It was dark in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. Not a single sound could be heard, nor an elf or a dwarf was anywhere in sight, busying into the night, frantically detailing any one gadget in particular so as not to miss the Christmas Eve deadline. Cold and silent had the magnificent fireplace gone, once an open stage for countless performances of percolating kettles and pots of assorted shapes and sizes. The air was uncharacteristically cookie-smell-free. No whiffs of honey, gingerbread or cinnamon were to be perceived by even the best trained among the experienced connoisseurs.
And yet, no alarms were blaring in warning of an impending disaster. A potential strike of either overworked or overfed employees, if happening anywhere, had most certainly not been signposted in advance. A malfunction of machinery, a glitch in the automation process, could still not explain the missing artisans who would typically take charge would a misfortune like that ever happen to occur.
Maybe Santa had taken a break, longing for some well-deserved time off duty after centuries of delivering presents and shimmying down chimneys in houses all over the world. Could he have gone off biscuits and milk, on to a healthier diet? Or just as well, he might have simply grown too old – at one point, sooner or later, we all do, however extraordinary or enchanted we might have started off as… Then again, stories about Santa’s helpers we have heard manifold. One would have surely stepped up to the challenge and assumed the role…
A postal service delivery might have gone terribly wrong… What if not a single letter ever made it to Santa? He might have singlehandedly decided to call off the entire operation due to lack of belief… It is the essential ingredient for all things magical, after all. Yet, in an era of technological advancement like no other, it seems a bit far-fetched that the post office would mix things that badly!
The North Pole cheered with no carols, no reindeer grunted impatiently in the stables. Still, Christmas was absolutely, one hundred percent in the air. Every window boasted colourful displays, every hearth was roasting a turkey, or at least a chicken, a tofu slice, or simply potatoes, or chestnuts, but how delectable did it all smell! Christmas trees were not shy of any glittering ornaments and bedazzled the eye with an abundance of tinsel. Mistletoe tempted the hearts from many a ceilings and shiny wrapping paper enveloped carefully selected gifts. How had the magic happened given the vacant North Pole workshop?
The workshop had simply moved house. It now operated in full power in every heart and mind out there, spreading the largest dose of Christmas cheer there ever was. In a year when holidays with loved ones had skyrocketed in importance, when belief was anything but depleted for it was tangible as the golden thread you would use to sew in the intricate patterns of a ribbon, Santa had indeed taken a break, for gratitude, love and appreciation, were his true stand-ins.