Christmas Magic

The temperature had dropped drastically in the past few hors. Frost had begun to cover all of the windows in the room. Clouds that had formed days ago were starting to drop snow onto the city below them.

Everyone in the classroom was talking loudly as the teacher quietly sat at her desk correcting papers. It was the last day of school before Christmas break, and everyone was ready to go home. A paper airplane flew through the sky and landed on the teacher's desk.

A small group of boys near the back corner of the room were cheering. The girls near the front just ignored them and talked louder. Just as the teacher was going to tell them to quiet down, the school bell echoed through the empty halls and noisy classrooms.

In a wild rush, the students herded out of the classroom door and into the hallway. A small girl slowly packed up her things and walked quietly out into the vicious hallway traffic.

"Move it short stuff!" someone yelled as they knocked into her.

"Watch it." Another student said as they pushed her out of the way.

She never said a word to any of them as she calmly walked her locker. She carefully slipped through the passing crowd to get to her locker. She carefully turned the lock to the numbers of her combination.

"Anna, are you going to visit your grandparents for Christmas?" another girl asked.

"No, I'm going to visit my cousin for the holidays." She answered.

"Merry Christmas, Anna." She replied as she slammed her locker door shut.

"Merry Christmas, Karen." Anna replied as she put her books in her backpack.

"Anna, there you are." Said a boy as he walked up to her. "Have a Merry Christmas, in case I don't see you before then."

"Thank you, Charlie." She replied.

"Where are you going for Christmas?" he asked as she closed her locker.

"I'm going to visit my cousin Abbie." She answered.

"Where does she live?" he asked as they started down the hallway for the school doors.

"At the North Pole, she's one of Santa's elves." She replied proudly.

"You always tell the best stories." He said with a laugh. "Where does she really live?"

"At the North Pole, and I'm not making it up." Anna answered.

"Are you an elf too?" he asked. "Considering the fact that you're so small."

"I've got the height of an elf." She replied. "But that's all."

"You've got the heart of an elf, too, Anna. Don't forget that." He added. "Just because you're three and a half feet tall doesn't mean you don't have a big heart."

"Thank you." She replied with smile. "I can forget that sometimes."

"Can you make toys?" he asked quietly.

"No." she laughed slightly. "I make pretty good jewelry, though."

"You really like jingle bells, don't you?" he asked looking at her bracelet.

"I love them." She replied shaking her wrist to jingle the bells. "I hope someday to get to become an elf at the North Pole."

"I think you would make a great elf." He replied as they walked up to his mom's mini-van. "Have a great Christmas, Anna."

"Merry Christmas, James." She replied as he climbed into the mini-van and shut the door.

"Have fun visiting Abbie." He said as the van drove off down the street.

Anna waved at her friend until the vehicle turned a corner and disappeared out of sight. She turned and slowly walked down the quiet street as the snowflakes grew in size. The flakes began to fall more frequently as she walked along.

A light breeze blew across the now snow-covered street. A few houses on the street had Christmas decorations and light displays in their yards and windows. Anna quietly imagined what the North Pole would look like when she got there.

She imagined all of the little buildings outlined in lights and Christmas trees in every single window. She thought of the multitude of decorations and presents that would be sprinkled on and underneath the trees. Anna wondered if Santa would look like all the pictures and drawings of him in the shop windows.

Anna couldn't wait to get there and see the reindeer, and her one wish was to become an elf and work in the toy factory. She wanted to see the elf Christmas tree that Abbie had written to her about. In every letter that Abbie had ever written, she never left out any detail about the large Christmas tree that stood in the main pass-way in the toy factory. Anna couldn't wait until she could see it herself.

As she passed by the last house on the street, she noticed that some of the lights in their Christmas wreath had burned out. A few of the lights in their display reindeer were also out. She looked up onto the roof of the small house, and she noticed Santa and his sleigh of eight reindeer perched near the chimney. The sleigh was filled with lighted presents and packages.

She stopped at the crosswalk before the street and looked both ways before crossing. The snowflakes began to fall more and more frequently. Miniature piles of snow were building up along the sides of the street and the sidewalk. The air was crisp and cold as she turned up the walk to her house.

