Greetings From the North Pole, Part VII

Blogger’s Note: Over Christmas 2003, we became annual pen-pals with an elf named Siberius Quill, and he has again delivered this year! Transcriptions of the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 letters from Quill can be seen here.

Christmas 2009

My dearest Children!

I must say, it has been a Most Eventful Year, both in your home and in ours! Such bustle down below (in Minnesota!), what with the Four of you now all school-age and active, and your parents rushing hither and yon to this and that engagement. Concerts, practices, games, retreats! It’s no wonder the Old Year slipped past so quickly! Does it feel that way even to Young Ones like yourselves? After centuries here in the White North, it all seems but a blink to my eye…

And my! but we have been busy here—about the same time you were enjoying Thanksgiving at the Venjohns, all our best Reindeer came down with Caribou Flu, which is not unlike your swine flu: dreadful wheezing coughs and high fevers and constant fatigue. It passed through the herd quickly, like a rumor of an Early Spring, and we wondered how we would haul the sleigh. Our elfin veterinarian, Dr. Vendy Deervermer, and the rest of the Stable Corps worked double-time to nurse them back to health (and drinking extra cocoa to ward off the flu themselves!), even as our Aeroanimage, Buoyancy Castor, struggled to find a suitable substitute, just in case. Aeroanimagery, you may know or might guess, is the magical art by which Terrestrial (that is, Earthbound) Creatures are made to fly, and old Yancy is the Best in the Business—but with the nearby caribou herds also sick, his Viable Options were limited indeed!

Only two creatures were deemed large and strong enough; the Walruses proved quite “broncy,” as your father’s friend Jinglebob might say, when airborne, and the Polar Bears—suffice it to say that it takes more than Pixie Dust to keep Ursus maritimus aloft. Plus, they eat a Great Deal and won’t touch vegetables—and very Few Homes indeed leave cold cuts or hard sausage, much less raw red meat, for Old Santa’s draft stock!

It was Touch-and-Go to the last! Fortunately, Dr. Vendy concocted a home remedy made from homemade udder balm from a moose dairy in Siberia, cooling Peppermint Paste from our own Candy Kitchens, and traditional Inuit and Eskimo medicines, then boiled in a Tea. The resulting drink, along with the prayers of the Devout Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Winter, seemed to move them to recovery. (That, and the Magnificent Storm predicted by old Flurious and even now snowing over you as sleep and wake—the Reindeer love nothing more that a long pull through snowy skies!)

But enough of Our Problems! You have been Good Children, one and all, again this year—and so what’s a Watcher to do but spy over your shoulder to see what Questions you might have for the Jolly Old Elf, himself, this year? We’ve done just that, so even as Father Christmas munches his cookies and smiles at Your Note, he is able to leave this letter in Timely Reply!

Miss Emma, you’ve asked about Numbers of Toys and the Time It Takes—and I trust Masters Gabriel and Trevor have similar concerns in their own Heads and Hearts. I would urge you to ask Master Brendan to share my Past Letters with you again, in which I explain more about Which Toys are Made and Which Toys are Gathered. But in truth, we still make Many Hundreds of Thousands of toys and order Countless more. We make toys year-round, and indeed deliver them secretly Whenever and Wherever they are needed—much as St. Nicholas of Myra took care of those in need centuries ago.

How long does it take? Why, it takes All the Time We Have, which is No Time at All, when you think about it. What we do isn’t Possible in any amount of time, and yet each year we get Faster! Our official Time-Keeper, Pendulus “Tick” Chronin may actually be the slowest Elf at the Pole— except for his keen eye and quick thumb, which starts and stops the Great Chronometer at the start of each Shift, and each Christmas Eve. The G.C. measures time to the Nanosecond, and we have gotten so Lively and Quick at what we do that Tick may have to be quicker still. Picoseconds! Can you imagine?

And now I read back over What I Have Written, and see that perhaps it will make Little Sense to you. Facts are more Fluid than you might think, Children, and Faith, more Solid that Stone. Believe, and Wonderous Things are Yours to behold!

Travel safe, my young Friends, and a Very Happy Christmas to you all!

Yours (Truly!)


Greetings From the North Pole, Part VI

Blogger’s Note: Over Christmas 2003, we became annual pen-pals with an elf named Siberius Quill, and he has again delivered this year! Transcriptions of the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 letters from Quill can be seen here.

My dearest Children!

My, but the World is snowy where you live—White Christmas indeed! This is the weather Father Christmas likes: the sleigh runners slick with frost, and thick powder to soften and silence the landing. Kris Kringle should make good time tonight!

