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When Santa Cried
by Beth Gay

Happy New Year!When Santa Claus first began bringing Christmas Gifts to all the boys and girls in the world, there were only 17,543 children. Back then, Santa began making toys for Christmas delivery sometime in February... and, if Santa started delivering these gifts right after the sun went down on Christmas Eve, he and the reindeer could finish the route before the sun came shining up on Christmas morn.

With the yearsí work done, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus would have all of January and even part of February to rest and vacation in Florida.

As the years went by, Santa realized that it was taking longer and longer to fashion all the gifts because there were more boys and girls to make gifts for. He began to huff and to puff to get all the gifts delivered before sun up Christmas Day.

He would urge the reindeer on with, "HO! HO! HO! On Dancer, on Prancer. Itís getting light and we have four countries yet to go!"

The reindeer began to worry. "Ya know, Vixen, the old man is in big trouble. There are so many more children nowadays that soon, some boy or girl will wake up without presents...or..", the reindeer took a deep breath, .. "or maybe even catch us leaving the Christmas Gifts!"

"Oh. NO" All the reindeer frowned with worry and shook their antlers.

"And," panted another reindeer, "thatís not the only problem Santa is going to have. This reindeer is getting TIRED. Weíve gone at top speed ever since we left the North Pole... and by my Antlers, Iím worn to a frazzle."

And so it went. Each year Santa had to work longer and longer to make the tops and sleds and rocking horses.

Mrs. Santa tried to do more to help.  But, Mrs Santa was busier than ever, because - as you know - Mrs Santa makes all the dolls and doll clothes for little girls everywhere.

The reindeer tried to help. Their antlers kept knocking things over.

Soon, Santa and Mrs. Santa had to begin building toys all over again as soon as Christmas Eve deliveries were done. Santa and the reindeer had to leave earlier and earlier each Christmas to be sure that all the gifts were delivered on time.

One cold winters day Santa said, "You know, I haven't felt like saying "HO! HO! HO! in centuries. I'm always so tired."

Mrs. Claus smiled and patted his shoulder and said in a soft voice, "No wonder, Santa dear. You're always busy. And, I do believe you've lost weight. Why, you're not nearly as big as you once were... Can it be? Oh, you're THIN.  Santa Claus is SKINNY!"

Mrs. Santa was right. Santa had worked so hard and so long that the tummy that used to jiggle like a bowlful of jelly was gone. The red suit hung in loose and floppy folds all around him. Those famous red and rosy cheeks were pale.

Great big tears squeezed from beneath Santa's eyelids as he wearily put his head down on the kitchen table.

Santa sighed and said in a very small voice. "You know, I'm afraid I CAN'T HO! HO! HO! anymore..."

Mrs. Clause clasped her hands together and said, "Oh, please try my dear!"

What WOULD the world be like if Santa lost his HO! HO! HO!?

So, Santa Clause took a deep breath... leaned back and tried. "Hee, hee, heeee..."

The reindeer out in the barn heard.

"What was that?"

"Don't know, sounds like a mouse trying to sneeze..."

Again. Santa began to turn a bright red from trying... "Heee.. Hee."

That is when the unbelievable happened. Santa Clause - the merriest man ever in the world.. Santa Claus began to cry.

Mrs Clause wrapped Santa in her arms and started to sniff, then she began to cry too. Tears streamed down her face.

For the very first time in history Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause were crying.

All over the world, smiles mysteriously disappeared. The sparkle went out of the stars in the sky and joy was gone from the hearts of children everywhere.

The reindeer were frightened.

"What's the matter?"

"Why are they weeping?"

"Phhggtt. I know why" Dancer snorted. "There are so many boys and girls now that Santa just can't make enough toys and get them delivered on time."

"We know it." said another reindeer. "It was spring before I caught my breath last year..."

"It's been hurry, hurry, hurry for so long I think my name is Hurry." said another.

"Well, I don't know about the rest of you.. but, I think I'm gonna cry too. Think of it. No more HO! HO! HO! and a skinny Santa that says, "hee, hee, hee - like a mouse sneezing."

With that, all eight reindeer began to cry. They cried and they cried. And, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus cried. They all cried. Then cried some more. Pretty soon, all those warm tears began to flow out of the house and out of the barn.. and they began to met the snow and the ice. Still, the reindeer and the Claus' cried. The warm tears fell heavier.

The ice melted. Deeper and deeper the tears melted the snow.

Between wails, Mrs. Clause happened to look out of the window. "Look, the snow and ice has melted in our front yard!" Her eyes were round with surprise. She whispered, "Upon my red flannel pyjamas.. the melted snow and ice are GREEN."

She and Santa gazed upon the green snow with wonder upon their tear streaked faces.

And it was so. Santa's house, and the reindeer's barn were surrounded by green melted snow. The tears of all the reindeer and of Mr. and Mrs. Clause had melted deep, deep down into the ice. All the way down to where an entire colony of Elves had been frozen zillions and zillions of years before.

Deep in the melting snow, the Elves began to wake.

"Oh, it's good to wake up," said one smallish Elf. "It was a good nap, but now I'm ready to get back to work."

"But, where is our workshop?"

"Where are out paints?"

"Where are our tools?"

"Where are our candy kitchens?"

A very small greenish Elf looked around and said, "Ohm our green paint has melted.. and our green candy coloring is melted too.. Everything has been frozen and ruined. Oh, what WILL we do?"

With that, the Elves began to cry.

For what good are Elves without their Elfin things?

"Woe is we!" cried one Elf.

"Awwwww!" cried another.

"Ohhhhh." Boo-hooed still another.

Up in Santa's living room Santa cocked his head and said, "What's that?"

Mrs. Santa sniffed and said, "Uh, just the wind."

Santa nodded in agreement, "You must be right, Dear. There's no one but us here at the North Pole."

From a long way away, it came again on the cold north wind, "Ohhh."

"I hear something, Dear... I truly do."

"Well, let's just go outside and see."

Santa and Mrs. Clause... along with all the eight tiny reindeer waded out together into the melting green snow.

They found a townful of wee Elves. All howling, yowling and wailing.

The Elves were crying because all their toy making things were gone.

Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the reindeer had been crying because he had toymaking things and no help to make the toys.

And so, that's how Christmas Elves came to be.

Ever since that day, Santa Clause has been getting fatter and fatter again. And, the reindeer don't have to work so hard either, for the Elves not only help make all the toys - they help with the Christmas delivery as well.

Besides finding the Elves that year that Santa cried, another great discovery was made. Deep under all the ice and snow in the whole world lie Christmas Elves... just waiting for Santa to come and awaken them. No matter how many children come into the world, Santa will always have enough help to be sure each child is remembered on that Special Day.

What about Santa's HO! HO! HO! you say?

Happy New Year!Well, as soon as the new found Elves were happily sewing and hammering and painting and stirring and wrapping gifts, Santa felt it coming.. just bubbling from him... "Ahhh, hee, heee. ho, ha, ho, yes HO!... HO! HO! HO!"

And yes, everywhere smiles returned, along with the sparkle in the stars and joy in the hearts of children all over the world.

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