North Pole: Santa’s Workshop
Santa’s sleigh sat on the runway like an overstuffed turkey, creaking and groaning under the pile of toys and presents being loaded on by the elves. High above the sleigh a conveyor belt dropped a steady stream of brightly wrapped packages, dolls, rocking horses, fire trucks, balls and bats, scarves and hats into Santa’s giant red sack. On the shop floor below a fleet of bright yellow forklift trucks scurried around transporting loads of presents.
From his office high above the cavernous factory Santa surveyed the scene through a large window, his quick eye taking in every detail of the operations below.
His concentration was disrupted by a quiet, “Ahem.”
Santa turned, looked down, smiled and said, “Yes, Jon, what do you have?”
Jon was the Littlest elf in charge of Departure Planning. Although Jon was the Littlest elf his job was the Biggest. He must make sure all the presents get into Santa’s sack properly, make sure the sack is lashed down properly, make sure the reindeers are hitched properly and make sure that Santa departs on time.
Jon was a very proper elf even if he was the Littlest.
Jon adjusted his glasses, held up his clipboard and stretched just a little to make himself appear taller, cleared his throat with another “Ahem” and proceeded in clipped tones to read his report.
“Toy production. Check. Loading operations. Check. Weather update. Check.”
“And?” Santa inquired looking over the tops of his glasses and down at Jon.
“And what, sir?” Jon replied.
“Reindeers, Jon, reindeers,” Santa chided gently, “We need reindeers to fly. You did not say ‘Reindeers. Check.’ “
Jon the Littlest elf blushed, developing alternating pink and purple stripes across is very large nose.
“Uh,” Jon stammered, “Reindeers. Not check.”
Santa’s eyes grew wide. In all his years he had only heard the phrase “Reindeers. Not check.” once before. That time had been a very foggy Christmas Eve, many years ago.
Jon continued with his report. “The reindeers, they’re not ready. They’re upset about something. I think they’re on strike. They’re not going to fly tonight?”
Several things then happened simultaneously. Santa inhaled so deeply that all the air was nearly sucked out of the room. Then, Santa let out a “WHAAAATTTTT?” so loudly that the roof lifted off the toy factory and all the noise from the shop floor below was drowned out.
The roof came down with a WHUMP!
Jon tried to become the Very Littlest elf by crawling into his hat and scuttling towards the door.
It became very quiet.
Breathing deeply Santa looked at Jon, or rather the hat that was scuttling towards the door, and said, “The reindeers. Take me to them.”
Chapter 2 The Plot Thickens
Deep in the heart of Santa’s North Pole Toy Factory was an area off-limits to everybody, the Reindeer Ready Room. This is where the reindeer lived, exercised, trained and prepared for their annual job of hauling Santa’s sleigh around the World to deliver toys and presents to good little girls and boys.
Without knocking Santa opened the door to the Ready Room and walked into a hurricane!
The room was a blur of antlers, hooves, shouting, yelling, fighting and biting.
The reindeer were seriously out of control!
Very quickly, though, the reindeer noticed Santa in the room and all of the antlers, hooves, shouting, yelling, fighting and biting stopped.
Santa stepped into the room and demanded to know, “What is going on?”
The reindeer looked at each other and then starting talking all at once.
“My leg warmers!”
Santa held up his hand and motioned to the reindeer to calm down.
“One at a time! One at a time, please!” Santa implored.
Dasher approached Santa first. “It’s my hat. My lucky, warm hat that I wear every year. It’s gone! I can’t find it anywhere! I can’t fly with out my lucky hat!”
Cupid was next. “My boots are gone. My favorite boots that give me a good grip on slippery icy rooftops are gone! I can’t find them anywhere! I can’t fly without my boots!”
Then all the reindeer began talking at once complaining about missing stuff and claiming they couldn’t fly without it.
Santa held up his hand again and the reindeers became quiet.
“Hmmmm,” Santa mused aloud, “this looks like a job for Inspector Heather.”
Chapter 3 The Plot Thins
There was a knock on the door. Jon the Littlest elf reached up, turned the great brass knob and opened the door.
