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The Santa Diaries Hot

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Gold Medalist For Short Stories, July, 2010.

Curled up on the hearth rug with our cups of hot cocoa my two sisters and I watched the snow falling outside in the moonlight.

Father was off on his sleigh ride and all was finally quiet and peaceful .Mother sat down in her rocking chair and put on her spectacles.

"Nicky,” she said to me,” Be a dear and fetch the Diary, won’t you?"

All was silent save the crackling embers and the tick tock of the grandfather clock in the hall. We were excited to hear a story from our Father's Diary. Mother settled down with a contented sigh and looked over the top of her spectacles at the three of us. Now my dears,” she began,” I shall tell you the true tale of Gwendolyn, a little girl of long ago and her special Christmas."

"Tattered and torn, she nevertheless spread happiness wherever she went for she was pure in heart. She lived in a valley with her father who was crippled and could hardly see. Franz loved her more than life itself but he wanted her to go to live with a wealthy family in town so that she might have the advantages he could never provide.

Gwen refused to go until Franz told her that she was keeping him from going to stay with his sister who could not take them both. It was not true but he wanted the best for this beautiful child. So it was that on a clear December morning, Franz helped Gwen pack her few belongings in a flowered bag that had belonged to her mother. They sat together crying until they heard the carriage outside the door. Gwen kissed her father goodbye and made him promise to have Aunt Tilda write to her for him. She wouldn't let him come outside with her because of the chill so he hugged her and went to sit by the fire.

"What will you do now,” said a voice behind him.

It was the old woman who lived under the hill. She only came to see him when he was alone. She knew he couldn't see how ugly she was but he could smell her. He loved the way she smelled of fresh sown fields of flowers and the wind on a rainy day.

"I want to ask you to marry me,” he replied, poking the embers absently.

"Here, let me do that,” she said gruffly, ”A fire is a thing that must be treated with respect.”

Franz laughed and handed her the poker. Minutes passed and he heard her add a log to the fire and then she sat down beside him humming a little tune.

"What's that you're singing now?" he wondered and she stopped humming and sang the words.

Come walk to town by the river road

stop to talk to the father toad

share a piece of bread with three

who swim past midnight in yon tree.

Climb the tears of children there

below the mermaid's flowing hair

you'll find the key to now and then

you'll gain a wife and keep a friend.

He reached out and took her hand then and asked, "Terra Cotta, will you marry me?"

She stood up and told him, ”Learn the song and solve the riddle and you'll be fit then as a fiddle."

She kissed his forehead, leaving a trail of dirt along his cheek and was gone.

He sighed and settled into his chair to fall asleep humming the rune she had given him to solve.

Miles away Gwen was lifted from the carriage by the coachman and set down in front of the Wentworth manor house. A maid servant whisked her away to the servants' quarters and handed her over to a girl of about sixteen. "Clean her up Gertrude and bring her to me at once,” the maid ordered.

Gertrude grabbed her by the arm and half dragged her to the barn.

"I'm going to help you now if you let me,” she whispered, ”But if you don't, then you shall stay here and suffer for it."

Gwendolyn stared at her wide eyed but the girl didn't wait for a reply. "My boyfriend Earl is helping me and some others get away .Real bad things happen to you here. Come with us and we will help you. "Gwen was stunned and didn't know what to say but her intuition told her that this girl was telling the truth.

She nodded and Gertrude said, " Good, now wait under the hay until everyone comes whose going with us."

Mother stopped reading and looked up, outside,a branch broke under the weight of the snow .“I can hear the sleigh bells,” Mother Claus laughed, ” Can’t you my little sweeties?"

She rose and went to the kitchen for a platter of gingerbread cookies. When she returned my sister Candy asked," Mother, is Gwendolyn going to run away with Gertrude?"

"Well what would you do?" Mother winked.

My sister Snowdrop chimed in, ”I would wait and see for myself if the people there were bad or good."

Mother put her arm around me, ”What would you do Nicky?"

