Dec. 6th – Jessie learns Santa is the real Santa Claus

To Jessie’s delight, Santa and Molly prepared a feast for Molly’s birthday lunch. Jessie was stuffed and could barely follow Santa into the living room after the meal. She watched as he lit a fire in the chimney, sat on the sofa, and began snoring softly in the afternoon darkness. Jessie quietly snuck onto the sofa looking to see if he was going to object. When Santa didn’t awake, she turned around in a circle and laid down with her head on a pillow. Her snores soon joined Santa’s.

When Jessie woke up it was hard for her to tell how long she had been sleeping. She knew it wasn’t suppertime yet as Molly hadn’t called her. In any case, while she was sleeping, two of the Elvin people had come into the living room and were sitting at a table in the corner with Santa.

One of the elves was the elf she had encountered in the kitchen and she was wary of gathering his attention. She kept her eyes closed and pretended to be sleeping while she listened to Santa and the elves talk.

“So, you’ve updated the address database again Himley. I hope this will work out better than last year’s software upgrade. It cost us several million dollars to hire elves to re-input the children’s names and addresses that were lost. “Santa  pushed his wire rimmed glasses up his face and pulled the computer on the desk closer to him. He squinted and looked at the screen.

“Now Santa, you know that wasn’t our fault. The power went out when the upgrade was half way done and corrupted the data. The database upgrade has already occurred and all of the children have been entered. We’ve even upgraded the interface so that our agents can monitor both the ‘Naughty and Nice’ list and the ‘wish list’ more closely this year. We were very embarrassed when you delivered lipstick to Tommy Milkins. I guarantee it will not happen again.” Himley slammed his fist on the table to emphasize his point. He turned red when Santa looked at him quizzically.

Jessie looked at Santa. Jessie knew Molly called Chris Santa, but she hadn’t realized other people did as well. The only Santa she knew that people called by name was Santa Claus.   Could Chris be the real Santa Claus?

Jessie thought back to last year.  Santa last year had brought her a fluffy dog toy.  She had gotten a glimpse of the jolly man when she woke up while he was at the tree.  Chris doesn’t look like Santa Jessie had seen. In fact for some reason he looked younger every day.

Yesterday, there had been fine lines around his eyes and his hair had been white around the temples. Now his hair was fire engine red, and his face was soft and chubby. Chris looked nothing like Santa.

From across the room Santa looked at Jessie and smiled. He closed the computer. “I trust your instincts Himley. Just keep me informed if any errors are found with the data. Now, today’s a holiday. Why don’t you go and enjoy a meal with your family. The list will wait until tomorrow.”

Chris showed Himley to the door and said good-bye. He came and sat down beside Jessie. He petted her soft fur and rumpled her ears.

“Yes Jessie, I am Santa Claus or at least the latest Santa Claus. My family has been in the business for many years. Each generation hands down the position to the youngest son of the family. I know I don’t look like Santa but Christmas Magic transforms my appearance a week before Christmas every year. Santa Claus is my business name. Christopher Cringle is my real name.” Chris got up and crossed the room where he stoked the coals in the fire.

“You’ve always been a good dog Jessie, and when I saw in my magic snowball that you were homeless I set out to find you. I hoped you’d decide to come and live with us. I know you miss the lady you lived with before, but I hope you’ll be happy here. Maybe this year you can come with me on my Christmas journey. It’s a long night travelling by myself.

But, if you decide you’d rather live with a normal family I’ll find you one. I promised I’d take care of you and I intend to take care of that promise.” Santa looked directly into Jessie’s eyes.

Jessie was confused. Somehow Santa had known what she was thinking. It made her slightly uncomfortable, but she loved Santa and Molly. They had been so kind to her since she’d come to the North Pole. She had to make Santa know that she loved them and wanted to stay with them.

Jessie wagged her tail and began licking Santa across his face. She continued licking until Santa laughed and then protested. “Thanks Jessie but you don’t need to give me a bath. I’m glad you’ve decided to stay with us. I’ve gotten rather attached to you in the last couple of days. Now, let’s go sneak some eggnog from the kitchen.

