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Saturday, December 24, 2011

An alternative christmas -- what if santa claus was deaf-blind?

An Alternative Christmas

What if Santa Claus was Deaf-Blind?

by Angela C. Orlando

Christmas is almost here. The air is full of joy and cheer.
Children await that magic night, when Santa will fly in his
enchanted sleigh. Then it's Christmas day... The most wonderful
day of the year.

Now imagine an alternative Christmas. What if Santa Claus was
deaf-blind? What would Christmas be like then?

*****

First you may be wondering -- How could a deaf-blind elf
become Santa Claus? Of course, it's not the type of work an elf
can apply for. It's more like royalty. Santa's eldest son was
born as Randy Claus. It was his destiny to follow in his
father's foot-steps. No one ever questioned that.

When Randy was only a tiny elf, Santa and his wife discovered
that he couldn't hear. They were saddened, indeed. But Santa
believed in his young son and encouraged him to grow up just like
any other elf.

Young Randy Claus learned sign language, as did his parents and
many other elf families. He found true acceptance in a
community that was willing to learn his language. He never felt
that he was different from the other elf children. Randy
couldn't hear, but he could do everything his friends did.

It's important to remember that the North Pole is a land in which
differences are celebrated. After all, Rudolph was born with
an unusual nose. Yet, he became the most famous reindeer of
them all.

Santa also encourage Randy to learn to speak and read lips. He
wanted to be sure that Randy could one day say "Ho, Ho, Ho" and
"Merry Christmas!"

Young Randy did quite well with his speech lessons. It helped
that he was still permitted to sign. He was not being denied one
language in favor of another. Instead, Randy would grow up as a
bilingual elf.

But he did complain to his father, "How am I ever supposed to
read your lips when they are completely covered by your long
beard and mustache?"

Santa just smiled and gave his son a hug. "I will always sign
to you, Randy. You won't miss a word I say."

*****

A horrible tragedy happened when Randy Claus was only 20
years-old. His father was attempting to train a spirited
young reindeer to serve as an alternate on his team.

Rudolph and Dasher were excused from practice, while Starburst
flew with the other reindeer. Santa called orders to Starburst,
but the new reindeer wouldn't listen. He crossed Dancer's path
and pulled the team off course. They crashed into Toy House B.

When the Rescue Elves arrived on the scene, they set their eyes
upon the most horrible site. The sleigh was twisted and wedged
against the floor. Santa was trapped underneath. Ruined toys
were thrown all about. Starburst and six elves were dead.
Three reindeer had broken legs. The others were gashed and
bleeding.

The Rescue Elves did everything they could. They managed to
save the reindeer team, but Santa was fatally injured, with
bicycle spokes jammed straight through his heart.

Randy dashed to his father's side. With tears streaming down his
face, poor Randy yelled into the silent night. "Please don't
die, Daddy! Please don't leave me!"

Santa tried to smile through his pain. He lifted his weak arms
and sign his last words. "I believe in you Randy. You can do
it!" And then he died.

*****

After a heartbreaking memorial, Randy was crowned as the new
Santa Claus. He would now take on his father's name, and that of
his grandfather and many elves before him.. This new Santa
Claus had much work to do. First, he had to see to the
repairs of Toy House B. New elves were assigned to replace the
injured and dead. They had to work overtime to replace all the
damaged toys.

Santa over saw the recovery of his reindeer. He made sure they
attended their physical therapy sessions. Reindeer games were
cancelled until all were well again.

Most importantly, he needed to work on himself. Randy Claus was
a young elf, tall and thin, with spiky white hair. Now he
needed to become Santa. He ate and ate, until his belly began
to bulged. And still he ate some more.

The old elf at the barber shop applied daily doses of magic hair
growth formula. Soon enough, Santa was plump and fat, a right
jolly old elf.

He practiced his "Ho, Ho, Ho" and "Merry Christmas!" His two
favorite elf girls were assigned as his interpreters. If Santa
couldn't understand a child's Christmas wish, Olive and Shan were
there to sign to him.

Finally, it was Santa's first Christmas. His reindeer team was
ready. Olive and Shan rode with him in the sleigh. Santa gave
a sharp whistle, and his team took off into the night. Against
all odd's, Christmas was perfect.

*****

Sadly enough, Santa would need to overcome more problems. He was
in his 30's when he began tripping over bundles of toys. Once,
he plow over a Messenger Elf. He found it hard to guide his
sleigh at night.

"What is going on?" the elves asked. "What is wrong with
Santa Claus?.

Olive and Shan decided to confront him. "Santa," said Olive,
"I see you squint when you read my signs."

Shan added, "You grab my hands when it's dark outside."

Santa didn't like where this was heading. He did not want to
have this conversation. He could not admit to what he knew was
true.

