A Holiday Fable

Written on December 23, 2010

How Santa’s Reindeer Learned to Fly

A long time ago, Santa’s reindeer did not fly, though it didn’t matter – there were fewer people then. But, the world became complex and crowded and chaotic. And it was tougher and tougher for Santa Claus to get done before sunup, until, finally, one Christmas, while making his last delivery, (which happened to be in Japan), the sun peeped over the horizon just as Santa entered the house. This was almost disastrous, since no child had ever seen Santa doing his thing, and, had he been caught, it would’ve meant an end to his carefully managed rep. Fortunately, the only one awake was an old, old man. Santa figured, if he was lucky, the old guy was senile and nobody would believe him.

Furu Mori, whose name means old forest, had back trouble. Years of working in rice paddies had left him happily prosperous, painfully bent. Furu Mori rested best in an old bamboo chair in what you might call the living room. And so he was when, without any warning, out of the small fireplace before him, a generously overweight, red-suited man, dragging a red bag, more or less stumbled into the room, brushing soot from the fur trim of his sleeves and muttering something about his wife killing him. When Santa turned around he almost fainted. He caught his breath and exclaimed,

“Well I’ll be kiss-a-elf’s-butt, what in three-hundred Eskimos are you doing up?”

“Did I wake you?” Then, under his breath, “I’m losing my touch.” “It’s quite alright,” said Furu Mori, “I was awake. Besides, I have often wondered how you do this thing you do.”

Chagrined, Santa realized the old guy wasn’t senile at all. He knew Furu Mori shouldn’t have seen him. “Well, now you know a really big secret and you can’t tell anyone, or I will have to put dried reindeer turds in your stockings and plant kudzu in your meditation garden.” Santa began to remove toys and stuff from the bottom of his slack, red sack. He looked up at Furu Mori. “I can trust you with my secret, can’t I?” “It is no problem, Santa san – I am old and have kept many secrets.” Furu Mori replied, bowing deeply. Reassured or resigned, Furu Mori didn’t know which, Santa went back to work.  Furu Mori watched as Santa arranged toys around the little bonsai Christmas tree, then took a couple of bites of the rice cookies left by Furu Mori’s grandchildren, and, with a grimace, a sip of the soy milk they had also left. Furu Mori smiled. He didn’t like soy milk either. “Perhaps you would like something stronger, Santa san?” Santa looked over the tops of his glasses at the wizened little man.

After assurances the children were still snug in their futons, Santa accepted a small glass of warm Sake. Furu Mori led him outside and the two old men strolled around the gardens, sipping rice wine and sharing thoughts about children and dogs and how their arthritis tended to flare up when a low-pressure system moved in. It was then that Santa intimated that he planned to retire from Christmas – the job had become too big. And besides, he had had his eye on a townhouse in West Palm that wasn’t right on the beach, but wasn’t too far to walk. “To do this job anymore, you’d have to have flying reindeer!” Santa laughed. Furu Mori laughed too. Flying reindeer – that Santa-san was one funny fat man. But as they walked a little farther, Furu Mori became thoughtful. ‘Flying reindeer, you say?”

Furu Mori asked Santa to wait and went inside. Directly, Furu Mori emerged with a small sack and a scroll of rice paper. He was in a hurry. “Here,” Furu Mori said, “feed these to your deers. I don’t know if they’ll make your reindeers fly, but they sure make our Chihuahua jump. When you need more, here is the recipe. Now I must hurry, for the children are awake and the Chihuahua has to pee. Next year, we will drink Sake earlier.” He winked. Santa, trying not to look skeptical, took the sack and thanked the old gentleman for his generosity. Furu Mori whisked away, the ivory netsukes on his sash, clinking as he left.

Once Furu Mori had left, Santa peered inside the bag. He saw what looked small green peas with yellow icing. They smelled pungent. He thought for an inkling of tossing the bag in a Dipsy Dumpster, but, when it came to this Christmas Eve job, he really was at the end of his bungee cord. Shaking his head skeptically, he offered one to Rudolph. “Here, Rudy, try one.” Rudolph sniffed of it and, trustingly, ate the small, crunchy pea. As he chewed, his eyes grew wide, then wider. Tears welled up in them. His nose lit and began flashing Morse S.O.S.es Puffs of green smoke poofed from his hindparts and his tongue lolled out. Santa was already reaching for the crib sheet he kept on giving CPR to reindeers when, suddenly, Rudolph hopped a little and, to Santa’s surprise, rose up about four feet and hovered. Pleased and curious, Santa handed peas to each of the other reindeer –Dander and Compost, and Thrasher and Blipzen, and Trancer and Danger and Cueball and Nixon.  Then, with a bound he vaulted into the sleigh, (suffering a minor groin muscle pull in the process). And with an “oh, crap,” a “yee ha,” and a “hokey smokes!” they were off – like a rocket – a great, gliding, jingling, green-smoke-puffing, red rocket, streaking into the morning sky, northward and glorious leaving the land of the rising sun behind them. As they soared into the clouds, Santa had a fleeting glimpse of what might’ve been a flying Chihuahua. But it was late, and the Sake had been strong. And that, my friends, is how Santa’s reindeer learned to fly.

This Christmas myth comes to you from Cayenne Creative. Thank you for being a part of our lives this past year. Next Christmas look for Santa’s First Trip to Scotland, or How Rudolph’s Nose became Red.

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