Anna slowly opened the small door and stepped into the hallway inside the front door. She took off her hat and her mittens and laid them on the hall table. She set her backpack on the floor next to the door and unzipped her warm jacket. Her coat was hung on the top spoke of the coat-rack. Then she took the scarf from around her neck and hung it next to her coat.

Carefully, she untied her boots and placed them near her backpack against the wall. She took a deep breath. The humble little house smelled of freshly baked cookies and warm coca. She walked into the living room down the hall. On a waist-high table in front of the window, a small Christmas tree was half decorated. The lights were on and an open box of ornaments sat on the carpeting beneath it.

The golden tinsel was hanging out of the side of the box, and some of it was laid out on the floor. A bright star was perched at the bottom of the tree filling part of the room with its light. Anna sat down on the small stuffed sofa and gazed at the tree.

"Anna, is that you dear?" her mother called from the kitchen.

"Yes, mother, it's me." she replied.

"Would you like some coco?" her mother asked.

"Of course." She said cheerfully. "Coco is my favorite holiday drink."

She stood up from the couch and walked into the kitchen where her mother was pulling another pan of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies out of the warm oven. Near the oven and the counter there was an extra warmth. It was the warmth of love.

"Would you like a cookie dear?" her mother asked setting the pan down on the counter.

"Maybe a little later." She replied with a smile.

"Then I will just leave them here to cool down a little." Her mother said placing the hot pads in the pockets of her apron.

Her mother was always baking cookies. She was a quaint woman who always wore a cheerful smile—and a gingerbread-man patterned apron. Anna never knew her mother without her favorite apron.

"Here is your coco dear." Her mother said as she handed her a steaming mug.

"Thank you mother." Anna replied as she carefully sipped her coco.

The two of them walked into the living room and sat down together on the small stuffed sofa. Her mother put her feet up on the foot-rest that was next to the coffee table. She leaned back and looked at the tree.

"That thing gets harder to decorate every year." She remarked at the half-decorated tree.

"But it always looks very beautiful mother." Anna replied smiling.

"One of these days, I won't be able to decorate the tree." She said with a sigh.

"Mother, that will never happen." She said hopefully. "What's Christmas without a tree?"

Anna's mother took a sip from the mug of coco she held in her hands. She looked at the tree again.

"Maybe we should finish decorating it together." She suggested. "It won't take as long that way."

"Alright, mother. That sounds like a good idea." Anna agreed happily.

The two of them got up from the sofa and began to put the rest of the ornaments onto the branches of the small tree. There seemed to be so many different ornaments that it almost appeared as though they wouldn't all fit on a tree that small, but somehow, they always seemed to fit.

Anna and her mother picked up the tinsel, and placed it onto the branches with the greatest care. They made sure that every branch had a hold on the tinsel so none of the branches would feel left-out. Anna bent down and picked up the bright little star. Her mother pushed the foot-rest up next to the table.

"You put the star up on the top this year." She said. "I'm too tired."

"Alright." Anna replied stepping up onto the stool.

She cautiously placed the bright little star on the very top branch. She leaned very carefully against the table to get the star in the perfect spot. Reaching as high as she could, Anna put the star on the tree.

She carefully stepped down from the foot-rest and sat down on the couch. The tree looked absolutely beautiful. The tinsel and the ornaments worked together perfectly to produce an extravagant Christmas tree. Anna's mother smiled proudly at the tree as the star sparkled its light throughout the living room.

Anna lifted her mug of coco and took another sip. The smooth liquid warmed her from the inside out. It was very cold outside, but inside her house—and her heart—everything was warm.

"Anna." Her mother said softly. "You will be taking the trip to see Abbie alone this year."

"Aren't you coming with me mother?" she asked.

"Not this year. I've decided to visit your grandmother in Hawaii this year. I think you're old enough to go on your own."

"How will I get there?" Anna asked.

"The train leaves tomorrow morning at nine o'clock." Her mother answered. "I've already told Abbie that you would be arriving by train. She'll be waiting at the train station for you."

