Family Fiction posted December 20, 2020

This work has reached the exceptional level
Covid19 causes problems in the North Pole

Saving Christmas

by snodlander

Christmas Story Contest Winner 
Father Christmas opened the office door and greeted Cheerful with a “Ho ho ho!”  It didn’t feel sincere, but it was traditional, and he had to keep up appearances.
“Hi Boss,” said Cheerful.  It was difficult to tell behind the mask, but she did not look the way her name suggested she should.
Father Christmas indicated a seat.  “Ginjinha?”  he asked.  “Hot chocolate?”
Cheerful waved the offer away.  “I don’t have time, boss,” she said.  “You know what it’s like at this time of year.  Besides…”  She pointed at his mask, then waved her hand at her own mask. ”Drinking is a problem.”
“But everything’s fine, isn’t it?  Sure, it’s hectic, but it always is, and we’ve not missed a Christmas yet.”
Cheerful shifted awkwardly on her chair, her legs dangling in the air.
“Not this time, boss.  I really don’t think we’re going to make it this year.”
“No!”  Father Christmas slammed his fist onto the table.  “We must finish on time.  All those children!  Can you imagine?  We have never failed before, and we will not this year.  What is the problem?”
“Problem?  I don’t know where to start.”  Cheerful counted off on her fingers.  “First, there’s the masks.”  She held up her hand to silence Father Christmas.  “I know they’re necessary.  None of us want to catch anything, and some of us are over two hundred years old.  It’s the ones with glasses who have problems.  They fog up.  Some of the dolls had faces painted on the back of their heads.  They slow us down and we have to fix the mistakes.”
She held up another finger.  “Second, there’s the space.  We have to work two metres apart from each other.  That means we can’t have a full workshop, and that slows things down.”
A third finger joined its brothers.  “Third, we have to have elves sanitizing all the finished toys.  We don’t want to give the little children nasty diseases.  That takes elves off the construction line and adds an overhead.”
Father Christmas shook his head.  “But can’t we…”
Cheerful ignored her boss and held up a fourth finger.  “Then there’s the demand.  Most of the children have been kept at home for long periods.  They’ve not been able to mix with their friends.  Do you know how difficult it is to be naughty when your parents are at home with you?  So many children have been good this year.  I’ve never seen the naughty list so small.”
Cheerful threw her hands into the air and shrugged.  “Boss, we’re elves.  Our whole lives are dedicated to bringing good children toys at Christmas, but what can we do?  We’re magic, but we can’t make miracles.”  Her voice cracked with emotion.  “Boss, if there was anything we could do, we’d do it, but we are overworked and understaffed.  I don’t see the answer.”
“But this year, after all that has happened, after all the despair and fear, we cannot disappoint the children.”
“I know, boss, but what can we do?”
Father Christmas shook his head and stared at the Christmas tree in the corner, as if that had the answer.
“Let me think,” he said at last.  “Do what you can, and I will see what I can do.”
For long minutes after Cheerful had left, Father Christmas stared into the twinkling lights.  He hummed a Christmas carol quietly to himself and stroked his beard.  In 2000 years he had always ensured Christmas was a time of joy for the children, even as the population of the world grew, even when the stupid adults went to war.  If he couldn’t make it happen this year, then why should he continue?  Would children ever trust him again?
He loved his job, and the joy it brought to children everywhere, but sometimes he wished he had an easier job.  Giving out Easter eggs, for example.  The world was full of eggs. All he would need to do was distribute them, and he had mastered that trick long ago.  Easter eggs…  Easter…
“Cheerful!”  Father Christmas’s voice echoed across the toy factory.  Cheerful looked up, startled.  Father Christmas hurried out of his office, waving his mobile phone.  “Cheerful.  Quickly.  Come here.”
Cheerful hurried over to Father Christmas.  “Boss?”
“I’ve got the answer.  Hurry.  I want the sled made ready.  Fill it with all the toys we’re giving to boys.  All the parts too.”
“But they’re not finished, boss.”
“No, they don’t have to be.  Listen.  If we only make toys for girls, could we give toys to all the girls in the world?”
Cheerful pulled out a calculator and stabbed at the buttons.  “Just the girls?  Yes.  Yes, I think so, if we reorganised the factory.  But what about the boys?”
“We’re contracting help.”
“Help?”  Cheerful looked confused.  “But who has that organisation?  Who could possibly go all over the world and give the toys out?
Father Christmas waved his mobile phone and danced a little jig.  “Who?  Who?  Who has nothing to do at this time of year?  Who has an army of helpers?  Who can travel around the world in a single night?  Who already knows where the children are?  The Easter bunny, of course.”
Father Christmas’s eyes crinkled as he smiled behind his mask.  “Ho-ho-ho!”  And this time, Cheerful thought he meant it.

Christmas Story
Contest Winner

Ginjinha is a Portuguese cherry liquer traditionally drunk in Portugal at Christmas
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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