Ho Ho Home
By Gina Dostler
It was mid-November and already the malls were decked out in boughs of holly. Stores had their holiday merchandise ready and waiting in displays, reminding customers not to forget to spend their Christmas dollars there.
Now, I don’t blame the merchants one bit for grabbing on to the one day that makes it all happen for them, Christmas. So instead of rolling my eyes and shaking my head, I decided to go with it. I chanted in my head, “now Macy’s, now Nordstrom, now Apple and iPhone! On Newport! On Corona! On Laguna and Balboa! With Thanksgiving practically here, Black Friday coming up, onward I trek to help move the economy into its season of wealth.
It’s the most anticipated holiday of the year and I’m riding the sleigh of cheer and joy for all its worth. I want to bring on the spirit of Christmas right away so everyone can feel the happy mood.
I grabbed the phone and called the North Pole.
I didn’t know what to expect, though images of laughing elves and prancing reindeer all jumbled through my head. I asked to speak with Kris Kringle, explained my mission and was placed on hold. After listening to Burl Ives for several minutes, a moment of silence opened up and I became ever so giddy when I heard, “Merrrrrrry Christmas Gina, what can I do for you?” on the other end.
And at that very moment the scent of hot chocolate and peppermint floated gently through my room.
Q: Uh, tell me Mr. Kringle, how goes it at the North Pole right now?
A: Ho ho ho! Please, call me Santa. We’re right on schedule. My elves run a tight ship with our manufacturing plant and we’re humming Feliz Navidad all day long. We did have a slight problem in gift wrap when our package assistant got in a bit of a fix. Nesbit, one of our more nervous elves, just received a promotion and had a little trouble handling the stress levels. An eyewitness saw Nesbit gesturing madly while running towards a new employee, when she tripped and found herself hauled through an automatic bow wrapping device. Don’t worry, she’s fine and recuperating nicely in our Laughing-All-the-Way Get Well Center. She’ll be back in gift wrap before you can say “silver bells.”
Q: So, Santa, when you come into town, I heard you love checking out the Christmas trees. Any favorites?
A: Any and all trees trimmed with love and anticipation of holiday joy! Finding the right Christmas trees starts the cheer rolling and its such a delight to smell the sweet pine in the air. It’s Yukon Cornelis’ favorite part of the holiday you know. I like the thick branched silver tip noble fir with its blue-green needles that stay on the tree more than on the floor. The balsam fir ,with its short, flat, long-lasting, aromatic dark green needles, is adored by Mrs. Claus. And of course the douglas fir creates a very traditional pyramid shape tree with blue-green needles and is very popular with the elves these days. Many of you like artificial trees, and that’s quite all right. Just take care it’s labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. It’s worth a quick check. Remember to keep all trees, fake or real, away from portable heaters and fireplaces. I want everyone to be safe and snug in their homes.
Q: I definitely prefer a live tree but what can I do to keep it fresh throughout the holidays?
A: “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, how lovely are your branches!” I just love that song. Actually, here at the North Pole we were inspired by Charlie Brown’s wonderful transformation of his tree and selected several steps for our elves to follow to keep each and every tree enchanting. If your tree was not freshly cut from a farm, cut one-quarter inch off the base of the trunk to allow the flow of water into the tree when you place it in the stand. The tree will drink up about a gallon a day so check daily. Never let the amount of water go below the base of the tree or the base might seal up. Having a parched tree is a fire hazard and makes quite a mess with all the needles breaking off. Keep the tree in a cool place, but out of drafts. I’d say it will last about fives weeks.
Q: Do you trim your tree with lots of lights?
A: What is a Christmas tree without lights? Rudolph would have me fired if I didn’t keep up the lighting tradition at Christmas Hall. We love our holiday lights twinkling in the tree, and outside our chalet. Blinking, non-blinking, we got it all. My only suggestion is that you keep indoor lights inside and outdoor lights outside. The red and green UL marks indicate which belongs where. A red holographic mark is for outdoor use; green for indoor. I know SoCal’s balmy winter weather leaves you with many sunny days, but the occasional rain and moisture from the ocean can deteriorate lights quickly if they are meant to be used indoors. And always turn the Christmas tree lights off when heading to sleep or away from home. Automatic lighting timers are perfect for this. It allows one less thing to think about during the holiday rush. Oh, and be careful when using a ladder to string your lights whether outdoors or indoors. Always face the ladder when climbing and wear slip-resistant shoes, such as those with rubber soles. Not everyone is lucky enough to have flying reindeer to string up lights!
Q: With the overwhelming production you handle each year, how do you decorate all the trees at the North Pole and find time to check your list, let alone checking it twice?
A: I’d love to take credit, but Mrs. Claus takes charge of all decorations and manages to create beautiful Christmas trees and holiday decor. She scours the internet and magazines for all the latest trends. Trimming the tree with gold and red ribbons is her current favorite with clear crystal ornaments and small clear twinkling lights. Then throughout Santa’s workshop she creates different themes for the trees such as our Silent Night tree trimmed with antique bells tied with white and silver ribbons. Her O’ Holy Night tree sports little ornaments with angels and a nativity scene. My favorite is the Joy to the World tree with ornaments from all different places. She has lighted trellises outside, poinsettias lining our walkway and wreath’s over every door. And inside all sorts of collectibles such as world renowned ornaments hanging on the tree; artisan jewelry studded Christmas trees gracing our chalet; and nutcrackers standing at attention over our fireplace. Not one for idling, she recruits from all over to help out. TREEs (Trimming Ready Elated Elves) really make up the backbone of Mrs. Claus’s team every year. But Frosty and Jack are usually the first to slide on in with icicles for outdoor decor. All the reindeers, when their not playing their reindeer games, show up to help decorate the very tops of the trees. The Grinch finds time to lend a hand and always brings along Whoville inspired roast beast for dinner. And Alvin, Simon and Theodore find their way here toting chestnuts to roast over an open fire when everything’s done.
Q: I bet it gets to be a pretty tight squeeze going down fireplaces? Is there anything we can do to make it easier for you?
A: Oh, all the different chimneys make sliding down fun and interesting. I did loose a boot once after getting stuck temporarily. But there are a few safety factors for the folks to keep in mind before lighting up a fire. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney expert. I like a clean chimney, all that soot and ash makes me sneeze. If you have glass doors covering your fireplace, be sure to leave them open while the fire burns to allow the air inside for proper combustion and to reduce the creosote build up in the chimney. After the fire is out, keep the glass doors shut or you’ll have a drafty room. For those of you without glass doors in front of the fireplace, be sure to have a metal mesh screen in front to keep embers from leaping out of the fireplace area.
Q: Ok Santa, let me in on your little secret. I know you’re the King of Jingling, but how in the world do you deliver all those presents in 24 hours?
A: Magic. Nothing more than some good’ol old-fashion magic dear Gina. Oh and maybe a wee bit of flying fun from the reindeer team. HoHoHo! Safe and happy h