The Helper This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
     It all started on a delightful Decemberday when the snow blanketed the ground. There was a gentle breeze thatbrought a relaxed feeling to this part of the North Pole though hardlyanyone slept during this time of the year. Elves could be heard bustlingaround to make toys before the deadline. It was a dreadful time of yearfor the elves, really, but they still looked forward to the work becauseplaying cards and sipping hot cocoa during the other three seasons canget tiresome.

Santa was going over his list twice, checkingwho‘s been naughty or nice ... well, you know how it goes. He hadZJB99.5, the Jingle Bell station on, and was listening to the new hitremix of Freaky Frost Face the Snappy Soul Snowman.

“Thisis my favorite song!” Santa just couldn‘t resist the urge toget up and dance. “Step, step, jump, jump ... turn around and doit again!” Santa moved rhythmically to the nifty rap as if he werea Backstreet Boy.

He was singing and grooving and was as jollyas a kid on Christmas morning when he began a 360-degree twist. He washalf way around when a cracking noise rang through theair.

“My back!” Santa yelped in excruciating pain.Mrs. Claus dropped her knitting and came running to see what hadhappened to her beloved husband. Santa lay on the floor thrashing aboutin pain. Santa had thrown out his back!

“Oh, dear!”Mrs. Claus exclaimed. She felt sorry for him, but couldn‘t helplecturing, “What were you thinking, dancing like a teenager! Youknow you must be extremely careful not to get hurt or sick this time ofyear!”

The Pole Paramedics promptly put the patient on astretcher and rushed Santa to Heaven‘s Healing Hospital. Santa wasreleased with a prescription for pain medicine and a warning to take iteasy ... or else. An overwhelming number of questions were thrown atSanta after he was discharged by the mob of elves who crowded around:“What will happen on Christmas?” “Who will carry yourbag?” “How will all the children get their presents?”

“Calm down, calm down,” Santa begged them.“It‘s no big deal. I will just need a helper to carry my bagthis year, that‘s all,” Santa said.

“I‘mgonna be Santa‘s helper because all you other elves stink!”Bobaloo burst out rudely.

“No way, loser!” Oompayelled back at him.

“Enough!” Santa scolded. “Ihave an idea. I will hold a four-day job interview to determine who ismost deserving to work with me on Christmas Eve. During the first twodays you will be given a task to complete. Mrs. Claus and Chief ElfEdwin will be my eyes and ears and watch your every move. They willreport their observations and I will ask for you all to meet me in theSnow Room each evening, where two elves will be dismissed. On the thirdday, the remaining candidates will be interviewed and on the fourth dayafter one final mega task, I will decide which of the two will become... The Helper. As a treat, the elves chosen to participate will bestaying in Santa‘s International Igloo, one of my most successfulprojects.” With that, Santa stood and disappeared through the doorand a bunch of tiny green elves with little pointy hats and frecklesraced upstairs to pack their bags.

“Great plan, Santa, thatsounds very interesting. Wherever did you come up with such a uniqueidea?” Mrs. Claus asked.

Santa looked up with thatfamiliar twinkle in his eye and winked. Santa sat at the table in theSnow Room with his two most respected partners: Mrs. Claus and Chief ElfEdwin. Then Santa asked his secretary to send in the candidates. Tenconfident elves strutted in, carefully pulled out their chairs and sat.Santa frowned as he looked across the table and saw nothing butair.

“Where did they all go?” Mrs. Claus inquired,sounding extremely concerned.

“I think I know,” Santasighed.

He went around to the other side of the table, pulled outa chair and found a small, silent elf looking straight up at him withwide blue eyes. The elves were too short for thechairs!

“This is gonna be a long four days,” Santamuttered as he went down the hallway, returning with an elf carrying aload of booster seats.

“Okay, back to business,”Santa began. “How are all of you liking your stay at InternationalIgloo?” he asked.

