Nim and Lil were singing Christmas carols with the other scout elves as they waited for the night’s pep talk from the Big Guy.
All of the elves were in the same happy and excited mood.
They sang Jingle Bells then moved on to Deck the Halls.
They started to sing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, but quickly stopped at a dark look from the stables.
Dasher and Prancer were not amused. It was well-known at the North Pole how Santa’s reindeer felt about that song.
“It’s getting kind of early,” said Flurry. “Do you think he’s coming?”
A low murmur started as the other elves noticed the time. Where was Santa?
They were just about to start a round of The Twelve Days of Christmas when a breathless Mrs. Claus came barrelling out of the house.
“Oh dear!” she cried. “I’m afraid Santa is…not well. You see, he, well…he’s been tricked!”
The elves all looked at each other in horror. Santa tricked? Who would do such a thing?
“Oh, he’ll be fair as frost in the morning,” she said, seeing the worry on their faces. “But he won’t be able to come out to talk with you tonight, and it is already getting late so you had all better get going!”
“But Mrs. C, what happened to Santa?” asked Dizzy.
“A naughty elf switched his chocolate milk with chocolate eggnog,” she said, trying desperately not to laugh out loud. “He had three cups and you all know that he only has eggnog after all the presents have been delivered. And even then, he only has one glass!”
With a barely hidden twinkle in her eyes, she shooed the elves on their way and flounced back into the house to care for poor Santa.
After she had gone, the merriment of the singing turned into panic as all of the elves scrambled to reach their houses before morning. If they didn’t get there before their kids woke up, they would be locked out for the day.
The last elf to get locked out, Jinx, had never been heard from again. Once or twice, a crazy old elf claimed to have seen Jinx walking through the Candy Cane Forest, but only the youngest of elves believed these stories were true.
Nim and Lil were streaming through the clouds as fast as they possibly could when the sun started to rise. They were still a few miles from their destination when it peeked over the horizon.
They gave each other a worried glance as they pushed for more speed, but when they saw the kitchen light on at the house, they knew they were too late.
The kids were already up.
They carefully peeked through the kitchen window above the sink. Seeing no movement, they opened it slightly and tried to squeeze in head first. The tip of Nim’s hat was on the window sill when Lil panicked and slammed the window down.
“My hat!” whisper-yelled Nim pointing to where it had fallen, inside the ledge.
“Sorry,” Lil said. “I thought I heard something.”
“I give up,” said Nim, rather dramatically. “We’ll be doomed to wander the Candy Cane Forest forever just like Jinx!”
“Oh stop it, Nim,” Lil scolded. ‘We’ll just have to improvise.”
And so they did.
Nim smiled sheepishly at Lil once they were in place.
“Sorry for panicking back there. Not sure what got into me.”
Lil just shook her head, her eyes dancing and waited for the kids to find them.