"I would go back home and see about my father,” I told her confidently.

Mother poured herself a cup of hot chocolate and smiled, ”It’s windy up there tonight. I should have made Him wear his scarf,” she mused. We munched our gingerbread men and thought about Papa flying all around the world making children happy. We knew we would have our presents when we woke up in the morning too.

"Please read some more of Papa's Diary,” Candy said around a mouthful of cookie. I want to know what Gwen decided to do". Mother nodded and began again…

Gwendolyn crawled under the pile of hay and lay still. In a few moments she had fallen into a deep sleep. She dreamed of sugar plum fairies and snowflakes falling on her mother's hair and lashes. Laughter filled the air as Gwen and her Mother skated 'round and 'round an icy lake .A hoarse whisper woke her from her lovely dream .A man's hands were pulling her from the hay and Gertrude scolded, "Earl, don't be so rough, you'll hurt her.”

"She'll be hurt a lot worse if she gets caught, now won't she?" Earl replied.

Gwen rubbed her eyes and shivered, it was cold out from under the hay and she had no coat.

Four other young people were hiding in the shadows waiting to leave. Three girls and a small boy came out to join Earl at his command.

"We're going to run through the corn field over yonder and my brother Karl will be waiting with a wagon on the other side," Earl explained.

Gertrude grabbed Gwen's hand and the hand of the small boy, "Don't let go," she told them and ran off behind Earl toward the corn field.

In her cozy home under the hill, Terra Cotta stopped rocking and stroked her cat Mystic. She sneezed and a great cloud of dust rose up around her."What be tilting the balance now ,Cat?" she muttered.

"The child is in danger," mewed the animal in a voice as quiet as falling snow. Slowly, there appeared in the cloud above them, the corn field in the moonlight.

"It is just over the hill," said Terra Cotta, "We must hurry.”

"Earl is the Prince of Trolls, he will not want to relinquish such a feast," said Mystic, "Bring the Eye,".

The dust cloud fell with a tinkling sound as Terra retrieved a gluttonous eye from a bowl of red liquid.

"Put it in now!" commanded the Cat and Terra pushed back her hair to reveal an indention in her forehead. She slapped the orb into place with a shiver and a shake of her long black staff.”

My sisters jumped up and ran to sit on Mother's lap but I was not afraid. I only moved closer to protect them when the wind began to howl and branches scratched on the window pane. Mother chuckled and put the diary aside to hug Candy and Snowdrop close.

"Don't be afraid, my little dumplings, everything is alright,".

"Nicky , darling, will you put another log on the fire please? It is a cold one tonight. She wrapped her shawl around my sisters and watched as I built the fire back up to a crackling blaze. Then she said, ”Nicky will you read for a while? We are all so snuggly warm and comfortable.".

I looked at the three of them rocking gently in Papa's big rocker and smiled. No one had ever read from Papa's Diary except Mother. I was so proud that she thought I was old enough to read from his Big Book that I could hardly speak.  I sat down with my back against the sofa and opened the book across my lap. The pages turned as if by a stiff breeze ,to the exact page where Mother left off. I cleared my throat and slowly began to read.

I was not used to Father's swirling script but I adjusted to it and was soon reading smoothly. The Prince of trolls and his brother had planned and schemed for weeks to steal away with the children. It would be a wonderful feast for their Troll family and they would be heroes to their Father the King of Trolls.

The Troll brothers loaded the children into the wagon and started off across the dusty tracks. The children were crying in spite of Gertrude's care but Karl and Earl did not slow down.

Terra Cotta could see everything now that she had absorbed the eye and she and Mystic flew madly over the field of corn.

"Call the corn men," cried Mystic, ”Hurry before they reach the river. The corn men can't swim.”

A ray of sparkling darkness burst forth from the eye and hit the first row of corn ahead of the careening wagon. The corn began tearing itself out of the ground and scrambling to intercept the vehicle row after row. The wagon flipped ,throwing the children and the trolls off into the fields. Frightened, the Troll brothers slipped back into their true forms and ran off towards the river.

