How I met Garland the Elf

Hi again, Santa here!  

By now, I’m sure many of you are familiar with Garland, my official Spokes-elf. He’s such a big help to me that I thought I’d take a minute and tell you a little bit about him and his role here at Santa HQ.

You see, I’m not always the best with words. My mustache kind of gets in the way, and I’m more of a ‘man of action’ anyway. Even though I only publically work one day a year, I’m always busy in the workshop, planning and preparing for the big night. I usually have about a million things on my ‘to do’ list, and I get so preoccupied that my handwriting really suffers. Sometimes the elves misunderstand my notes…like that time when they made two thousand stuffed animals filled with skunk oil. I wrote “Tinker Toys,” not “stinker toys!” We wore clothespins on our noses in the shop for two weeks…

These days we never have that kind of miscommunication, because Garland is great at translating my scribbles, and proofreading them to make me sound wise and well-spoken. Without him, I’d be rushing around here like a polar bear trainer covered in seal oil.

See? Sayings like that make perfect sense to me, or anyone else who lives at the North Pole, but I guess you don’t really have a lot of polar bear trainers in the lower latitudes. Or seal oil, for that matter. Garland understands all of the idioms and Elfslang that are common up here, and he’s also up to date on how you folks talk down in the South. He’s always had a knack for words. Which is good, because he didn’t really have a knack for making toys, or any other Elfin job.

Back when Garland first started at the workshop, he was in the Paint Room. They were spraying toy firetrucks that day, and by quitting time he had painted himself, his workbench, and several of his coworkers bright red. So we moved him to the Gift Wrapping Department. After the third time his supervisor had to use scissors to free him from the tape dispenser, he was transferred to the Bag Packing Room. That’s where they carefully pack my bag with gifts in the order I will be delivering them. The Bag Packing Room seemed to be a better fit for him; in fact, he fit right inside the bag. I almost delivered him to a little girl in Tacoma!

Finally we assigned him to the night shift in the mailroom, opening all the letters to Santa (it was believed that the worst that could happen there would be the occasional papercut). All he had to do was open each letter and sort them alphabetically, but in the morning we came in to discover that everything in the mailbag we’d left for him had been opened, sorted, and batched by region. He had also implemented a color coding system for major toy categories (dolls are yellow, cars and trucks are orange, etc.) and compiled a portfolio of suggested responses to the more complicated requests. Everything was stacked and tidy, and there was a neatly typed memo in my inbox requesting TWO bags of mail to sort during his next shift!

Ever since then, Garland has been in charge of my correspondence. I write the replies myself, of course, but he proofreads and makes suggestions—he’s really tightened up my prose. In fact, he’s standing behind me now, making editorial comments as I write this… Go take a break, Garland. Have some eggnog and a gingersnap or something… (He’s a workaholic!)

When Cinnamon the IT Elf explained to me that I needed a web presence, I agreed without hesitation. Not because I fully understood what “web presence” means, but because I knew I would be putting Garland in charge of organizing it! He’s the one who makes sure I don’t text, email, or tweet something with misspelled words, and he keeps me advised of the newest trends. Check out his twitter feed @garlandtheelf for a behind-the-scenes look at how things get done up here, and much, much more!

Paul Lyons