As the sun rose above the frosted forest on Klemogad’s 50th birthday he was taken aside by his father, who said to him, “Even had I not been there for the birth of you and your five siblings I would know by the curly hair on your feet that you are now an adult elf.
“But, Klemogad,” he went on, “On this, your Day of Ascension, I must tell you that of all my 83 children you have presented me with more trials than any other. You have an impulsiveness that requires a discipline I cannot give you, and an inventiveness which we simple woodland elves cannot harness. You are old enough now, and you must go to the Village. Only there will you receive the purpose and the stern direction you need. You must go to work for The Fat Elf.”
So the following morning, his head still hazy from the food and drink of the previous evening’s libations, he gathered up the huge cloud-cloth that had been prepared for him and took it to the clearing. There on a knob of earth he fastened himself to its harness and on a proper gust of wind tossed it into the air. It unfolded itself as the breeze filled it and lifted Klemogad’s tiny body into the air with a firm jerk. With its control reigns he steered it higher where the gusts were even greater and then, a quick look back at the dew sprinkled woods twinkling in the morning light, he steered himself north.
He seemed to float serenely amongst the clouds, though he knew he was actually moving at a spectacular speed. Hours and hours he glided smooth as the mulberry honey he loved on warm biscuits, until the first buffeting told him he was getting close to the barrier which protected and hid the Village from the world. He felt in his pocket for the piece of granite crystal his father had given him, and as he gripped it, he could feel it extend its radiant energy around him. That energy would see him through the barrier. As the buffeting increased he saw a dark blob coming at him, growing larger, FAST, and he realized that as he was entering the barrier something else was coming out! He jerked the reigns hard to the right, barely missing the onrush of hoof and antler and sleigh that flashed past. The turbulence of its wake sent him and his cloud-cloth spinning. He pulled at the reigns and managed to regain a semblance of direction, but he was rapidly losing altitude, the cloud-cloth having torn in one spot. He fought for control, pulling the reigns hard in an attempt to slow, disoriented by the haze that enveloped him. Then the haze dissipated, and he found himself settling into a giant fir tree that was adorned in ornaments. He grabbed hold, aware that all around were buildings and chattering, excited elves. A few ornaments went crashing to the ground many feet below.
He slipped from the harness and climbed down. The air was sweet with cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla. Clapboard cottages and buildings, seemingly made of gingerbread, surrounded him. He hit the ground and found himself in an open square, the elves attention directed towards each other and not about him at all; they had, in fact, hardly noticed him. An elf came in his direction, veered into the tree, and threw up.
By now confused, he stepped towards a nearby group sitting in the snow against a bench. One was asleep, two were half-asleep and singing, but the fourth, holding a bottle, smirking, watched him approach. “Howdy, pilgrim,” he greeted him.
Klemogad nodded a guarded hello, scanned the merriment surrounding him, and asked a disbelieving, “Is this The Village?”
The elf chuckled. “Yes, yes, pilgrim, you’ve reached Santa’s Village. Let me guess; you hit your ascension and your old elf figured you were too much trouble and sent you packing, am I right?”
Klemogad nodded. The elf tossed him a fresh bottle that’d been at his side. “Drink up!”
“What is all this,” Klemogad asked.
The elf said, “Kris Kringle has hit the air! It’s Christmas Eve. He’ll be gone all night. This is our time to party!”
“Oh,” Klemogad said, eyeing the bottle in his hand.
“Work office is that way,” the elf pointed. “Get yourself assigned to a workshop tonight and tomorrow nobody will remember you’re new and you won’t have to go through that new elf orientation nonsense.” He waved towards another elf and a girl stepped next to him. Klemogad’s eyes went wide as Christmas stars; he’d never seen a girl like her. She was mesmerizing! Her eyes seemed to bore into his, and she smiled bemused. The elf asked her, “Could you take this newbie over to the work office and get him signed up for something; hey bud,” he said to Klemogad, “What do you like to build?”
Klemogad blinked at him.
Again to the girl, “Yeah, probably should get him signed up for ‘general’ or maybe ‘clean-up’ so he can get his bearings. After that, you can do what you want with him. Oh, and pilgrim,” he went on, “Don’t ever call him ‘The Fat Elf’ here.”
She took him by the arm. “Let’s go, tiger.”
“Party hardy,” the elf told him. “They’ll let us sleep tomorrow, then starting the day after you’ll work your ass off.” Klemogad felt the girl pulling him away like an elfin cloud-cloth taking him to a new world. “That’s what we do here,” the elf called after him. “Bust our asses cranking out what’s next.”
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.