody missing today?"
“Missing?” He thought back to the lessons. “Now that you mention it, Vixen's daughter, Velvet, wasn't there. Is she alright?"
"I saw her crying behind the stables this morning."
Elvin’s big green eyes rounded. Nobody cried in Santa's village. "Why on Earth was she crying?"
Frosty leaned close, removed his pipe, and whispered, "She’s afraid to fly." He stuffed the pipe back somewhere near his mouth.
"But, she's born to fly! Are you sure, Frosty?"
The snowman nodded. The coal that formed his mouth drooped at the outside corners.
"She doesn't want the others to know, poor little thing. I thought, since you take an interest in flying lessons, maybe you could help her."
Elvin rubbed his chin. This was serious. A reindeer afraid to fly! He'd never heard of such a thing.
"Thanks, Frosty," he said. "I'll talk to her tomorrow morning."
"Your nose is turning red," said Frosty. “You’d better get back inside. I’ll see you later." Then he waddled away to join a group of elves who watched the star being fixed to the top of the tree.
The next morning, Elvin strolled by the stables. He was going by a second time when he noticed Velvet dart behind the building. Snow crunched as he crept to the corner and, sure enough, there she was hidden behind a pony sleigh. He waited until the others had gone.
"Hi, Velvet," he said, rounding the corner.
She jumped. Enormous, soft brown eyes swam with tears. “Hi Elvin,” she said.
“Why aren’t you with the others?”
Crying giant tears, Velvet sobbed, “I’m afraid to fly! I’m so ashamed! My mother is one of Santa’s reindeer. She’ll be so disappointed!”
“Are you afraid to fly, or maybe you don’t like the lessons?”
“I guess I don’t like learning with the others. They’re always pushing and shoving. If I have to learn, I’d rather it was somewhere quiet. Also . . . being able to fly might mean that someday I’d have to pull Santa’s sleigh at Christmas like mom does. The idea of flying around the entire world is just awful! I never want to leave the village!”
She sniffed some more. Tears slid down her face, froze, and tinkled onto the ice.
Elvin perched on the side of a pony sleigh and swung his legs. “What if you learned to fly in secret?”
Big sad eyes looked up. “How would I do that?”
“I’ve watched the lessons for years. I could teach you.”
Her eyes got even bigger. “Really? Oh, Elvin, that would be wonderful!
Elvin skied up a small ridge in the forest where the wind had blown away most of the snow. He was pulling Velvet on a sleigh because the snow was too deep for her to walk. He was puffing when he got to the top. “Here we go,” he said. “There’s plenty of room for a running start. Just don’t fly too high at first.”
Velvet stepped into the snow. As she trotted back and forth, Elvin wondered how he was going to get her confident enough to fly. Maybe he could make it fun.
“Velvet, let’s play a game! We’ll both see how fast we can run and how far we can jump.”
She laughed. “Silly, Elvin! You can’t run as fast as I can. I have four legs!”
“You’re right. You’ll win, but I’ll see how fast I can go.”
“Okay. I love games!” She galloped across the top of the ridge, turned at the far end, and galloped back. “How fast was that?”
“It was pretty fast. Next time, jump over that hollow in the middle as far as you can.”
Velvet was having fun now. “Okay. I can jump pretty far!”
Elvin pulled an old pocket watch from his pocket. Pretty soon, Velvet was dashing back and forth taking huge leaps over the hollow, each time asking him how fast she’d been. After one such dash, she said to him, “Now, it’s your turn. I’ve made a good trail. Hang your watch on this branch, and I’ll time you.”
He kicked off his skis. “Okay. Here I go.” He ran as fast as he could. He didn’t want to climb down into the hollow and wondered how far he could jump. At least, he could make it partway. When he got to the edge, he took a huge leap and landed partway up the other side. He struggled in the snow towards the rock that marked the end of the course.
He was puffing when he arrived and not so sure he wanted to continue this game. It was hard work! But Velvet was gaining confidence, and that was important. Once he finished puffing, he started back. This time, he was sure he didn’t want to climb through the snow, so he jumped farther than before. To his surprise, he cleared the hollow in one jump.
Velvet had a strange expression as he trotted up. “What?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she said. “Only . . . you jumped kind of far . . . for an elf.”
“It’s too bad elves can’t fly,” he said, puffing again. “I’d love to be able to go with Santa on Christmas Eve, but that’s never going to happen. It’s your turn again. I need to have a rest. This time, think about lifting higher and going farther when you jump the hollow.”
As the afternoon wore on, Velvet began to stay in the air longer and to get excited. “I guess it would help with some things. I wouldn’t have to trudge through the snow all the time,” she admitted. “But I still don’t want to leave the village.”