Jessie smiled and jumped down. She couldn’t believe that Santa Claus was her friend. Today she felt like she was the luckiest dog in the world. A new home, a new life, and a kind family; Jessie had everything that she had ever wanted.

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Dec. 5th – Jessie celebrates Molly’s birthday

It was 11:30 p.m. and Santa woke Jessie from where she slept in front of the fire. She dozily looked up at Santa, yawned, and turned in a circle to lie down and go back to sleep. She thought that it was much too late.

“Wake up Jessie! It’s Molly’s birthday and we’re going to celebrate. Let’s go outside and see what the elves are up to.” Santa pulled out a jacket Mrs. C had made for Jessie and gently put it on the squirming dog.

“Now, Jessie you need this jacket. It’s really cold out tonight. Even the deer are huddling together to keep warm”

Jessie was not happy but sat still for Santa. When he was finished she took a look at herself in a nearby mirror. She was adorned in red and green plaid from head to toe. Her outfit even had matching booties to protect her feet. Jessie hung her head low. She raised her legs up and down trying to free them from her booties.

Santa laughed. “I know the shoes are uncomfortable Jessie but they are necessary. You’ll get used to them. Now let’s go outside. Mrs. C. is waiting at the eggnog station.”

At the sound of the word eggnog Jessie’s ears perked up and she walked to the door as quickly as she could. She wasn’t used to the shoes and her movement looked like a combination dancing and wobbling.

Santa smiled when he saw the dog but didn’t laugh. Jessie had to wear the clothing to protect herself from the bitter wind. He didn’t want the dog to dislike the clothing any more than she did now.

Santa and Jessie walked outside the door and headed around the steel tree. Jessie stopped and looked around. There were so many elves surrounding them that Jessie couldn’t count them. There were big elves, little elves, young elves and old elves. Each of the elves seemed to be in a merry mood.

Wherever Jessie looked the elves were having fun. Some of the elves were building snow sculptures and snow structures. Others were rolling fruitcakes down a slope knocking down the snow creations. On a big stage several elves stood in front of a microphone. They held mugs of chocolate and were singing as loud as they could. The result was a large tinny noise that bothered Jessie’s ears.

Jessie shook her head from side to side. The little hat on her head slid down over her eyes. Jessie tried to pull the hat off using her front foreleg. She almost had the hat off when Santa chuckled, reached down and put the hat back in its original position.

Jessie sighed but was too interested in what was going on to worry about the hat. Directly in front of her was Mrs. C. She was standing at a little station where two were helping her dispense eggnog and sugar cookies to crowd. When she saw Jessie she smiled and chuckled.

“Santa tells me that you don’t like your coat Jessie. Well I can see why. You look like a couch in that plaid and you hat is way too big. I tell you what. We’ll pick out some fabric together and I’ll make you a new outfit tomorrow. Now, someone here likes eggnog. If you shake my hand I’ll give you a saucer full.”

Jessie’s tail wagged causing small tornados of snow flying behind her.  She sat down and raised her hand for Molly. Molly smiled and gave the dog her saucer of eggnog.

When Jessie was finished with the treat Santa petted her on the head. “Come on Jessie. It’s almost midnight and I always lead the count down to Molly’s birthday. This year you can help me. Come on girl. Let’s go up on the stage.”

Jessie wasn’t sure what Santa meant by a countdown but she would follow him anywhere. She walked with him up on the stage where a young elf dressed in sequins was holding a microphone. When Santa approached she handed him the microphone. Santa looked at his watch and then began counting down numbers. Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Happy, happy birthday Molly!

The circle in front of Jessie erupted with singing, toy drums, trumpets and an electric guitar. The noise was almost unbearable for Jessie, and she began to back away. Santa reached down to steady the dog. He held up his hand and the noise surrounding them ceased.

Santa began to talk to the throng “I’d like to thank Molly for her work this year, and for her continual love and support.”  Santa leaned over and kissed Mrs. C on the cheek.

