"Hi, Santa," I replied.
"Thank-you, Pete, for bringing Ethan here. Did it go well? Was he excited to actually meet you?" asked Santa.
"It wasn't as smooth as we thought it might be, but we're here and yes, Ethan's met me. I'm headed back to get his brother and sister. They should be home from school soon," said Pete.
"Thank you Pete. I'd be lost without you," said Santa.
Pete left through the door and Santa turned to look at me again. "Ethan, I'm glad you came," said Santa.
"I am too Santa," I said, surprised by my own desire to be here. "I just don't know why I am here."
"It's a long, complicated story but I'll try to make it brief. You see, I have a sister. Her name is Sandy. No one really knows about her. She helped make the toys, worked with the elves and penguins, helped arrange the lists with Mrs. Claus and helped with every aspect of Christmas, but she always had me deliver the toys. Because I delivered the toys, I became the face of Christmas. I became the one everyone loved and talked about. This didn't seem to bother her until some silly remark I made in 1939. I don't even remember what it was I said, so don't ask, but she got in a huff, took what elves, penguins and other animals would go with her and moved to the South Pole. I thought it would blow over in a few days but we haven't spoken since," said Santa. He seemed sad.
"It must be hard not to see your sister for 70 years," I thought.
"Anyway," Santa continued, "after she left, we were in dire straits, along with the rest of the world at war. It took us years to recover and get up to full production again but things have been going well, until this happened. Sandy has erected some kind of a force field around the entire North Pole and I can't fly my sleigh out of here. She's the only one in the world with this kind of magic available to her. Now, the only way in and out of the North Pole is by freezer, and although the reindeer can make it through the freezer, I can't take the sleigh and toys as well. They're just too big! There are some restrictions to magic. That's why I need you. I need you to break the force field and save Christmas," Santa told me.
"But I don't know how to break a magical force field, let alone one formed by a person possibly older than the earth itself," I said. " I don't know any magic at all."
"Actually Ethan, you and your family are the only ones who can break this spell. We've done our research. It seems your great-grandfather was stationed in Alaska during World War II when my sister Sandy was on the lookout for a new place to live. She didn't find the South Pole quite to her liking, or so I'm told by my wife who Sandy was still talking to at that point. She went looking for other options. Alaska probably seemed like a good location since it's cold and snowy most of the time, but due to the war, there was a lot of activity there. I guess her sleigh got shot down one night over Alaska and your grandfather found her while he was out in the back country on a reconnaissance mission. He rescued her and nursed her back to health. Right before she went back to the South Pole, she cast a spell that gave him a small portion of her magic. It would be passed down through his posterity, but it could only be used in emergencies. She gave it to your grandfather to help keep him safe through the war. It was her way of saying thank you. It's quite an ingenuous spell because you only can use magic when you absolutely need it, thus limiting the possibility for detection. Your great-grandfather may not have even believed her or perhaps never needed the magic and so never told anyone else about it but this magic is a part of you and your brother and sister and your Dad. "
"But I don't understand how my magic, if I really have any, can beat the force field? Why can't you use your magic and make it disappear?"
"Great questions! I can't believe I left that out of the explanation. Sorry, Ethan. Spells can only be broken or changed by the original magic that made them. Since your magic comes from Sandy, your magic can break the spell, but we are going to need your brother, sister and dad to have enough magic to do it. You see, the magic gets divided with each generation, so in order for all this to work, we need all of you. "
I didn't really know what to say to that. Santa needed me. He needed my family. He needed us to do magic. I was worried because I had never seen anything magical happen in my life, but maybe my Dad had. He had lived longer and had more chance for it to happen, and what about Grandpa? He'd never said anything at all about magic, ever.
The door opened and in walked Penguin Pete with my brother, Jacob and sister, Abigail (or Abbie for short). They looked funny. Abigail was decked from head to toe in winter gear. She looked like she was going skiing. She must have believed Penguin Pete and put on all her outdoor winter clothes. She never liked getting cold. Jacob, on the other hand, had on only a sweatshirt. He probably didn't believe Pete was taking him to the North Pole through the freezer and wouldn't get dressed. I bet Pete had to convince him to come while Abigail was getting all decked out. He might have even had to kidnap him. He's become quite skeptical since he turned 14.
The look of surprise, wonder and bewilderment on both their faces almost made me laugh but I realized I probably looked the same when I came in a little while ago.
Abigail ran over to me and gave me a great, big, suffocating hug that was more snowsuit than anything else but it was reassuring. Jacob came over and punched me in the shoulder as his hello. He wasn't much into hugs anymore. I was glad to have them there. "Oh, Ethan, I'm so glad you are here. When I got home from school and you weren't there I was worried. I even sent Mom a text. I hope she doesn't worry too much," said Abigail.
It was then that she noticed Santa. "Oh, my. Hello sir." Abbie finally let go of me and I could breathe again.