You are Good Children, one and all—obedient, respectful, joy-filled, and loving. Good Eggs, your Father might say; we say Good Apples, and you stand in sharp contrast to the Bad Apples, who “spoil the whole bunch,” as they say. Oh, you have your naughty moments, as all Young People do, but these moments of mischief and misbehavior are Lessons, one and all. Your Conscience speaks the Truth—it tells you Right from Wrong—and should you fail to hear It, your parents correct you, all as it Should Be. In that, you are Very Lucky.

Young Master Trevor, your laughter and shouts while opening your Christmas Eve gifts resound clear to the Auroras! Bless my soul, but you make a Joyous Noise! And as we are not bound by Time at the Pole (our nature being magical and the Earth’s rotation here being rather instantaneous), I am able to report that your happiness rang in the ears of Santa’s reindeer and was much-loved. It sparks them the fly high and pull hard! And your singing has caught the ear of our elfin Songmaster, Jovial Moralus, who ensures we elves have Proper Music to work by. Old Jove said your voice would raise the spirits of the most frostbit soul—some elves sing for centuries and never earn such high praise as that!

And Miss Emma—you grow lovelier each winter, and have become Quite The Help around the house. We could use such a hand as you in Santa’s Workshop—the tools get in such disarray during the busy days before Christmas Eve. The Tool-Mistress and Chief Shop-Keep, Methody Straitner, has been hard at work for years organizing the tools and benches and bins to ensure Peak Efficiency. She has seen your handiwork in the kitchen cupboard, and deems you a Natural!

Master Gabriel: I must compliment your question about the existence of frost dragons. Father Christmas and I are both honoured that you would entrust such a question—regarding the Very Existence of a Great Something you’ve never seen—to us, when we know your friends and neighbors have questioned our own Very Existence! I fear, however, that I cannot give you certainty. There is one among My People, a most adventuresome elf called Articus Chippenhammer, who left the Nail Corps when so many toys shifted from wood to plastic. His great-grandfather was a paleomythologist of some reknown, and Chippenhammer has since put his hammer to work exploring the Polar Wastes for signs of such Legends as Abominable Snowcreatures, Sasquatches, Frost Dragons, and the like. It is slow work, chipping away at millenia of rock and ice looking for Mere Fragments of white bone, hair or scales, and after decades of digging he’s found Nothing Conclusive yet.

And finally, B. You are strong, smart and responsible, and have done a remarkable job in your First Year helping your Family bring Christmas to fruition. Well done! A generous heart and a willingness to serve others will serve you well in life, Eldest Brother. Remember the Bishop of Myra, St. Nicholas, and Christ Himself, as your examples, and you will Have Love and Be Loved.

Happy Christmas to you and your family, and Safe Travels to your Busia and Dziadzi. God Bless You and your Family. I wish you All the Best in the New Year—and Always!

Yours truly,

Siberius Quill

Greetings From the North Pole, Part V

Blogger’s Note: Over Christmas 2003, we became annual pen-pals with an elf named Siberius Quill, and he has again delivered this year! Transcriptions of the 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 letters from him can be seen in the Archives.

My dearest Children!

Another year spent, and quickly! They say, among Your Folk, that the years go Ever Faster the older you get—imagine, then, when your age reaches into the centuries! It seems only Yesterday I was introducing myself, and here we are, Old Hands, as they say.

The Watchers Corps tells me you’ve been Exceptionally Good, all told. All Children have their naughty moments, but according to your assigned Day-Watcher Seamus Farseer, yours are scattered and relatively minor in the Big Scheme of Things. Scopes, as we call him, lacks the patience of his grandfather, the astronomer Nebular—he quickly tires of good families like yours! Old Nebbs has scolded him many a time for betting cups of hot cocoa on the wrongdoing of Other Children!

Lady Emma Rose, now in Kindergarten: already you’ve made a name for Yourself as a child of Honesty and Kindness. It is hard, no doubt, to be the Only Girl among Boys—but Always Remember: it is more important to be Nice than to be Noticed! You are lovely and polite, sparkling like the snow, as your Dziadzi’s song says, so you’ll always be seen, regardless. And young Master Trevor: with So Many older kids about, it is no wonder you feel Overlooked, but believe me: we see and hear you, too! Patience, little Master: Good things come—truly!

Magnificent questions this year, Masters Brendan and Gabriel! To G. first: You asked how Father Christmas writes so well, by which I suppose you mean, how does he make such Splendid Letters when he writes Children by hand. Well, the Old Man has written the notes for So Many Christmases now, he’s had plenty of practice! But more importantly, he makes his Joy (which is Abundant!) manifest through his pen! Think of it this way: You must feel what you want your Reader to feel, then imagine what you want them to see, and only then put pen to paper!