"I love you, Santa," Olive said, "And so do all the other elves."

"Plus all the human children in the world," said Shan.

"And most of the adults," Olive persisted. "You are Santa Claus.
You are Christmas. You must deal with this!"

With his new wife, Mrs. Claus, and Olive and Shan trailing
behind, Santa Claus finally went to see the Vision Elf. The
diagnosis was not good. "I'm sorry, Dear Santa Claus," said
the sweet Vision Elf. "You have a disease the humans call Usher
Syndrome. You will gradually lose your peripheral vision and
suffer from night blindness."

Santa began to weep. "I'm deaf!," he cried. "I can't be blind,
too. I just can't!"

*****

For many months, Santa secluded himself in his bedroom. Mrs.
Claus was the on elf allowed in. She tried to get him to eat,
but he refused. As his depression deepened, the Christmas
magic of the North Pole began to weakened.

Rumors of doom were passed along by elf to elf to reindeer.
"Christmas will be canceled.," they whispered.

Others speculated that Santa's younger brother would have to
take over. Never before had Santa Claus stepped down. But
obviously, this Santa was no longer fit for the job.

One day, Olive and Shan took a risky ride on Dasher's back. It
was only June. They weren't allowed into the human world during
the off season, but they had to find a way to help Santa Claus.

They rode through the night, using their diminishing magic to
find a most special child. At last, they found what they were
looking for in America. The little girls was thrilled to be
visited by two elves and a reindeer. Although they were
breaking even more rules, the elves invited her to the North
Pole.

*****

Little Amy Nicholas was only six years old. Like every young
girl, she loved baby dolls, pretty clothes and helping her
mother in the kitchen. Yet, she didn't speak in words. Her eyes
were cloudy white. She put her two small hands in front of
her and trudged out and about. Amy Nicholas was special because
she was deaf-blind.

Although Santa groaned and protested, he allowed Mrs. Claus to
pull him out to his favorite chair by the living room fire. He
didn't look much like Santa now. He was thin and gaunt,, with
tangled hair and a wild beard. He insisted on dressing in
black fur. He was moody and snapped at any elf who tried to
come near him. He certainly was no longer a jolly old elf.

Olive and Shan gently guide little Amy into the room. "What do
you want?," Santa bellowed, in his most angry voice.

Amy didn't react. She was smiling ear to ear in anticipation
of meeting Santa Claus."

Olive stood close to Santa, where the light was best. She began
to sign, "Santa Claus, we bring you a visitor."

Santa squinted and looked around. He could barely make out the
form of a small person standing beside Shan. He sniffed the air
and growled with fury. "A human?," he snarled. "You dare
to bring a human to the North Pole!"

Shan protectively placed her arms around Amy, while Olive
continued to sign to Santa.

"She is a special human child, Santa. It's greatly important
that you meet her."

Santa was still furious. "I w not meet a stinking human child!
Now go away!," he roared.

Amy began to tremble. Although she couldn't hear what Santa was
saying, she did pick up on the tension in the room.

Mrs. Claus tried to calm Santa. She kneeled in front of him and
signed, "Please, my Love, I do not ask much of you. But please
meet this little girl."

Even in his depressed state, Santa Claus truly loved his wife.
He could not ignore her pleading.

"Fine," he said, "Bring her here. Just keep her off my lap."

They brought a chair and placed it very close to Santa. Shan
added a large pillow and placed Amy onto the chair. Amy
imitatively reached out with her hands, as if to grab Santa.

"What is this?," Santa cried out. He pulled his arms away from
Amy.

"Let her touch you," Mrs. Claus said. "Look at her face, my
Dear."

Santa slowly lowered his arms and let Amy take his hands. He
looked closely at her face. The light was good, and he could see
her milky white eyes. He also noticed her huge smile and cute
little dimples.

Amy began moving her small hands under his big hands. Suddenly
he exclaimed in shock.

"Ho!," he yelled. "I felt her speak with my hands!"

She certainly was talking, although she never spoke out loud.
"My name is Amy," she said. "I love you, Santa Claus. Will you
be my friend?"

Santa was bewildered. He had no clue what to do.

"Sign into her hands, just like she did to you," Olive prompted.

Santa felt awkward, but he did as she said. "Hello, Amy. Have
you been a good little girl?"

Amy giggled, and Santa could see the glee on her face. "It's
only June," she signed, "I don't have to be good."
In spite of himself, Santa laughed. He began to understand
that Amy was deaf and blind. But some how she seemed so normal
and happy.

"You are different from other children, yet you feel joy and
love, as they do. How can that be?" Santa asked her.

"I am just me," Amy signed. "I'm happy because I want to be."

As Olive, Shan and Mrs. Claus watched, they saw Santa's eyes
fill with wonder. His cheeks regain their healthy pink glow.
Best of all, he was smiling and laughing.

