And here begins the Christmas Saga of 2020. Like the days of yore when newspapers published anxiously anticipated serialized stories, here is my annual version, Hidden within the words is a secret message. Find the secret and send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, MAGIC. First five to discover the secret wins a copy of every book I publish this year.
This story is as old as the legend of St. Nicholas, handed down over years and years. Told to Christmas Elves as they rested from their work, there is magic within if you’ve the heart and eyes to see it.
But don’t look for it, feel it in your heart. Speak the words to learn the secret
“‘Twas just an idea,” I said, trying to stare down the Elf.
The problem with that is he is two feet tall, and I am five feet tall, looking down makes me dizzy, but I wasn’t gonna give in. Night fell over the paddock as the reindeer shuffled into the barn for the night.
Before long, they’d be fast asleep, exhausted from the training program. Christmas was just six weeks away, and it was time to ramp up their workouts.
When the reindeer teams sense the change, the real leaders emerge. All sixty reindeer were eligible to make the team, yet it seemed for centuries the same names, the same legendary reindeer rose to the occasion.
Through countless Christmas Eves, the gang of eight, supplemented by Rudy whenever necessary, made the team. The year Dasher didn’t fly turned into a disaster.
House Mouse, our resident rodent, sauntered over to watch our contest.
“Not this again,” he sighed, “with you two it’s always a contest.”
“A contest I always win,” I said. Creature comforts meant nothing; I could stand here all night. Was there anything more satisfying than beating Jedidiah at his own game?
Stirring the last of the embers to kick up some heat, House Mouse watched us as he shivered in the wind. Not even the bone-chilling cold could get me to give up. Even House Mouse knew that and curled up in a ball near the fire.
A soft tingling of bells drifted in the wind. Mouse lifted his head, nose twitching back and forth, sniffing the air.
“The Christmas Pies are ready!”
Stockings—scattered on the ground or hanging from the branches—hid Mouse as he dashed toward Santa’s workshop. Were I not in this contest, I’d be right behind him; nothing in the world better than pies made in Christmastown.
Hung by the fire, some stockings bore the names of the children, the ones who would receive them on Christmas Eve.
By hanging them here, they absorbed the Christmas magic floating in the air. The magic would stay with many of these children all their lives.
Chimney smoke full of the sugar-sweet smell of apple and cherry and blueberry pies fresh from the ovens wafted through the air—enough to feed all the worker elves—baked by Mrs. Claus and her helpers.
With the elves in full production, the next most important thing to finishing before Christmas was to keep them well fed.
“Care to call this a draw?”
“In your dreams, Jedidiah,” I answered
Hopes dashed, Jedidiah looked away, smothered the last of the embers, then took off for the house.
That he forgot to make sure the reindeer paddock was locked said lots about how much he, and all the elves, loved those pies.
Part II tomorrow!