Months before December, the town of Elfland was looking forward to the day when Santa Claus would choose the best elves to work in his toy shop. It was the time of the year where elves got to showcase their talents to impress Santa.
Every year, too, Santa would bestow the “Elf of The Year” award on an outstanding elf, not only for his hard work and excellence, but also for showing the true meaning of Christmas. The winner would accompany Santa on Christmas Eve in distributing gifts to kids all over the world!
As the big day neared, Elfland’s elves trained hard every day: Some went to the gym regularly to keep fit, others jogged many miles to increase their stamina, and many didn’t miss out on taking their multivitamins, Elffy Grow and Glow!
“I’m sure I’ll get in,” said burly Feldo as he flexed his muscles to the delight of the lady elves.
“I will join you,” said Mallet, a sculptor, whose parents were known as the most famous sculptors of Elfland, and had served Santa for many years.
Hundreds of elves gathered at the village square as they took tests of stamina and skills. Loud cheers echoed throughout the village.
Meanwhile, in a house near the cliff, Tippy was getting ready to go to the square despite his parents’ disapproval. It had been his fondest dream to be part of Santa’s team. Although he was skinny, weak and had no friends, he was determined to rise up to the challenge.
Tippy had always been very sickly even when he was a baby, and not even a daily dose of Elffy Grow and Glow could make him feel any stronger!
It was during one of those days when he was sick in bed that he discovered Pete the Great—the puppet he made out of one of his colorful socks. He pasted buttons for its eyes, put his hand through it, and—voila!—Pete the Great was born!
Tippy would talk to Pete as if he were real. Pete was Tippy’s only friend, and he was sure that Santa would love his puppet, too. He may not have known how to carve something out of wood or clay, but Tippy could definitely make something out of a sock! He wanted to make many Petes to be shared with all the kids.
The cheers grew louder as Tippy made his way to the square. It made his heart beat faster, and he felt goosebumps all over his skinny arms and legs.
Feldo amazed everyone by lifting six boxes full of toys with only one hand! Mallet, on the other hand, made five wooden trucks in only a few minutes!
Those who qualified were given the Santa Card, a glossy red card with the elf’s name, and the time and the day he would start working at the toy shop. Feldo and Mallet beamed as they showed their red cards to the cheering crowd.
When it was Tippy’s turn to show his talent, everyone laughed and booed. “Get down from the stage, Tippy, you might faint!,” yelled an older elf as the crowd burst into laughter.
Tippy felt tears rolling down his cheeks, so he ran as fast as he could until he reached home, where he cried and cried until he fell asleep.
When he woke up, night had fallen and Tippy was relieved that he could no longer hear the crowd’s jeers. He remembered Pete and pulled him out of his bag. He put the puppet on his hand as he stood in front of the mirror.
“Hi, I’m Pete. I’m here to bring you love and good cheer. I will be your friend. Even if you’re sick, I will make you smile. Nobody is gonna hurt you or make you feel sad, because I am Pete the Great!”
Tippy took a bow and smiled.
Unknown to him, there was somebody listening at the window of his room—Santa Claus!
Santa visited the village every night when everyone was asleep, because he wanted to look for the most deserving elf for the job. Of course he was impressed with those who met the challenge that day, but he thought they were arrogant and cared only about the award.
Santa was delighted to see Tippy and his puppet. He saw that Tippy wasn’t proud; he just wanted to make people happy and feel loved. So, Santa slipped the Santa Card in the window and left.
“I’m sorry, Pete. I promise you, next year, we will be in Santa’s team,” Tippy sighed. When he turned off the light, Tippy noticed something shining on the floor.
He couldn’t believe it!
“Santa’s card!” he exclaimed.
Although he was puzzled how the card got into his room, Tippy was excited to be one of Santa’s workers. He placed the card under his pillow and fell asleep.
When the day came, the elves gathered in front of Santa’s toy shop with Feldo standing first in line. The elves were surprised to see Tippy.
“Hey, Tippy,” shouted Feldo, “You have a red card, too? Well, I guess, Santa needed a little clown in his shop. We all need a good laugh during break time!” Everyone laughed.
The huge door opened, and the elves gasped as the magnificent shop came into view. There were toys of different shapes and sizes on one side, and hundreds of elves doing their work on the longest table they’d ever seen. Tippy was thrilled!
He was assigned to the “Gift Tag” section. He placed colorful “SNCH” tags on every gift passed on to him. He didn’t know what those letters meant, but he was happy just being able to help.
Days passed, and Feldo and Mallet were both sure that they would win the top award. When the warehouse was finally filled with toys on Christmas Eve, Santa came out to make the important announcement.
“Thank you all for taking the time to help me. I appreciate the hard work you have put in to make children all over the world happy this Christmastime,” Santa said with a booming voice. “But, I know you are excited to know who will be this year’s ‘Elf of the Year.’”
Everybody held his breath. Feldo stood tall as if he knew that Santa would pick him.
“Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?,” Feldo and Mallet cried out. Tippy froze.
“Come now, Tippy, we have lots of work to do,” said Santa, as everyone waved his hat and the reindeer pulled Santa’s sled up to the night sky.
“I don’t understand, Santa. I didn’t do anything extraordinary back at the toy shop, like Feldo and Mallet,” Tippy finally spoke up.
“But, you’re the best,” Santa interrupted. “You were there not to win the prize, but worked hard to be the best you could be. I watched all of you every day. I saw how great both Feldo and Mallet were. But, I also saw how sincere and cheerful you were while carefully placing each tag on every gift. I even saw you kiss each present as you placed it in the box,” Santa explained.
“I want kids to feel that the gift was made with love,” admitted Tippy with a blush. “I want them to feel loved. I too was sickly, and I don’t have friends, except for my puppet, Pete. I want them to also have a friend like Pete to cheer them up when they are sad. I want them to have the merriest Christmas ever!”
Santa smiled. Soon, they were atop a tall building.
“Where are we?,” asked Tippy as Santa handed him one of the gifts with “SNCH” tag on it.
“We’re at St. Nick’s Children’s Hospital—go place one gift under each bed.”
Tippy looked at the kids who were sound asleep. They looked sad and were skinny, just like him. He had a bright idea! He quickly put Pete on his hand and said:
“Hi, I’m Pete. I’m here to bring you love and good cheer. I will be your friend, even if you’re sick…”
The kids were surprised to see Tippy and his puppet. They were delighted and amazed! Soon, the room was filled with joyous laughter as the sick kids watched Tippy sing and dance with Pete.
Tippy was very happy, too. He told the kids he was also sickly, but Pete made him happy every day. He told the kids to take off their socks and slip them through their hands, and they sang and laughed with their very own puppets all night long!
Santa was very pleased with what he saw because, indeed, love is the greatest gift we can give this Christmas—just like Tippy!