"I know it's not Christmas yet," Amy said with her hands, "But I
do have a special wish."

Santa lifted her into his lap and gave her a hug. "It might not
be Christmas yet," he signed to her, "But I can tell you've been
a very nice girl. What is your wish?"

He thought he knew what she would say. Of course this little
girl wanted to be able to hear and see, just like he did. His
heart felt heavy. This was not a gift he could provide.

"I want to meet Rudolph. I want to soar through the sky on his
back," the little girl said.

Once more, Santa was surprised. He shook his head in
confusion, and then spoke to Amy again. "It would be my pleasure
for you to ride on Rudolph's back. And when Christmas time
arrives, we will visit your house in America..."

"With a sleigh full of toys!," Amy interrupted."

"That's right," he said, and gave her a kiss on the top of her
head.

Amy reached up with her tiny hands to feels Santa's face. "Oh,
Santa," she said., "You are too skinny and your hair is crazy.
Eat, eat, eat!"

Santa let out a jolly laugh. His eyes sparkled with life.

"I will, little Amy Nicholas. Good bye, my friend. Happy June!"

*****

Santa assigned tow elves to return Amy on Rudolph's back. He
smiled at the thought. He would have gone with her, but there
was far too much to be done.

"Olive! Shan!," he called. "Summon all the elves and reindeer
to Christmas Square. I will be there soon."

He looked at Mrs. Claus and said, "My Dear, I can't go out
looking like this."

Mrs. Claus was ready. It had long been her duty to keep Santa
in fit form.

After he bathed, Mrs. Claus use her magic scissors and comb to
cut his hair and trim his bear.. He was too thin for his
traditional red suit, but she managed to find something in
green with a matching cap.

"Santa," she said, "It is bright out in the snow. The glare
will bother your eyes. Here, wear these."

She handed him a pair of dark sunglasses. The sides were
decorated with white and red gems. "So you always shine," she
added.
He was all ready for business. Shan took his right arm and
guided him out to Christmas Square. Depending on someone else
to find his way around made him nervous. Yet he walked with a
steady stride and kept his head held high. Christmas was his.
He would make it happen no matter what.

Shan led him up the steps on to the platform that over looked
Christmas Square. It was from here that Santa always directed
his elves and reindeer on preparations for Christmas.

When the elves saw Santa, they began to cheer and wave their
arms. Of course, Santa couldn't see them. Olive described the
scene so Santa would know what was going on.

"Thank you, my loyal elves," he bellowed. "We must prepare for
Christmas. We are already two months behind schedule."

He began assigning tasks. The Toy Makers were to start work
imitatively. The reindeer needed to get back in shape and
practice sleigh maneuver. The Watch Elves would secretly
check-in on the human children and begin taking notes. He would
need to know who was naughty and who was nice.

As he spoke, he waved his hands swiftly above the crowd. Wisps
of green, red and white began to circle overhead. Sparkles of
gold and silver fell to the ground below. All around, elves and
reindeer felt the return of Christmas magic. This was a gift
that only Santa Claus could bestow. They now knew for sure that
Santa was back.

*****

The elves sprang to work, as Shan guided Santa back down the
platform steps. A small group of odd looking elves approached.
Olive explained to Santa, "The Science Elves want to talk to you.
Here is Snazit."

Snazit was a tall, wirily elf, who always wore a white lab
coat. He felt out of place whenever he left his beloved lab.
He didn't interact much with the other elves. But today, he
desperately wanted to speak with Santa Claus.

"Sir," he said, in his squeaky voice, "I've heard of your
predicament. I have been tinkering in the lab... a little work
with DnA... A hybrid, you might say...."

His voice droned on as Olive interpreted. Even she was having
trouble keeping up. No one ever did seem to understand what
Snazit was talking about.

Santa clapped his hands, and Snazit stopped speaking.

"What are you saying, Snazit? Do you have a cure for me?"

Snazit bowed his head in general sorrow. "I wish, my
Christmas King," he said. "But even Science is lacking that
answer. I do have something that might help."

Snazit snapped his fingers, and his fellow Science Elves came
forward. They were leading something over to Santa. He
squinted in confusion. It was an animal of some sort. Olive
tried to describe it, but she was clueless, too.

Snazit noticed their bewilderment. "Err... Perhaps I need to
explain. I got the idea from the humans, actually. A mere dog
would not be suited for you, Santa. A specially trained
reindeer would be too big. So I created a mix."

"A mix of what? For what?," Santa asked.

Snazit tried again. "You are much too independent to be led
around by your elf helpers. I created you the greatest guide.
He's part Labrador and pare reindeer, with a bit of magic thrown
in. He'll lead you anywhere."

