Santa's Daughter

Christine Morgan (
comments welcome
Author's Note: this story was written in early 1995, following my daughter
Rebecca's first Christmas. It was our 1995 holiday mailer to friends and
family. Now, dear reader, it is yours.

Santa's Daughter To some other children, mine seemed a great life, the one cherished daughter of Santa and his wife But I had no one to play with, no siblings, no friends. Just the elves, on whose handiwork Christmas depends. My parents were busy, my mother and dad, who loved all the world's children but who never had expected to have a child of their own. And so it was I was often alone. I tried to help in the workshop, but couldn't make toys. I tried to help the musicians, but only made noise. I tried to help with the long list of girls and of boys, but that's one chore my father really enjoys so he'd do it himself and I'd wander around, wondering what it would be like with no snow on the ground. That was all I had seen in my growing-up days, snow-covered hills great for sledding and sleighs, but not for rollerskates, skateboards, and bicycles. Just glaciers and snowflakes and long pointed icicles. What would it be like to see grass that was green? That was something quite wonderful that I'd never seen. At the North Pole, winter is nothing but nights, lit not by sun but by bright northern lights, and winter was when we worked hardest of all. Our season began early in fall and continued 'til well after Christmas had passed, first the making and packing and then, at last, after all of the gifts had been given away, the cleanup that lasted sometimes 'til May. I liked watching the reindeer learning to fly, their antlers raised high in the star-studded sky, their harnesses jingling and each silver bell seeming to call out to me, call my name, call Noelle. Sometimes I'd play with the fawns, if allowed, but the sleigh team was always far, far too proud to let me be near them or give me a ride. Rudolph, especially, was so filled with pride that he couldn't see past the end of his nose, but he would soon learn that the way that it glows would bring danger and trouble to all the reindeer, because someone was watching for Santa this year, someone wicked and cruel, the Witch of the Ice. She didn't care who was naughty or nice. The Witch of the Ice lived all by herself in a cave far away. She once was an elf, or so they say, but hadn't been here for hundreds of years and had even cut off the points of her ears so no one would know that an elf had gone bad in a way that no other elf ever had. And so it was that on one Christmas Eve, as the sleigh was packed full and ready to leave, the Witch waited and watched as the reindeer flew high, Rudolph's nose bright in the chilly dark sky, and when she could see it, clear as a bell, the Ice Witch unleashed a terrible spell and called up a monster from H-E-Double-L, and she grinned as it scared them and laughed as they fell. We saw them fall too, we'd been waving goodbye, when the monster-thing frightened them out of the sky. Mother and I and all of the elves were stunned and shocked and beside ourselves! Oh, such a mess as I'd ever seen! A worse Christmas accident there never had been! Presents flew everywhere, hither and yon, and fully one half of the sleigh -- it was gone! Most of the reindeer had come to no harm, but Santa had bruises and one broken arm. All were tangled and tied up and caught in the straps, and Dasher and Vixen were taking quick naps ... no, they were unconscious from bumps to the head, but luckily no one was bleeding or dead. All the elves ran about, and my mother and me, helping them up, but we all could see that the sleigh wouldn't fly. Clear to each eye, it was bashed up too good, being made only of red-painted wood, and even if by some magic it would, we didn't think that my father could. Tomorrow was Christmas, that most special day, and what would all the good boys and girls say when they woke up and found nothing under the tree? I looked at my mother and she looked at me. "What will we do?" asked one very small elf. I said, "I know what we'll do. I'll take them myself!" "I'll do it myself," I once again said as I looked at the deer and the wreck of the sled. "We can't cancel Christmas because Santa fell." "I won't let you do it. It's dangerous, Noelle. That monster's still out there." My mother frowned as she watched the elves gather the gifts from the ground, brush the snow off and securely pack every last present in Santa's big sack. "Let her go, Nana," my father declared. "It's clear as ice crystal that she isn't scared. The monster can't hurt her. She's clever and quick, I'm certain of that or my name's not Saint Nick." Telling the elves to clean up the mess, my mother turned to me and said, "Well, I guess we'll have to hurry, for it's Christmas Eve, and Santa was already supposed to leave. But how will you travel? The reindeer can't fly and the sleigh isn't fit to go up in the sky." Santa winced as they splinted the arm that he broke and he said, "You can sew, why not make her a cloak? It will be magic, I'll see to that. Make a hood to keep her head warm, not a hat." Back at our house, Mother sewed fast as she could, making a pretty red cloak with a hood, trimmed with white fur just like Santa's suits, though having small feet I didn't wear boots. I had a white dress and a belt holly-red, and an evergreen wreath to wear on my head. "You're the picture of Christmas," Santa said with a smile. "Now before you go, listen to me for a while. The Witch of the Ice is still out there somewhere and may try to stop you, though I don't think she'd dare. You'll have to be careful, and clever, and quick, just in case she does