"I'm sure everything will be fine." Anna said as the clock on the wall chimed the time.

"You had better be getting to bed." Her mother told her. "It's nine-thirty, and you have to be up early in the morning."

"You're right." She replied with a yawn. "I'm also very tired."

"Goodnight dear." She said as Anna got up from the sofa.

"Goodnight mother." Anna said kissing her mother's cheek.

Anna slowly walked down the hallway to her bedroom. She put on her warm fuzzy pajamas and brushed her teeth. After she put her dirty clothes into the clothes-hamper, Anna climbed into her nice warm bed. She turned off the lamp on her nightstand and pulled up the cozy blankets on her bed.

That night, all of Anna's dreams were filled with Christmas wishes. She saw the elves hard at work in the toy factory at the North Pole in preparation for Christmas. Anna dreamed about the large Christmas tree that would sit in the main pass-way of the main building. She dreamed about the glorious ornaments and the tinsel that would be hanging proudly on its branches.

She woke up the next morning and began to pack for her long journey to visit her cousin. Anna made sure to pack her warmest clothes because she knew it would be very cold at the North Pole. She carefully folded her sweater and put it in her bag. She also packed a book for the long train ride to the North Pole.

"Are you ready dear?" her mother asked peeking her head inside the door.

"Yes mother." Anna replied.

"We had better get going or you're going to be late for the train." Her mother said as she walked down the hallway. "I packed you some cookies and a thermos of hot coco for the trip."

"Thanks mother." Anna said as she took the box and the thermos. "I'll let you know when I get to the North Pole."

"Have a good trip sweetheart." She replied as Anna walked out the door.

Anna knew the train station wasn't too far away. The snow had stopped already and the sun was shining down on the white ground. She put the box of cookies and the thermos of coco in her bag. Anna zipped up her coat and put on her mittens.

As the wind blew some snowflakes across the sidewalk, Anna put on her hat and wrapped her scarf around her neck. She began walking down the hill towards the train station. From the hilltop, Anna could see the train already at the station. She carefully stepped down the hill to catch the train.

She approached the window at the train station and purchased her ticket for the train. She stepped up a staircase and walked along side the train. She cautiously stepped up the stairs into the train. Anna handed the conductor her ticket and proceeded down a hallway to find an empty compartment.

Anna found one of the few empty compartments and went in to sit down. She closed the door behind her, and then she laid her bag on the seat. She sat down and looked out the window. There were very few people at the train station today. It seemed to be completely empty.

Anna closed the curtains and laid down on the seat to take a nap. She closed her eyes and began to dream about the North Pole again. She couldn't wait until she could see all of the elves and meet Santa Clause. Anna drifted off to sleep as the snow began to fall outside.

The train slowed to a stop. Anna slowly sat up and opened the curtains on her window. She looked out and realized that it had been snowing more since she took her nap.

"The train has been caught in the snow, Miss." The conductor replied as he opened the door to Anna's compartment. "There's no way we can get through today."

"Thank you." She replied as he closed the door. "What am I going to do now?"

Anna leaned back against the window and tried to think. She had to make it to the North Pole before Christmas. With the train stuck in the snow, she had no idea when she would make it there. That meant she would have to go herself.

"I'll just have to walk the rest of the way." Anna said to herself. "I must get to the North Pole to see Abbie."

She carefully placed the box of cookies back into her bag. She pulled her coat back on and put on her mittens. Anna put her hat on and wrapped her scarf around her neck again. She picked up her bag and stepped out into the hallway.

The conductor was talking to another passenger when Anna slipped out the door of the train car. She headed for the snowy hills. The temperature had dropped and it was now snowing again. Anna slowly climbed over the first hill and saw a flat plain stretching out in front of her.

The snow began to fall with a blowing wind as Anna continued across the snowy plain. She pulled her hat down closer to her eyes to keep the snow out of her view. There was another snow-covered hill in the distance. She pulled her scarf up and continued to walk.

