Brubaker dusted up a new window, Ria recovered, and the ice board capers faded into history.  Once again things were normal at the North Pole.  .

            While the helpers liked their jobs, they loved quitting time.  After 12 hours of hard work, they were free to spend time playing, and they played hard. Sledding and skating were favorite activities and, after work, many helpers could be found at Polar Park.

            Boog was not one of these helpers; he preferred sleeping late to playing. Today was different, though.  He was meeting Donovan and Jackson and they were going ice boarding again, at Glacier Lake.  He retrieved his board from the corner and flipped his sign to ‘closed.’  “Jingle Bell Square, here I come,” he said, and he headed for Polar Park, where they had agreed to meet.

***

            Jackson quickly swept the floor of the Sugar Shack.  He couldn’t wait to finish his chores.  He was excited about ice boarding.  Boog and Donovan told him how much fun they had, and he was going to meet them at the Big Tree just as soon as he could.  From there, they would go to Glacier Lake.

            “Tubbs,” Jackson called out.  “I’ve finished sweeping, and I’ve put the pans away.  Can I leave now?”

            “It’s early,” Tubbs complained.

            “I know, but I’m done.  I’m meeting the guys at the Big Tree, and we’re going ice boarding."

            “Did you fill the flour bin?”

            “I did.”

            “And what about the pot holders?  Did you wash them?”

            “Yes, I did.”

            “Well, then, I guess you can go. Be here early in the morning, though." 

            Jackson shook his head at Tubbs’ grumpy attitude. “I promise I will come in early.”  He zipped his overcoat and pulled on his boots.  “See ya in the morning.”

            Jackson hurried to Jingle Bell Square in search of his buddies.  He found Donovan sitting on a bench in front of the Big Tree.  “Where’s Boog?”

            “I haven’t seen him,” Donovan said.

            “Is that your board?”

            “Yep.”

            “Let’s try it out,” Jackson said hopefully.

            “Well, I dunno.  Mrs. Claus said no boarding at the Slippery Slope Skating Pond.  Besides, we gotta wait for Boog.”

            “How about right here?”

            “Snow’s not packed enough.  Gotta have ice,” Donovan said.  “I guess we can go to the Slippery Slope.  Boog will probably look over there. We can’t get up to speed there, though. We don’t want to hurt anyone.”

            Jackson and Donovan ran toward the pond.  Breathless, they dropped on a bench.

            “Hey guys,” a familiar voice said.

            “Boog!  What are you doing here?” Donovan asked.

            “What does it look like?”

            “It looks like you’re skating . . . with Holly.”

            “That’s right,” Holly said, her silvery wings fluttering.  “Won’t you join us?”

            Donovan ignored her.  “What’s up, Boog?  I thought we were going to Glacier Lake.”

            “I know, but I can’t make it.”  Boog smiled at Holly.

            She batted her deep green eyes at Boog, then turned to Donovan. “Would you like to skate with us?”

            “Naw, I don’t think so,” Donovan said, shaking his head. "Maybe another time."

            Boog looked at Jackson.  “You can borrow my board if you want.”

            “You’d rather skate with her than ice board with us?” Donovan couldn’t believe his pointed ears.

            “Well, when I got here, I saw Holly, and I sorta made plans with her. Are you mad at me?”

            “Naw,” said Donovan.  “I know I'm not as pretty as a snow fairy. Lend us the board,” he added.  “We’ll be at the lake, if you change your mind.”

***

            But Boog didn’t change his mind.  Ever since he and Holly had renewed their friendship at the Claus’ Christmas party, he wanted to spend more time with her.  She was so wonderful, and they had so much to share.  Donovan was right.  He wasn't as pretty as Holly.  Boog was all google-eyed as he looked at her, truly a vision, in her dark green gown trimmed with crimson beads and fur.  And those silver wings, always in motion, sometimes only a little, but still . . . and her golden tresses, tipped in green, hanging below her shoulders.  Boog was in love.

***

            Out of breath and laughing, Boog and Holly flopped on the bench.  They watched Bee-eff and Dee-ell glide about the pond.  Native to the South Pole, this pair of penguins had been presented to Santa as a gift.  It was his hope that they would be “fruitful and multiply,” and even though there were no little penguins yet, they were Polar Park’s biggest attraction.

            “Aren’t they something?” Boog said.

            But Holly was distracted. “Hey, there’s Elmer.”

            “Yo, Elmer,” Boog called.  “What’s up?”

            “I’m on my way to Frosty Corners.”

            “Taking a trip?” Holly asked.

            “To the Christmas Tree Forest.  Clancy needs my help,” Elmer said.

            “What for?” Boog could be nosey sometimes.

            “Don’t know yet.” 

             Boog winced. “It’s supposed to snow later.”

            “That’s what I heard on the radio,” Elmer said. “But, Clancy’s impatient.”

            “Can you skate for a bit?” Holly asked.

            “Yeah, can you do your double-trouble-triple-toe loop?” begged Boog.

            “Please,” Holly pleaded.

            Elmer glanced at his pocket watch.  “Okay,” he said, dropping his satchel on the bench.  He put his skates on (he never went anyplace without them), and took the ice.  To the others’ delight, he spun and twirled, ending with his double-trouble-triple-toe loop.  He skated a few more laps, and then joined Holly and Boog on the bench.  “I guess I better get going, before I miss the train.”

            “Tell everyone hello,” Holly said.

            Elmer nodded.  “I will.” He packed his skates, then waved as he headed for Frosty Corners.


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