Luckily Dad wasn't crying. I went and stood by him and whispered, "What's with all the tears? I thought this was a good thing that Sandy came back and brought the book?"
"It is son, it is," said Dad.
"Then what's with all the tears?" I asked.
"It's hard to explain, but sometimes when people are really happy and really relieved, they cry," said Dad.
"I'm glad you're not crying Dad, but aren't you happy and relieved the book is back?" I asked.
"Very, but I'm not going to cry, at least not this time."
"Good, let's get back to the library and figure out how to break the spell. I'm not sure I can stand much more of this happiness and relief," I replied.
"Yes, Ethan, we probably should go back up to the workshop," said Santa. "It's getting crowded in here."
I guess he heard me. He is Santa after all. He probably has better hearing than Mom and he was right, it was getting crowded. Everyone was coming through the portal from the South Pole.
"Pete, Pete where are you?" asked Santa.
"Right here," said Pete as he came running up to Santa.
"Pete, can you figure out accommodations for everyone tonight and figure out how we are going to feed everyone in the morning?" asked Santa.
"Sure, no problem!" replied Pete and he was off organizing everyone into groups.
We headed up to the workshop. It was then that I realized how late it was. The large clock on the outside of the workshop read 9:00. It had taken us longer than I thought to go to the South Pole and return.
In the mudroom, we took off all our layers and Santa took us all right to the kitchen. Mrs. Claus got to work making soup for everyone while Santa got us all some hot chocolate. Soon we were all settled with hot chocolate and chicken soup, two of my favorite things in the whole world when it's cold. Santa and Sandy talked quietly at the corner of the table. Jacob, Abbie and I filled my parents in a little more on what happened in the South Pole. They weren't happy we disobeyed them but they were glad we got the book!
"It looks like Santa may not need us after all," said Dad, "now that he has the book and his sister to help him."
What!?! I couldn't go now. I could tell Jacob and Abbie were just as shocked as I was. They just sat there with our mouths open. We hadn't thought about that. I guess we'd be going home soon but I hoped we could see the force field destroyed and take another ride in the sleigh before we had to go home.
"In fact," my Mom said, "we should probably go home tonight so Sandy can go back to Snow Cottage since they don't need us anymore. It's a busy time of the year for Santa and we may be a distraction for him right now."
"Now, now Susan. Don't jump the gun there," said Santa. "We may still have need of your family. Until the force field is destroyed, I need you to stay with us in case we need your magic. I hope that's okay?"
"Yes!" Abbie, Jacob and I all yelled at the same time. My parents both nodded okay next to us.
"Great! We'll keep you in Snow Cottage and Sandy can have the guest room here in the workshop. She and I are going to need to stay up late working with the spell book she brought so that will make it easier too. That okay with you Sandy?" asked Santa.
"Yep, that will be just fine," said Sandy. "In fact, let's get to it!"
"Yes, let's!" said Jacob, Abbie and I. We were excited to find the spell.
"Actually, I think it's about bedtime for you guys. Tonight's spell work is probably best left up to Sandy and I until we figure it all out. I would hate for one of you beginners to do something with your magic that might compound the problem. Better you guys get some sleep and let us figure it out. In the morning, we'll break the force field," said Santa.
"Are you sure it can wait until morning? I don't want to miss it," I said.
"I think it will take some finagling to figure it all out and some rest can't hurt. Besides, we still have three days until Christmas. We'll break the spell tomorrow and then load up the sleigh so everything is ready for Christmas Eve. What could be simpler? Sandy and I just need to get to the library and work out all the kinks," said Santa. "We'll say goodnight to you guys now and see you back in the kitchen by 8:00 tomorrow morning."
"Sounds good Santa," said my Dad.
I didn't think it sounded so good. I wanted to go to the library too but I knew Dad and Mom were going to make sure we were all tucked in nice and tight tonight and not anywhere near the library.