Elvin, to keep her interested in the game, made some more dashes as well, each time jumping farther over the hollow. “I guess I’m quite strong,” he thought.
When they got hungry, they headed back to the village. By then, Velvet was able to take large leaps and stay in the air quite a long time, so he didn’t have to pull her on the sleigh.
It was getting dark when they reached the edge of the valley, and Velvet stopped to stare. “Oh, my,” she said. “I’ve never been this far before. You can see the whole village from here! It’s beautiful!”
“Can you imagine what an entire city would look like? I’ve heard the lights go for miles!”
Velvet gave a delicate shudder. “That would be scary. Let’s go so I can get back to my snug stall in the stable. Mom’s been busy getting ready for Christmas, but she might wonder where I am. Thank you, Elvin, for helping me. I think I’ll join the lessons now. I feel better.”
She rubbed her face against his coat as a thank you and trotted towards the village.
Elvin was in his cabin putting on a fresh suit when there was a knock at the door. A young elf in a bright red coat was outside with an envelope decorated with holly leaves. Elvin’s name was written in flowing green letters across the front. With a dimpled grin, the elf handed it to him and scampered away.
As he turned the envelope over, Elvin was surprised to find it came from Santa. Why on Earth would Santa send him a letter?
He opened the envelope so as not to tear it. Maybe he’d hang it on the wall. Santa had never sent him a message before. On white paper bordered with drawings of holly leaves and berries was a note.
Please come to my cabin for a cup of cider this evening at eight o’clock.
Christmas Eve was getting close. Maybe Santa needed help. Elvin checked the time and realized he’d better go soon. He set the letter on his dresser and put on his coat. As he headed for Santa’s cabin, the snow crunched under his boots. The stars were glittering diamonds scattered across a velvet sky. How wonderful it must be to fly amongst them! He gave a deep sigh and returned his attention to the snowy street. He could dream about stars later.
At precisely eight o’clock, Elvin tapped on the door to Santa’s sitting room. When he heard, “Come in,” he turned the brass knob and pushed on the door.
Santa was seated before a roaring fireplace in red pants, a white undershirt, and suspenders. He’d been reading a book.
“Good evening, sir,” said Elvin, removing his cap. “You wanted to see me?”
“Well, if it isn’t Elvin! Thank you for coming, my friend. Have a seat by the fire.” He gestured towards a soft armchair opposite him. There was a step stool in front of it.
As he scrambled up, Elvin was reminded of just how big Santa’s chair was. When he was settled, his legs stuck straight out.
Santa handed him a cup of hot cider. “Here you go, Elvin.”
Elvin took a sip. “This is great, sir.”
“Nobody calls me sir, Elvin. It sounds much too serious. Call me Santa.”
“Okay . . . Santa.” It felt strange sipping cider with Santa in his sitting room.
“Elvin,” said Santa as he settled back. “I understand you gave Velvet a flying lesson today.”
Elvin was surprised to hear that Velvet had said anything about it.
“It was easy,” he said. “All she needed was confidence.”
“I see. And did she learn to fly?”
“She’s got a good start. I think she’ll be fine with the others now.”
“That’s good to hear. Although most people don’t know this, some reindeer like to keep their hooves on the ground.”
He tipped his head to one side. “I asked you here to try out a new toy for me, Elvin.”
A thin green disk about two feet wide was on the carpet. “If you stand on it and think about floating, it will lift you off the floor.”
Elvin raised slanted brows. “Just by thinking it?”
“Yes. You think about the disk lifting you up – carefully of course. I don’t want you hitting the ceiling.” He chuckled and gestured. “Go on, now. Give it a try. Think about floating as high as the top of this table.”
Elvin scrambled from the chair and walked to the disk. He couldn’t see any working parts, but perhaps they were inside.
Santa’s eyes twinkled. “It’s a great toy! You’ll love it!” His eyes seemed to carry a secret.
As Elvin stepped onto the centre of the disk and spread his legs to keep his balance, Santa got to his feet.
“Close your eyes, and think about floating,” he said. “I won’t let you fall.”
If you couldn’t trust Santa Claus, who could you trust? Elvin took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and remembered his instructions to Velvet that afternoon. He’d asked her to imagine lifting without effort, dashing through the sky, and having a great time with the other reindeer.
He didn’t see how that could make the disk move, but he’d do as Santa asked. If it worked, maybe he’d get one, and it would be kind of like flying.
He thought hard about floating. Wouldn’t it be great if it worked?
