Embrace the Impossibility

When we first moved to Minnesota 17 years ago, I worked for a marketing agency in downtown Minneapolis. I was conspicuous as one of the only conservative folks on staff, and my honesty, joy and general lack of cynicism earned me the nickname “Farmboy” from at least one colleague. I was regarded as a good writer and editor, but so naive and old-fashioned as to be quaint.

At the time, our oldest son Brendan was in in early elementary school. Someone on the bus began to mock him for believing in Santa Claus, and Bren responded that if Santa didn’t visit their house, it was because they didn’t believe in him. When he told Jodi and me about it afterward, he ended the story with, “I’m glad you guys still believe in magic.”

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Greetings from the North Pole, Part XII

Blogger’s Note: For several years now, we have received a Christmas letter from an Elfin correspondent, Siberius Quill. This is the 2014 installment.

Christmas 2014
My dearest children!
“Another turn around the Sun; another Year begun and done—just like that!” as our Head Astronomer, Nebular Farseer, would say. Just last week, he and Pendulus “Tick” Chronin were debating, over cocoa and gingersnaps, whether the years merely seem shorter or actually are. Your human Stargazers actually claim the years are lengthening by a millisecond or two each century; Tick claims we’re losing time, but Nebbs is on the fence—and each year, when the Chief Timekeeper marks the Year’s End on the Great Chronometer, Nebbs blames Tick’s itchy trigger-finger for any loss.
Truth be told, it is conceivable that Tick’s finger is too fast. I’ve told you before that he is markedly slow for an Elf, save his eye and finger—and indeed, these traits runs in his family: his great-grandmother, Sedentary Chronin (née Scattershot), rarely left her little cottage, but was the Best Wingshot north of the Circle, and crack with a Rifle, too! Why, she was known to harvest wild Ptarmigans and snowshoe Hares out her bedroom window, then send Bob-Catchit, her half-Lynx housecat, to fetch them in for supper—truly!
So the Debate continues, year upon year, and Christmas Day has come again—a Much-Needed Feast, indeed, in this catty-whompus World! The Old Man has been jolly, as always, but has pressed us Elves most intensely this Winter—such a need there is for Peace and Goodwill as he has not seen in Many Centuries! Peace has been the particular prayer of our Good Pastor, Fr. Aloysius Lamplighter, too, this Advent, and may it resound the World ’Round. Amen!
I am, like your Dear Parents, so grateful these days for Miss Lily, who has kept your Family young and the Spirit of the Season bright in your Home. She is Spoilt, to be sure, but the Fault is no one’s—she can hardly spoil herself, and who can blame the Rest of you for falling prey to her Charms and dark eyes. Your Dad has suggested she might become a “Mary,” as she calls the good religious sisters of Your World. Whether ’tis true or not remains to be Seen, but Sr. Providence Goodpath, Director of Vocations of the Sisters of Perpetual Winter, has looked in on her and insists she will draw people to The Incarnation, regardless!
You elder four continue to persist in Goodness and grow in Virtue, year upon year; nevertheless we continue to look in on you. Master Brendan, I am struck by the Seriousness with which you are seeking your own Good Path and remind you to treat your Special Someone with the same or greater care than you show your Own Soul. Master Gabriel, I am impressed by your persistence in All you do and the Strength of your prayers, which echo both over the Earth and in Heaven, as well! For you, Miss Emma, there will always be room at the Inn, and welcome: your Music and your Baking warm the hearts around you, and your Beauty and Joy are infectious (in only the Best Way). Master Trevor, you are becoming a Fine Young Man with your own Callings and Interests. Strick Thumpertink, our Lead Percussionist, has heard you practicing—keep it up, and you’ll be welcome in our Drum Corps anytime!
Speaking of Time and the Flight of it, Marcus Milestone (Monitor’s son, who works Birthdays and other High-Sugar Special Occasions for the Watcher Corps) stopped by the Other Day to remind me on his Elder’s behalf that young Master Trevor has reached Double Digits this year—a Momentous Age, to be sure, and one I’m sure you’ll recall entails Special Responsibilities toward the Keeping of Christmas. Speak to your Father in a Quiet Moment, and he will, no doubt, explain. Marcus also noted Lily’s recent Birthday celebrations and was impressed by the Love shown by friends not her own. How kind they are to mark her Third Year in such a Splendid Fashion!
On that note: Bishop Nicholas trusts you will be Happy with your gifts this year, and gives his Blessing to you—which, from a Saint, is not Insignificant! A Very Happy Christmas to you all!
Yours Still and Always,


Siberius Quill

P.S. All of us here, but Dr. Vendy most of all, send our Condolences on the loss of your dear Schnauzer, Puck. He was the Very Definition of a Good Dog!

LIFT Links: The Pro-Santa, Eve-of-Christmas-Eve Edition

Blogger’s Note: I am a big fan of Santa Claus. You do not have to be…but if you’d like to be, and still hope to keep Christ as the focus of your Christmas season, here are some thoughts on how to do so. (Elf on the Shelf is not one of them, because I find him too tangible and a bit too creepy — but to each his or her own!)

Trevor visiting with St. Nicholas

Holiday Letter 2009

At long last, here is the Thorp family Christmas letter for 2009. In future years, we intend to publish it electronically first and foremost. We’ll still send a Christmas photo or postcard with you, to let you know when it’s up and ready. If you strongly prefer (or require) a paper copy, drop us a line or leave us a comment here. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, friends!

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!)