try some new kind of trick." "Assuming she doesn't, what else should I do? I've never been out on a Christmas with you and I know that I'm supposed to fill stockings with toys, or with coal if I find any bad girls or boys. But what else is there to it? What else must I know? Without sleigh or reindeer, how can I go to all of the houses? How do I get in? I've always wondered, because you're not thin, how you fit down a chimney or under a door." "It's magic," he said. "Just that, nothing more. The cloak that you wear has the same sort of spell. It will take you wherever you wish to, Noelle." "Wherever I wish? What a wonderful thing! So this is how I can visit and bring all of the presents and all of the cheer. Thank you for trusting me with Christmas this year!" He nodded and said, "Now, you'd better be going. For once it won't matter if it's raining or snowing. Here is my list so you'll know what to give to each of the children, and where they all live. Just make your first wish and you'll be on your way, and we'll see you tomorrow or the next day." He said one last thing as I was ready to leave, with sack over my shoulder and list up my sleeve. "If it's not too much trouble, could you bring back some delicious cookies for me as a snack?" I promised I'd bring back some sort of treat, left out in the houses for Santa to eat. Then saying goodbye to each little elf, I pulled my cloak around me and I wished myself to the first of the stops on the long Christmas list. Smoke rose around me, maybe it was mist, and the next thing I saw was a most festive show of four bright red stockings hung all in a row. I heard noise behind me and turned 'round to see the Witch of the Ice, chortling with glee, about to set fire to the family's tree! Without thinking once, let alone thinking twice, I sprang across the room to the Witch of the Ice and seized a big handful of her long white hair, spinning her 'round as I cried, "Don't you dare!" She looked up at me, face filled with surprise, and said, "Who are you, with your evergreen eyes and your hair all like chestnuts roasting aflame?" I said, "You don't know me. Noelle is my name. I am Santa's daughter, you awful mean hag, and I've got all the presents right there in that bag. Now I'm taking you home, I'm taking you back --" ...was as far as I got when she gave me a smack! It shames me to say that there was then a fight, not a good way to honor this most holy night. There was pulling of hair, and kickings, and slappings, right there by the presents with all their bright wrappings. "Stop!" I said as she was sitting on me. In our fighting we'd almost knocked over the tree. "Why should I stop?" The Witch's lip curled. "Once I get rid of you, I'll go all over the world, ruining Christmas wherever I can, for each girl and boy, for each woman and man." "This isn't the way to solve problems," I said. "Why do you do it? Why'd you wreck Santa's sled?" She looked puzzled. "No one's ever asked me before." She let go of me and she sat on the floor. Underneath her long hair I could see her poor ears and the sight of them almost brought me to tears, because the story was true and their points were cut off. I hid my shocked gasp by pretending to cough, and quickly got back my control of myself. "Well, now I'm asking. Were you really an elf?" She nodded. "I was one of the toymaking elves, working hard all year long to fill up the shelves. I wore the pointy hat and the little green dress. But I left the North Pole." "Why?" "Can't you guess? I didn't like dollhouses or cute teddy bears, or making tea sets and pink rocking chairs. I liked making toy soldiers, toy choo-choo-trains, footballs and spaceships and model airplanes. I made video games that make lots of noise. The other elves said those were toys just for boys. I was supposed to make toys just for girls, sweet little dollies with long golden curls, and all sorts of things that just made me sick. When I said no, they complained to Saint Nick. He wouldn't listen to me, not one bit, so I packed up my clothes and my toymaking kit and did what no elf did before me ... I quit! And I became a witch and I cut off my ears, and lived all by myself for all these past years. I decided to get even with Santa this year, so that's why I frightened all the reindeer and made the sleigh fall." "It doesn't have to be like that at all," I said to the witch, holding out my hand. "Times have changed. Things are different. They'll understand. It isn't fair to make you do what you hate when at something else you're good, even great. It doesn't matter where a toy comes from, whether the toy is a doll or a drum. The important thing is that it brings special joy to the heart of a little girl or a boy." "I wish I believed you." "I tell you, it's true! Come with me and see. Help me put presents under the tree and fill up the stockings left by the fire, and you'll soon believe that I am not a liar. Santa will gladly welcome you back and I'm sure he'll forgive the monster's attack if you just say you're sorry and ask very nice. Then you won't have to be the Witch of the Ice." "They'll never forgive me," the little witch said, turning away and shaking her head. "I've been rotten and evil and much, much too bad. It's far, far too late and they'll be much, much too mad. I've ruined Christmas. It's all gone to waste." "No it hasn't," I said. "If we work with great haste, we can still do it all in one single night. Working together, we can set everything right. You must have magic that helped bring you here, without flying by sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. So listen to me, here's what we will do. We'll divide up the list and the presents too, then you