Gertrude watched in horror as her boyfriend looked back and growled before he disappeared over the ridge. Terra Cotta helped the children up and found them to be unhurt save for a few scrapes and bruises.

"What shall we do now Mystic,” asked Terra, ”They can't return to that horrid place.”

"We will take them home for now and think about it," answered the wise old feline, "It's always good to take time to think things through you know.”

Terra had the corn men flip the wagon and round up the horses. Then she closed the magic eye and they all went back to stand in their rows although a bit crooked this time. The six children got back in the wagon shivering with fear and cold and Terra drove them back to the entrance to her home under the hill.

Once there ,she slapped the horses on the rump and sent them off home. "Come with me Deeries and I will make you all some hot screaming cider,” Terra offered but Mystic shook his head and said, "Cocoa will be fine.”

Down in the cozy hole Gertrude said, "Thank you so much for saving us Missus, we would have been Troll dinner tonight if not for you and your cat." Terra smiled and said ,"Don't fret now Dear, help the little ones to take off their coats and get settled in.”

Terra recognized Gwen as Franz' daughter and took her by the hand, "Come and help me make cocoa," she said as she led her into the tiny kitchen.”

I stopped reading to pick up my kitten ,Noel, and take a drink of my chocolate. Snowdrop took the opportunity to remark, "When does Papa and Christmas come into the story

Mother? Was it almost Christmas time when they ran away from the bad people?"

Mother stopped rocking and brushed back a lock of my sister's hair, "You must be patient" she said gently, "You will soon find out.”

My sister Candy ,yawned and stretched her arms out ."Do you want me to tuck you in bed, Darling?" Mother asked but Candy shook her head. She wanted to hear the story too.

The clock struck nine and the wind whistled around the corners outside. Whiskers purred and curled up in my lap to listen to me read. I pulled a throw from off the sofa and wrapped it around my shoulders, "Brrr, I said with a shiver, I hope Papa is wrapped up warm and cozy in his sleigh,".

"Don't worry about him," Mother chuckled, "He is wrapped up in nice warm Magic high above the clouds and snow. Besides, I made him wear his long underwear tonight," she laughed.

Candy got down and went to look out the window at the snowstorm. She always busied herself just when she felt the sleepiest. It helped her stay awake longer. "Look Mother, there's someone out there," she cried.

Mother put Snowdrop down and went to stare out into the whirling white world beyond the cabin. "Why I think it's a wolf," she exclaimed, " Nicky come and see, I believe it is Wordred the Brave, King of the Snow Wolves.”

I jumped up ,dropping the book to the floor and dislodging Whiskers who gave a loud yowl. Wordred was a dear friend of my Father's. I wondered why he would be out in this blizzard.

I wiped the glass with my hand and gazed out into the night. Sure enough, loping towards us was the great white wolf Wordred the Brave."Yes,  yes, Mother, it is Wordred. Hurry and open the door for him," I said.

We unlatched the locks and the huge beast came springing into the room along with a gust of frigid wind. He shook his coat mightily and flung great gouts of snow across the carpet which quickly melted in the warmth of the fire. "Mother Claus," he said in a low breathless tone, "You must help us, one of my cubs has fallen into a deep crevasse and we need a rope and your hands to help us get him out,".

Mother instantly began to give orders, "Nicky, you will go with Wordred. You are a very strong boy. Take a coil of rope from the tool closet and put on your heaviest coat. I must stay here with your sisters. Take a flashlight and this," she said, handing me a dark crystal from her sewing kit, "Rub it only in the most extreme emergency, it will call Father home.”

A dozen questions swirled inside my head but there was no time. In minutes I was out the door behind Wordred. "Hop on my back," the great wolf ordered and away we raced, straight into the blinding snow.