“Now for what everyone has been waiting for. Let’s start the light show.”

Santa raised his hand and from somewhere out on the tundra beautiful music began to play. Softly, slowly lights in the sky began to ebb and flow in time with the music dancing in and out of the stars. Jessie watched as green, blue and purple ebbed in and out of view. The combination of music and lights were so beautiful that Jessie whimpered and leaned against Santa’s leg.

Jessie was happy Molly was having a birthday party.  She had grown to love Santa and Molly in the short time she had lived with them.  Somehow she knew that the next year was going to be happy for her.  Somehow, it seemed like this was a celebration for her too. To her it was a  celebration of finding a home and a family.

Jessie looked at the light show again.  Somehow she knew that this  was truly Santa Magic. It was full of love and caring and Jessie knew that this is where she belonged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dec. 4th – Jessie makes an Elf friend

“It’s time you went out and explored Jessie. You’ll be safe anywhere in town but don’t wander into the ice fog. If you do you’ll get lost and we might not be able to find you. Don’t worry though. You will be safe in town. The news that you have joined us has pretty well spread through the Elf community after your adventures in the kitchen yesterday. The elves are a jolly group and they had quite a time joking about it at their bonfire last night. The younger elves are looking forward to meeting you. Maybe you could go and play a game of ice hockey with them. They’d like that.”

Molly closed the door to the oven and placed a tray of sugar cookies on the large butcher block table. Every day since Jessie had come to the North Pole Molly had baked the cookies first thing in the morning. She couldn’t figure out where they went because Santa and the dog never ate them at night.

Jessie wagged her tail at the sweet aroma of the sugar cookies. Her tail knocked a spider plant off of the table. She skittered backwards into the corner and lowered her ears.

“It’s okay Jessie. Here have a cookie. Just one now and then out you go. Be sure to be home for lunch. We’re having one of Santa’s favourites – cheese pizza.” Molly opened the door for the dog and Jessie trotted with her head held high and her tongue swinging in front of her face like the pendulum of a clock. She pranced across the little park and down the ice road. As she walked she sniffed the ground. There were so many interesting scents. She sniffed along the edge of the road making sure she didn’t go down any alleys. She knew it was safe but she didn’t want to get lost going home.

As she was walking she heard the sound of small squeaky voices coming from ahead. She wasn’t really familiar with the elves but her ears told her that she was hearing the children of the community playing somewhere ahead. She perked up her ears and followed the sound of the voices. Just down the road she came upon another park. This one was some sort of sports complex. There were ski hills, sledding runs, ice skating patches, and ice hockey pads. Closest to him was the ice hockey pad where the children were playing a game of hockey. They were separated into two teams. One team had red scarves and another had green scarves. The children’s exciting screaming reverberated around the complex as they chased green and red snow pucks across the ice with their hockey sticks.

Jessie sat down on her haunches and watched the game trying to figure out its objective. It did not seem to match the game she had used to watch on TV in Thunder Bay. There was no net and the children all raised their arms in triumph at the oddest times. It took Jessie 15 minutes before she realized that the children were scoring when the ice pucks disintegrated into small pieces.

Jessie moved her legs over and shifted to get a better view of the ice. The movement caused one small Elvin girl to notice Jessie. She excitedly ran over to Jessie and began to talk to her. “Ooohh I know who you are. You’re that Jessie dog that’s living with Chris and his wife. We’ve been waiting to meet you. My name is Chloe. I don’t have any eggnog but maybe you would like to play with us. You can be on my team if you like. “

Jessie stood up and wagged her tail. She walked over to the girl, licked her across the face, and then pranced onto the ice. She moved a little too quickly and slid forwards knocking over two of the children and slamming into the boards. She whimpered slightly, stood up, shook off the snow and then walked more carefully back to her side of the ice.

Fortunately, none of the children were hurt and they seemed to think the accident was funny. There were bright smiles on the faces of the children as they helped each other up.