Anna paused as a large mountain of snow rose up in front of her. She fell back in the snow behind as it grew closer and closer. The mountain seemed to be moving towards her. She heard a low growling noise as two back eyes stared back at her from the snow.

"Hello?" she said as the creature shook the snow off of itself.

"Hi, I'm Licorice." He said.

"You're a polar bear." She said quietly.

"You must be an elf." He replied. "I haven't seen an elf in a long time."

"I'm not an elf." She replied with a laugh. "I'm on my way to visit an elf, though. She's my cousin."

He plopped down in front of her causing the snow to fluff up into the air around him. The polar bear flopped out on his belly in the snow.

"That's so cool." He replied excited as he started to catch snowflakes on his tongue.

"I'm on my way to the North Pole, but I'm a little lost." She replied sadly. "If I don't figure out which way to go, I won't make it to Santa's workshop by Christmas Eve."

"The North Pole is that way." Licorice replied with a move of his head.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Yup." He said.

"How do you know?" Anna asked.

"It's a polar bear thing, I guess." He replied catching snowflakes. "I'm not sure how I know, but I know."

"It's a little chilly out here." she said with a shiver.

"Come inside my igloo." Licorice said as he stood up. "It's nice and warm in there."

Anna followed the bounding little polar bear across the snowy hills towards a small igloo. She ran and slide right through the little doorway into the snow-covered igloo. She looked at the igloo.

"It's alright, Anna." Licorice replied.

"This is a very nice little igloo you have Licorice." She said as she crawled through the doorway into the big area inside the igloo.

"Isn't this neat?" he asked rolling over next to the wall.

"Yes it is." She replied with a laugh as her flipped over up against the wall of the igloo.

"I love my igloo." He said looking at her upside down.

"Would you like a cookie?" Anna asked as he flipped over again.

"Cookie?" he questioned. "I've never had a cookie before."

"You must try one of my mother's cookies. They're the best cookies in the world." Anna said.

Licorice slowly walked over and plopped down next to Anna. She took the box of cookies out of her bag and opened it. He stuck his snout into the box and smelled the cookies as she took two out. She gave one of the cookies to Licorice.

"This is great!" he exclaimed as he took a bite of the cookie. "This is better than fish."

"I'm glad you like it." She replied.

"I love it!" he replied happily stuffing the rest of the cookie into his mouth.

"Would you like another one?" Anna asked with a laugh.

"Yeah." He replied as she gave him another cookie.

Licorice gobbled up the cookie and patiently waited for Anna to pull another one out of the box. He gobbled up a second cookie and brushed the crumbs off of his snout. He licked his lips and smiled happily.

"Those are the best cookies ever." Licorice exclaimed.

"Would you like some coco?" Anna asked.

"If it's as good as those cookies, I'd love some coco." He replied.

"The coco will warm you up." She replied as she took the thermos out of her bag. "Coco is my favorite holiday drink."

"This is good." He replied slurping up the coco. "It's warm too."

Anna stuck her head out of the igloo to look outside. She noticed that the snow had begun to fall again. It seemed colder now, and the wind had picked up since she went inside the igloo.

"It's snowing again." She said as she took a sip of the coco from the thermos.

"Snow is fun." He said.

"I like snow around Christmas. It always makes this time of year brighter." She said.

"I like snow, too." Licorice said joyfully.

"I had better get going." Anna replied. "The snow is falling faster now."

"Just head towards those lights, and you should be there soon." He replied curling up.

"All I have to do is head for those lights?" she questioned.

"Yup, that's the North Pole." He replied.

"I hope I hake it through this snow." She said. "Thank you for your help. I'll have to come back and visit some time."

"I would really like that." He replied.

"You'll have to teach me how to build an igloo sometime." She said with a smile.

"I hope you make it to the North Pole in time, Anna." Licorice replied.

"Thank you, Licorice. I hope so too." She replied as she crawled out of the igloo.

The snow was blowing furiously as she wandered towards the lights in the distance. She hoped that they were lights from buildings and not just the stars playing tricks on her eyes. It was so very difficult to see clearly through the blowing snow.

