Joy gets to make special toys

Editor’s note: This is the 10th of a 12-chapter holiday tale running daily until Christmas. Parents are encouraged to read aloud to their children.

Without a doubt, the inside of Santa’s Workshop was the most wonderful place Joy had ever seen, and it wasn’t because of magic; it was because of the toys.

They were everywhere. They were stacked in tree-shaped towers from floor to ceiling in every corner, and hanging from rows of hooks on every wall. In the center of the massive room, long tables were filled with elves assembling toys of every kind.

Each elf had a clipboard next to them with a toy written in large letters. As an elf finished working, the paper went blank, and a moment later a new toy name appeared.

Two huge conveyor belts piled with toys disappeared into the walls on both sides of the room. One was labeled “Inspection” in glowing Christmas lights, and the other said “Gift Wrapping.”

“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Joy said, gazing around in awe. “What do I get to do?”

“Well, I had a thought,” Santa said with a smile. “How about you help make the toys for all of the kids at Sunnybrook? I have a list here somewhere.”

He patted his pockets, then pulled out a tightly-rolled blank piece of paper and handed it to her. When she unrolled it, gold stenciling lined the sides, and bold black writing appeared, quickly filling the paper one letter at a time.

“Sunnybrook Home for Children,” Joy read out loud. “Wait! Is what I asked for on here, too?” She quickly scanned down the list of wishes.

“Nope,” Santa said with a grin. “That would be cheating.”

Though she smiled back, her heart ached a little. She knew her Christmas wish was impossible. All she’d asked for was for parents to come and adopt her; it was all she ever asked for. And every year, all that waited for her on Christmas morning was toys.

She felt selfish now, though, looking up into Santa’s twinkling blue eyes. He couldn’t make such a wish come true. But she was going to do everything she could to fulfill the wishes of all of her housemates. Determined, she looked around for an empty work spot.

“There’s a spot for you next to Pippen over there.” Santa pointed toward a gangly elf in a purple and green striped shirt. Pippen smiled and waved before turning back to his toy. “He’ll help you get started and show you how things work around here. Do you have any questions?”

“Yes. Two, actually. First, do you mind if, I mean only if I finish everyone on my list first…” She nervously fidgeted with the paper in her hand. “Can I make a special gift for someone who’s not on the list?”

Santa stroked his beard. “Who would you like to make a gift for?”

“Mrs. Duncan,” Joy said, and Santa smiled.

“I think that would be just fine, Joy Noelle. How wonderfully thoughtful and kind of you! I have no doubt she will love anything you make her.”

Joy beamed in delight before heading toward Pippen.

“Joy Noelle,” Santa called out. “You had two questions. What was the second one?”

Joy turned her head back and laughed. “That’s right, I forgot to ask! There’s something that I’d really like while I work, something important.”

“What is this very important thing?” Santa asked.

“Hot chocolate, of course!”

Santa smiled and nodded, and Joy turned back to her assigned table. Sitting right at her spot, which was empty a second ago, was a large red mug of hot cocoa with whipped cream and chocolate chips on top.

Joy’s eyes went wide and she turned quickly around to thank Santa, and she caught the twinkling of his eyes before he disappeared.

Read the next installment in Sunday’s Tribune Chronicle.