Wasting no time, a tall formidable-looking woman with dark, piercing eyes, blonde hair tied back in a severe bun and puffing on a large pipe strode into the room.
Immediately, Inspector Heather surveyed the room and after inhaling deeply on her great, inspector’s pipe, barked rapidly and decisively, “You, you, you and you,” she pointed at four reindeer, “over there. And you, you, you and you. Over there.”
She pointed in the opposite direction.
Immediately the reindeer fell into formation, four on each side of a line with Inspector Heather in the middle. One by one, Inspector Heather questioned each reindeer, quietly and in whispers. All that could be heard was
Pssst! Psssst! Pssst. Psst!
In good time Inspector Heather finished her interrogations, smoked furiously on her pipe for several minutes sending up great billows of grey clouds, and the occasional smoke ring.
Suddenly, she turned and approached Santa thoughtfully. Drawing herself to her full height and staring Santa eye to eye, Heather reached into her coat pocket and withdrew a small note pad.
“Note,” Inspector Heather said, “the following missing items.” And she proceeded to list off each of the items missing from the Reindeer Ready Room.
Dasher: one knitted hat
Dancer: one cashmere scarf
Prancer: one pair wool socks
Vixen: four leg warmers
Comet: one sweater
Cupid: four mountaineering boots
Donner: one pair long johns; red
Blitzen: one iPod
“Anything else,” Inspector Heather asked, surveying the room through squinted eyes?
The reindeers muttered no, no, no, no, no, no, no and no.
“OK, then, righty-o,” said Inspector Heather, “I think I have this case solved!”
The reindeers looked up startled! Jon the Littlest elf looked up startled. Santa looked up startled.
It is safe to say that everybody was startled!
Inspector Heather flipped a page in her notebook.
Clearing her throat she addressed the room. “Ahem, here are the facts,” and she listed them one by one.
Fact: Every item missing is missing from the Reindeer Ready Room
Fact: Every reindeer is missing exactly one item.
Fact: Rudolph the Reindeer isn’t missing anything.
And, Fact, Heather announced with a great flourish, the fate of all of the missing items is right here in Rudolph’s locker!
Heather pulled open the locker door and stepped back as a small piece of paper fluttered to the floor. Picking up the paper Heather read from top to bottom:
and so on until the last item
Heather looked at Santa and the reindeers. “Clearly,” Heather announced, “Rudolph stole these items from the reindeer to sell on eBay. Case closed.”
Rudolph the culprit! Who knew!
Chapter 4 Rudolph’s Mystery
As if on cue the door to the Reindeer Ready Room creaked open and in walked Rudolph, his nose glowing red in delight.
“Yo, crew,” Rudolph hailed in bonhomie, “what it do?” Rudolph threw a mock reindeer gang hoof sign for fun.
The room was so quiet you could hear the hairs growing in Santa’s nose.
Rudolph froze in mid hoof sign and looked around. Nobody was smiling. Nobody was laughing. Inspector Heather stood at the end of the room with her arms crossed and her lips puckered as if she had sucked 40 lemons through a narrow straw.
Rudolph, sensing that things were a little tense, started to back out the door but froze in his tracks when Santa shouted, “FREEZE!!”
Frozen like a reindeer in the headlights, Rudolph managed a weak, “Oh, Santa, wazzzzzup?” which sounded pretty weak given the situation.
Santa and Heather approached Rudolph frowning and brandishing the list. Rudolph backed into a corner and tripping on a footstool crashed to the floor. Looking up he could only stammer, “I ... I ... I ...”
Santa cut to the chase. “Rudolph,” the reindeer are missing stuff and we found this list itemizing each thing stolen in your locker! What do you have to say for yourself?”
Inspector Heather leaned closely with her notebook in hand to record every word of Rudolph’s confession.
All Rudolph could manage to say was, “I ... I ... I ... “
Santa turned around exasperated.
Inspector Heather closed her notebook exasperated.
The reindeer stamped in the Ready Room exasperated.