I buried my face in Wordred's coarse fur and closed my eyes. It took all my strength to hold on through his flying leaps and bounds but it was quickly over. I slid off and stood up to find myself surrounded by a circle of howling wolves. Wordred led me to the edge of the deep gorge and there, far below I could make out the shape of the cub at the bottom. Wasting no time for the cold was sapping my abilities, I tied one end of the rope around a nearby sapling and began to lower myself down as fast as I could. The wolves went silent and stood gazing down at me as I dropped. Two thirds of the way down I lost my grip and plummeted to the rocky ground beside the cub. My nose began to bleed and dizziness overcame me. I tried to stand and could not. I panicked and my mind went to the dark crystal in my pocket. I could call Papa and he would save us both in a moment of time. I lay there for a few seconds as the wolves began their wailing anew and then I made myself stand up.

Children were waiting around the world, I could not be the cause of such disappointment. I reached deep inside myself for every bit of strength and courage I could muster and knelt to find the little wolf. He licked my hand and whined his unhappiness as I buttoned him up inside my parka. I needed both hands for the climb. I began the upward struggle but soon felt the burden lifted when the wolves took the rope in their muzzles and pulled me out quickly.

Wordred waited with his mate while I gently unbuttoned my coat and handed over the cub. He was covered in blood from my nose but otherwise unharmed.

Snow flurries swirled around us chilling me to the bone but I only felt the warmth of gratitude from my wolf friends. After many thanks I climbed onto Wordred's back and we dashed off across the hills. Exhilarated, I sat up and laughed into the icy wind. This was the best ride of my life and when I saw the lights of home, I was almost sad to see it end.

Wordred's huge tongue licked me from ear to ear in a fond farewell and he was off without a word. I knew he would see me again on the next day but now he was anxious to check on his son.

Mother threw open the door and grabbed me in a great hug. Inside, she held me away from her to examine my bloody face and bruised cheek. "Did you save the cub?" she asked

When I nodded, she turned to my sisters who were standing there in tears and said, “Bring warm water and a cloth and pour some hot chocolate my dears. Our hero has returned.”

She helped me out of my coat and scarf and wrapped a soft blanket around my shoulders before leading me to sit before the fire. While my sisters anxiously waited to interrogate me, Mother cleaned my face and watched as I drank part of my steaming drink.

"Now son," she said, "You must tell us all that happened.”

"First I must give this back to you Mother," I said proudly as I handed her the dark crystal.

She took it and leaned over to kiss me on the cheek, “I’m so proud of you Nicky," she told me, ”That was a very brave thing you did tonight.”

The girls started to ask questions and there began a telling of a tale that would be the first one in my own Diary.

The clock chimed ten and I realized all that had happened in one short hour. "It's time for bed children" Mother said to a chorus of pleas and promises.

"Please Mother, may I finish the story first" I begged. I was too excited to fall asleep yet. Mother laughed and said, "Yes I suppose so. After all it is a special night. Snowdrop brought me the big book and I picked up where I left off.”

Terra Cotta and Gwen entered the little kitchen enclosed by the gnarled roots of ancient trees. Gwen was awed by the quaint decorations made of egg shells painted and hung from the ceiling.

Gwen sat down at a small wooden table and hung her head. Terra went to her and put her arms around her gently. "I know you are afraid my child, but I am a friend of your Father"s and I shall return you to him very soon. For tonight we will stay safe and warm in the depths of the forest .

Gwen looked up at the little woman with the dirty face and tried to smile, "It's just that it is almost Christmas and I don't think my wish is going to come true.”

Terra Cotta loved Christmas. It was her favorite thing in the whole world. She tilted the child's face up and told her, "I was just about to start decorating. Do you think we could all do it together? Then maybe Saint Nick will know where you are and grant your wish.”

They brought the cocoa out to the others and then everyone began to sparkle up the hidey hole under the forest floor. "We will have to hang some garlands in the tree above so Santa will know where we are" laughed the cat.

