By Patricia Furstenberg

Long, long ago, as the elders whisper, when the wolf and the lamb were still the best of friends and cuddled together in the depth of winter, for warmth… Long ago, at the very beginning of time when even we were in the loving care of storks and from there into our mother’s womb, that long ago, Santa Claus was the one who still did as he does today. He still roamed the earth, far and wide, going from one house to the next, bringing gifts of many kinds to children and people from all over the world.

But once, one year, things turned out different. That whole year had been strange, and unlike any other year that the people remembered or could name. Much like this year we’ve had, that year the day that had to be cold turned out warm; the months that were supposed to be rainy turned out dry, and the lands that were supposed to remain dry, were covered by floods. That year had not been an ordinary one at all. 

And it has not been ordinary for Santa either. His elves were sick! Alas, what a misfortune! Santa was boiling with fury and annoyance because without his helpers, his Christmassy work, and his Christmassy plans were ruined. Lost! Without his hard-working elves, the gifts would not be ready on time. Without his dedicated elves, the Christmas letters would never be all open, and the gifts would never be wrapped and labeled. 

And on top of it all, Mrs. Claus’s Mother also announced her visit to Santa’s workshop.  And, worst to come, the reindeers were not in great shape either.

But, Christmas was coming, and fast. Time was never standing still. Time was never, ever missing a beat. 

What could Santa do? As with all the enthusiasm going around in the world, and the Christmas cheer and spirit, Santa tried his best to prepare his sleigh by himself, harness the reindeers by himself, load the gifts by himself, and take them to the children.

All on his own.

But just as they took off the ropes broke. The reindeer started to shiver, and sneeze. The presents were soon scattered all over the ground. And not rightly labeled either. Santa’s shoulders dropped. His head fell into his hands.

Christmas was not going to happen, after all.

Santa’s beard started trembling and he was about to cry in frustration when, suddenly, he heard the doorbell ring. 

His heart jumped out of his chest. More bad news?

But what to see? On his doorstep, bathed in light, stood an angel holding a gift. A gift for Santa! It was a green tree, the most beautiful tree. When he saw it, Santa felt happy and confident at once. The reindeers even stood and looked healthy again. The elves recovered and quickly repacked the gifts and sorted Santa’s sleigh.

Santa laughed, “ho ho ho,” thanked the angel and took the tree, placing it in the middle of his workshop, and decorated it right away. And at the top, he put an angel, as thanks to the angel who saved Christmas for all the children.

Mrs. Claus encouraged Santa to start immediately and deliver the gifts to all the children, taking on the responsibility of welcoming her mother herself, “It will be a girl’s night out,” she said laughing. 

So, for a second time, Santa set off on his sleigh and this time delivered gifts to everyone, along with some good joy and cheer.

The story of the angel bringing an evergreen tree to Santa, together with confidence, good health, and joy, traveled the world. Today, many are the families that add an angel to the top of their Christmas tree for prosperity, happiness, and a sure friend who watches out over everyone.

Patricia Furstenberg writes poetry, children’s literature, and historical fiction dipped in Romania’s folklore, where she was born and earned a medical degree. Today Furstenberg resides in sunny South Africa with her family. To date she has published 18 books while her work and articles appeared in over 30 anthologies and online literary journals.

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