Blogger’s Note: For several years now, we have received a Christmas letter from an Elfin correspondent, Siberius Quill. This Christmas morning we found the handwritten note, indicating there has been some sort of accident at the Pole and that we would receive a full account when we got back from the Black Hills. What follows is the letter we found when we returned home last night.
My dearest children!
Belated Season’s Greetings to you and your Family. Another year has come and gone in a twinkling, and I find myself writing belatedly to a brood of Thorplets (as your father would call you!) whom I scarcely recognize. How quickly the five of you are growing, and how Helpful and Wise for ones so young! We elves live for many centuries, so the Rapid Progression of humanity from Infancy to Adulthood never ceases to amaze. Scarcely do we know you, ’ere we are writing to your Children’s Children!
It is a bittersweet transition, as well, for as always I’ve watched and listened as often as I might, and not once in the Past Year have you elder four raised a Single Question about Kris Kringle, reindeer, or the Magic of the Season. Perhaps I have answered your past Questions too well, so that None remain, or perhaps your Faith is just that Strong—nevertheless, it has been with Great Joy that I’ve heard young Miss Lillian say “Santa Claus” and “Ho, ho, ho!” these past few days. My thanks to you for instilling in her the Wonder appropriate to her age at Christmas! Soon she may have questions of her own for me!
By the time you receive this, you will have seen by your Gifts the weight of your Goodness this past year. My apologies again for the brief handwritten note on Christmas Day. (I hope the hasty self-portrait made up for it!) I promised a full account, and it follows: My maternal Grandfather, Brevity Parchment, whom I mentioned in my very first letter to your family, celebrated his eleven-hundred-and-seventy-first birthday on December the 23rd—an unusual milestone, to be sure, being neither a nice Round Number of decades or centuries, nor abnormally Old for most Elfin families. In the case of the Parchments, however, “Brevity” is more than just a name—Papa is the seventh Brevity in the line, all of whom have worked in Tags and Greetings, and all of whom have passed to the Next Life all of a Sudden when aged 1,170 years. (This is no sad thing; we Elves know well that this current Life, however long, is merely a Stepping Stone to a more wondrous world, so we have none of the Dread that accompanies the thought among so many of Your Kind!)
So on the Eve of the 22nd, as our seventh Brevity was about to outlast his elder Namesakes, we threw a tremendous Birthday Party. All the Elves from all the Divisions were there, with the Elfin Choir and the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Winter leading our favorite Songs and Carols, and a cake baked by the Mrs. Claus herself. And such a cake! The only place with tables enough to support so many acres of fresh-baked Sweetness was the Wrapping Gallery, and then, only with all the paper pushed to the sides and all Tables pushed together at the center! The young Chief Engineer of our North Pole Lighting Corps, Wick Talloswerth, conspired to ignite simultaneously 1,171 birthday candles stuck at intervals across the Massive Expanse of frosting. It was an audacious attempt and worked flawlessly—for a long moment, Papa Parchment’s kindly old eyes shone with the light of a Thousand and More candles gleaming just for him! But some of the Younger Elves had filled Countless Containers with confetti and tinsel and balanced them among the rafters to dump down upon the Revelers at party’s end, and the roar of Laughter than accompanied Papa’s attempts to blow out So Many Candles caused several of the buckets to toppled from their perches, and their contents to ignite! Every attempt to reach and extinguish the Fire at the center of a Roomful of Cake further shook the rafters and dislodged more of the Celebratory debris—and so the Fire spread, candle to tinsel to confetti to wrap, until the building itself ignited. By the time Reginald Meltwater, the captain of the Fire Brigade, and his men escaped the party and returned to battle the Blaze, it had spread the Mailroom, destroying Countless cards and letters.
Old Red felt badly that the Party, the Wrapping Gallery, and the Mailroom were a loss, but Papa was no worse for all the excitement of the evening, and went right to work alongside the rest. With just two days to work, we Correspondents were scrambling to get any letters out at all—but he and his best Versewrights and Calligraphers pitched in to be sure that Everyone who expected a letter received one!
And with that, my Story and my Letter are both complete. A Very Happy Christmas to you all!