If you were to be caught in this Polar Vortex, it would transport you into a very interesting pocket dimension. Here in this dimension is found the place of childhood dreams known as The North Pole, where in this tiny village with buildings of Bavarian architecture, can be found Santa’s Workshop.
It was Christmas Eve 1955, and Greatjon the Chief Elf Officer was making his rounds. He had just left the runway where he had spoken with Frosty the Snowman (yes that Frosty the Snowman), and his yeti friend Umber as they worked to make sure the runway was clear. As he walked through the village he passed elf children hurrying to spend time with the reindeer before their departure at 5:55 PM EST. By the fence on the other side of the reindeer pen he saw Tinsel the elf girl talking with her best friend Rudolph. He thought to himself that she would be late, shook his head and continued on.
Greatjon entered his home and proceeded straight to the back, and glanced out the window at Tinsel one more time before sliding the grandfather clock to the side and boarding his private elevator to the Factory.
“Rudolph my friend, it looks like I’m some serious trouble this time.” Tinsel said, hugging Rudolph tightly around his neck. Rudolph replied with a sad sounding whine.
“Besides my reputation being ruined by having sex with Alton, who by the way has been with every girl at the North Pole, I got in trouble for that flight we took.” she said, Rudolph interrupting with a snort. “I know that it’s still the Cold War, and that was like a month ago. It was fun making that MIG pilot bail out and crash his plane though, and he was on a mission to attack a base in Alaska.” Rudolph snorted again.
“I know, you would think that was a good thing. But then my parents searched my room like I was still a kid. They found my books and reel to reel movies and flipped. A good elf girl isn’t supposed to learn to fight, and I don’t think they like my music either. Of course I have been in fights with other girls, and did have an unfair advantage.” Tinsel told Rudolph, who whined again.
“I’ve got to go, so you be good tonight. And if I get banished or something, even though I won’t see you ever again, I will still love you.” Tinsel said, and kissed Rudolph on his red nose, which started to glow.
“Save your batteries, Rudy.” she said, and ran off with tears in her eyes.
Tinsel ran to one of the candy cane spiral staircases tucked in among the Tannenbaum in the parks. Descending the stairs and running through the Factory at a breakneck pace she dodged carts full of cork guns and baby dolls, and rounding the pony pen nearly knocked down Brother Jacob the Toymaker Foreman.
“Slow down, Tinsel!” Brother Jacob shouted after her, but secretly smiled; knowing what was truly in store for the girl.
“Sorry!” she shouted back to him.
She reached her destination and knocked gently on the great oaken doors bordered by two very lively nutcracker guardsmen. At the command of enter, the guardsmen opened the doors for her to enter. As she did, a bit of fear welled up inside of her as she saw the six people in attendance.
On her left at the far end was Jack Frost, Director of Environmental Control. On the opposite end was Captain Peter of the City Guard. Next to Jack Frost was Greatjon, and next to Captain Peter was Mother Keisha, the Elf Mother. And in the middle were Mrs. Claus and the big guy himself, Santa Claus. She knew she was in deep trouble.
Aside from the afore mentioned spots of trouble there was even more on her Naughty and Nice List. The offense listed by Jack Frost had to do with her hang-gliding in the Polar Vortex that he called his Snownado. Captain Peter had apparently discovered that she had been picking the locks at the chocolatier’s and the cheese crafter’s. Greatjon pointed out several accounts of what would now be called parkour on the village rooftops, and of course fighting. This joined with Mother Keisha’s accounts of other un-lady-like behavior to include drinking and gambling.
“Tinsel, how do you wish to answer these charges?” Santa Claus asked.
“I’m sorry Santa, but it so boring here. The reindeer have reindeer games to keep them active and out of trouble, what do young elflings like myself have but work? I know that when we reach adulthood we’re just expected to magically become model citizens and stop being kids, but we’re at that awkward age between the two. What else was I supposed to do for fun?” Tinsel respectfully answered, but with a hint of defiance.
“Tinsel, other elves your age manage to behave, as have those who sit upon this council, but you aren’t alone in your mischief making ways. However, you seem to have broken nearly every record for naughty behavior. I’m afraid that we have no need of you here. You will be exiled. Captain Peter, you know where she must go.” Santa said firmly.
After the girl was escorted from the room, and he was sure she wouldn’t hear, he let loose with a mighty Ho-ho-ho.
“Oh Santa, that isn’t very nice.” Mrs. Claus scolded.
“I know dear, but the poor girl thinks she’s in more trouble than she actually is. She doesn’t know about X-Mas Division or our intention to assign her there. Her particular skill set will be of better use there.” Santa answered.