Finally, Santa looked at his pocket watch, heaved a great sigh and announced, “Well, there’s nothing more to do. The reindeer won’t fly. It’s too late to come up with a new plan.”
All eyes were on Santa.
With a heavy heart Santa said the words they all dreaded to hear,
“We’ll have to cancel Christmas.”
Jon the Littlest elf climbed further into his hat until his eyes were peeking out of the little snowball on top. He blinked furiously.
The reindeer stamped around impatiently. Vixen began to cry.
Santa stroked his beard and looked sad.
Inspector Heather closed her book with a snap, regarding Rudolph who sat in the corner muttering “I ... I ... I ... I ...”
Chapter 5 The Mystery Goes Down
“I ... I ... I ...”
“I can explain.”
Everybody looked around and there standing in front of the fireplace dusting ashes and soot off her bright, sparkly gown stood Princess Leta.
“I can explain,” said Princess Leta quietly, as she walked into the center of the room.
Princess Leta stood quite a bit taller than Jon the Littlest elf, but somewhat shorter than Inspector Heather and Santa. She was resplendent in her sequined pink gown, puffed sleeves, glass slippers and diamond tiara. Princess Leta was queen of the elves and all that was good.
Princess Leta looked fondly upon Rudolph and beckoned him to rise and join her by her side. Rudolph did so.
Then Leta spoke.
“Rudolph came to me some time ago with a strange request. He wanted to do something for the other reindeer for Christmas to make it special for them, but he didn’t know what to do. I told Rudolph to look into his heart and think about what was special to each of his friends and an answer would come.”
Rudolph looked sheepish for a reindeer.
“Rudolph fulfilled his quest,” Leta continued, “and I’m here to deliver the goods, so to speak.”
“Dasher, come forward!”
Dasher pranced forward.
“Rudolph noticed that you favorite knitted hat had some holes in it where moths had feasted. Here is your hat, good as new!”
Leta waved her wand and Dasher’s hat appeared on his head, good as new. Dasher broke into a big smile and bowed to Leta. Turning to Rudolph, Dasher said, “Bro, how could I have doubted you. You’re the best.” He gave Rudolph a hoof bump and walked back to his bunk.
“Prancer, come forward!”
Prancer dashed forward and was given a new pair of warm socks.
One by one the reindeer trotted up to Leta to retrieve their personal favorite items, repaired, each one and better than new.
Finally, Blitzen received a new iPod Touch.
“Whoa, baby, check it out! Google maps and email! This is so cool! How can I ever thank you, Rudy?”
Rudolph’s nose glowed even brighter than usual with a combination of pride and relief.
“No prob, Blitz,” Rudolph replied, “it’s all about enriching lives, one at a time.”
Shortly, all the reindeer were outfitted with their gear and ready to fly.
Jon the Littlest elf crawled out of his hat, revised his report, and, clearing his voice with a Very Loud “Ahem” said to Santa, “Mr. Claus, Reindeer Check!”
Santa chuckled a great big “Ho Ho Ho!” and said to everyone in the room, “Well, don’t just stand there, we’ve got Christmas!”
They all started to march out the door when Vixen raised her voice.
“Hey,” she said, “what about Rudolph? I mean, we got all this cool stuff, but Rudolph’s got nothing and I’m not jiggy with that.”
Princess Leta stepped up and looking at Vixen lovingly said, “Oh, don’t worry, Vix, I’ve got that covered!” And with a wave of her magic wand a small package appeared at Rudolph’s feet.
Rudolph picked up the package and opened it with glee.
“Whoa, check it out, guys,” Rudolph exclaimed, “Binford 3000 Night Vision Navigation Goggles!”
As Rudolph was admiring his goggles Santa stood by him tapping his watch. Santa said, “Rudolph, with your nose so bright and your Binford 3000 Night Vision Navigation Goggles, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Everybody cheered and rushed to the sleigh runway.
Santa in his sleigh departed on time and Christmas was saved.
As Santa disappeared into the moonlight, jingle bells fading, Princess Leta sang,
“Then all the reindeers loved him and they shouted out with glee. Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in mystery.”