On the other side of the forest, Franz was trying to keep from missing his darling daughter. They had never spent a Christmas apart and he was terribly lonely. He sang the song Terra Cotta taught him and decided to try and decipher its meaning.

Come walk to town by the river road

stop to talk to the father toad

share a piece of bread with three

who swim past midnight in yon tree.

Climb the tears of children there

below the mermaid's flowing hair

you'll find the key to now and then

you'll gain a wife and keep a friend.

With a vision of Gwen's sweet face in his mind, he took his hat and cane and set out for the River Road. Part way there he sat down to rest beside a pond where a large toad sprawled in the damp grass. Franz took out his lunch and began nibbling on a cheese sandwich when a low voice said, "Excuse me kind sir ,but could you spare a crust of bread for a fellow creature in need.”

Franz jumped and dropped his sandwich which was snatched up by three frogs that swam away to a sunken tree.

Dimly able to see what happened, he laughed and said to himself, "Ahh, so that's how you swim past midnight in yon tree.”

He traveled on a ways and then up ahead he could make out a strange and unusual sight, a giant oak tree spread its limbs across the path. It was covered in flowing moss like mermaid's hair and garlands of tear drop blossoms draped the limbs.

"Climb the tears of children there," he mumbled and began trying to find a way to climb the garland vines. Halfway up one of the vines, he fell and landed at the base of the tree with a thud.

Groaning, he sat down and looked around at the forest floor "Oh Terra Cotta," he said, rubbing his eyes, "Please help me my friend.”

Then at his feet , he saw something shiny in the leaves. It was a key! Could it be that this tree was the home of his dear friend? Something inside him knew it was so. He stumbled to the thick trunk and began running his hands over the rough bark. To his amazement , he found a keyhole and slid the silver key into it with amazing results. The bark slid back to reveal a small door.

In moments Mystic sensed the intrusion and alerted Terra to the fear and consternation of the children. Terra shushed them and sent them all to hide in the kitchen while she went to investigate.

Taking up her staff, she held it at the ready to whomp whoever dared to enter her home uninvited. Sneaking up the stairs toward ground level, she cried out loud at the sight of her old friend Franz sneaking down the stairs towards her.

"Franz," she yelped," You solved the riddle. How wonderful. Come along and see who is here.”

Franz sucked in a great breath of relief and laughed out loud at his good fortune.

"Oh Terra Cotta," he cried, "I'm so glad to find you again,'.

Taking him by the hand, Terra led him to the kitchen where the children waited. Gwen called out, "Oh Father, is it really you? How did you find us? She ran to him and buried her face in his chest ,crying tears of joy. After Gwen explained what happened with the Trolls and the awful guardians, Franz said, "I'm so sorry my darling, I will never send you away again.”

The whole group went back to sit by the fire and tell their stories. They were all orphans who had been forced to work on the estate in the worst of conditions. Franz sat down beside Terra and took her grubby little hand in his, "Terra, will you marry me and help me care for these poor children?" he asked .

Mystic the cat purred in her lap and she nodded with a smile.

"No matter what happens, we shall wed but if the riddle and the rhyme be at work ,we will see it through together.”

Franz did not understand but he was happy.

The next day was Christmas eve and they all went out into the forest to gather berries and wild things to make a feast. Gertrude cleaned the Hidey Hole and heated water for a bath for Terra Cotta. She filled a big tub with hot bubbly water and told Terra to get in it while everyone was out gathering.

Terra grumbled and fussed but finally gave in and slipped slowly into the waiting bath.

A moment later she was smiling as the soothing suds enveloped her body. Gertrude washed Terra's hair and tied it back in a red and green ribbon. She had a hard time getting her out of the tub before the group was due back.

When she was finally out and wrapped in a big fluffy towel, Mystic came to sit beside her."I am going on a trip to the North Pole to see Saint Nick," he told her, "I have to let him know where all these children are or they won't have a Christmas at all.”