“Ok Jessie, we’re the green team. The purpose of the game is to get the red team’s puck and break it into pieces. The first team to reach the count of 20 wins,” Chloe said shoving her long red hair into a lime green toque. Her feet seemed to cling to the ice as she ran across it.

Jessie tried to run again but slid. This time the children were prepared and shuffled out of her way. Jessie slid across the ice and into a snow bank at the side of the rink.

Chloe ran across and reached lifted her arms to pet the dog on the head. “Poor Jessie. I forgot you’re from the outer world. You have to get used to the ice here. It’s magic ice created by Chris. It’s used for team ice skating so it has to be slippery. Imagine that your feet are stuck to the ice and then slowly lift your feet straight up and then lower them straight down. If you do this then you’ll learn to cross the ice.”

Jessie stood and shook her head and ears. The children had all gathered in front of her and were calling her name. “Jessie, Jessie. You can do it. Yes you can. Jessie, Jessie”

Jessie tried to trot across the ice but every time she tried she slid. She just couldn’t seem to figure out how to get her footing. She got tired of trying and sat down by a bench at the edge of the rink. She lay down with her head on the ice and her feet under her watching as the children went back to playing. She really wanted to play with Chloe and the kids, but she just couldn’t seem to stand up. After a couple of more rounds the children called a break and they all came over to the bench to sit down.

Jessie was surrounded by children who all wanted to pet or hug her. Jessie wagged her tail and yipped and licked the children’s faces.

Chloe had watched the others playing with Jessie until she called out “Eureka, I know how you’ll be able to play Jessie. We’ll tie our hats on your feet and then you won’t slide so much. Here’s my hat, my mitts and my scarf. I’ll tie them on your feet.”

Chloe tied the articles of clothing on Jessie’s feet and then led the dog back out onto the ice. Jessie took one careful step and then another. It worked. She could prance and walk and run without sliding.

“Come on”, said Chloe. “Let’s play!”

Jessie ran around with the other children trying to catch the ball but the scarf tied to her feet wrapped around her legs and she had to stop every second step to unwrap it. The children played on and Jessie grew more and more frustrated. She tried pulling the scarf off of her legs but it was tied too tightly. Just as she was walking back to the side of the rink with her head held down she spied the ice puck coming her way. Could she get it? Jessie braced her legs and held her mouth open wide down to the ground. One adjustment of her position tangled the scarf around her feet but she didn’t care. She opened her mouth and chomped at the ball. She closed her powerful jaws and the ice ball was destroyed.

A groan went up on Jessie’s team. She’d eaten the green team’s puck not the red team’s puck. The green team had lost. It didn’t matter to Jessie. She was happy. Especially when Chloe came over and asked her if she could come and play tomorrow. Jessie had made a new friend.

Dec. 3rd – Jessie follows her nose.

Jessie woke to the sound of excited laughter. She perked up her ears, stretched her long back legs and then pranced towards the smell of bacon.

In the kitchen she found Molly frying up bacon and flipping pancakes on an antique stove. Seven of the Elvin people were chattering to Molly. Jessie couldn’t understand what they were saying, but Molly was listening from the stove and seemed to understand their chirping voices.

Out of the corner of her eye Molly noticed Jessie who was sniffing the delicious aromas in the air. Molly pulled a plate off the shelf and doled out pancakes, syrup and bacon. Jessie was in heaven. Her long tail snapped the ground and she held up her paw to shake Molly’s hand. Molly laughed and placed the plate on the floor.

Jessie gulped down the food and then pushed the plate across the room licking every last drop of syrup from the plate.

‘Leave the plate Jessie,” Molly said, “As long as you live with us you will have plenty of food. The girls and I are making samples of candy for this year’s treat boxes and it might be dangerous to have you around today. You’d eat everything.” She smiled and ruffled the dog’s fur. “Santa is in his office. Why don’t you go join him?”

Molly pointed to a large carved oak door. It was ajar enough that Jessie could just push her way through into the room.