“You laid it on kind of thick about us behaving ourselves. I seem to remember getting in plenty of trouble at her age, but there wasn’t a X-Mas Division back then.” Greatjon said.
“Yes you did.” Mother Keisha said.
“Don’t judge dear, most of the trouble I got into was you.” Greatjon answered, making Keisha blush.
Captain Peter escorted the young elf girl through a twisted labyrinth of tunnels and through iron doors until finally leaving her outside of one. She waited for several minutes before the door opened revealing a cold medieval style hall. There was no one there, but there was a door on the other side. Crossing to the door, she opened it to find a snow filled courtyard with elves her own age that she knew.
There were the other girls that she never fit in with, and some of the boys she knew. Of the girls there were Noel, Holly, and Mistletoe, as girl elves at that North Pole were all given cutesy names the year she was born. There was also Alton, who helped her get into trouble, Mo the practical joker. Kraznys the science geek, and Thenn who was banished when she was little for bullying. It was Thenn who approached first.
“Who are you? I think you need to be my girl.” Thenn said, trying to pull her to him.
One heart punch later, Thenn was on the ground looking up, trying to breathe, and wondering why.
“You might have a chance, if you were the last boy on Earth, or if I was suddenly blinded, paralyzed, braindead, or something.” Tinsel said, looking down at him.
“And that Thenn, is why you keep repeating the first stage of training.” said the older elf guy.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m Frost, I believe you’ve met dear old dad. How is he?” he answered.
“OK, I guess.” she stated.
“Jack Frost, Tinsel. He was at your meeting with the council.” Frost said.
“Yeah, I know. So where are we?” she asked.
“This is X-Mas Division, Santa’s very own top secret group dedicated to saving Christmas every year. When it isn’t Christmas we train, and when it is we react to threats against Christmas and of course Santa Claus. Since most of you are new cadets, except Thenn, you will just be training this year. First studies are easy, geography, world history, social studies, and weapons courses. Follow me on the short tour, and then I’ll take you to the barracks.” Frost told them.
He led them through the halls of study and physical training areas, and then showed them the Simulator, the massive dream inspired situational training environment allowing trainees to dream while awake in real-time situations. He showed them to the armory where they met Tinker, and the motor pool, and then he then showed them to the Situation Room.
In the Situation Room agents were being dispatched across the globe to battle threats against Christmas. As they watched, Christmas 1955 was shaping up to be a wild ride, but then X-Mas Division clearly had everything under control, except one thing that caught Tinsel’s eye. Just outside Waycross, Georgia out in the sticks the KKK was preparing to burn two families out of their homes, one Jewish family and a black family. Tinsel couldn’t help but notice that this was being ignored.
“Excuse me Frost, sir. Why are those families being ignored?” Tinsel asked.
“The Jewish family celebrates Hanukkah, and the black family Kwanzaa, not Christmas, so they aren’t our problem. You’ll learn what’s important and what isn’t. Come I’ll get you settled into your rooms.” Frost answered and led them away to the barracks. Tinsel opened her jacket pocket towards the TV screen with the addresses on it.
In her room Tinsel noticed that they were nice accommodations, but didn’t have time to get comfortable. Opening her pocket she let out her only other friend in the World, Daisy the Faerie. The miniscule girl of two inches tall flew out and hovered before her friend.
“Did you get those addresses?’ Tinsel asked.
“Yes I did. It’s a terrible thing. What should we do?” Daisy asked.
“Can you get us back to The North Pole?” Tinsel asked.
“Yes.” Daisy answered.
“Let’s go, we have no time to waste.” she said.
Tinsel was right, in 13 hours Santa departed on his run, and she’d need to be back by then. She had thought about the motor pool, but didn’t know how to operate anything there. Sneaking out of her room and the barracks was easy, and Daisy knew the way back, but as soon as she passed the iron door, she discovered that there were alarms and traps everywhere.
Daisy illuminated the traps for her to make it a little easier. First she ran on the wall to bypass the trips and traps in the floor, followed by a few well performed backflips that got her past light sensors. But then came the tranquilizer darts that she gracefully avoided with some strange half ballet act. After that they were free. They made it back to the Factory and up to the reindeer pens. There she found Rudolph.
“Rudy my friend, I need your help. Let’s go and I’ll tell you on the way.” she said. Daisy got back in her pocket, and she climbed on Rudolph’s back they took off straight into the air, bypassing the runway altogether. Once airborne, she got some magic dust from Daisy, the kind the faeries gave Santa to fly around the World in one night and get down chimneys. With his nose at full illumination and supercharged with fae dust they were off like a shot. Radar installations in Canada and the United States went crazy that night, eventually leading to CONAD and NORAD, which still tracks Santa Claus to this day.
