Christmas Eve had come and gone. Christmas day was almost tied up with a bow as well. Carmen was wondering what she’d done wrong. She’d been very good all year. She couldn’t understand it. There was no gift from Santa. She wondered if it may have been that she didn’t write him a letter like previous years. This year, Carmen had been so busy helping her Mom that she didn’t have time to write her letter to Santa Claus. She had hoped that he would notice that she’d been very good all year without her saying so. He could see her, right?

Carmen always made her bed and helped keep their little home tidy. She was learning to cook basic food so her Mom could rest more. The doctors said she needed lots and lots of rest. Carmen wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong but the doctors said that rest would help to get her strength back. Carmen would lay beside her on the big bed after school and try to read the local news off their iPad. Her reading level since last year was much higher than other kids in her class. She liked reading. Her Mom would help her with the big words and explain what they meant. Then they would reset the iPad and wait patiently for her Dad to come on the screen. They communicated this way every day.

Dad was far away serving the country and couldn’t make it home for Christmas this year. Carmen really missed her Dad. She knew her Mom did too because as she would leave her room to put the iPad away, she could hear her Mom softly crying. Dad kept saying he’d be home in Spring. Carmen hoped he’d be home for much longer this time. She hoped her Mom would be better too and they could go back to being a normal family.

At school, Carmen loved to read and even liked Math. She was very good at both .She tried very hard,  learning the skills her teachers taught. She always had her homework handed in on time, and paid very close attention to the lessons she was being taught.

Carmen had decided when her Mom first got sick that she wanted to be a doctor. It had been over a year now and she wanted her illness to go away. Carmen was going to become a doctor who researched rare illnesses to find their cause and how to treat them. Her teacher, Mr. McLeod, said that she would have to study very hard for a very long time to become a doctor. Carmen decided that she would study very hard. It was important to keep her grades up so she could reach her goal.

Carmen studied so hard in fact, that day after day, she forgot to write and mail her letter to Santa. She knew what she wanted. She had seen a beautiful red toque with faux fur trim around the band and a matching faux fur pom-pom at the tip. She had seen it in the local department store window and thought it might still be there. She didn’t want to ask her Mom and Dad for it because it was not a very reasonable hat. Clothes without extra adornment were the type that were usually purchased for her. She never complained, although some kids at school used to point and laugh at her because her clothes were not trendy like theirs were. When this happened, Carmen would find a quiet corner in the library and read. She knew the kids who liked to tease and laugh at her would never come into the library unless they had to. The school library  was her safe place.

Santa came to Hazy Dayz Dragonflies too… forgot his cane and cap!

Well, with all the millions of other children that Santa visited last night, and no letter from Carmen to remind him, he plum forgot to visit her home. In his defense, it is not on the beaten path. Carmen lived around a bend in the road, and half-way up a very steep hill. Santa shot right passed it as he was gaining altitude to get his sleigh over the steep hill.

This would never do. He had to think of something fast. Carmen had been very good all year and had made it onto his nice list every other year. Without her letter, this year, she didn’t make it on either the Nice list or the Naughty list!

“Pepper?” Santa bellowed.

“Yes, Santa?” Pepper was one of Santa’s finest elves and was always there to help him. Santa is over 200 years old and doesn’t remember everything all the time. It’s a good thing he met Pepper a while back….. But that’s a story for another time.

“Pepper, how are the reindeer? Are they well fed and rested from last night?”

“Well, funny you should ask. The thing is… well… they’re all pretty jumpy Santa. Blitzen says that you missed someone and none of them can sleep because they don’t think their job is done.”

“They are right. I forgot a dear little girl, Carmen –  totally overshot her home. I feel terrible about it. Do you think the reindeer have enough steam to get to her home around the bend in the road and half-way up the steep hill? It’s a wee home with a tiny roof.”

“I’m certain they won’t rest until they have completed this mission, Santa.”

“You may have to land out back and not on their roof. First though, I need to get this little girl my gift. I think I know just what she’d like. Mrs. Claus has been knitting this beautiful little red hat and I saw her finishing it off with some sort of fur this afternoon. I think it would look lovely on little Carmen. I’ll go see Mrs. Claus right away.”

Mrs. Claus found Santa first. “Santa? I made this for little Carmen. I couldn’t find her on your lists this year. I remember you saying that she’s been so good helping her Mom while her Dad is away and that she is studying so very hard in school to be a doctor. I decided to make a matching one for her Mom too. It will help to keep her head warm while she recovers. Do you think we could get these to them?”

“My dear Mrs. Claus. I love you more every day. What would I ever do without you?”

Two toques were carefully gift wrapped. Bright copper ribbons and tags were added and both were placed in Santa’s magical sack while Pepper prepared the reindeer. Some extra Sparkle Corn was fed to each one to give them the energy they needed to make this second trip in as many nights. The reindeer were raring to go!

Santa gave final instructions to Pepper and in turn, instructions were whispered in the ear of each reindeer. Santa wanted to be sure they took it easy on Pepper. This was his first flight actually piloting sleigh. They were ready.

“Up! Up and away!” exclaimed Pepper.

In the blink of an eye, they were in Carmen’s back yard and Pepper popped down the chimney. He crept into Carmen’s little bedroom and set her pretty toque and a cherry-flavoured candy cane on her bedside table.

Next, he crept into the room with the big bed. Carmen’s Mom was awake. Oh no! She saw him! Well there was nothing for it but to explain his presence.  Here goes…

“Hello? I’m sorry to disturb you,” said Pepper, “but I’ve been sent on a mission from the North Pole. It seems there was a clerical error and little Carmen was overlooked last night. Santa asked me to deliver her gift and I have been given one to deliver to you too.  Santa and Mrs. Claus hope you will soon be better. Please let Carmen know that even without her letter this year, she was so good that Santa remembered her. The reindeer did too and wouldn’t settle until we got back here with Santa’s gift for her. 

Carmen’s Mom was spellbound and lost for words. She accepted her gift, opened the wrapping and tried on her new mint green toque. It was a perfect fit… and she felt a little bit better as soon as she put it on. She’d read that, Santa is magic and he’s there for all who believe. Thanks to her wonderful daughter, she was a believer.

Pepper said goodbye and with the team of reindeer quickly took to the sky – Destination North Pole and some well-deserved rest.

The next morning, Carmen awoke to kitchen smells – bacon, coffee and toast. How could that be? Mom would still be asleep. Then she noticed the beautifully wrapped present on her bedside table and beside that a Cherry Candy Cane and a little note… a note that Pepper had not left the night before.

“So sorry I missed you Christmas Eve, Carmen. I did not receive your letter, you see. You are a good girl and I will try not to ever miss your home again, wherever you may live. Please write. I enjoy reading your letters with all your information. They make me smile and chuckle.

Carmen opened her gift from Santa and there was that beautiful red toque with fur trim and pom-pom… only it wasn’t quite the same as the one in the department store. It looked even more perfect… and inside was sewn a tag. “To Carmen, Much Love, Santa and Mrs Claus.”

Carmen raced into the kitchen with her new toque and saw her mom leaning against the counter,drinking a cup of coffee and wearing a mint green toque just like her red one.

Happy Boxing Day, Honey! Want some toast and juice while I get the rest of our big breakfast ready?

Merry Christmas Everyone from Hazy Dayz Dragonflies and me, Sue Gibb.