There was a flurry of comments from theelves, who all spoke at once. Their statements varied from grunts andmumbles to proclamations of appreciation and gratitude. You couldimmediately tell who really cared about making a good impression and whocouldn‘t keep their mouths shut when they had nothing nice tosay.

“You will begin these tasks today, but first I mustassign the groups,” Santa explained. “Alright, Team One isOompa, Ziggy, Ringo, Jasper and Bob-a-loo.” Santa pronounced eachsyllable of Bobaloo separately, then asked, “Am I saying itright?”

“Yeah, whatever,” Bobaloo replied,appearing to have a serious attitude problem. Team One assembled to theright as Santa read the names of Team Two to make sure everyone wasacquainted.

“Team Two is Wally-”

“Um,sir,” Wally said, trying to sound as polite as possible. Wally wasnot normally a rude elf, but she was known to have a horrible temper andget easily frustrated. She gathered herself, trying to speak morecalmly, since she was interrupting her boss. She began again.“Could ... Could you please call me Wall?” Santa lookedpuzzled by her request.

“Sure,” he agreed and made amental note. “Alright, back to business.” Santa wasdesperate to get something done. “Next on Team Two we haveOmabosa.” Omabosa, who was arguing with the elf next to her,sneered and stomped over to her group. Santa made another mental notethat Omabosa didn‘t really look like someone he could ever imagineworking with, but decided he had to give her a shot.

Santalooked at the list and squinted to read the next name. “SnoopyDoggy Dog?” he called, hesitantly. He was the “cool”elf, originally from Tinsel Town. He wore sunglasses at all times and ablack leather jacket. He thought that he was twice as good as everyonein the world and was always looking at himself in the mirror. He alsodidn‘t pay much attention in school, which made him speakdifferently.

“Da name‘s Snoop,” he uttered, atoothpick dangling from his mouth. Santa buried his face in his hands.

“What have I started?” Santa whispered to Mrs. Clausglumly, then moved on to the next name.“Chrysanthemum?”

“Please call me Chrissie,Santa, sir,” she requested politely. Santa nodded. The last elf onthe list was Bingo, who zoomed into line when Santa called his name.With two perfect lines facing him, Santa introduced the firstproject.

“The first task I will have you do is deliversnow cones to everyone in town. The fastest team will win thecontest.” Santa got out his stopwatch and yelled,“Go!” Ringo was so anxious to start that he sprinted awaywithout knowing where to go. Santa had a look of disgust on his face andnoted, “If only he had remembered to take the snow cones ... andthe list of houses.”

Team Two immediately began runningaround like chickens with no heads, starting on the farthest side oftown. Wally, Omabosa, Snoop, Chrissie and Bingo raced off to theDingle‘s house and delivered their snow cones. They continued fromhouse to house and were smooth and efficient, having a detailed system.Snoop carried the cones, Chrissie took one and passed it to Wall, whileOmabosa rang the door bell. Then they moved to the next house andrepeated the process. At the top of Cherry Street, the ice began meltingand Snoop had to change positions to hold the box to prevent too muchwater from leaking. Other than that, the team got back fairly quicklyand was greeted by Santa Claus, who scribbled down the time with hisfreshly sharpened red pencil.

Meanwhile, it had taken at least25 minutes for Ringo to realize that he didn‘t have anything todeliver and get back to Santa. Finally, Team One gathered their suppliesand rushed off.

“Ringo, you idiot!” Oompa unleashedhis anger. “What goes on in that brain of yours?” hecontinued his attack with fire in his eyes.

“Be nice,Oompa!” Jasper, Oompa‘s girlfriend scolded.

“Oh, please,” Oompa tried to sound cool and uncaringbut Jasper could tell that he felt embarrassed by his outburst. Theywent to the first house, the Jingles, and as soon as the door opened,Oompa grabbed the box of snow cones out of Ringo‘s hands. The boxcrashed to the floor, making three of the snow conescrumble.

“Look who‘s the klutz now!” Ziggyexclaimed.

“Oh, shut up, why don‘t you!” Oompabarked right back.