can go one way and I'll go the other with my magic cloak made for me by my mother." "I'll do it!" she said with a bright happy laugh. "I'll help you! I will! Quick, give me my half!" I gave her a hug, and a list, and a sack full of toys, just like mine, to be worn on her back. We left several gifts for the folks living here, who were still sleeping soundly with nothing to fear and no way of knowing that their Christmas this year had almost been tragic and not filled with cheer. Then I smiled at the witch and she smiled at me in the lights twinkling pretty on the big Christmas tree. She held up a wand made of unmelting ice and waved it in circles once, twice, and thrice, and then she was gone in a whisper of silk. I looked 'round and saw some cookies and milk and a note for my dad and I suddenly remembered the promise I had given to him before I left the North Pole. Nearby were some carrots chopped up in a bowl, a treat for the sleigh team, I hadn't a doubt, so I took some of each as I was on my way out. Pulling my cloak around myself tight, I wished myself onward into the night. From one house to the next and the next after that, sometimes surprising a dog or a cat when I appeared and they caught sight of me. At one house was a child asleep by the tree, who had probably meant to stay up all night, waiting to see if the stories were right, because sometimes they said that Santa wasn't real, and I thought that must be a sad way to feel. At my very last stop as I filled the last stocking, the Ice Witch arrived without even knocking. She looked as tired as I felt myself, not a witch anymore, just a small lady elf, who had been up far too late and been far too busy, and all of this traveling made us both dizzy. "I'm finished," she said as she held up the sack. "As soon as you're done, we'd best head on back. The sun's coming up, saying goodnight to the moon. It's almost dawn, and so pretty soon all the children will wake up and come out to see what Santa left them, though it was just you and me." I took out the last gift, a checkerboard game, and put it down as I asked, "What's your name? I can't keep on calling you the Witch of the Ice now that you've turned out to be really nice." "Trixie," she said. "I am Trixie Toymaker, daughter of Mixie the Fruitcake-baker, grandchild of Scolla the Snowglobe-shaker." "Trixie," I said. "That's a very good name. And you're very pretty. It's really a shame about your poor ears, but maybe Santa can do something to grow the points back for you. Now, there, I'm done, and we'll have to run to get back to the North Pole before Christmas morning. I hear a rooster, sounding a warning." So I folded up the big empty sack and I took Trixie's hand and I wished us both back. Santa stood up as we both re-appeared, and his welcoming smile was lost in his beard and his eyes grew so wide that I wanted to hide as he looked us both over, up and down, side to side. "Hello, Saint Nick," Trixie Toymaker said. "I'm terribly sorry about your reindeer and sled. Is there any way I can make amends? Your daughter and I have become quite good friends." Santa looked at me. "Noelle, is this true?" "Yes, Father. You aren't angry, are you?" "Angry?" he said. "This is wonderful news! I'm happy right down to the tips of my shoes!" "Then Trixie can stay?" I cried in delight. "Of course," Santa said. "It would only be right. She can even have her old worktable back and make an airplane or racing-car track. I've never felt right about letting her go. I'm glad that she's home and I'll let all the elves know that Trixie can make whatever she wants, even green-striped polka-dotted elephants!" Trixie started to cry, then hugged Santa instead, and he patted her right on the top of the head. My mother came in to see what caused the fuss and gasped in surprise at the sight of us, then she called all the elves and they came running in, the tall elves and short ones, the chubby and thin. They all talked at once, every last elf, and it got so noisy I could not hear myself think, so I wandered away, leaving Trixie to greet her old friends and to say how happy she was to be at home here and how sorry she was for scaring the deer. Santa came over and said,"Noelle, I have to say that you did very well. Not only did you save Christmas this year but you made a good friend and you brought her back here." "I also brought cookies," I said. "And milk too. And a handful of carrots, but those aren't for you. But, Father, before I get to the task of explaining this all, I have one thing to ask. In some of the houses, I saw little scenes, set up on the mantles, little figurines, of camels and angels and even of sheep, by a stable where a baby was asleep. I knew all about snowmen, and reindeer I've seen, but those little figures, what do they mean?" "It's the meaning of Christmas," Santa Claus said. "Long ago, before reindeer's noses glowed red, before holly and trees and before my sleigh, Christmas was first someone special's birthday. In a far desert land where there are sand dunes, not snow drifts, that child's presents were the first Christmas gifts. Not toys and not candy, but gold and other treasure, brought by three wise men to show honor and pleasure. That very old story is the earliest rendition of the start of our holiday gift-giving tradition." "Who were the wise men? Was one of them you?" He smiled. "Noelle, Santa has secrets too. I'll tell you more at some other time, but for now we have come to the end of this rhyme." So I went over to Trixie, my newest best friend, and though much more would happen, we'll call this ... The End
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Santa's Daughter / Copyright 1996 - Tim Morgan /