"Hello, Abigail. It's nice to see you. Jacob, I'm glad Penguin Pete was able to convince you to come. We have need of all your help," said Santa.
"It took a little more convincing with that one, sir," said Pete, as he pointed his fin at Jacob. "I just about had to drag him into the freezer."
"Just about!" sputtered Jacob. "You did!"
"Well, well," said Santa, ignoring my brother, "they are all here now, and that's what counts."
Jacob looked a little sick. I think it might have been a bit much for him--talking penguins, being kidnapped, Santa, freezer travel, elves, Santa's workshop. It must be hard for a 14 year old skeptic to take it all in.
"I'm heading back now for the parents. They should be home soon," said Pete.
"Have a safe journey and remember, if they won't come, use your magic. We need them," said Santa. He turned to us, "Let's get you something to eat while we wait for your parents. Ethan can fill you in on why you're here and what we need you to do, that way I can eat. Mrs. Claus doesn't like it if I don't eat enough. Follow me."
My brother and sister looked at each other and then looked at me expectantly. I nodded and started after Santa. It was weird having them look to me for what we should do. I was the youngest member of our family and no one ever looked to me for help. I guess it made sense since I had been here longer.
While we ate a delicious dinner, I told Jacob and Abbie all about our family magic and how we got it and what Santa needed us to do with it. The entire, fantastical story was a lot to take in but as I told it to them, I really started to believe it as well. We had magic! Santa doesn't lie. We didn't know how to use it or how much we really had but we had magic. It's every kid's dream, at least every kid that had ever read the Harry Potter books, and I had just finished number five. I just wished I was going to go to Hogwarts and get a wand, but I don't think our magic works quite the same way, but who knows? About an hour ago I didn't even know I had magic.
Jacob finished up his plate of food and filled it to overflowing again. In between bites he asked, "So, Santa, what exactly do we have to do to break this force field?"
"We're not exactly sure. We have obviously never encountered this problem before. I've been looking in the spell books for the spell she may have used or one like it. I haven't had any luck finding anything. Giant force fields that cover an area as big as a city are not your standard spells. I was hoping to get your help going through the spell books. I thought we could start there after dinner. We only have five more days until Christmas so we have to go quickly through the books but still be thorough. With 5 more sets of eyes, we're bound to find the spell, but I have to warn you, there are a lot of books," replied Santa.
Just then the giant freezer door opened and out came Penguin Pete with my Mom and Dad. They were both bundled from head to foot and had obviously come willingly. I think the talking penguin told them he would take them to their children and they bundled up and jumped into the freezer.
"Hello, hello. Come on in and sit down," said Santa as he stood to greet my parents.
My Mom looked shocked, surprised and a little sick all at once. I understood that reaction, but my Dad's eyes were bright with excitement. You could tell he was loving everything. Perhaps being more closely related to the magic, he loved it all the more. Mom rushed over behind us kids at the table and made sure we were all solid and real. We each got our own big bear hug from Mom.
Santa continued talking without even stopping, "I suppose you haven't had your dinner yet. By the way, I'm Santa and that is Mrs. Claus over there. You've met Penguin Pete. I'll introduce you to the rest of the crowd later, but please, come in and eat with us. Most of your children are done, although I think Jacob might eat all night if we let him," said Santa as he laughed at his own joke. His eyes twinkled and his belly really did shake like a bowl full of jelly.
My dad came up next to Mom and reached out his hand across the table to introduce himself to Santa, "Hi Santa, I'm Larry."
Santa reached across the table and shook his hand. "Yes, yes, I know who you are Larry. The year you turned five you wanted a remote control, red fire engine that shot water and made siren noises. Unfortunately we couldn't deliver because we didn't have the technology back then to do that. I remember well trying to figure that one out in time for Christmas. I'll send you home with one when we're done here. And your lovely wife Sue, who every year got a new doll, and once you got a little older, Barbie dolls. I suppose all that practice with those dolls came in handy with these three rapscallions," said Santa.
My Mom shrugged her shoulders. She was still trying to orient herself to being with Santa.
"Oh, yes, she's an excellent mother, but why exactly are we here? Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to meet Penguin Pete, sir. My father always told me stories about his exploits in the freezer and that if I left the door open, he'd escape and then who knew what might happen around our house. Dad always said he was the one who ate all the ice cream," said Dad.
"Humph," said Pete.
"Sit down, sit down, we can't save the world on an empty stomach, " said Santa.
My mom and dad sat down at the end of the table and we filled them in on the whole family magic thing and how we needed to use it to save Christmas. It all seemed very real when Santa explained it this time around. I could see my brother and sister believing it all the more this time too. It was up to us to use our magic for good. I felt a little bit like a superhero, or at least how I thought they might feel as they plot to save the world. I could also see the doubt on my parent's faces as Santa talked, but I knew they'd come around. The truth always comes out, as I knew way too well.
To be continued....TOMORROW! Don't forget to come back for the exciting next installment!