Jessie looked out of the plane as she and Santa traveled above the tundra.He was taking Jessie to an annual Santa Claus convention in Santa Claus, Indiana. Santa was on the board of trustees this year, and was presenting at the conference. Because of his schedule the conference, which was usually held in October, was being held in December.
Jessie was excited about the plane ride and her tail whipped back and forth as she watched the scenery go by. She didn’t know what a Santa Claus conference was, but she was excited to be going with Santa She’d go anywhere with him.
The plane ride took several hours. When the pair finally reached a landing strip in Indiana, Santa called Jessie to wait on the plane. He headed to the back of the plane with a large bag and went into the tiny washroom. He closed the door and soon Jessie could hear him banging against the side of the tiny room.
Santa soon reappeared but he no longer looked like Santa. Jessie had to really look at him to know it was her Santa.
Santa was now dressed in a red and white fur lined suit. He had a jaunty red and white cap. He had a white wig protruded and a fake white beard.
“Ho, Ho, Ho, Jessie. This is my Santa suit for the convention. It’s nothing like the suit I really wear Christmas Eve but it’s what is expected at the convention. Now come here please. For today, I need to put you on a lead. I don’t want you to get lost at the Santa Claus run.”
Jessie obediently came to Santa and had a lead put on. She didn’t know what a Santa Claus run was but she certainly didn’t want to get lost.
Santa led Jessie out of the plane and into an awaiting limousine. Within 5 minutes they were at the Santa Claus convention headquarters, and Jessie sat down and stared. From every corner of the street people dressed like Santa were walking towards an auditorium. The sea of red and white strained Jessie’s vision, and she had to close and open her eyes several times before her eyes adjusted.
Santa led Jessie into the auditorium and up to the front. Santa shook the hands of two other men dressed in Santa suits, and then introduced them to Jessie. The men smiled at Jessie, and then they turned towards the audience of Santas who had all piled into the auditorium.
Jessie looked at the men and women. She had never seen so many Santas and she didn’t understand what the real Santa was doing at a Santa Claus convention. Why did he need to meet these men?
Jessie lay down on the floor and watched Santa. He was fumbling through his papers with a pair of wire rimmed glasses perched on the tip of his nose. He smiled at Jessie and then began talking to the men in the audience. “Welcome all to the 150th annual Santa Claus convention. I’m happy to have Santa Claus, Indiana host the event again this year. They’ve been a great host so far. Let’s give them a round of applause for all the help the town has given us in setting up the convention this year.”
The audience clapped their hands and yelled “Ho, Ho, Ho”. Jessie was startled by the sudden noise and jumped and hid behind Santa. This elicited laughter from the audience. They good naturedly stopped clapping and waited for Santa to talk.
“This is Jessie. As you know I am the real Santa Claus, and Jessie will be riding in the sleigh with me this year. It’s time that Santa Claus gets a companion.”
There wasmore laughter and applause and a Santa in the back of the room yelled “Welcome Jessie.”
Jessie peered out from behind Santa’ legs and wagged her tail. She sat down on the stage. and cocked her head back and forth as she heard a chorus of “Welcome Jessie’s” from across the auditorium.
Santa began to speak. “I believe I can speak for Jessie when I say thank-you for your warm welcome. Now, let’s get down to business. We will have the Santa Claus oath, and then we will have our annual run. Tomorrow our workshops will occur at the local recreation centre. If you haven’t already please pick up your orientation package in the lobby. It contains your room reservation and workshop schedule. Now for the oath.”
Santa cleared his throat and began speaking in time with hundreds of Santas. The sound reverberated throughout the auditorium. The voices melded into one. Jessie listened to the words.
“I, Santa Claus pledge that I will bring the magic of Christmas to all the children of the world.
I, Santa Claus pledge to represent Santa Claus in a dignified and jolly fashion.
I, Santa Claus pledge that I will bring no harm to a child placed in my care.
I, Santa Claus pledge to treat the red suit with dignity and care.
I, Santa Claus pledge to bring the spirit of Christmas to all whether child or adult.
Ho, Ho, Ho’
Jessie watched as the hundreds of Santa in the audience turned and hugged each other. She cocked her head, and looked at Santa. He had moved forward again and was motioning for the Santas to quiet down.
“It’s time for the Santa fun run. As you know this year we are raising money for pet shelters across North America. Please remember to turn in your pledge sheets at the starting line. Everyone to enjoy yourselves and remember that the public is watching.”
The microphone screeched in Jessie’s ears as Santa put it back on the stand. He turned to Jessie. “Come on girl. We’re going on our first fun run for the year. Let’s go and get some exercise.”
Jessie whined, jumped up and licked Santa on the face. She poked the lead he was holding with her nose, and sat down at his heels looking up in his face. Santa laughed and then gently led the dog away. They walked out the front doors of the auditorium and walked down to the centre square of the town. Hundreds of people had gathered to take pictures of the Santa Claus gathering. When a news reporter saw Santa and Jessie he snapped a picture and then came over to interview the pair.
Jessie listened to Santa speak. He talked for some time about the convention, the task of being Santa Claus, and the fun run. But, Jessie was startled when Santa told the story of how he had met Jessie. The reporter asked if he could take a picture of Santa and Jessie together. Santa agreed and leaned down so that he sat beside Jessie. He hugged the dog and Jessie licked his hand while the photographer took a number of photos. When he finished, Santa stood and led Jessie to the starting line.
Santa and Jessie stood at the start of the Fun Run line. All of the Santa’s were packed into a small square waiting. Then, from the speakers, Christmas carols began to play. At the first melodic start of the songs the Santas began to jog down the street. Jessie was thrilled. She loved to run. She loved to stretch her long limbs and have the wind blow through her floppy ears. There can’t be anything better than running with your best friend, she thought.
The run turned out to be 5 kilometres and it flew by for Jessie. Several Santa’s tried to pass Santa, and Santa would have let them, but Jessie urged him on. She wanted to make him proud. At the finish line, Santa and Jessie crossed the ribbon first. They were encircled by warm hugs by the others who finished the race close behind.
Santa and Jessie were called up to a platform where they were to be awarded their prize. When Jessie heard they had won something she hoped that it was food. She could currently do with a snack.
Jessie watched as a young woman dressed in funny clothes walked up to them. She wore green pointy shoes, tights and a pointy hat. Her dress was half red and half green. She also wore plastic ear pieces to make her ears pointy. She looked rather peculiar.
The young woman walked up to Santa, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and presented him with a cheque for $5000.00. Santa leaned down and talked to Jessie. “What do you think Jessie? You actually won the money. You pushed me on when I would have let others win. Should we give the money to the local animal shelter or do you want to keep it?”
Jessie jumped up and gently took the cheque from Santa’s hand. She took it over to the strangely dressed woman, dropped it at her feet and yipped.
“There we go then,” said Santa. “We’d like to donate our winnings to The Santa Claus animal shelter. “Loud cheers erupted from around the square.
Santa leaned down and rubbed Jessie’s back. “Jessie, I’m proud of you. You taught me a lesson today. You showed me that I have resources in me I didn’t think I had. Imagine what Molly is going to say when she hears that we won the race. Just don’t tell her about the kiss okay.”
Jessie barked in agreement and Santa laughed. He picked up his shoes. “Come on Jessie, time for bed. The workshops are tomorrow and we’re going to have a long day. But first, how about a snack to tide us over.” From out of his satchel he pulled eggnog cookies and smiled.