“Ho, ho, ho, it’s that time of year again,” Santa said. It was one month until Christmas. “Time to start matching the Nice List with the Wish List.”
An elf named Whinny placed two giant books on Santa’s desk. Santa opened the one to his left and said, “Let’s see. Ah! I knew it, ho, ho. Gail Jenkins, top of the Nice List. She had a really good year.”
Whinny opened the other book. “Jenkins, Jenkins. Sorry Santa, but she doesn’t seem to have given us a Wish List yet. It’s still blank next to her name.”
“Don’t worry. It’s early. She still has plenty of time. Just make sure her town is covered. As soon as she writes a letter or tells a surrogate, I want to know. Now, let’s get started with all the children who have given us their Wish Lists. We’ll fill in the others as they arrive.”
A week later, Santa had another meeting with Whinny. “How’s our progress, ho, ho, ho?”
“We are in excellent shape, Santa. It appears that the kids are getting their lists in early this year. More than 70% of the toys are already in production with three weeks left to go.”
“Ho, ho, that is good news. Last year we were right up against our deadline. I don’t want to repeat that. What about Gail Jenkins? Have we gotten anything from her yet?”
“Not yet,” Whinny answered. “It doesn’t look like she’s writing a letter this year. The good news, though, is that our sources tell us she is going to go sit on Santa’s lap this weekend. We should definitely get something out of that.”
“OK, good. Usually the top of the Nice List is early with the Wish List. She deserves something really special. I don’t want to wait for the last minute.”
“Whinny,” Santa called.
“The weekend has passed. What did the local Santa find out for Gail?”
“I’m sorry, Santa. We didn’t get anything.”
“What? How is that possible? She didn’t go?”
“She did go,” Whinny answered.
“Ho, ho, ho, you must be joking, then. Surely she told her local Santa something.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but she didn’t. She said she wanted everyone to be happy. Then he said, ‘You must want something for Christmas. Why else did you come here?’ and she answered, ‘I just wanted to meet you.’ She seems like a sweet little girl.”
Santa shook his head, “Oh dear, oh dear. What are we to do?”
That night, Santa was explaining the situation to Mrs. Claus over dinner. “I’m starting to think she really doesn’t want anything. I just don’t know what to do.”
“You’ll figure it out,” Mrs. Claus said. “This is what you do, and no one’s better at it. Just relax. It’ll come to you, dear.”
“I hope you’re right. She deserves the perfect gift, but what’s the perfect gift for a little girl who doesn’t want anything?”
“Ho, ho, ok everyone, we need a new plan. Gail is not going to ask for anything. We have less than two weeks to go. I need ideas.”
The dozen elves who were gathered looked at each other. One ventured, “A baby doll? It’s our most popular wish this year for girls her age.”
Santa shrugged. “It just doesn’t feel special enough.”
“How about a bike?” suggested another.
“Or a tablet? Everyone gets excited about a tablet,” added a third. All the elves nodded.
“No,” said Santa. “Thank you, though. I think Mrs. Claus is right. I just need to let it come to me.”
There were just two days to go until the Big Day. Santa was checking the sleigh and the reindeer when he stopped in his tracks, “Eureka! Ho, ho, ho, I’ve got it!” He ran into the workshop yelling, “Whinny! Whinny!”
Whinny dashed over, “What is it, Santa?”
“I know what to give Gail Jenkins. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. I need you to get me in touch with Gail’s parents, ho, ho. Oh, and pack her a baby doll, too. I need to go talk to Mrs. Claus to make sure it’s OK with her.”
Santa left the workshop and walked towards his house. When he stepped inside, Mrs. Claus was sitting and reading by the fire. “I have good news, as long as it’s OK with you.”
“What is it, dear?”
“I know what to give Gail Jenkins for Christmas. Only it means I won’t be able to spend Christmas with you. I wanted to see if you’d be OK with that. It’s just this year. This is a one-time-only, extra-special gift.”
“I’ll miss you, but if it’s what you need to do, go ahead.”
“Thank you, honey. Gail will be so happy.” Santa gave Mrs. Claus a kiss and ran off to talk to Gail’s parents and get everything ready.
At last, it was time. Santa’s sleigh was all loaded and the reindeer were hitched up. “Now remember, fellas,” Santa said, “we have to deliver all of the presents before we get to Gail Jenkins’ house. We can’t follow our usual pattern.” The reindeer nodded. “Ok, then. Let’s go.”
They took off and sped through the sky. Santa pushed the team hard, he didn’t want to be late for Gail. They got all the presents delivered and were landing on Gail’s roof just as the sun was rising. Santa got out of the sleigh and put the feedbags on the reindeer. He picked up Gail’s wrapped baby doll and brought it down the chimney.
He placed the doll under the tree and ate the cookies and drank the milk that had been left for him. Then, he waited, standing next to the tree.
He didn’t have to wait long. He heard voices coming from upstairs and then footsteps on the stairs. As soon as Gail and her parents came through the door into the living room, Santa said, “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!”
Gail screamed and ran over to Santa and gave him a big hug. Santa chuckled and hugged her back. He spent the whole day with Gail and her family. He told them Christmas stories and listened to their stories. He answered all of Gail’s questions. So many questions, but he was happy to do it.
That evening, after he had finished helping the Jenkins clean up, Santa told Gail that it was time for him to be going. Gail gave him another big hug. “Thank you so much,” she said. “This was the best Christmas ever!”
“Ho, ho, you’re welcome, Gail. I had a great time, too. Merry Christmas!”
With that Santa rose back up the chimney. He got the reindeer ready, climbed into the sleigh and headed home.