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Dec 10th – Jessie goes to a Santa Claus convention.

Jessie and Cris reached the auditorium where the workshops were being held a little after 8 a.m. After a hearty meal, they went towards the same auditorium they were in the previous day. Santa confidently walked up to the stage, Jessie following him on the lead. When he reached the top of the stairs he took off the lead and talked to Jessie. “Don’t run off Jessie, there’s going to be a lot of noise in here shortly.” Santa walked to the podium and cleared his throat into the microphone calling the Santas in the audience to attention.

“Today we are going to cover three of the basics for a good Santa. First, the “Ho, Ho, Ho”, two distribution of toys and three child management. This workshop deals with learning to create a deep and convincing Ho,Ho,Ho in order to convince the children. Let’s begin.” Santa placed his notes on the table and walked out in the middle of the stage without the microphone. He held his hand over his stomach and cleared his throat. He rubbed his stomach and then in a deep baritone he bellowed “Ho,Ho,Ho.”

Jessie’s ears perked up. She had never heard Santa speak with such emphasis. Although he did not carry a microphone, Jessie was sure that the sound travelled throughout the auditorium. She lay down with her head on her paws and waited to see what would happen next.

“Tone does not matter. Although normally the words are produced in a deep baritone, they can be convincing in other voices. The trick is to take a deep breath and to use your stomach muscles to produce a deep and rich sound that travels across the room and pulls attention to your voice. Now, let’s begin. Find a partner. We are going to practice together.”

There was a general shuffling in the room as the Santas put themselves in groups. When Santa thought that everyone had a partner he went to the microphone so that he could be heard. “Now, I want you to take turns. We’ll practice for 10 minutes then move on. If anyone has questions I’m available at the front.”

The group erupted into a general clamour. Jessie could hear the sound of multiple Ho’s ringing through the room. The words weaved themselves together.

The sound was no intense that it hurt Jessie’s ears and she lay down and put her paws over her head.

Santa walked over. “I thought this might happen. Molly designed these ear protectors for you. I’ll put them on you Jessie. When the sound has decreased I’ll take them off for you.” He placed pink, woolly ear protectors over Jessie’s head and gave her a pat. He then went to the microphone and stood leaning against the podium waiting to see if there would be any questions.

Jessie watched the audience. It was strange to see gaping mouths throughout the room but not be able to hear anything. She watched the expressions of the Santas in the audience. Although, some of the Santas were definitely better at the belly laugh, all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

When 10 minutes were finished Santa called the auditorium to order and he pulled off Jessie’s ear protectors and walked back to the podium.

“Now, let’s talk about the distribution of toys. Although, I will be delivering the main load of toys using my distribution company I understand that a number of you would like to have us produce toys for some charities. I am happy to say that I have checked with my head elf and it looks like we will be able to produce the toys free of charge.”

The Santas stood up and applauded. Several whistles could be heard in the back of the room.

“Thank-you, we are glad to help. It will require some paperwork on your part however. We want to ensure that our resources are used wisely. Forms will be available at the door, or you can contact Molly at the number in your orientation package, and she will be happy to provide you with details.” Santa took a drink from a glass and drank deeply.

Now, the child management portion of the program will be covered by psychology professor William B Frost. His presentation will be after lunch. Please go to the main dining room. The buffet is set up there for you.

Santa picked up is papers and walked over to Jessie. We’re skipping the workshop this afternoon. I’ve heard Frost’s lecture about 50 times now and I don’t think I can sit through it again. We do have to enjoy the buffet though. The cook tells me their serving salmon.

Jessie licked her lips. She loved salmon. She stood up and trotted behind Santa. She still wasn’t sure why Santa needed all these Santa copy-cats but she was sure that someday he would tell her. Right now, she decided that she liked Santa conventions. There was good friends, lots of people who are happy, and hands to pet her head. Jessie hoped that Santa would let her go with him to the next convention.

Dec 9th – Jessie goes on a Santa Claus Fun Run

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.