Back to Home

“We are right on schedule, Santa Claus Ari, sir!” fifteen-year-old Lucianna Aquino, more fondly known as Anna, reported to the rotund, burly man who stood in front of her.
“Thank you, Anna.” Ari’s voice had a booming sound. It was just the right voice for a hearty “ho-ho-ho.”
Anna looked down at the list of places where they would be delivering gifts the following day. She loved working with the Santas. They were a happy bunch which was, of course, to be expected from men who spread cheer and good will.
She remembered when she first came to work here. Her mother had just died of cancer, and her father had suggested that she go up to the Christmas Village. She hadn’t wanted to do it. Her mother had worked there when she was in her teens, and it had been sort of a family tradition for the women in her family to work there.
But now she was thankful that she did. She had started in the toy making department, sewing dolls and gluing together bits and pieces of toys with the other kids from their town. Her father was right. There was something about living in a place where every day was Christmas that helped her overcome her grief.
When she got promoted to the delivery department, she had been elated. It meant she got to check the list of children who would be getting toys. She read their letters and often pleaded the cases of some of the not so ‘nice’ kids to the Santas.
A few months ago, she had received a list from their local chapter in Rio. Some of the children on their ‘nice list’ had been in an accident. She had been devastated as she crossed them off the deliveries. They would not be making toys for these kids.
Santa Ari, the head Santa, had seen how sad she was. They decided to make something special for the parents instead. They had made beautiful bracelets for the mothers. On the bracelets were charms of things that the kids had loved.
One of the bracelets had a doll and an airplane. Anna felt herself tear up as she remembered that child’s wish for Christmas. She wanted to take her mother on a vacation because her father and baby sister had died in a car accident. That poor mother…
She shook herself out of her musings and frowned at the report in front of her. They were on schedule with the production, and the plane was ready, but there was one thing that worried her. She had not received confirmation from any of the local chapters of their organization. Usually, they would confirm the list of gifts to make sure that nobody had been overlooked. But this year, none of the local offices had called to do so.
She had been calling the phones of the local Santa World representatives for weeks but had not been able to talk to anyone. The calls were either not picked up or had been diverted to voice mail.
“Santa Ari, sir?” she called out. “There’s one problem, though. I can’t reach any of our local offices. Nobody’s answering.”
“Well, the weather here has been a bit crazy. Why don’t you try reaching them on the radio?” Ari replied with an uncharacteristic frown. He had been hearing about troubling events happening all over the world. He hoped that it was not as horrible as the war that had crippled their city decades ago.
“Okay, sir.” Anna stood up and walked over to the usually unused radio they had in the corner of the Gift Giving Admin Office. She had to pick up her hamster, Charlie, who had made himself comfortable right on top of it. “Sorry Charlie.”
She brushed off the dust that had settled on it. It had been quite a while since they last used it. She also had to search for the operating manual as she had not tried to use it on her own before. She searched for the switch that the manual said should be on the left side. “Aha!” she exclaimed when she saw the red switch she was looking for. “Of course it would be red,” she murmured.
“What was that?” Santa Ari asked.
“Sorry Santa… just talking to myself,” she replied.
The minute she turned on the radio, she heard an alarming message. At first, she thought it was a climber lost in the mountains. There were a lot of those during these months. People couldn’t seem to leave their village alone this close to Christmas.
But as she listened further, he realized it was something more serious. It was a distress call coming from a man named Rafe Dalton. She knew who that was. She had seen his inauguration on TV months ago when she had been down in the city earlier that year.
She recalled seeing his family and had been blown over at how cute his sons were. She had been unmercifully teased by her friends who noticed how closely she watched the boys on TV. She had actually started a scrapbook, but they were rarely in the news, so she had given up on it.
She listened to the American President, and her eyes widened at what she heard. She swiftly turned around and saw Santa Ari listening as well. The old man looked like he’d just been told that Christmas had been postponed. And with what both of them had just heard, it sounded like it might have to be.
“Anna, call the other Santas quickly,” Ari ordered as he picked up the handset to respond to the emergency broadcast. “President Dalton, this is Ari Koskinen, the head Santa at Rovaniemi…”
Anna heard no more as, clutching Charlie in her hand, she rushed out of the room to look for the other Santas.