Gwendolyn came rushing into the room and said," Dear Mystic, will you carry my Christmas wish to Santa for me please?"

"Whisper it in my ear," the cat meowed and the little girl did just that.

"Of course," purred the cat, "I will ask him for you my dear,".

I stopped reading to look at my sisters cuddled once again in Mother's lap. I was surprised to see them both still awake but Mother's head was beginning to nod. I smiled, she knew the ending to this story very well but my sisters were hanging on every word. It had been a life changing night for me. The rescue of the cub and the honor of reading from Father's Diary would be forever etched on my heart.

"Don't stop reading Nicky," Candy urged, "We want to know what Gwendolyn wished for.”

"Yes, we want to know if she got her wish," chimed in Snowdrop.”

I agreed and let my gaze wander to the snowstorm outside the window. Suddenly I felt an unaccustomed appreciation for our cozy little home and my loving family. I pulled the blanket close around me and read,

Mystic scampered up the stairs and away he went. "How will he find the way?” Gertrude asked, "How can he go so far so quickly?"

"He is truly a magic cat," whispered Terra," but he's not the only one," she laughed. "That is unless Gertrude has washed all my magic away.”

Retreating to her room, she returned dressed in red and green robes with a silver belt and silver slippers. In her hands she held a thick cook book. "Who's hungry?" she inquired of the little group.

A chorus of, "Me, me, me" filled the air followed by her laughter. Everyone gathered 'round to see what was in the old book of recipes. "I want pumpkin pie," murmured Gertrude faintly.

Terra flipped through the yellowed pages until she found a drawing of a scrumptious pie with steam rising from it. She ripped out the page and handed it to Gertrude with a flourish, "Then pie you shall have," she said.

Gertrude laughed and pretended to nibble on the edge of the page, "Delicious," she said. But then she smacked her lips and said, "Hmmm, really delicious.”

She chewed off a bit of the page and then stuffed the whole thing in her mouth with glee. "It really is pumpkin pie!" she exclaimed.

The children stared at her in shock and then beginning to understand, Gwen said, "Thomas loves dumplings, don't you Tommy?"

Without a word, Terra found a lovely bowl of dumplings and tore it free for the little boy. He crumpled it up and stuffed the ball in his mouth all at once.

One by one each child devoured their favorite morsels until they were completely full. Then Gertrude took them to tell stories by the fire so Terra and Franz could dine together.

Terra tore out roast duck, potatoes, corn on the cob, and pudding with a bottle of wine to go with it."We will keep our gatherings from the forest for tomorrow," she told him. This is a special night,".

Franz looked across at her dancing eyes and smiled, "This is the best night of my life," he told her," and I know they will only get better because of you my love.”

They finished their meal and joined the children. Tommy and the three little girls were asleep on the hearth rug. Gwen and Gertrude talked quietly on the sofa. Terra covered the children with a blanket and took the older girls into her room. She motioned for them to climb into one of the two big beds and then she tucked them in. “Santa's on his way" she told them, "You must be asleep or he won't leave you a present.”

"I hope Mystic finds him in time," said Gwen, "He just has to grant my special wish.” Terra fixed Franz up on the couch and returned to fall asleep quickly in her own bed. All was still except for the crackling of the low fire in the fireplace.

Far above the forest, high above the skimming clouds, a dark shape soared onward through the cold night. Santa's sleigh with two passengers flew towards the Hidey Hole. Mystic held the reins as Santa climbed down the massive limbs and into the

depths of the tree. He placed a toy beside each of the sleeping children. A teddy bear and two dolls and a toy train for Tommy.

Beside Gertrude he placed an ivory comb and brush and beside Gwen he left a velvet purse with a gold coin inside. Next to Terra he put a new cook book full of fresh magic. Then he went to stand near Franz and after a long moment ,he reached into his pocket and brought out a small silver tin full of black paste. He laid it on the pillow and smiled. "Your wish is granted, little Gwendolyn," he whispered and was gone.

