Elf Ed ZacharyNorth Pole

When It is Not Christmas at the North Pole

It nearly hit 70 degrees here the other day. Almost had to take my sweater off. That’s sweltering for the North Pole.

Such is summer here. Oh, I know what you’re saying. Some of you think it is Christmas here all the time. Many have visions of endless pails of eggnog, of trees lit up 24 hours a day and of stockings perpetually hung by the chimney with care.

Yeah, we read the letters you send.

You think we all run around in little short overalls that are all red and green. You think we’ve got pointy ears. You think we’re all, um…vertically challenged. You think we do nothing more than make toys, wrap presents, eat candy canes, sing carols, hang lights and pose for pictures.

Well, let’s shatter some myths right here. It is summertime and hardly any of you are reading anyway. So why not just stomp those dumb, childish thoughts about the North Pole right here and now?

I don’t mean to be a bah-humbug. But, c’mon. We’ve got a life too, you know. Some folks feel we live here in a state of suspended animation. And life here isn’t like that at all.

We’ve got homes and families and bills and crab grass and athlete’s foot. We’re normal in that way. There’s no pixie dust here. Just regular dust, just like everyone else has. And just because we love Christmas and enjoy the holidays doesn’t mean we get to live it every day. And yet the perceptions persist that life is one endless round of Jingle Bells at the North Pole. Well, let me tell you what it is really like:

First of all, there’s not a bit of snow on the ground. It has been gone for months. I don’t know why some of you think there are no seasons here. We get seasons all the time. Just not in any particular order. Sure, it could snow tomorrow. Or it could be like Miami. Not every day is covered in a blanket of merry white here. We can hang the bells on the sleigh on any given day but it’s not going to make the sleigh move any faster over the dirt.

And, yes, we’re a merry bunch here — year round. If Christmas spirit is to be found, it is at the North Pole. But we don’t get together on Sundays to sing carols, we’re not really baking much and the only things getting wrapped are the buns around the weiners. It is summer here and we do what most folks do during the summer.

Which brings up my next point.

We have no year round decorations. The lights are all put away. There isn’t a plastic Rudolf to be found any where. (Or, the real one, for that matter. Rumor has it he is spelunking in South America).

About the only thing here even remotely looking like Christmas is the mistletoe. That never goes out of season at the North Pole. Well, actually, it goes out of season right around Halloween when it starts to get really cold here and then we have to import it, ironically. But mistletoe is pretty much the only year round Christmas habit in these parts.

But other than that, Christmas is something we remember and another thing we look forward to at this time of the year. Just like all of you.

You see, for as great as Christmas is, it isn’t meant to be every day of the year. Oh yeah, I know what Chuck Dickens said. “I’ll keep Christmas in my heart every day…yada yada yada.” Well, whatever.

I love you, you love me, but can’t we just put in the Barney video and leave it at that? Christmas is there in my heart, okay? No need to make a pageant out of it.

You see, years ago there was a big push by some of our more enthusiastic elves to make the North Pole conform to the popular misconception that we’re All-Christmas, All-the-Time. But Santa put the halt to that in a hurry.

“We need our seasons,” Santa explained to us. “There is a time for everything and too much Christmas would be too much of a good thing.” And that was that. Out came the baseball bats, the suntan lotion, the travel brochures and the ants. Even if the weather outside is frightful, we spend summer doing what summer intends for us all to do.

Like many of you, Christmas is almost always on our minds though. After all, that IS what we do. But our Christmas spirit is spent year round in the pursuit of service here at the North Pole. That really is our business. We get a lot of press for the great fun we have one night a year but the rest of the time we spend quietly attending to the needs of those less fortunate in the world.

The Red Cross, the Humane Society, the Boy Scouts? All staffed with elves and all with serious, secret ties to Santa. That is the daily Christmas pursuit here. And it is work we relish.

You see, the Christmas spirit has little to do with the red-and-white sparkle of candy canes. It doesn’t need to be wrapped up under a tree. It doesn’t just twinkle because of the lights and it doesn’t need a special delivery from a fat guy pulled by eight smelly animals through the air.

It has more to do with bringing smiles to kids faces. To setting up schools, to providing job skills, to giving food. It has to do with keeping families together, with providing medical care and seeing that families have resources to learn to contribute to society. And we try to do this in as many places and in as many languages as we can.

The seasons are changing. And there is something in the air. All the great things about the holidays are building in anticipation for us just as they are for many of you. But it is not Christmas yet at the North Pole. At least, not the Christmas as some of you think you know it.

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