This is a sad story. It is sad at the beginning and it keeps getting sadder, though it does cheer up a bit at the end. So if there are little ones listening, you might want to choose a different story to read.Once upon a time, in a secret, magical place in the Far Far North, Santa Claus died. How he died and why he died, only his elves knew, and they did not say. They wrapped him up and buried him nearby where no one could find him because it was magic and secret, as places tend to be where elves are involved. Quickly, word spread from this person to that person, moving south until all the grown-ups, from pole to pole, knew that this year, there would be no Santa. The grown-ups covered it up, of course. Grown-ups often do this when children are involved, especially little ones, but they could not keep it hidden for long. Children notice these kinds of things, and the truth spread from child to child until they all knew, from west to east. But the children pretended, as children often do where grown-ups are involved, and Christmas was celebrated that year in the same way as every year, even though everyone knew that everyone was pretending. Except for the littlest ones. And things went on like this for quite a while, from one Christmas to the next. Up in the Far Far North, not too far from the North Pole, in a well-hidden place, Santa's house stood empty. The elves tried to keep the Workshop open, but their hearts weren't in it, and one by one they drifted away and found other things to do. Some performed small kindnesses, and some made small mischiefs, and when the reindeer left, the last of the elves left too, and Santa's house and Workshop were abandoned utterly, as often happens with old places. Most everyone thought: well, that is that. They might very well have been right. Except. Once upon another time, there was a boy. His name was Nicholas and he was much like other boys, but he was just a little different. He knew about Santa, like the other boys, but he did not think as they did: well, that is that. (you see where this is going) He often thought of Santa, even under summer's sun, and one thing he thought was this: Santa had to have been somewhere, once upon a time. As he grew older, he thought more and more about Santa, which was also not like the other boys. When he was a grown-up, he found he had a knack for making toys. He made toys so wonderful that soon he had his own toy company and it was a most excellent toy company, and Nicholas made quite a large fortune, but he never stopped thinking about Santa and the Far Far North. (You do see where this is going, right?) The day came when Nicholas was getting rather old, and he was awfully rich, and he decided something and what he decided was this: well, why not? So he quit his toy company, telling the other grown-ups that he was going on Vacation, and he set out. He had the finest clothes and a most excellent sled with most excellent reindeer to pull it, and he went north and north and north. He was smart enough, unlike other grown-ups, not to search exactly at the North Pole, and not to look for the usual sort of place. He knew it would be magical, as any place is where elves are involved, and so, unlike so many others, he found it. (I knew you saw where this was going) The Workshop was empty and drafty, but Nicholas was good with his hands and a hard worker and very clever, and he had enough money to get anything he needed, and soon he had the old place fixed right up. Although he kept what he was doing very, very secret, word got out among the elves. One by one they came back from their other employments and quietly took their places in the big Workshop. The place was humming and Nicholas was very happy, most days. But autumn came and went and he began to be nervous and thoughtful, and he knew perfectly well why: Christmas was coming. Then, one wintry day in early December, the wind blew and the snow banks shifted, and he discovered something extraordinary. Not far from the house was a field and in that field were gravestones, and every one of them had his name on it: Nicholas, Nicklaus, Niko, Nikita, Niels, Claus, ... there was even a Nicolette. He looked at the names and he thought long and hard. Elves came to ask him this or tell him that, but when they saw him thinking they went away again without disturbing him. The reindeer did not even ask to play games. After he thought for a day and a night, he thought one more think and he said: well, why not? Word got out quickly among the children of the world. The grown-ups went through the same motions as before, for they did not know, being more or less clueless about this sort of thing. But the children knew and they rejoiced, which made everyone happy, and all had a very merry Christmas.
And the littlest ones said, see? We told you so!.
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A light-hearted, creative take on the holiday and well worth of the end-spot for our 2020 line-up. Best of wishes for the coming year. May G-d bless and keep you and yours healthy and prosperous in 2021.