"We'll just finish up here and head back to Snow Cottage for the night and we'll see you in the morning," said Mom.
"Goodnight," said Sandy and Santa as they left the kitchen.
"Kids," said Mrs. Claus, "what you did, going to the South Pole and all, was very dangerous and a little foolish."
Oh no, here comes the lecture. I almost thought we might get away without one.
"But, seeing Santa and Sandy together makes my heart sing, so thank-you for bringing them together. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever see that sight again," said Mrs. Claus as she wiped a tear from her cheek and gave each of us a big hug, even Jacob who has started hating hugs.
We all helped clean up the kitchen, thanked Mrs. Claus for the food and then headed back to Snow Cottage. It looked like it was the middle of the day as we left the workshop still in full swing. The last couple of days until Christmas are probably the busiest. They sure are at our house. Outside you could see penguins and elves hurriedly exiting the reindeer barn and heading in all different directions around the North Pole. It looked like everyone still hadn't made it through the portal although I guess that made sense if each person had to come through individually. We swung by the reindeer barn on the way home and looked in through the doors. The portal was open and reindeer were coming through, one right after another. There were so many reindeer and everyone was talking to each other. Those coming through the portal had to sidestep around groups of reindeer who were catching up after 70 years of being apart. Penguin Pete was still there directing traffic. He was going to have a long night!
Surprisingly, when we got back to the cottage, I fell right asleep. I didn't realize how tired I was until Mom had to come and wake me up the next morning. I felt her sit on the bed and stroke my head.
"Come on sleepyhead. It's time to get up. It's almost 8:00."
I sat right up when I heard that.
"It's about time," Mom said. "This is the third time I've come in to try and wake you up. Jacob wanted to get a bucket of snow but I told him I'd try one more time. Hurry and get dressed, we're all waiting for you."
Mom left and I dressed as fast as I could, ran down the stairs and we all headed over to the workshop for breakfast. The North Pole was bustling with all the extra elves, reindeer and penguins but it was also the day before Christmas Eve. Things were busy but you could tell everyone was still anxious about that force field. I couldn't wait to see what Santa had to say about that!
We headed for the kitchen and found Mrs. Claus, Penguin Pete and Penguin Jeffrey eating breakfast.
"Come in, come in and eat breakfast," said Mrs. Claus before we could turn around and leave, which is what I wanted to do! "Sandy and Santa have already eaten and are in the library waiting for you but Santa gave me strict instructions to feed you first. He said you may need the extra fortification so I made cinnamon rolls."
Mrs. Claus hurried around the kitchen while we all sat down at the table. She had made us some eggs and bacon to go along with the cinnamon rolls.
"You make the best cinnamon rolls!" said Abbie.
She really did. I enjoyed every bite but then I was ready to go to the library. My family was still eating. Sometimes, they are really slow eaters.
"Can I go ahead and go to the library?" I asked.
"If Abbie or Jacob will go with you," said Mom.
I looked at both of them. Abbie looked at me and then looked at her cinnamon roll half eaten and then looked at me again. I knew she wasn't going to go. That cinnamon roll had her hooked so I turned to Jacob. He was shoving half a cinnamon roll into his mouth. He gave me a thumbs up and we headed out the door before anyone could protest.
We entered the hallway at a run but there were too many elves and penguins around that we ended up doing more of a run walk thing down the hall. Finally, we got to the library, knocked and entered. We didn't want to scare Santa and Sandy by bursting through the door.
"Ahh, Ethan, Jacob come in, come in. Where is everyone else?" asked Santa.
"Finishing breakfast. We finished first so we came ahead, " said Jacob.
"What? No second cinnamon roll?" asked Sandy.
"Oh, I had a second cinnamon roll! I just eat faster than the rest," said Jacob.
I wasn't about to mention his method of eating fast involved shoving half a cinnamon roll in your mouth at once!
"Well, I think we've figured out how to get rid of the force field," said Santa.
Don't forget to come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to the story!