“That is enough!” Jasper finallyended the argument.

“What will we do now?” Ringoasked.

“I‘ve got an idea!” Bobaloo offered.“Let‘s just put the snow cones back in the box and nobodywill know it happened!” Ziggy, Jasper, Ringo and Oompa all lookedat Bobaloo with confusion. “That is the best idea I have everheard! Absolutely brilliant! This kid is a genius!” Jasper wasyelling like she wanted everyone in town to hear hersarcasm.

“Well, do you have a better plan, MissSarcastic?” Bobaloo shot back.

“I can‘t takethis anymore!” yelled Oompa as he trudged toward the Jingles witha snow cone in his hand. Determined, he gave the snow cone to thegray-haired lady in a fuzzy pink robe who answered the door. Oompa racedto the next house with snow cones in his hand. In just under two hoursthey had delivered the snow cones to the whole town and arrived back atSanta‘s only to find him sound asleep in his lawnchair.

“Santa?” Jasper whispered so as not to startlethe old man.

“Oh, I‘m sorry,” Santa woke upimmediately and sounded flustered. He clicked off his gold stopwatch andwrote down the time with a puzzled look. He proceeded to guide bothteams up to the Snow Room where two of the elves‘ fates would bedetermined.

“First order of business,” Santa spokeloudly and clearly. “Team Two was the clear winner, with a time of36:37. Team One finished with a time of 1:57:43.” Team Two had abrief celebration with Wally and Bingo giving each other a highfive.

“The bad news, though,” Santa continued,“is that I plan to dismiss someone from both teams. Each team willdecide who the majority thinks should be dismissed and why. First, Iwill address Team One. ” The room filled withwhispers.

“Alright, Oompa, who does your team think shouldgo?”

“We think Ringo deserves to be released foradding almost an hour to our time!” Oompa had no mercy in hisvoice.

“I agree. He was careless and irresponsible when heran off without the supplies,” added Bobaloo.

“Well,I must agree,” stated Santa in his authoritative voice.“There is no excuse for such incompetent behavior. Unfortunately,I must say Ringo, you are dismissed!”

Ringo bowed his headand slunk out, embarrassed to be the first kicked out of thecompetition.

“Well, that was an easy one,” Santacommented as he turned to address the next team. “Chrissie, whohas your team decided was the weakest link?” The pretty blonde elfwho always wore her hair in a ponytail with emerald jewels hanging fromit jumped up as soon as her name was called.

“Well, Mr.Claus, we think we all worked well together as a team but if we mustinform you of who performed the worst, we would have to say Snoop. Heheld the box of snow cones so close to his sweaty leather-covered bodythat they began to melt before we had delivered them all.” Snoopsprang to his feet, infuriated, and shouted, “Yo, that‘schump talk. I worked just as hard as all of you, but I still managed tolook cool with my studs and bling bling on. You‘re all justjealous that I‘m the coolest elf.”

Santa rubbed hisbeard and appeared to give great thought to Snoop‘s side of thestory. After a good 20 seconds, he finally replied, “Snoop, no onewill argue that you are the coolest elf in the entire North Pole. Whileit is possible that your team may be jealous of you, I don‘t thinkthat they would use such personal feelings when so much is at stake. Imust agree that your leather outfit, studded boots and abundance ofbling would severely weigh down my sleigh. My reindeer team is alreadyoverloaded and I would be unable to make provisions to accommodate yourextra pounds. So with that, I have to say ... Snoop, you aredismissed!”

Snoop had a look of disgust on his pointylittle face, but in true form he kept his composure.

“YoKringle, it‘s cool. No hard feelings. Call me when your back isbetter and I‘ll teach you some new moves. Later,dudes.”

With that Santa declared the meeting adjourned andrecommended that the remaining elves get a good night‘s sleep forthe demanding task to come the next day.

