“Alright everybody, listen up! We only have ten days until Christmas! Time to get things moving faster if we want our two month break! We were able to finish on time for December sixth. Great job everyone!” The crowd listening cheered. “Christmas Eve is next, followed by New Year’s Day and Epiphany. We get done with all of it, the big guys . . .”
“And girl!” There was a round of laughter, though it was true.
“Yes, and girl, will give us a two month break!” The crowd cheered again. “Thank you for listening to the update, I’ll have another one for you in a week!” The elder tonttu left the podium and entered a side room where a desk and chairs were situated. He sighed as he sat down at the desk behind a pile of papers, at least the majority of what they had to make was candy, but there were still toys to consider, particularly for Christmas. He let out another sigh, even with the help of the yetis, the monks, the gypsies, and the fairies, they still never seemed to be able to finish earlier than the eves. Well, there was always a solution, he just had to find it, though it might have to wait until after Epiphany before he could figure something out. He dug into the pile of papers, going through them as quickly as he could before a knock came at the door.
“Come in.” The door cracked open, and a young mop of brown hair peeked in.
“I hope I’m not disturbing you, Master Clarence, but I just came to notify you that the workshops are ready for inspection as you asked.”
Clarence nodded, “Thank you George, I’ll be there in a minute.” George gave a little nod before closing the door behind him. Clarence let out a breath as he took off his glasses. He set them on the desk before walking out of the room, and out of the building. He walked briskly through the falling snow, pulling his coat tight around himself to keep out the bitter chill of the wind. About a dozen, different-colored lights could be seen blinking against the dark backdrop of the long, arctic night. Clarence headed towards the red lights, the dimmest of the lights, and for good reason, he thought. There shouldn’t be anyone there but the one to show Clarence the status of the place as this was the workshop for St. Nicholas Day, which was finished with nine days ago. But it still needed a last minute inspection before being closed till next year, just in case they needed to keep it open to help with production for the other delivery dates, as has happened before, and on more than one occasion. Clarence got to the building and let himself in, bringing some snow and a bit of the wind chill with him.
“Welcome, Master Clarence, may I help you with your coat?” smiled the monk.
Clarence shook his head, “No, thank you, Brother Joseph, I won’t be long. Just the usual inspection, is all. Only ten days till Christmas, you know.”
Brother Joseph smiled, “I do know. Then come, let us begin, if you will be so kind as to follow me.” Clarence nodded and followed him into the well-lit workspace. Clarence found it much to his satisfaction, all clean and tidy, but he could basically expect that from the monks every single time. When the inspection was finished, Brother Joseph closed the shop and left the building with Clarence, the two fighting the bitter wind to get to the closest workshop, the one with the green lights. This workshop was run by the yetis for Father Christmas, one of the deliverers for Christmas Day. Clarence and Brother Joseph were greeted warmly by the yetis, who took them around eagerly to show off their progress in the countdown to Christmas. Clarence nodded at what he saw, he was very pleased, they were a little ahead, in fact, perhaps this year things would be early! But he had to check the rest of the workshops to be sure, so he and Brother Joseph went to the next one, where Santa’s and Kris Kringle’s tonttu were hard at work. They at least were on time, despite the setbacks they had had earlier this year. Clarence let out a huff, well, at least things were on track, for the most part. He and Brother Joseph continued the round, checking on the other monks working for St. Basil, the fairies working for Befana, and the gypsies working for the three kings. Things were looking good so far, most were on time, while there were a few who were a bit early. That at least took a load off Clarence’s mind, for now anyway, but there was one last stop on his round, and he was more than happy to have Brother Joseph along.