Anna slowly began to slide down a steep hill. She carefully stepped through the high snow banks. She pulled up the collar of her coat to keep the chill off of her neck. Anna pulled down her hat and squinted her eyes to keep the snow from blinding her path.

Anna saw two large piles of snow with a path cut between them. She cautiously approached them. She slowly passed through them and realized that they were a gate. Inside, the snow was falling gracefully from the sky above. A little ways away, Anna could see some small buildings.

She slowly walked up to the largest building. A bright gold and silver chandelier cast long shadows through the windows across the sparkling and falling snow. In the window of every building, a Christmas tree or a wreath appeared to watching over the yard. The inside of the building was stirring with activity of all the elves.

Anna slowly pushed the large doors open and stepped into the bustling building. Elves rushed here and there with toys and brightly colored packages for all of the children. The paper and ribbon glistened from the lights above. They were quickly loading up Santa's sleigh for his Christmas Eve trip.

As Anna looked up after taking off her hat, her eyes fell upon the Christmas tree. It was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. The tree nearly touched the top of the ceiling, which was two stories up. A large assortment of the most beautiful antique ornaments hung freely from each and every branch of the perfectly shaped pine tree. Golden tinsel glittered as it mixed with the silver icicles.

In awe, she approached the gigantic tree. Anna noticed that there wasn't a star at the top of the tree. The tree seemed very bare without a sparkling Christmas star to brighten the top. Anna couldn't believe that there was no star on Santa's Christmas tree.

"Anna." A voice said.

"Abbie." She replied as she noticed her cousin.

"I was so afraid you wouldn't make it in time for Christmas." She replied as she hugged her cousin.

"I got a little lost on the way here." Anna answered.

"How did you get here?" she asked.

"I had a little help." She said with a smile. "I met a polar bear on my way here. He helped me find the North Pole."

Abbie laughed as she hugged her cousin again. They stood together at the base of the tree as the rest of the elves hurried in every direction. Anna looked back up at the tree.

"Abbie, why isn't there a star on the tree?" she asked quietly. "I always thought there was a special Christmas star on Santa's tree."

"We don't have a star anymore." She replied sadly. "There wasn't enough magic left to bring one down for the holidays."

"That's so sad." Anna replied with a sigh.

"Yes it is." Replied Santa. "After making all of the Christmas presents, there just wasn't enough magic left to get a star for our tree."

"No tree should go without a star." Said Anna.

"It just doesn't feel like Christmas." Abbie added quietly.

"Here, Santa." Anna said as she took off her necklace. "This can be your Christmas star."

"That is very kind of you, Anna." Santa replied as she handed the small silver star to him.

Santa took the small charm in his red velvet-gloved hand. He closed his hand around the star. He opened up his gloved hand, and the little star rose up in the air. It began to glow brightly and grow in size. Anna and Abbie, along with all of the other elves, watched as the star floated up to the top of the Christmas tree.

Each and every one of them watched in wonder as the star became the brightest light in the entire North Pole. A burst of light came from the top of the tree, and magical glittering snow began to fall down on the elves. The doors opened and a white ball of fluff rolled inside.

He flipped over and sat straight up in a puff of snow. Slowly he stood up and shook off all of the snow. Anna immediately recognized her furry white friend.

"Licorice!" she shouted as the little bear bounded towards her.

"Anna!" he shouted happily.

Anna knelt down and the two friends embraced underneath the tree. The furry little bear wrapped his paws around her. She kissed his nose as Santa approached them.

"I've never seen it snow inside before." Anna said as she stood back up.

"Look Anna, it's your star." Licorice said as Santa handed her the charm.

"What about the star on the tree?" Anna asked quietly. "You need a star to make it real Christmas tree."

"We have a star, Anna." Santa replied as he pointed to the top of the shimmering tree. There was a silver star shining brightly on the very top of the tree.

"I don't understand Santa." Anna said. "How can there still be a star on the tree, if I have my star in my hand?"

"You see, Anna, the magic that lights the star on our Christmas tree is the magic of love." Santa explained. "You were willing to give up your star for our tree. That takes a lot of love. Love is the true magic of Christmas."