Soon It Will Be Christmas Day

            "Are you sure you don't want a snack before you go to bed, Papa?" Mrs. Claus padded along behind Santa.

            "Now, dear," Santa chided. "You know I'll eat plenty when I awaken. Right now I just want to get some shut-eye."

            "All right, Papa. Dream of sugar plums," she added, sweetly.

            Santa kissed  her on the forehead and bade her goodnight. He knew she wouldn't rest again until he safely returned from the Christmas Eve Run. He settled into the warm feather bed, and pulled the plump comforter up over his head. Within minutes, he was snoring loudly.

***

            Meanwhile, Mrs. Claus busied herself preparing for Santa's trip. She packed a large bag full of cookies, and some special reindeer treats. She began to slow cook the hot cocoa; she added the Swiss chocolate, cinnamon sticks, buttercream, and sugar (for energy). It would be ready by midday. Just before bottling it, she would add the wuffle dust, which would keep it hot for his entire trip. And, of course, she would top it off with marshmallows.

            She then turned her attention to his garments. They had been cleaned last year, and the repairs had been made. But, she had to examine them to be sure they were perfect.  She examined his boots and belt. She rubbed them with a soft cloth until they gleamed. She polished Santa's brass belt buckle until it was shiny.

            Next she gathered warm weather clothing, so that as he entered the southern hemisphere, he could dress appropriately. His flannel undergarments, red sweater, and red suit were packed in the cedar chest. With mixed emotions, she carefully opened the chest. She checked these garments thoroughly. Yes, the flannels and sweater were fine. She examined the thick red socks that had been carefully darned.  With her eyes brimming, she removed the heavy red velvet pants, coat and hat, all trimmed with white fur. She ran her hands lovingly over the suit, smiling and crying at the same time. "Yes, they are fine," she whispered. Finally, she rummaged in the chest and found his green, fur-lined mittens. "There," she said out loud, and closed the chest.

            She then busied herself preparing Santa's meal. Santa would eat a big dinner before he left, and she tried to make all of his favorites. She spent lots of time in the kitchen, humming and cooking her traditional multi-cultural feast. The banquet included Mexican beans, Chinese chicken, French bread, Irish stew, Hungarian goulash, Sweedish meatballs, Yankee pot roast, Spanish rice, Greek salad, and German chocolate cake. Finally she mixed up some Italian ice. She checked on the cocoa, which was coming along nicely.

            At last, the meal was ready and it was time to wake Santa. She went into the sleeping chamber, where Santa was snoring softly. "Papa," she whispered. "Papa," she called a little louder. "It's time to wake up."

            Santa sat up slowly, and rubbed his eyes. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, and climbed down.

***

            After their meal, Mrs. Claus poured the cocoa and topped it with marshmallows; then she added the wuffle dust. She gathered the cookies, and the reindeer treats and waited for Santa, who was getting dressed.

            Santa emerged, hat and mittens in his hand. "Shall we?"

            Mrs. Claus smiled and linked arms with Santa. He led her down the spiral staircase, out into the snow-covered yard, and through the Workshop.

            Verde and Rojo were waiting patiently, ready to pull the cart to the Circle.

            The elves had already gathered. The other helpers were there too -- even Charisma.

            Santa stepped out of the cart and offered his hand to his wife. "Come, Mama, everyone is waiting."

            Santa and Mrs. Claus walked between the helpers, who had formed two lines. They entered the Circle of Forevergreens and there, before the entire North Pole community, they renewed their vows, as they did every year.

            Then, Santa thanked THAT, which is greater than wuffle dust, for another wonderful year. The community asked for a safe journey, and peace in the world. And they asked for a special blessing on Santa and the Team.

            Finally, it was time to go to the Sleigh Port. Santa and Mrs. Claus nodded and smiled at the bystanders, as they left the Circle and got into their cart.
            "I love you, Papa," Mrs. Claus said quietly.

            Santa squeezed her hand. "We've shared many wonderful centuries together. I'm looking forward to many more." He put his arm around her and they rode to the Sleigh Port in a comfortable silence.


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