A Wish to Save Christmas
That seems odd," the little man commented as he surveyed the landscape that would eventually lead into an area known as the Isthmus of Christmas.
"Odd? What seems odd?" his larger companion replied.
"There's supposed to be one right here, but I can't seem to find it. If that's the case, this one won't work either," the elf continued, totally oblivious to the fact that Hardy, his assistant, was speaking.
"That's the fourth one today. Either something has gone very wrong with my SPF or someone . . ." he hesitated for a moment, shook his head, and dismissed the thought. "No—who would be cruel enough or bold enough to do something so terrible? The Santa Portal Finder must be on the blink again."
"Needle, are you talking to me or just carrying on a conversation with yourself?" There was more than a hint of irritation in the comment. "Did you forget that I'm here too?"
"Oh, how could I ever forget you, Hardy? You know you're my favorite snowman," Needle answered passionately. As he spoke the elf cracked a smile that curved all the way around his long, pointed nose. "I guess I was just talking to myself."
"Okay, so now that we've established that you were talking to yourself, would you be so kind as to tell me what you were talking to yourself about?"
"This—" Needle stated, pointing at the enormous mound of ice and snow blocking their way.
"Yeah. Looks like a pile of snow and ice. Nothing special about that. What else would you expect this time of year at the North Pole—a palm tree? You know better than anyone that Christmas is less than two months away. Around here that means lots of snow and ice, or have you forgotten?"
"Well of course I know Christmas is nearly here," Needle answered dismissively. "After all am I, or am I not Santa's number one elf?" He pulled at the lapel of his red coat to hold out the pin designating him as elf number one. "Forgotten?" he added with a sneer. "Santa's number one elf doesn't forget! And don't you forget it!"
To emphasize his point Needle snatched the shovel out of Hardy's mittened hands. Then, holding it in front of him with the handle toward his mouth like a microphone, he began to sing.
Of all the elves in the whole North Pole
there's only one like me
They call me Santa's eyes and ears
As everyone can see
Boys and girls from around the world,
Old Needle knows them all
Both good and bad I keep my tabs,
Spring, summer, winter, fall
It isn't easy being me,
Far from it if I'm honest
It takes a special kind of elf,
To carry out this promise
Though many want to take my place,
As Santa's right-hand elf
He chose just me, just Needle-nose,
The rest stay on the shelf
The more you learn about me,
The more you'll come to see,
That Santa couldn't do his job,
I'm sure he would agree
Without his head-elf Needle-nose,
To help and guide the way
This world would be a sadder place,
No toys, no joys, no sleigh
So when you think of Christmas
And the big old guy in red
Remember me, his eyes and ears
The master of the sled
He stood there for a moment, basking in the delight of his own bravado. Given the chance he would have continued to sing for hours, but it was getting late. Since there was still work to be done, he handed the shovel back to Hardy, who hadn't said a word during this self-serving song and dance routine.
Instead, Hardy simply gritted his teeth and squeezed the handle of his shovel. There he goes again with that number one elf stuff. Ever since Jared disappeared and Needle got promoted he's been holding it over the rest of us like he's some kind of big deal. Braggart! Someday you'll get yours, buster!
As much as he would have enjoyed taking Needle to task for this most recent show of unnecessary boasting, Hardy held his tongue. There was no use arguing with the elf. If he did, and if Needle got in his face, he might poke the snowman's eye out with his long, pointy nose.
Eyes and ears, what a laugh, the snowman thought to himself. More like a big, obnoxious nose. No, as much as he would have liked to put the elf in his place, for now he was better off just letting old Needle-nose wallow in his newfound glory. And besides, it was always better to get even than it was to get mad.
So in the meantime he simply continued to follow orders, accompanying Needle through the northernmost sector of the North Pole. It was also the most inhospitable section of the land made famous by its most recognizable resident—one Kris Kringle. He was known by many names to many people, but to the elves and the snowmen he was simply Kris, Santa, or sometimes Father Christmas, when they really wanted to be formal about it.
"You want me to try and dig it out?" Hardy offered, all the while hoping that the little elf would not take him up on the offer. He had already attempted, unsuccessfully, to dig through several enormous piles of snow. His arms were sore and his back felt like it was about to give out. Unlike the first three times, on this occasion Hardy actually knew what Needle was up to. He also knew why he was being asked to put his shovel to work. Knowing it didn't make him feel any better about it.
"Nah," Needle said, shaking his head back and forth as he looked up toward the setting sun. "It's getting late and I think we've done enough for one day. Let's head back to the workshop for some cookies and hot chocolate. An elf needs to keep his strength up, you know?"
"No, Needle, I wouldn't know," Hardy answered without the slightest hint of emotion. "In case you've forgotten, I'm not an elf. I'm a snowman, remember? Besides that I wouldn't last more than ten minutes inside that workshop, and I can only imagine what hot chocolate would do to me. I'll take you back there, but there's no way I'm going inside."
"Right. Sorry Hardy, I guess I just wasn't thinking . . ."
You were thinking alright—thinking about yourself—as usual. I wish Santa hadn't sent me on this detail. It seems like I do all the work and Needle steals all the glory. One of these days . . . Hardy didn't bother finishing the thought. It would be a complete waste of time. Standing around complaining to himself wasn't going to get Needle off his back any quicker. No, his best bet was to help the elf return to the North Pole as soon as possible so that he could be rid of him for another day.
The annoying chatter continued as the sled lifted off and they set their course for Santa's workshop. Hardy did his best to tune out Needle's constant bragging during the long ride back. It was no use. At every opportunity the snowman tried, with minimal success, to change the subject. And every time he did manage, Needle always found a way to bring the conversation back to his favorite topic—himself.
The snowman was relieved when the sled finally touched down on the landing pad in the center of the North Pole. Their destination was just a short walk away, although it seemed much farther due to Needle's constant chatter.
"Did you hear that?" Hardy interrupted. "Sounds like someone shouting."
"Shouting? At the North Pole? I think you're mistaken. Maybe it's just someone singing," Needle replied flippantly.
Well before they arrived at the doorway to Santa's workshop they heard loud voices coming from inside. Although it wasn't unusual to hear voices, or singing for that matter, it was most unusual to hear the sound of people arguing.
Please note: This is a representation of Chapter One of A Wish to Save Christmas. The actual chapter may undergo changes prior to being released in November 2022.