And B., you asked about the Differences between St. Nicholas of Myra and Santa Claus, aside from the obvious—by which I suppose you mean the fact that Nicholas was an Archbishop who died circa 342, while your Santa is evergreen and ever-present (not to mention no longer a priest!). Sister Mary Faith Splendour of the Devout Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Winter tells me that this is an Especially Common question among Children your age. She reminds us that the simplest answer is best when you’re young—and that is, there is no difference; they are one and the same.

But you, Master Brendan, are a decade Wiser than when you arrived, so she shares this: The differences are all those you expect between the physical and the spiritual; the mortal and the immortal. While a Turkish priest can only work what Miracles own his imperfect Faith and frail Form will allow, the Spirit of Christmases Past, Present, and Future can do whatever needs doing, on a whim, fueled by the Faith of millions of people just like you! Miracles are difficult for Human Minds to comprehend, which is why your thinking deeply on these subjects is So Important!

Which brings me to it, at last: There is something I must ask of you, B., as Eldest Brother. As a Tweener, as you say, you may be called upon to take on New Responsibilities with regard to Christmas, as your Father did when he was ten. This new role is of the utmost importance and is, for Now, entrusted to You and You Alone. In a quiet moment, ask your Folks—I warn you, they might be caught off guard, but I’ve no doubt they’ll share it with you The Instant they are Ready!

Happy Christmas and Safe Travels to your Busia and Dziadzi. God Bless You and your Family. I wish you All the Best in the New Year—and Always!

Yours truly,

Siberius Quill

P.S. You may have noticed, as I have, that the older children get, the smaller their gifts (video games, for example, instead of great rumbling racetracks!). Since Santa’s sack is Magical, of course, this has no physical effect on how much he can carry—but it does require a recalibration of the spells. Two Mathematimagicians, Voluminous Theorim and Lucia Croix-Parallux, are responsible for such geometric calculations in the Fourth and Fifth Dimensions—assuring that everyone’s gifts show up precisely where they should in Space and Time.

Greeting from the North Pole, Part IV

Blogger’s Note: Over Christmas 2003, we became annual pen-pals with an elf named Siberius Quill. Transcriptions of the 2003, 2004 and 2005 letters from him can be seen in the Archives. Here is the letter from 2006.

My dearest Children!

A very Merry Christmas to you all, Dear Children! Rest assured, your Wish Lists and Artwork arrived in fine form, and I must say, you are becoming Quite Accomplished as Artists! I shared your pictures with several Friends before passing them on to your Father Christmas. Dmitri Longbristle, an Elfin cookie-painter and candy-striper, loved them! (We laugh and call him “Drips,” although he reminds us that he never makes a mistake he can’t eat, so nobody’s ever seen one—truly!). Drips was most impressed, Master Brendan, with your steady hand and eye for detail.

As for you, Master Gabriel and Miss Emma Rose, my cousins Versius Goodcheer and Sketchum Quill, who design Christmas cards, said you should consider making cards Yourselves next year! Your dear Parents and Grandparents would love them, no doubt.

Santa loved them, as well, of course—and your Lists were quite reasonable. He is Especially Pleased that the four of you play so well together—even sharing in fine fashion with young Master Trevor. Don’t think it goes Unnoticed! Certainly, there are Things he cannot have—Things he would swallow and Things he would break—but he wants so badly to be like the Three of You. And I can’t think of three fine role models. Be good to him, that he may grow to be good, as well.

As always, of course, Santa brings What’s Best—so you’ll get some of What You Want, some Things you didn’t ask for, and some Things not at all. It can be hard to remember that Christmas, in all its radiant splendor, is not about Things a whit—but about Family, Humility, and Peace. If you are Lucky enough to have those things, give Thanks and be Content …

That’s a Hard Idea for young and budding Brains. Perhaps the eldest brother can explain? You’ve done well, B.—reading aloud my Old Letters so G. and “Rosie” (as the little one says) to teach them How and Why we do What we do. You may even have done too well! I was amazed to see not a Single Question this year!

I suspect that the younger Children will have fresh Concerns in the future. In the meantime, if you have Questions between now and Thanksgiving Next, do ask your Father. He is a good Resource on most things Santa, and loves the Spirit of Christmas that we Elves and Kris Kringle embody. And your lovely Mother—she embodies the Christmas before Bishop Nicholas was a Saint! As your parents’ Christmas Letter said, your “very own Mary,” a woman of God who lives for the Good of Others.

Happy Christmas and Safe Travels. May the Skies be blue, and the Earth, white, for your trip home. I wish you All the Best in the New Year—and Always!