Santa stepped closer to look at the creature. It was white with
red stripes and had little buds of reindeer horns. It's tail
was long and bushy. It was furiously wagging at Santa. The
animal had big brown eyes and floppy ears. Santa didn't know
what this thing was, but it sure was cute.

"He's the perfect height for you," Snazit continued.. "Just
take the harness and tell him where you want to go."

Santa picked up the harness. It did feel good in his hand. He
reached down to stroke the creature, then quickly jumped back.
It was glowing. All of the white fur from head to toe was
glowing brightly.

Snazit beamed with pride. "I added that just in case you need
some extra light. Stroke him again and the glowing will stop."

"Snazit, what is this marvelous creature?," Santa asked.

"We call him Peppermint. Go on, tell him where you want to
go."

"Peppermint," Santa called out, "Take me to Toy House C."

With no hesitation at all, Peppermint began leading Santa toward
the specified location. Santa felt strong and confident, as he
walked with Peppermint. From that day on, Santa was never seen
without Peppermint at his side.

*****

Santa Claus opened the door and entered Toy House C. The whole
building was buzzing with activity. Elves ran here and there
for needed materials or to package finished products. The light
was dim where they stood, so Olive took Santa's hands and
signed, "They are singing about you, Santa."

Toy House C is where the dolls, stuffed animals and other soft
toys were made. The Chief Doll Maker ran over to Santa. Hollyn
was short and lively. She wore her long golden hair in a
messy bun. Despite her appearance, she was quite serious about
her work.

Hollyn spoke while Olive signed into Santa's hands.

"Santa Claus, it is an honor to have you here in Toy House C.
How can I help you, Sir?"

"I need a doll," said Santa Claus.

"A doll?," Hollyn asked, "We have only just begun our work for
the season. We have only completed a few dolls."

"I need a special doll, Hollyn," Santa said. "I need a
beautiful doll with delicate features.. She must have long red
hear and bright green eyes."

Hollyn let out a gasp and ran off toward her work station. When
she returned, she was carrying the very doll Santa had
described.

"I just finished her," Hollyn said. "I thought she was complete
but something told me to add dimples and rosey cheeks."

The doll was lovely. She was wearing a long green dress with
white trim and black leather shoes.

Santa claus felt the doll's face, her button nose, her sweet
little dimples and gentle smile. He ran his hands through her
long hair and over her velvet dress.

Shan was amazed. "This doll looks just like Amy Nicholas," she
said.

Santa let out a hearty laugh. "Of course it does," he said.
"Christmas magic is in the air tonight."

There was a moment of awed silenced before Santa spoke again.
"Hollyn, I want you to wrap up this doll and send her to little
Amy Nicholas in America."

"Tonight?," Hollyn scoffed. "It's only June. We don't deliver
until Christmas Eve."

Santa looked at her sternly. "It must be tonight. Take a
reindeer. I want the card to say, 'Thank you for showing me the
way.'"

*****

Christmas Eve had arrived at last. Elves were busy loading the
last bundles of toys onto Santa's sleigh. The team of reindeer
was in place and ready to go. Peppermint led Santa to the
sleigh. He was once ag his round and jolly old self. he
jumped into the sleigh with great confidence. Peppermint sat
beside him, along with Olive and Shan. Santa stroked
Peppermints head, and his fur began to glow. Santa used this
light to over see every last detail of the journey ahead. He
patted Peppermint again, and the light faded at once.

Into the darkness, Santa shouted, "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and
Blitzen! To Rudolph with your guiding light! Now, dash away,
dash away, dash away all!"

The sleigh took off at once. Santa held the reins, while Olive
and Shan signed course corrections into his hands. At last they
softly landed on top of the first house. Peppermint led Santa
right to the Chimney. Shan and Olive followed, their arms filled
with packages.

They began at the tree. Santa laid the gifts out with care. He
used his hands to feel around and made sure everything looked
perfect.

Olive and Shan filled the stockings and brought them to Santa.
"This one is for Joey," Olive said."

Shan handed him another bulging stocking. "And this is for
Andrea."

Peppermint quietly led Santa into each child's room, where he
left a a stocking at the foot of their bed." They made it back to
the sleigh and on they went, delivering toys to all the good
little girls and boys.

What would Christmas be like if Santa Claus was deaf-blind?

Exactly the same.

As he drove out of sight, Santa Claus exclaimed, "Happy Christmas
to All... And to all a good night!"


This story is dedicated to Randy Pope, Olivia Krise, Shannon
Cowling, Amy Marshall, Nicholas Abrahamson, Scott "Snaz" Stoffel,
Holly Alonzo, Tonilyn Todd, Joseph Howell and Andrea Reiss... And
to many others who have faced pain and suffering, yet found it
possible to overcome their troubles. Merry Christmas to a
world filled with survivors.

December, 2011

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