One snowy Christmas Eve in 1958, was the most magical of all. It was the year my dad found an elf in the road, covered in snow. He was driving home from work late when he thought he saw something in the road ahead. When he stopped the truck, he was speechless.
A two-foot elf looked up at him in tears. “I hurt my leg. I fell off Blitzen when he took a sharp turn. I’m so cold and scared. Can you help me?”
This elf was really lucky because my dad helped everyone. My dad picked him up and found a blanket in the back seat of his truck to warm him.
“Well, you are quite a surprise tonight, Mr. Elf. I’ve never met an elf before.”
The elf introduced himself, “I’m Joey.” My dad returned his introduction with, “I’m Jimmy.”
Dad drove Joey to Dr Morrison’s office to get his leg checked. Poor Joey was in so much pain. By the time the doc wrapped Joey’s leg it was past midnight and blizzard warnings continued on the radio. “I’m going to take you home with me for the night, Joey,” my dad said.
“I am so glad you saw me in the road, Jimmy.”
My mom, sisters and I were sound asleep. We never heard dad bring Joey in the door.
Joey was right. My dad was the absolute best person to find him. He propped up his leg and got him situated in my sister’s high chair sitting on three phone books so he could reach the table. Hot chocolate warmed Joey and Snickerdoodle fresh baked cookies for Santa, hit the spot. Even our dog, Towzer, liked Joey, especially when he gave him pieces of cookie.
Joey told dad stories about the North Pole. Santa really is jolly all year long. Mrs. Claus loves to bake Christmas cookies, even in July. The reindeer aren’t really jealous of Rudolph. They really appreciate his red nose on foggy nights. My dad ate three cookies and sipped his cocoa while he got the scoop on Santa’s village.
“Jimmy, do you have kids?” he asked.
“I have three daughters upstairs sleeping, waiting for Santa.”
“Can I meet them?” Joey asked.
“Let’s just peek in on them. They need a good night sleep for tomorrow.”
“My leg feels better, Jimmy. I can walk up the stairs.”
Joey not only peeked in on us, he climbed up on the bed my sister and I shared and kissed our cheeks. I can’t believe I didn’t wake up! I’d been kissed by an elf! What more could a six-year-old girl ask for? If only I’d woken up to see him and talk to him.
“It’s time we got ready for bed ourselves, Joey.” My dad yawned. ”Let’s finish our cocoa and find you a place to sleep.”
When they returned to the kitchen, a loud crack hit the kitchen window. Looking out to see what’s the matter, my dad was face to face with a huge reindeer. “It’s Blitzen,” Joey yelled. “He came back for me, Jimmy.”
Dad carried Joey, all wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket and a warm hat, to the back porch. Blitzen was so high, he had to sit down so dad could get Joey situated safely.
“Thanks, Jimmy,” Joey said. “I’ll never forget you. Maybe I can stop by next year earlier so I can meet your daughters.”
“I’d like that,” my dad told him.
He patted Blitzen and shook Joey’s small hand. “Hold on tight now,” he told Joey.
Christmas morning my sister woke me up at six a.m. She was always the first one up. She’d already been down to peek at the tree and she was jumping on the bed with glee.
“There are a ton of presents down there! Wake up! Wake up!”
When I threw off my covers, I saw the strangest thing. There were white footprints of snow on my comforter. They led out of our room and down the stairs. We inspected the trail that led all the way to the kitchen. That’s when we saw it! It was a mess! There were cookie crumbs all over the floor. Dad’s mug and one of Grandmom’s Irish teacups from Donegal were still on the table. Mom would not be happy waking up to see this mess.
We started back to look at our gifts under the tree when my parents arrived. “We did not make this mess,” we announced.
“I did,” my dad confessed. Oh, he was so brave.
“You did this? My mom asked annoyed.
“Well me and Joey both did this, actually.” he said calmly.
“And who is Joey?” mom inquired.
“He’s the elf I brought home last night.”
“Did my dad just say he brought an elf home last night?” I asked my sister.
He continued telling how he found him in the road and he was hurt and scared so he brought him home.
“You didn’t wake me for this? “I cried. “I am six. I’m the oldest. You should have woken me up!” I was in tears. “I missed my chance to meet a real live elf.”
“Well, Joey tried to wake you up. You scratched your nose when he kissed your cheek,” he said.
“Wait! Wait! Wait! I’ve been kissed by Santa’s elf?” I couldn’t believe my ears!
Mom laughed, then suggested we open presents and talk more about Joey at breakfast.
The tree sparked with lights and tinsel. The train set circled the tree stand. Towzer snored on the couch, exhausted from his late night. There was laughter and squeals of delight when we opened our gifts from the list we’d sent Santa.
Over a French toast breakfast, we talked more about Joey. I had so many questions.
“How big was Blitzen? Are you sure it wasn’t Vixen or Dancer? How did he know to come to our window?” I fired the questions at my dad.
Later that day, my dad was snoozing on the sofa near the Christmas tree. Bing Crosby was singing White Christmas. It was a perfect day.
I stood over my dad’s head at the top of the couch. We were upside down faces. I kissed his forehead and whispered, “Dad, this is the best Christmas of my entire life.”
He patted my head and agreed, “Mine too, Anne, mine too.”
Merry Christmas everyone!