Big Trouble in Santa’s Workshop!
By Valerie L. Egar
Fire engines were missing their ladders. Toy pigs clucked and hens oinked. Baby dolls didn’t have diapers. Andre, the elf in charge of quality control in Santa’s workshop, found defects in the toys coming off the workshop assembly line. Christmas was too close to be making mistakes. What was going on?
Andre checked the assembly line. Elf Quentin usually snapped ladders on fire trucks. Quentin voiced the stuffed animals, clucking and oinking into a recorder. Quentin diapered the baby dolls. Quentin was not doing his job.
Santa asked Quentin to come to his office. When Quentin knocked, Santa invited him in and asked him to sit. Large windows looked out upon the snow and reindeer pranced in a white field. The sight filled Santa’s heart with joy. Quentin scowled.
“What’s the matter?” Santa asked.
“This place stinks!” Quentin cried. “I’m tired of snow and listening to Christmas carols all year. I’m tired of making toys. I want to do something important.”
Santa’s lips pursed as he assessed the little elf. “Toys are important and bring children joy,” he said. “What would you rather do?” Santa hoped Quentin would ask to help feed the reindeer or say that he wanted to learn how to operate the Global Positioning System that guided the sleigh around the world on Christmas Eve.
“I want to live in Hollywood and be a famous actor,” Quentin said.
Santa sighed. “Are you sure?”
Quentin nodded. “I can’t wait to leave.”
Santa gave Quentin money and Mrs. Claus packed a basket of food. “Mrs. Claus and I will miss you,” Santa said. “You are always welcome to come back.” Santa gave him a jolly hug, spun him around and when Quentin opened his eyes he was in bright sunshine, staring at a palm tree.
Quentin ambled to a newsstand and glanced at a newspaper to discover where he was. Hollywood Gazette. Yes! No more snow for him!
He was too short to see over the crowd rushing past on the sidewalk. “Watch out, squirt!” somebody yelled. Quentin stepped out of the bustle.
“Look at those pointed shoes,” a man laughed.
“And those funny ears!” a woman giggled. “Those can’t be real.” She walked up to Quentin and pinched his ear.
“Ouch!” Quentin cried. “Stop that!”
Quentin had no luck finding work with the movie studios. He heard excuse after excuse: too short, not handsome enough, no parts for real elves, not even for Christmas movies. Computer animation created all the elves a movie needed. He walked along the street, staying close to the shop windows, so he wouldn’t get stepped on. Beautiful Christmas trees and twinkling lights lit the windows. Happy voices singing Christmas carols drifted out to the street. Quentin began to feel homesick.
“No,” he thought. “I like the sun. I’ll sit on a park bench and think about other jobs I might like.”
After a few hours, Quentin noticed his skin was bright red and hurt— he was sunburned. He wished he had some nice cold snow to roll around in.
A little boy wandered up and smiled. “You’re an elf, aren’t you?” the boy said.
“Yes,” said Quentin.
“Wow!” The boy called his friends over.
“Do you help make toys?” one of the children asked.
The children started to cheer. “Thank you!” “You’re the best!” “We love you!”
Quentin was embarrassed. He didn’t think he deserved much credit for the work he’d been doing.
“I bet you came to ask what we want for Christmas,” one of the children said.
Quentin didn’t know what to say. He realized how much he missed the North Pole, Santa, the other elves, and his job making toys. Maybe being famous wasn’t as important as doing a job that brought others happiness. “Yes,” he said. “Tell me what you’d like for Christmas and I’ll take it back to Santa today.”
Quentin wrote the children’s requests down. When he finished, he found Dasher waiting for him. He grasped the great reindeer’s antlers and held on tight as he flew home to the North Pole.
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Copyright 2017 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.
Published Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME) November 26, 2017.