The True Spirit of Christmas

December 1, 2012 | By More

 

The North Pole is as much a state of mind as it is a geographic location. In other words, it’s hard to get there from here. The first problem encountered is identifying which North Pole you want to visit. There are four to choose from: geographic, magnetic, geo- magnetic and Arctic. The agreement to an interview came back with directions to the geographic North Pole. If you put your finger at the top of a globe you’re pointing at the geographic North Pole. The return trip would be much less complicated. Just head south.

Travelling by airplane to the Russian polar research station known as Borneo is no problem. It’s those last miles that are tricky. There are no roads — only a sheet of sea ice extending beyond the horizon. The only way in is by icebreaker boat or animal powered sled. It takes big money to charter the icebreaker so that leaves the dog sled for travelers of modest means.

The sled produced a steady hiss as it glided along the frozen Arctic Sea and what looked to be a journey of several hours was over almost impossibly quick. As the dogs slowed their trot in the winter- long darkness, the winds calmed. The sled came to a halt and there stood the fabled candy stripe pole.

Through the gently falling snow the silhouette of a low-roofed buildings come into view, each with the warm glow of a candle illuminating the darkness from a circular window. And there in the doorway of the central structure stands a husky man.

He offers a hearty “Hello,” and an introduction.

“People know me by so many names. Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, but my real name is Kris. Kris Kringle.”

Kris’s home is cozy and warm. The smell of peppermint and gingerbread hang heavily in the air, but the aromas don’t overpower.

The home is warm, but there’s no fire or woodstove and the nearest electricity is half a world away.

When asked about a heat source, Kris replies with a chuckle. “Our home is warmed by something that everyone has access to, but sometimes it gets lost in the hustle bustle of the winter holiday season.”

Kris’s wife, Jessica, enters the room. Her jolly countenance is a mirror of Kris as she places steaming mugs of hot cocoa on a spruce wood table.

“We don’t get many visitors up here, but it is surely nice to entertain. Would you like some marshmallows for your cocoa?”

Hospitality can indeed be found north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Kris is a symbol for the holidays, an icon actually. But, while most people think Kris’s job is seasonal that is far from the truth.

“It never really stops. Oh sure, we don’t start prepping heavily until September and then there’s all the letters starting in late November, but we work year-round.”

Day to day activities are varied according to Kris. “The reindeer are pretty self- sufficient. I guess free-range would be the best way to put it. They take care of themselves for most of the year and then start trickling in around October.”

And what about the flying? Is that a genetic thing? Magic?

“Let’s just call it a trade secret,” says Kris with a twinkle in his eye.

Toys are anything but self-sufficient. Luckily, Kris has help. Lots of help.

“When the Missus and I decided to start this endeavor, we knew we would need some help. As luck would have it, we found the elves. The elves are why we moved here.”

Elves are a race of tiny people. Hardy and handy, they historically live in very inhospitable places. Known around the world for their charitable spirit as well as their ability to make virtually anything, the elves were perfect partners for the Kringles.

“We decided to take an adventure trip the North Pole soon after we were married and found this village. We had to build a larger house for the Missus and me, but other than that, this is the way it looked when arrived here all those years ago.”

Elves don’t want money or material things. The live on chocolate chip cookies, peppermint sticks, sugarplums, hot cocoa, and apple cider.

“It sure makes things easy when you find partners with the same goals. Nobody up here wants for anything. We just want to give.”

With Kris providing direction and delivery, toy production falls to the elves.

“Well, we’ve always got some things going on over in the toy division. You know the old standbys like teddy bears and dolls. No matter how much technology grows, it seems that the teddy bears and dolls are always popular with good girls and boys. We make those all year long.”

While stuffed animals and dolls are still high in demand, things have changed at the North Pole operation.

“We’ve made some big changes in how we do things around here,” said Kris. The toy requests started turning high-tech in the late seventies. And then all those home video game systems came out. It’s really kept us on our toes.”

Production has tripled since the 1960’s and the Kringle crew has kept up. Delivering to all the children in the world isn’t a problem, but Kris seems a little sad as he talks about increased production. It’s an emotion that catches him off-guard and he blushes an apology.

“Sorry about that. Higher production is great. There’s nothing an elf likes better than making toys – except maybe eating sugarplums – and there is nothing I enjoy more than flying through the crisp winter air. But, I wonder if toys and jewelry and other things are taking something away. I wonder if people are losing the meaning of Christmas.”

“We started the toy delivery as a way to spread the spirit of Christmas; a way of symbolizing peace on Earth and goodwill among men. These are the reasons we celebrate the season.”

Kris’s mood changes abruptly and rosy cheeks frame a dimpled smile. His lighted pipe forms a circle above his head.

“Hohoho! But I know in my heart that the good people of the world feel the same aswedo.Iseeitinthegoodtheydo,not just during the holidays, but all year round. They help feed and clothe their unfortunate neighbors. They offer a kind word when a kind word can save the day. I see it all. I know when they’ve been naughty, but I see that they are overwhelmingly good. Hohoho! They know that the spirit of Christmas isn’t found in things new and shiny but in our hearts.”

“Well, time is pressing and we must get back to work,” says Kris. He offers a hug and bids farewell as the front door closes.

On this windless night, the falling snowflakes tinkle like tiny jingle bells. The spirit of Christmas curls out of the cozy Kringle home and warms the frigid darkness. The stars twinkle overhead on a perfect arctic night.

 

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