As a direct flight powered by fae dust it only took two hours. They landed near the houses and Daisy helped change Tinsel’s clothing to something more appealing to the times. So dressed in a skirt and sweater Tinsel approached the house of the Jewish family and told them that she had learned what was going to happen. The Jewish father led her to the house of the black family to alert them. Between the two families they were still outgunned. Both families decided to turn to prayer instead. Tinsel had other ideas.
Letting her friends in on the plan she sent Daisy skyward, and Rudolph flew her into town, before she sent him home, and then she went to the church. There she ran inside, interrupting the Christmas Service that night, shouting hysterically at the top of her lungs.
“Come quick! There’s a star, like the one when Jesus was born, right out there!” she screamed. The churchgoers filed outside to see for themselves.
“It must be a sign, let’s follow it!” Tinsel shouted, to get them to head in the direction of the houses Daisy was shining brightly above in daylight. The church people and then other members of the town, minus the KKK members went off to see this daytime star.
By the time the townsfolk reached the houses the Sun was down. Tinsel had run on ahead, and was already singlehandedly fighting off KKK members. She was kicking tail and didn’t notice, and neither did the KKK.
“What in the name of God is going on here?” the preacher said.
The fighting ceased as though the words had been spoken by God himself.
“They are here to burn the homes of these families. These evil men have nothing better to do on Christmas than hurt other people. Is this what Christmas means here?” Tinsel said.
“It most certainly does not.” said the preacher.
“But reverend, they ain’t even celebratin’ Christmas. They is Jews and Negros.” said one KKK man from beneath his hood.
“No, they celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, two other celebrations just like Christmas in some ways. All three celebrate the spirit of giving. To you Jesus is the reason you celebrate, but you also celebrate the spirit of giving by giving gifts at this time of year, just like the gifts he received in the manger. The greatest gift you can give each other is love, the greatest gift you can give these families is peace to live their lives.” Tinsel said.
With that the preacher, the mayor, and other townsfolk stood between the KKK and the families and their houses. The Sheriff unstrapped his pistol as a warning to anyone wearing a hood, just how serious he was. One woman got yelled at, but it didn’t work as planned.
“Maybelle, you just get back out of the way!” shouted one of the KKK, causing her to move away from the line, right in amongst the ranks of the hooded cowards.
“Buford, what in Jesus’ name do you think you’re doing? Are those my good sheets that went missing? You are in so much trouble mister. By the time you’re out of trouble, I’m gonna have me my farm fixed up, and I’m gonna invite these folks to dinner, just to tick you off!” she ranted, as she ripped the hood from her husband’s head and proceeded to beat him with her purse as he ran back home. Tinsel slipped away in the darkness.
That Christmas, no houses burned at least on that side of Waycross. The black family later joined that church, and celebrates both Kwanzaa and Christmas, and the Jewish family celebrates their Hanukkah in peace as well as sells Christmas cards and decorations at their store in town.
That night Tinsel sat down by a creek with a very tired Daisy, thinking of all the new trouble she would be in. She hadn’t even started training yet, and already messed up. She disobeyed orders, stole Rudolph, and Lord knows what things she hadn’t even thought of yet.
At about 11:37 that night she heard the sleigh bells and looking up saw the glow of Rudolph’s nose. Poor Rudy must be tired, she thought. She also thought it would serve her right if Santa left her there. Sitting by the stream like she was, she thought he wouldn’t even know where to look if he wanted to.
About ten minutes later she heard the heavy boots behind her, and expecting trouble turned to find Santa Claus. Suddenly her stature slumped as she waited to be scolded.
“Tinsel, are you ready to go home?” was all Santa asked.
“Are you sure you want me back at the North Pole? Even at X-Mas Division? I disobeyed orders and…” she began before Santa interrupted.
“Nonsense, Frost assures me that he gave you no such orders not to interfere here. What you did here was undertake a mission to save Christmas. You reminded a town of what it means to give, to give of their hearts. That they stood up for people that celebrate different holidays isn’t insignificant. What you did was awaken the hearts of people. Your first mission, before you are even trained, and it’s a success, I’d say we made the right decision with you my dear. So, I’m running a bit behind since I stopped, and Rudolph is a bit tired. How would you like to help me out tonight?” Santa asked.
The elfin girl launched herself through the air and hugged Santa, clinging to him like a squirrel on a tree. Santa returned the hug and chuckled.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Santa Claus said. And with that, Tinsel finished her mission by helping Santa Claus deliver gifts.
Merry Christmas to all.
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