The Elf Who Baked: A Short Christmas Tale
When the whistle echoed throughout the Christmas toy factory, Minty the Elf did not notice. His mind was a million miles away. He dreamt of the Hollow Tree, cookies, chocolate, and magic ovens. I’m a baker. Not a toy maker, he thought. I’m not supposed to be here.
“Minty. You can stop pretending to work now,” his supervisor said.
Her squeaky voice jolted him. He quickly returned to reality. “What? Oh. Hello, Mrs. Gingersnap. It’s quitting time?”
“Yes. Not that you started anything today. Watch it, all right? I might have to report your poor work quality to the Big Man if this keeps up.”
This was not the first warning he received. Unless the gift was related to cooking or kitchens, he hardly paid attention to what he was doing. He always liked to be in the kitchen and hated the factories, but lately he hated the factories even more than before. That was because his obsession with baking reached new heights. Ever since he got a streaming service, Food Network and the Cooking Channel were the only things he’d watch.
“Oh no. Christmas Cookie Challenge again?” Gummy asked when he walked through the door.
At home, Minty was waiting for Gummy by the television. He distantly hummed. “Yeah. They have to make their displays now.”
“You’ve seen this eight times,” Gummy commented.
“Research,” Minty replied. “Dinner’s ready. How was it at the garage?”
“Gave Santa’s sleigh a new paint job. It’ll be perfect for Christmas. Just two weeks away, you know. How was your day?”
“Let’s eat,” Minty answered. Gummy sat at the table with him. They ate in silence until Minty admitted it. “Mrs. Gingersnap gave me another warning. I think I have one left until I have to see Santa.”
“Holy stocking stuffers, Mint! Do you want to end up like Murray? I heard he has to help all those mall Santas with the rowdy kids and double as a leprechaun in the offseason!”
“You know I can’t help it. I’m a Keebler at heart. I’m meant to bake cookies with those elves. I wasn’t meant to be a Christmas Elf. I feel it in my bones. I’m going crazy working that assembly line, don’t you see?”
“No elf can leave without Santa’s permission. You’d have to get him to sign off on a transfer. Even if he does, the Keebler Elves might not need another baker.”
Sighing, Minty nodded. “I know. I’m happy being here with you and all, but this job…”
“It really is making you miserable, isn’t it? You have your heart set on Keebler life.”
“I guess I do.”
“Right. I don’t want you to go, but if that’ll be what makes you happy…” Gummy frowned. “I can get you in to see Santa before Mrs. Gingersnap complains. I have to talk to him about the upholstery for the sleigh’s seat. I’ll get something ready.”
Two days later, Minty found himself waiting in Santa’s reception area. Santa’s assistant was busy entering the naughty children’s data into the Christmas computer system. Time seemed to drag on while Minty paced and paced. Finally, a red light flashed on the wall. The receptionist nodded at Minty. It was time to talk to the Big Man.
The office was intimidating. Minty, like all elves, had met Santa once or twice before. However, it was still unnerving to see the man whose beard was almost as big as Minty. Santa’s expression was inviting, however. He seemed almost amused by Minty’s presence.
“Gumdrop talked to me about you,” Santa said. “You’re Peppermint. Or Minty, as he called you. You’re the elf requesting a transfer. You want to be a Keebler. Is that right?”
“Yes, sir. I love Christmas time, but I want to be a baker.”
“I see. Well, I will make a deal with you. If you make me the best plate of cookies I’ve ever had, I will get you into Keebler. Get those cookies to me on Christmas. Sound good?”
“Yes, sir. Absolutely.”
“Good. Off you go, go, go.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Minty was thrilled he’d have a chance to become a Keebler, but he was also terrified. Santa ate cookies all night long on Christmas Eve. He had done that for ages. How could Minty bake the best cookies Santa ever had? It seemed like an impossible task. Yet, he had time to experiment and cooking shows to lean on.
He got to work immediately on choosing a cookie. He stayed up all night long, combing through food programs and recipes. It became a habit. Gummy would find him asleep across the kitchen table or the counter. Minty was more determined than ever.
Two days before Christmas, Minty believed he found the recipe. He asked Gummy to give them a try. He tried one while Minty anxiously waited. Then, Gummy smiled. “This is it. You’ve nailed it.”
“That’s the one. That’s the recipe. I mean it,” Gummy earnestly said. A frown crossed his face. “There is one problem. How much I’m going to miss you.”
Christmas day arrived. Minty paced in Santa’s office. The plate of cookies sat on his desk. After an hour, Santa arrived. He went to his desk and pulled the plate of cookies towards him. Without a word, he picked up one of the cookies and took a bite. Minty waited and waited. Santa wasn’t saying a word. Finally, he looked at Minty.
“I need you to go.”
Minty’s chin dropped. “Yes, sir.”
“Go pack, I mean. You’ll need to be at the Hollow Tree by tonight.”
“I can go? I can?” Minty excitedly asked.
Santa smiled. “You can. Merry Christmas!”
“Thank you! Thank you so much!” Minty cheered.
It was the best Christmas gift Minty had ever received. He skipped the entire way home. Once he was there, he jumped onto Gummy with a loud shout. “I did it!”
“I knew you would, Mint. When do you go?”
“Right now. Santa told me to pack,” Minty grinned. He sensed Gummy’s somber mood. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back to visit before you know it. I’ll have a heap of cookies with me. I promise.”
“By next Christmas?”
“Yes. Next Christmas I’ll be right here.”
They shared an embrace. Gummy helped Minty pack. Then, they had to say their farewells. Minty rushed to Santa’s sleigh to catch a ride to the Keebler Elves. It was surreal to him that he’d finally get to do what he loved. He thought about trying out for any baking competition on Food Network eventually, though he knew elves weren’t supposed to reveal themselves on national television. He figured he needed time to become an even better baker anyway.
“You must be Minty,” the Keebler Elves greeted him.
He smiled at his new friends and new home. “Hi. That’s me.”
“Let’s get you settled before we get to work,” they said.
“I can’t wait!” Minty exclaimed.
Meanwhile, Gummy sat alone at the North Pole. He was happy for Minty, but he was also lonely. He circled next Christmas on his calendar, hoping Minty would keep his promise. Every morning, Gummy marked off the days. He imagined Minty smiling beside an oven, which made missing him easier.
Time passed. Minty loved his new life and learned more every day. Gummy was still struggling, though it was getting better. Minty did send a letter or two. He still swore he would be there on Christmas. Yet, the letters stopped coming. Gummy was convinced he was forgotten. All he wanted for Christmas was to see Minty.
Next Christmas arrived. Gummy kept an eye out even though he didn’t have much hope. As the day went on, Minty did not arrive. The evening came and Gummy made his way home from work alone. However, he found a surprise when he walked into his kitchen. There was a plate of cookies on the kitchen counter with a note. Gummy walked to it and read the words.
Look behind you.
Sure enough, Minty was there. Gummy charged him for a warm embrace. Then, Gummy whacked Minty on the arm. “You kept me waiting all day and have written in months.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I have good news, though. We need a mechanic at the Hollow Tree. Why don’t you come back with me? Santa said you can. I bribed him with cookies.”
“Isn’t it amazing?” Gummy asked.
Minty raised an eyebrow. “What is?”
“He always grants Christmas wishes.”
“I’ll help you pack. Merry Christmas, Gummy.”
“Merry Christmas, Minty.”
Christmas miracles happen for everyone.