Eric, the miracle child of the Claus’s, in the tradition of his father, slung a brown leather sack over his shoulder, pulled on his Elven snow boots and set out to visit his friend Cready in his little cottage in the Elven suburb of Spotted Elephant.
The North Pole had several Elven suburbs that surrounded Castle Christmas, the home and workshop of Santa Claus, and Spotted Elephant was one of the largest. Cready, Eric’s friend, had left the long tradition of toy making to become a doctor, much like his great uncle Hermy, who went on to become a dentist.
His family didn’t understand at first, but just as a dentist became necessary, a doctor did as well, as Eric learned all to well on their many great adventures. And many other Elves followed suit, opening shops, boutiques and doing other odds and ends for Santa and all the other citizens of the North Pole.
Today, on Christmas, however, Eric was visiting Cready for a simple Christmas party. All their intimate friends would be there, since Cready wasn’t fond of large gatherings.
Their mutual friend, Valentino, who was a regular party animal–being a reindeer and all–would more than likely get bored. Eric smiled as he thought of Valentino’s face at the letdown he would receive this Christmas.
Cready’s wife, Eloise, would also be there. She was a nurse as well as an inventor, who loved speaking with Santa on new toy ideas. As a toy herself, she felt she had an inside knowledge on the subject, and often she would produce many brilliant ideas.
Eric also hoped that Hope would be there. He saw her rarely, as she only visited when accompanied by Jesus when he had important news to tell them. Hope also helped the team out of many tough spots, being an archangel and all.
Regardless, Eric gave her an invitation.
He was almost there. The snow crunched under his boots as he navigated the streets of the suburb. The shops all closed for Christmas and the sidewalks all occupied with carolers singing every Christmas favorite Eric new growing up.
Number 1488 Merry Go Lane. Eric loved commuting to Cready’s house. He loved the candy cane mail box, as well as the gingerbread siding that kept out the cold. Though it felt like a freezer, it always smelled like an open oven with another batch of homemade cookies.
Eric heard a rustling behind the door and then it opened up to reveal a little fellow with a bald head, big nose and large underbite.
“Hello, Eric,” said Cready with a smile, “Come in, come in, I see you have a large sack with you like your old man.”
“Just brought a little food and drink so we can celebrate right,” Eric said, as he pulled out a bottle of wine from his sack. “Where’s Eloise?”
Cready beckoned Eric to sit on the couch in the living room. It was nice and soft. Eric crashed there from time to time when the parties did get out of hand.
Cready jumped into his arm chair, which he had positioned close to the fireplace. It was his favorite spot on particularly cold days.
“Eloise is preparing snacks in the kitchen,” said Cready, “Eloise? Eric’s here.”
Cready jumped out of his chair. “Where did she get to?” He walked around the corner to the kitchen to find her.
Eric rose to answer the door. More than likely it was Valentino. He couldn’t wait to see his face.
He opened the door to greater surprise; it was Hope.
Her golden hair glowed, igniting the snow and the windows around the neighborhood. She smiled and she crossed the entry way, which always made Eric’s heart jump into his throat.
“Hi Eric,” she said, “How are you?”
“I’m…” he stammered, “Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas to you too!” She gave him a hug. “You’re surprised to see me. Didn’t you think I would come?”
“I… Wasn’t sure.”
She walked over to the couch and sat down. “I might not have, but Jesus and Santa have an annual Settlers of Catan game with the Easter Bunny, so, I was able to make it.”
“Oh…” said Eric, slightly put down, “So how was the trip.”
“Short. When you can travel in the blink of an eye, one doesn’t really think about travel.”
“Eric! Can I get you help over here?”
Eric stood. “Cready, where are you?”
“Come to the celler, quickly!”
Eric ran to the kitchen and down the steps with Hope close behind.
As they entered the room, they saw a work table with tools and a single, dangling bulb overhead, which, indeed was the case, as Eloise’s own head was atop the work table.
Cready was busy picking up various pieces off the floor. They were body parts… toy body parts. It seemed that Eloise had taken herself apart again.
“Eloise,” said Cready, “You need to stop trying to modify yourself.”
“I just wanted to enjoy the food and drink that you guys have every year,” her head said from a work table. “They make dolls that talk, walk, blink and run a temperature… Even chewing dolls! I figured I could at least modify their techniques to give myself some taste buds.”
“Oh, Eloise,” said Cready, “I keep telling you, you’re perfect the way you are.”
“Sure Cready…” she said, forcing a smile, “Let’s pull me together and start our Christmas party.”
As they started piecing Eloise back together, Eric heard music coming from upstairs.
“Eric, do you hear that?” asked Hope.
“Is someone in my house?” cried Cready.
“Settle down, hun,” said Eloise, “Eric will go check it out.”
Eric took his cue and went upstairs to find Valentino in the living room with a bunch of the town’s people. The carolers were singing with the music and indulging in his wine, and Valentino was playing twister with several does.
“Valentino!” said Eric,standing at the entrance to the kitchen, a smile spreading across his face, “Cready is going to kill you!”
Valentino winked. “Creepy Cready needs to relax. Besides: Best Christmas Ever!”
Hope peered behind him and gave a hoot of laughter. Eric turned. Her smile really did light up a room.
“Merry Christmas, Valentino,” she shouted over to him.
“Merry Christmas to you too,” he said, “You know you’re standing under mistletoe, right?” Valentino winked at Eric, who, at that moment, got as red as a tomato.
Hope looked up. “Oh!” she exclaimed and gave Eric a kiss on the cheek. “Merry Christmas!” she said again.
Eric smiled the biggest, goofiest smile he had. “Merry Christmas!” he said. And with that, they joined the carolers in drink and song until Cready asked them all to leave.
Regardless, as Valentino observed, it was the best Christmas ever.