Bright and early thenext morning, eight extremely excited elves eagerly entered the elevatorleading to the Snow Room. As they waited for Santa, they looked aroundand marveled at its size. The Snow Room was the penthouse level of ToyTowers. It had several tables made of top-of-the-line purple rock candywith candy-cane legs. Toy Towers was atop the largest mountain on theNorth Pole and the view of snow-covered mountain tops seemed to go onforever. The elves were silently gazing at the peaceful landscape whenthe door burst open and Santa entered with his usual greeting.

“Ho! Ho! Ho! Good morning to all! Okay, my little elfkins,here‘s the deal. Mrs. Claus‘ never-ending nervous nagging isgetting on my nerves. Ever since this contest began, she has been sayingthat it will take too long and that I must have enough time to train mynew helper. Since Christmas Eve is only 12 days away, I have agreed tospeed up the selection process.

“Today you will all beinterviewed by a highly respected and efficient deliverer who happens tobe a close friend. I value and trust his opinion and will keep the twocandidates that he determines will be the best helper. He is awaitingyou in the VIP Lounge. I will meet all of you back in the Snow Room inexactly one hour. Good luck. I cannot wait to see who will emerge as thewinner!”

The tiny elves, all dressed in their finest greenuniforms, paraded down the hall. Jasper was extremely anxious aboutbeing interviewed. Oompa leaned over and gave her a gentle hug. At thatexact moment, the squeaking noise of the large red, gumdrop-covered doorpierced their ears. Their mouths hung open in awe at the figure thatstood before them. He was about 12 feet tall but to the tiny elves, heappeared enormous. He was light gray with the exception of a fluffywhite belly and cotton tail. His ears stood at attention, their pinkinsides clearly visible. His bright blue eyes stared down at the tinycreatures.

“Welcome! Please have a seat. Let me introducemyself for those of you who have been living under a rock. I am the oneand only Easter Bunny! As you can imagine, I have an enormous amount ofexperience delivering gifts. I do not accept currency for my charitabledeeds since the reward of giving pleasure to the children of the world,especially those who are destitute, is the best payment anyone couldpossibly receive. The two of you who can give me the best examples ofthe true meaning of Christmas shall make it to this contest‘sfinale. We‘ll go in alphabetical order, beginning withBingo.”

The portly, blotchy-cheeked elf with a long redbeard, stood to speak. “Food, glorious food. Those heavenly aromasthat fill the air. Fresh-baked cookies in fancy shapes like wreaths andbells with red and green sprinkles on top are heaven. This is what Ilook forward to every Christmas -” Bingo was cutoff.

“Next!” called out the Easter Bunny. Bobalooimmediately sprang out of his chair and happily announced, “Toys,toys, toys! We make ‘em all year and that‘s all that reallymatters to the kids. And I think I am the perfect one to help Santadeliver them.” Just as Bobaloo was sitting down in his plush,burgundy velvet chair, a faint crunching sound was heard from theceiling. As everyone looked to see what it was, Omabosa began screaming,“Oh! My head!” They looked to see a harmless six-inch candycane on the floor at Omabosa‘s feet. She continued crying in pain,“I think I have a concussion! I may be injured for life! I‘mgonna sue this whole toy-making production!”

Chrissie, theyoungest, sweetest, most caring elf, spoke her concern immediately.“Excuse me, Mr. Easter Bunny. I think Omabosa should be taken toHeaven‘s Healing Hospital. She will need help and I am willing toforfeit my chance at the position to accompany her, if that is alrightwith you, sir.”

“Yes, yes, of course. Run along, youtwo. I agree, Omabosa is in definite need of a brain scan.”Chrissie practically had to carry Omabosa out of the room. Then Jasperstood up to give her carefully thought-out answer.

“Ibelieve the true meaning of Christmas is not giving material gifts, butgiving the gift of love.” Jasper felt confident that this was thetype of answer the gigantic bunny was looking for. But, next up was herbeloved Oompa. Jasper worried how he would feel if she got the job overhim.