In the morning Mystic was curled up at the foot of Terra's bed fast asleep. One by one the children awoke to find their gifts with squeals of pleasure on their lips. Everyone was joyful except Gwen. The tin of paste had fallen between the couch cushions in the night and Franz had not seen it. Mystic even had a ball of twine and some catnip to enjoy but he was worried.

Terra took him aside and said, "The wish could not be granted then?"

"I was sure he would do it" Mystic said, "he seemed so positive about it because she is such a fine little girl and always thinks of others first.” Gwen tried to be brave for the other children's sake and Franz was happy although he had no gift. Just before nightfall, Terra stood in the darkened living room and set about lighting the candles when she saw something glowing. Investigating ,she found it to be a silvery tin shining from inside with a pale blue light."Gwendolyn!" she called out ,"Hurry ,come and see. I think your wish is coming true after all,".

They all came to see what she had found and Gwen grabbed up the tin to dance around the room. "Father, Father, this is for you. It is the answer to my wish.”

Confused, Franz sat down and asked, "What wish my Dear; what did you wish for?"

"I wished that you could see again Father, the way you did when we used to run and play together,".

Tears flowed down her Father's cheeks and he reached to take her in his arms, "Oh darling child ,that can never be," he cried.

"Oh yes it can, if you believe it can," said Mystic, "Open the tin Gwendolyn and touch the paste to your father's eyes. Then we will see if your wish comes true or not.”

Hesitantly, Gwen twisted the lid from the tin. A blue phosphorescence filled the room. Frightened, Franz gasped and shrank away but Terra reached out to hold his hand and encourage him to be strong.

Gwen approached slowly and scooped out a bit of the paste on her fingers. "I love you Father," she said as she gently smeared the potion on her Father's eyelids.

Franz cried out and fell writhing to the floor in agony.

The children screamed and ran away from the suffering man but Terra Cotta, held him until he quieted. Gwen had fainted dead away and Gertrude was trying to revive her with a damp cloth.

Time stood still as all held their breath to see what would happen next.

Franz sat up and rubbed his eyes. The glow was on his hands and face now and the children were amazed.

Franz shook his head and stood up, going to kneel over his daughter he whispered hoarsely, "I can see! It's a miracle! I can see again as when I was young!"

Gwen woke up to look into his smiling face and burst into tears, "Oh Father, my wish was granted after all!"

After that they had a real celebration, singing and dancing far into the night.

At the start of the new year, Franz and Terra married and they all moved to Franz house in the valley.

Since he could see again, he was able to fix it up. Gwen's coin purse never went empty so they hired workers to help them make the farm a beautiful thriving place. Now every Christmas Franz tells the story of Gwen's Christmas wish and how Mystic saved the day.

I closed the book and glanced up at my sisters. They both had tears in their eyes. "That was so beautiful," whispered Candy.

"I wonder how old she is now," said Snowdrop.

A sound outside woke Mother who had drifted off, "What was that?" she asked, "maybe it's the wind," she answered herself.

We all went to gaze outside and there before us was an amazing sight. The whole Snow wolf pack stood in a half circle outside our cottage. I opened the door and at once they began to serenade us with a strange kind of wolf song. Their melodic howls overlapped and rose into the night in a cacophony of joy and love for us. My heart filled up with pride and happiness to see the little cub standing well and strong in the center of the pack. When it was done, they turned and silently followed the leader into the curtain of falling snow.

We stood oblivious of the cold watching until they were out of sight. Then Mother closed the door and knelt to hold us all close against her. "A miraculous night," she whispered, “and now it's off to bed.”

The clock chimed twelve as I lay in bed wide eyed with wonder at the events of the most amazing Christmas Eve of my life. Mother entered my room and sat on the side of my bed to say, “Someday you will fly the sleigh and your little boy will read from your Diaries. This is for you to begin your story." She said and handed me a red leather bound volume and a pen that danced across the cover writing, The Santa Diaries :volume 2010

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