Santa is unable to take his flight on Christmas Eve, but his children may be up for it...
|The courtyard rippled and buzzed with anxiety and worry. A flurry of red, green and white seemed to shimmer with nervous energy. Voices called out and murmured across the vast room. Nobody heard the upper room open or the couple move slowly out onto the balcony above. They stood a moment surveying the chaos below them. It was no time to give a jolly laugh, it was time to make arrangements and set a precedent.
"Okay listen up." the big man's voice boomed out.
The gathered elves fell immediately silent and turned so that they could see up to the balcony where Santa stood leaning heavily on his cane. Mrs. Claus stood close, her arm around her husband in support.
"I had hoped that my injuries would be healing faster, but I have come to the realization that I am not able to make the journey this year." He looked down at this wife and she gave him an encouraging smile. "I have decided..." the elves seemed to lean forward staining for his decree, "I have decided that Ariel and Deacon will be going..." There was a sharp intake of breath as all the elves gasped and then gaped up at them. When a few of them began to rumble their descent, Santa held up his hand and waited for quiet before adding, "Mrs. Claus and I will be coordinating things from here."
He waited looking over the assembled group. Heads were shaking, some were nodding, others looked shocked. "This is for the best." he told them.
Ariel and Deacon slipped in behind their parents. It was Ariel that dared to step up to the railing and glare down at some of the descentors. Deacon pulled her back and put his arm around her to hold her still. She vibrated with a combination of outrage and nervous energy. He could tell she wanted to yell, but a calm look from him seemed to settle her or at least contain her... for the time being.
Santa put his arm around Deacon's shoulders and gently pulled them forward again. This time Ariel had her face set to a more neutral tone. Deacon gave her an encouraging smile.
"They are young." Santa began, his eyes looking to Ariel, "and a little impulsive at times, but I have faith in them. I believe they can do this... as a team." He smiled warmly at the two of them.
"Yes they can." one small elf yelled mightily from amidst the gathered crowd. A few others joined in and before long, most of the group was chanting their names and waving their hands.
Ariel visibly relaxed and smiled down at them. Her brother beamed and gave a wave.
"Now here's how this will work..." Santa began as he outlined the evening's preparations. The elves would prepare the gifts and get the sleigh and reindeer ready for the trip. Ariel with her excellent sense of direction would fly the sleigh. She had been practicing for months and was eager to get a real run... she had hoped to go with her father this year. Nervous butterflies stormed up and flew around her belly like they had been caught in a tailspin or a hurricane. She prayed she could do this.
As if reading her mind, her brother smiled down at her and whispered, "you can do this Ariel. I know you can." His faith buoyed her and she smiled back at him.
"Deacon will be able to get in and out of each child's house quickly and quietly... I have no doubt."
Deacon smiled over at his father. All his creative stunts that had him scampering and crawling in amongst the toyshop over the years was finally going to payoff. He just needed to be quiet about it. Lately, he'd been working on the stealth part. Scaring some of the elves in the process had been a riot. He bit his bottom lip to conceal the laughter that bubbled up.
"There will be two of them and they are younger than me. I expect them to do well... even if it is there first time."
Santa's confidence seemed to ease the elves minds further and they were all smiling now. All eager to get on with the business of Christmas Eve.
When they had gone back into the room behind the balcony, their mother eased Santa into his comfortable chair then when to get the suits she had been working on over the last several days.
Holding them up, she said, "these will keep you warm and help you feel more like Santa."
The two suits were miniatures of Santa's grand suit. Ariel beamed and hurried over to slip her arms into the velvet sleeves of the outfit.
"You two will do fine... but I must advise you not to eat too many of the cookies."
"Far too much sugar" their mother tsked.
"Yes, and you'll get full and sluggish. It will be a long night. You need to pace yourselves."
"So what do we do with the cookies?" Deacon asked. He sounded a little disappointed.
Santa smiled and patted him on the shoulder. He pulled a velvet green bag from beside his chair and handed it to Deacon. "Put them in this. We can all enjoy them when you get home."
The sack was not large and Deacon looked at it dubiously.
"It is a magic sack, my boy. It will hold anything you put in there... but do leave some crumbs. You must make it look like you ate them there."
Deacon nodded understanding well.
Santa glanced at Ariel and smiled. He could tell she was nervous. She was edgy and restless. “You will do fine tonight, daughter. The reindeer know the way. They know the route.”
“You will do fine. Remember I will be on the link to talk you through any difficulties.... but I don’t foresee anything. The weather looks good tonight. Clear. A perfect night. You follow the route and Deacon will take the presents in and place them. Together you will be able to do this.”
Ariel glanced over at her brother and he winked at her.
“I just wish...” Ariel began, but he father wrapped his arms around her and gave her a reassuring squeeze. “You can do this. You are my children after all.”
Within hours the sleigh was packed and ready. Ariel stood stock still staring at the hugeness of it. The sleigh gleamed brilliant red and the brass and gold accents glimmered and shone like new. The sack of toys looked immense. Worry skittered along her spine, followed on its heals was anticipation. She would be doing this tonight. She would be responsible for the sleigh and the reindeer. Slowly she walked around the whole of it. She had seen her father do this year after year. This year he only watched, perched up on his grand chair so that he could at least see the proceedings. At each reindeer she gave a gentle rub and whispered good praises for a successful night.
At Rudolph, she stopped and looked deeply into his eyes. “We can do this.” She told him and he seemed to understand as he bobbed his head and snorted. Ariel smiled. His confidence assured her.
She circled around to the other four reindeer giving them equal treatment and praises.
By the time she circled fully around to the sleigh, she noticed Deacon. He had his lists all compiled on the latest of devises. He had gone over his tasks and seemed confident. He looked mighty fine in his mini Santa suit. He looked over at her and gave a thumbs up and together they climbed into the sleigh.
“Tonight we make history. We have mixed the old traditions with my children’s newer technology and I believe there will be much success and celebration to be had by all.”
At his words, the elves cheered and the reindeer began to paw at the snow. They were ready. Taking up the reins. Ariel took in a deep breath, gazing at her brother, for his thumbs up, she whistled and shouted for the reindeer to pull. And they did.
“Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Doner and Blitzen!”
As she said their names they each readied themselves and began to rise up into the air. It was like they were prancing on angel dust. The magic swirled like freshly fallen snow encircling them. Then sparking gold, like fairy dust and fireworks, the magic propelled them up, up, up and away. They circled the courtyard which was a riot of colour and joyous clamour and then in a blink they were off. Skirting the world like a rocket on a mission.
Ariel clung tight to the reins at first, but soon she relaxed and left the reindeer take their head. Her confidence grew with each passing moment. It was not until they got to the first house that she grew nervous, but Deacon knew his tasks. As soon as the sleigh touched down, light as a feather, he slipped from under the furs that kept them warm and called up a name and an address.
Ariel watched in delight as the gifts rose and flitted down into Deacon’s waiting sack. Then he scampered for the chimney and disappeared from view. She waited holding her breath until he re-emerged and slipped in beside her.
Each time his little green sack returned and he told her what wonderful delights had been left for them. A few times they snuck a few of the cookies just to try them. Ariel was grateful for the snack. It was a long night, but they managed to reach each and every house. Every child got their gift and they returned to the North Pole just as the sun was rising over the horizon.
Their father and mother stood waiting. Their beaming smiles a welcome sight.
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