Jessie cocked her ears, wagged her tail, and trotted across the office to Santa. He was sitting in an office chair and leaning back with his feet on a large mahogany desk. He was asleep, and as he slept he seemed to be mapping the country in his sleep; “Exeter 12, London 12:05, Kitchener 12:15, Toronto 12:30.” A large snort came from his nose. Jessie watched as a feather floated up off the desk and gently floated to the floor. She ran in circles chasing it downwards. When it landed on the ground she played with it for several moments until she got bored.

Jessie decided to explore the room until Santa woke up. She didn’t want to wake him. She’d just found a home and she didn’t want to lose it.

Jessie looked around the room. It was filled with objects that would entrance any child. There were trains, carousels, tops, blocks, dolls, robots, computers and all sorts of other toys. They were all piled haphazardly around the room.

Along one wall was a bookcase filled from top to bottom with books. Hanging from the ceiling were model airplanes and spaceships. Underneath the aromas of the cluttered room Jesse could smell a familiar smell. She raised her head and took a big sniff just to be sure. Eggnog. Jessie loved eggnog and the scent was very strong in the room.

Jessie put her nose down and began sniffing. She sniffed in circles all around the floor but she could not find a dispenser of any kind. When she moved closer to the bookcase the smell was stronger. She sniffed up and down the bottom shelves and then jumped up and leaned against the higher shelves. She could not find a pitcher anywhere. She continued sniffing along the edge.

At the very end of the bookcase she accidentally pushed a loose book off the shelf. As it fell to the floor the shelf began to split in half and move inwards. When the doors opened a large commercial kitchen appeared.

Jessie wagged her tail as several Elvin cooks stopped to look, When Santa did not appear behind her they went back to working.

Jessie, mesmerized by the smell of eggnog, began to wander around the room. Her tail was wagging as fast as a jet plane. She could smell gingerbread, chocolate, peppermint, shortbread and the eggnog that had drawn her to the room.

Jessie jostled around the room. She carefully tried to avoid the elves while looking for the eggnog. She was surprised when an elf in a large chef’s hat pointed at the dog and yelled in a small squeaky voice. “Dog hair in my kitchen. I think notl This will not do at hall. Who let the dog in here?” He jumped down off his platform and moved to catch Jessie.

The dog, who was frightened by the attention, began backing up while the elves approached her from the front and side. This left Jessie nowhere to go but backwards.

She ran back several feet and backed into a lever on the wall. The lever shifted and a large door opened above her. Flour rained down on the dog’s fur.

Jessie was even more scared, and was now sneezing from the flour. She rain around the room trailing flour into the chocolate machine and slid into the eggnog fridge. The fridge slowly toppled over and spilt eggnog pooled around Jessie’s legs. Her deep black and brown legs were now cream coloured and her hair was matted and masked in flour and liquid.

The elves tried to push the dog out the door, but Jessie was so scared, that she dug her claws into the floor. She was struggling against the elves when santa came into the room. He took one look at the mess and called the dog. “Jessie, come here!”

The elves released the dog and Jessie slowly walked across the room with her tail hanging down and her ears almost reaching the floor. She sat at Santas’s feet looking at the floor and sneezed once more.

Santa looked at the mess and sighed. He looked at the dog again. The expression in his eyes softened. The poor animal must be terrified, he thought. She looked so forlorn that he couldn’t help but fall a little more in love with the animal. She may turn out to be mischievous he thought but so was I when I was young.

Santa leaned down and gently pulled the dog’s chin up so that she was looking at him. He spoke softly. “It’s okay girl. When I was a lad, and my dad was running the shop, I put sneezing powder in the gingerbread. The elves had sneezing fits for a week. Let’s go get a bath and see if Mrs. C can get us some of our own eggnog.” He gently picked up the dog and walked out of the room leaving the elves to clean up the mess.

Jessie grinned and licked Santa  on the cheek. It was at that moment Jessie knew that she had a forever home.

One dog's Chronicles of a year in Santa Claus's life

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