“Keep your eyes closed, Elvin. You’re doing fine,” said Santa.
“But, nothing’s happening. I can’t make it work,” said Elvin. He was disappointed. Santa had asked for his help, and he’d failed.
“Try a little longer.”
A full minute passed.
“Elvin, I want you to open your eyes.”
This was the strangest request he’d gotten in all his years at the North Pole. He was sad to disappoint Santa, but he couldn’t make the disk move.
Upon opening his eyes, he noticed everything looked different. It took a minute for him to realize the top of a hanging light fixture was only inches away. Below him, Santa had a wide smile. His round cheeks were red, and he stroked his white beard in delight.
“I . . . I thought it hadn’t worked,” stammered Elvin. “I never felt it lift!”
“There’s a good reason for that, Elvin,” said Santa with a hearty laugh. Then he laughed some more. Elvin didn’t understand what was funny. In fact, he didn’t know how the disk had lifted him.
Santa’s laugh became a chuckle, and his merry blue eyes twinkled – as he plucked the disk from beneath Elvin’s feet!
Elvin was shocked when he didn’t fall. “But . . . but . . . I don’t understand! What’s keeping me up?”
“The disk is made of wood, Elvin. It didn’t do anything. Your belief that it would lift helped you learn to fly. You even brought the disk along with you.”
“But, elves can’t fly anymore,” stammered Elvin, and he began to wobble.
Santa steadied him. “Yes, they can, Elvin. At least, some of them can. Your great grandmother, for instance, was a wonderful flyer. She came with me every Christmas to help with the presents. How she loved travelling!”
“My great grandmother could fly?” Elvin was still in shock at standing on nothing.
Santa nodded. “I think most elves have the ability, but they never use it. They like staying on the ground. You however, like your great grandmother, are made of different stuff. You would love flying!”
“How did you know?”
“I’ve suspected it for some time. Have you noticed you’re the only elf who watches the young reindeer practice? And how would an elf with no flying ability know what to teach Velvet? When Vixen told me what you’d done, I knew you could fly. Like Velvet, it was a matter of confidence. And you wouldn’t have believed me if I’d told you.” He held up the disk. “This got you to expect to fly – so you did.”
“How . . . how do I get down?”
“The same way you got up. Think about settling to the floor, and you will.”
To his astonishment, Santa was right.
“Now,” said Santa, “let’s have another apple cider.”
Over the next few days, Elvin flew with the young reindeer who had great fun with the elf. Playing tag with them taught him a great deal about flying. Velvet’s confidence grew so much, she flew with Elvin in a great circle around the village one night – although she didn’t want to go far.
Christmas Eve arrived, and the whole village was abuzz. The shining red sleigh was pulled from the shed and the reindeer fitted with polished harnesses. They were so excited and danced so much, it was difficult for the elves to get the buckles done up. Everyone was bursting with excitement and Christmas spirit.
As Elvin carried presents to the magical red bag in the back of the sleigh, he wished again that he was going. Old Minty fussed about making sure the sleigh was ready, his white whiskers bristling about a wrinkled face. The tiny elf had gone with Santa as long as Elvin could remember. Maybe some day . . .
Everything was ready. The reindeer stamped with impatience, jingling the bells on their harnesses. A door opened and Santa, in his famous red suit, marched from the workshop, thumbs in a wide black belt.
“Ho! Ho! Ho! Meeerrry Christmas, everyone! Ho! Ho! Ho!”
As he walked to the sleigh, Santa seemed to be looking for someone. He waved Elvin over.
“Elvin, my boy. Minty says, if I found someone to take his place, he’d like to retire. Since you can fly, it doesn’t matter that you’re bigger. In fact, it’ll help. What do you say?”
Elvin stared at Santa. Me take over Minty’s job? He gulped. Santa was asking him to go along for his Christmas Eve flight!
“Of course, you’d have to stay awake all night,” said Santa. “Do you think you can do that?”
Elvin got his voice back. “Stay awake all night?! I stay awake all night anyway!
Santa laughed and motioned for Elvin to get into the sleigh. As he scrambled to the seat, Santa stepped in after him and picked up the reins.
“On Dasher and Dancer; on Prancer and Vixen; on Comet and Cupid; on Donner and Blitzen! He swung his whip in a great arc and cracked it over their heads.
The reindeer surged and, in seconds, they’d galloped once around the giant tree and lifted into the starry sky. The elves and Mrs. Claus waved and cheered below.
As the village dropped away and the straining reindeer pulled them ever closer to a full moon, Elvin thought his heart would burst with happiness.
Although he lived in a land of magic, sometimes even magic held surprises.