Twas the night before the night before Christmas, and the workshop and the packing and distribution centers at the North Pole were dark. It was about a quarter past 8 pm, and I was just finishing up the list. (I volunteer each year, working with the group that handles Santa’s delivery list.) Even though this is the busiest time of the year as everyone makes preparation for Santa’s Christmas Eve deliveries, he insists that all work stop at 8 pm. There are two shifts — 6 am to 1 pm and 1 pm to 8 pm — because Santa wants all the North Pole regulars and the volunteers to have time to spend with family and friends. For Santa time together — working together, cooking together, shopping together — is the most important part of the holiday season.
There are several trees that are lit during the work day, but Santa wants them off after everyone leaves for the day. He is very energy conscious. So as I was making my way back to my room, I thought it strange to see the colored LED lights sparkling on the tree in Santa’s otherwise dark office. He must have been called away, and his assistant forgot to turn off the lights. Since Santa’s door is never locked, I thought nothing of going to his office to unplug the tree.
However, when I walked in, and flipped on the office lights, I was surprised to see Santa in his chair behind the desk.
“Sorry,” I said more than a little embarrassed. “I did not know you were here, and I just came in to turn off the tree lights.”
“No worries,” Santa said. “I am glad that you thought to come to turn them off.”
There was a deep sadness in his voice, and tears were streaming down his face. I was more than a little taken aback because I have never seen Santa cry. He is usually a force of natural energy, of living breathing goodwill with a hearty infectious laugh. He can always find the blessing in any situation, and have you thanking whatever god you serve for the privilege of the experience. I have also seen his righteous indignation. His anger can shake the walls around him. And the thing that angers him most is cruelty and stupidity that make life harder for children. But, I have never seen him cry.