An awesome arrival to the North Pole

Hannah couldn’t believe what she was seeing. How could it be that just a few hours ago she was a regular 10-year-old at home on a Sunday afternoon, and now she was standing at the massive red gates of the North Pole?

She clutched her dad’s hand as they walked through them, and on his face was the same expression of wide-eyed wonder that she knew she had.

Just inside the gates was a trolley station, where Max was talking to an elf wearing a black and white uniform with a candy cane sticking out of his front pocket.

A series of signs pointed in different directions where the tracks split off, this way and that. The signs read Eggnog Village, Workshop, Holly Lane, Reindeer Alley and Charlotte Park.

“Look Dad!” Hannah tugged on her father’s sleeve, pointing at the sign that had her mother’s name.

“Charlotte Park was named the day your mom was born,” Max told them, ushering them into trolley No. 4. “It has an ice-skating rink, and sled riding hills, and in the center of the park is where you’ll find our biggest Christmas tree! We sing carols and drink cocoa and play ice hockey every Christmas Eve. After we get Santa off and flying that is!”

The elf in black and white closed the trolley door and shyly waved at Hannah. They began moving in the opposite direction of the park and Reindeer Alley, with the trolley steering itself.

“Where are we going, Max?” Hannah asked as they passed acre upon acre of trees and fences, all glittering with strands of lights. The night sky was bright with rays of pink and green lights, and stars twinkled brilliantly in a rainbow of colors.

“Our first stop is Holly Lane; that’s where the North Pole residents live who stay here year-round. Your visitors’ quarters are there, as well as your grandparents’ home. There are also a few shops and the mess hall.”

“Do the elves all live there?”

“A few. The department heads each have cottages there. They have to be accessible to Santa at any given moment. But the rest of the elves live in dorms at Eggnog Village. Which is fine with most of them since the candy factory is also there,” he said with his signature twinkling wink.

“What’s your job, Max?” Hannah asked.

The elf stood up as tall as he could. “I am the personal assistant of Santa Claus. And please don’t ask me to expand on my responsibilities because the list is as long as I am old. I keep telling Santa that I need an assistant! But he is a man of tradition, your grandfather.”

Hannah’s stomach was fluttering with butterflies as she realized the enormous significance of her newfound family; despite all the evidence, she could still hardly believe she was Santa’s granddaughter. How would she ever measure up?

“Is he going to like me?” she asked, suddenly feeling very small.

“He’s going to love you, Hannah Banana,” Max answered, using her parents’ nickname to calm her nerves.

They pulled up to the front of a beautiful two-story brick house with green and white shutters. A large porch with a green railing wrapped around the house, and around the side Hannah could see a garden and a greenhouse. White twinkling lights accented everything, from the shrubbery to the mailbox that had the word “Claus” written in elegant red script.

Max held the trolley door open and Hannah and her dad stepped out into the crisp air.

“He’s loved you since the day you were born,” Max said. “Your grandmother, too. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s go meet them.”

“Right,” Adam said, sounding a bit nervous himself. He took Hannah’s hand and followed Max to the front door. “Let’s go meet Santa Claus.”


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