God Bless You, Children, and your Family. Yours truly,

Siberius Quill

P.S. You’ve always taken an interest in my Elfin colleagues—tell your Dziadzi that our farrier, Frictz Grypsum, rubbed the hooves of the reindeer with a balm of bee’s wax, flint dust and mountain goat dander especially for rooftops as pitched as his!

Greetings from the North Pole, Part III

Blogger’s Note: Over Christmas 2003, we became annual pen-pals with an elf named Siberius Quill. Transcriptions of the 2003 and 2004 letters from him can be seen in the Archives. Here is the letter from 2005.

My dearest Children!

Merry Christmas, all! It has been such a pleasure watching you grow — in Body, Mind and Spirit — this past year. Master Brendan, reading at a level far beyond his age; Master Gabriel, starting school, making friends, and working numbers in his head; and young Miss Emma, ever the Angel, blossoming into such a lovely little princess. And Master Trevor! Up and walking, a whirlwind of smiles and mild destruction! Don’t get too frustrated, Friends — he won’t be a toddler forever!

You may wonder how it is that I’ve been watching you this past year, when I’m a Correspondent and not a Watcher at all. The truth of the Matter is that, since I’m assigned to you, I can periodically check in — the Watchers have a magic Glass, like a periscope, that I can use to look in on you and see what you’re about, just by swivel it about three complete times and saying, “I spy with my Little Eye … the Thorp children!” I also have Snow Globe that does the same, although not as clearly or closely — I shake it, say a few words, and in a flurry I’m gazing down on Your Neighborhood, watching you walk to the bus stop or play in the yard.

Which brings me to one of your questions this year: What days does Santa check The List? The List is maintained year-round but the Elves in the Watchers Corps, who monitor every child and update their notes daily. The Old Man can check in on the Watchers whenever he wants, as can the Watchers check in on you — but most Children warrant only an occasional peek a few times throughout the year, at those times when Naughtiness is most tempting — around Bedtime, say, or on the Way to School, when Mom and Dad aren’t around. As I told Miss Emma last year, it takes a Great Deal of Naughtiness to wind up on that list, and with Parents as demanding as yours, you’ve little to worry about! Listen to them, Children! They love you and will help you on Your Own Way!

Ah! I’m rambling! As the song says, Father Christmas checks the list twice: for your country, once between Halloween and Thanksgiving (some children are bound to be Naughty on All Hallows Eve!) and again between Thanksgiving and Christmas (while most Little Ones get increasing Excitable and forget their Manners as Christmas approaches, some Bad Seeds take root and bear fruit in that last month, in Hope the St. Nicholas soon will be there!

As for the Old Man’s name: St. Nicholas, as he was originally, was a Catholic bishop (like your Harry Flynn, if I’m not mistaken) long ago, who secretly left money and treats for the poor by hiding things in their shoes, leaving them on their windowsills or dropping them down their chimneys. The Dutch called St. Nicholas “Sint Nicolaas” and “Sinterclaas” — this latter name became Santa Claus in America. The English call him Father Christmas, which the French say “Pere Noel.” And people the World Around call him Kris Kringle, which is derived from “Chistkind” or “Christ Child” — a reminder that Jesus is Born this Day! Like the Magi, He delivers Gifts and Blessings to our future Kings and Queens, the Children of the World!

You’ve also asked how long it takes to make All Those Toys, and how Santa can visit all Children in One Night. Remember, we no longer make all the toys — we’ve no skill for making Computer Games and such! But with So Many children, we build, order, test, bind and protect toys year-round. Those children Less Fortunate than you, who don’t have toys, or clothes, or even enough food to eat, get what attention we can give to them even in the Summer. So we’re always Very Busy! We keep up the Same Way old St. Nick does: Hard Work and Handy Winks.

I suspect you understand Hard Work as well can be expected for your age. Handy Winks are what Your Parents might refer to as doing something “In the Blink of an Eye!” It’s magic, really — So Much of Life is spent with our eyes closed (sleeping, blinking, sneezing and prayer!) that Santa conjured a spell to help us work Super-Quickly when our eyes are closed! We can accomplish more in a blink that most Folks do in an hour!

Tremendous questions! I so enjoy sharing with you. A note about Gifts: You will not find Everything you asked for this year — other Children have Greater Need, and certain of the games and movies you’d like, Master G., aren’t appropriate for you yet. Still and all, I suspect you’ll be pleased!

God Bless You, Children, and your Family. Yours truly,


P.S. So you’re amateur Stargazers, now, eh? Wonderful! Our Chief Astronomer and Navigator, Nebular Farseer, bids you Clear Skies!