Kids ready to mail selves with elf to North Pole

Editor’s note: This is the 10th chapter of the 12-part holiday tale “The Snow Elf,” running daily through Christmas morning. Parents are encouraged to read aloud to their children.


Anna and Alex Berry made their way across the Riverton Valley Mall, heading toward Bennington’s Department Store, in the company of two elves.

At any other time, in any other context, they would have attracted more than a few stares and raised eyebrows. But with the mall heavily decorated for Christmas and busy with shoppers who had the holidays on their mind, they didn’t earn a second glance.

As Penny led them into the crowded department store, Anna stared around in awe. During the holiday season, Bennington’s seemed like the most magical place ever. They took their decorating to new levels — the moment shoppers entered the store, they were transported to a beautiful Christmas wonderland surrounded by lights, animatronic figures, fluffy fake snow, and tons of decorations covering the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

Santa’s Mailbox was set up right in the middle of the store, the center of a large display featuring an animatronic Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as several reindeer and elves. Penny pulled a tiny burlap bag out of her pocket, then shook it out. In an instant, it puffed into a large sack. She opened the back of the mailbox and quickly emptied the big pile of letters into the mail bag. As she was closing it back up, a little girl ran up holding an envelope.

“Is this your letter for Santa?” Penny asked her, kneeling to smile at the girl. The child looked back shyly, clutching her letter to her chest. Slowly, she gave a tiny nod.

“Are you taking the letters to Santa Claus?” she asked.

Penny nodded brightly. “As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing,” she said, winking at the girl’s mother.

“Give her your letter, Julia,” the woman said, nudging her daughter, and Julia dropped her letter into the open sack.

“I’ll make sure this gets right to Santa, safe and sound,” Penny said, and Julia smiled happily as her mother led her away.

“Hopefully that’s a promise I’ll be able to keep,” Penny said to Georgie, her tone serious. “I’ve simply assumed all the mail is reaching Santa OK. But if the North Pole is buried in snow, it might just be piling up outside the Mail Center!”

Alex was not at all looking forward to being mailed to the North Pole, but he sighed and gave Penny what he hoped was a comforting smile. “There’s only one way to find out. Let’s get this mail sent.”

Penny glanced around, then pulled them behind the display.

“Okay, we must do this quickly. Now, the spell won’t last long — just long enough for the bag to reach the North Pole. We send it through a Top Secret Access Portal, so it doesn’t take long at all.”

“So we ARE close to a portal,” Georgie broke in, somewhat triumphantly.

Penny nodded. “So, are you ready?”

Anna and Alex looked at each other. “Last chance,” Alex said. “We can figure out how to get home from here if you want.”

Anna chewed her lip. “I know… but I really, really want to see the North Pole!”

Alex put his arm around Anna. “Then let’s go,” he said, and Anna hugged him back.

Penny produced a small cardboard box and motioned for the Berrys and Georgie to stand together. Mumbling under her breath, Penny slowly waved and twisted her hands, and then their stomachs flip-flopped and everything went black.

“The Snow Elf” continues tomorrow with Chapter 11.