The days flew by, and before they knew it, it was Christmas Eve! There was a hustling and a bustling as the tonttu and the yetis prepared the sleighs and the teams, alligators for Santa Claus, kangaroos for Kris Kringle, and reindeer for Father Christmas. The sleighs were piled high with presents and goodies for the three to deliver to the children expecting it in certain parts of the world. Clarence made sure everything was in spit-spot order and ran smoothly since Santa, Kris, and Father Christmas were helping load the sleighs. George helped to keep the animals steady while they waited for the sleighs to fill, all the activity was riling them up with excitement, knowing that the moment for departure was fast approaching. If George could rate them from easiest to hardest to calm, the alligators were the easiest, then the reindeer, and finally the kangaroos, considering he and his assistants were having to calm them down every five minutes, it seemed.
But despite all that, Clarence couldn’t help smiling to himself when George reported to him about the animals, he had chosen the right gypsy for the job. He took a moment to think of the others he had chosen to head the workhouses and to act as head assistants to the big nine. Brother Joseph as head assistant to Saint Nicholas was a no-brainer, their personalities worked well together, and Clarence certainly enjoyed working with Brother Joseph. Brother Jack, on the other hand, was a little more difficult to work with, in Clarence’s opinion. He was rather mischievous, but he worked quite well with Saint Basil, and the two adored each other. The tonttu twins, Holly and Ivy, were the head assistants for Santa Claus and Kris Kringle, and Clarence chose them because they would be working together a lot in the biggest of the workshops. They had proved themselves over and over again, even now, as he watched them coordinating the loads. He glanced over at the head assistant of Father Christmas, the yeti Forrest, as he talked with the elf twins. He had been another great choice, a rather thoughtful fellow with the greatest amount of patience, perfect for dealing with tonttus’ great tempers. Then there was Noelle, the fairy assistant to Befana, a sweet little thing who was constantly reminding people that the decorations didn’t have to come down all at once after Epiphany, they had until Candlemas to take everything down. Finally, there were Steven, Carol, and Mary, the gypsies who worked with the three kings. The siblings had always been a joy to work with, even Noelle didn’t have to remind them about the Christmas decorations. All in all, with the possible exception of Brother Jack, they were a great bunch. OK, even Brother Jack had his good points, even great points, Clarence just wished there was more of those seen than the mischief.
A cheer snapped Clarence out of his thoughts, the three teams were taking off! A grin spread across the old tonttu’s face, regardless of the rushing around, the paperwork, the reports, the inspections, the griping, and even the complaining, when it all came down to it, it was worth it. This was the moment they had worked hard for, that moment when any of the nine left the base to deliver gifts to children around the world, to know it was finally done, it was worth it. The cheers finally died, the party finally quieted, and everyone fell asleep, except for one old tonttu whose child-like heart welcomed the teams on their return with a sincere joy.