“The true meaning of Christmas is giving help to thosein need,” Oompa made his brief statement. It was good, but was itgood enough to beat Jasper? He would be overjoyed to win, yet frowned atthe thought of Jasper‘s disappointment. Wally was next.

“Santa. Yes, Santa is the true meaning of Christmas. Without himthere would be no Christmas!” Wall said, thinking that perhapsSanta was secretly listening. Kissing up to the big guy was a perfectidea, she thought. The Easter Bunny sat stiffly.

“Oh,brother, give me a break. Next, next, next!” the big bunnybellowed. But no one stood. The snoring sounds of a scrawny elf could beheard from under the table. Ziggy had fallen asleep at this most crucialmoment. “I see we are down another candidate,” the EasterBunny said with a sarcastic smirk. “I guess it is time for me toselect the two I will recommend to Santa. It is perfectly clear thatthere are only two who have come close to understanding the true meaningof Christmas. I will report my suggestion to Santa. Please head back tothe Snow Room and await Santa‘s arrival.”

The finalfive frolicked down the hall, cheerful that they had come this far.

Santa began, “Alright, alright, I know you are all veryhappy, but you must sit quietly and listen. I was informed that threecandidates are missing from this final meeting. Ziggy made a strongstatement with his unacceptable behavior and obviously is not seriousabout the helper position. Omabosa sustained a mild head injury whichshe has completely blown out of proportion. I do not have enough sleighinsurance to take the risk of her suing me. I have discussed all of theresults with Mrs. Claus and Chief Elf Edwin. Although you have all donevery well, at this time I must say, Bingo, Bobaloo, Wall, Jasper andOompa, you are all dismissed!”

While the others were silentfrom the shock of this terrible twist in events, Oompa popped out of hischair like the plastic snake in a can of trick nuts. “Hey!That‘s no fair! You said you would choose one of us 10candidates!” Oompa scowled.

“Ah! But I have selectedone of you, the one special elf who demonstrated the true spirit ofChristmas. I have chosen Chrissie to be “The Helper.” Sheunselfishly gave up her one shot at an experience that all elves dreamof in order to help someone in need. This impressed me tremendously. Sheis truly the most deserving of this opportunity.”Although theelves were disappointed, they were happy for their friend Chrissie andraced off to Heaven‘s Healing to give her thenews.

Chrissie proceeded to spend every waking moment for thenext eleven days at Santa‘s side, learning all the tips and tricksof his trade. When the joyful night finally arrived, the conditions atthe North Pole were ideal for take-off. The last batch of Thomas theTank toddler toys and Drowsy Daisy Dinkins dolls were hurriedly hauledand heaved into Santa‘s sleigh. Santa cautiously and carefullyclimbed in. Chrissie grabbed his gigantic red magic bag and slung itover her shoulder.

“I‘m ready, Santa!” sheexclaimed.

“Then off we go with a Ho! Ho! Ho!”Santa‘s voice pounded out with his trademark deep, jolly, bellylaugh.

Just a sleigh‘s silhouette, Santa and a tinyelf‘s ponytail bobbing in the breeze could be seen headed acrossthe full moon high in the night sky. On the Jingle Bells radio station,Santa‘s theme song could be heard playing in the background,“Santa, Santa, Santa Santa, SANTA, SAN-TA!”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

In_Love_with_Writing said...
Jan. 19, 2013 at 11:20 am
I didn't like your beginning (Pet peeves are "It all started when . . ."), but the story got better as it went on. So good job :) Can you comment and rate some of my work, please? I would really appreciate it.
 
Weirdogirl said...
Dec. 18, 2008 at 1:05 am
I liked you story. At first I didn't think it was going to be that good but as it went on it got better and better. I definatly think you have a career in writing. So keep writing and I'm looking forward to more of your stories.
 
drumskater72 said...
Dec. 15, 2008 at 11:54 pm
I really liked your story. and thumbs up to you my friend i enjoyed reading it. i think you should write more your very good and have a good carear in frount of you if you choose to make it that. :)
 
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