Emerging children’s author Jo Seysener tells a wonderful Christmas story about how a obsessive compulsive Elf makes everything just right.
The OCD Elf
Gregory was cold. Snow drifted across the sky in lazy motions, swirling in little eddies behind the sleigh. Not so for the other occupants; as the sleigh sped through the night sky, snowflakes lashed their faces. Eyes watered and noses ran.
Gregory the Elf was certain his nose was as red as Rudolph’s. Squished beside Santa on the sleigh’s single bench seat, the tiny elf snuggled into the big man’s side, hoping to steal some warmth. Gregory had stopped shivering several houses ago, now he was just numb. It was only a few hours until dawn and in typical Christmas Eve fashion, they were late.
It happened every year. The Big Man took his time with the first few countries, sliding down chimney stacks and enjoying the milk and cookies. Reindeer munched on carrots and lettuce left out for them, waiting patiently. Gregory smoothed over presents, brushed snow from the carpets, then straightened and tidied every bow on every box Santa had placed beneath the tree.
But as the night progressed, presents were thrust beneath the tree with little ceremony, boot marks left on the fireside rug and cookie crumbs decorated more than just the carpets. Santa usually realised he was late shortly after midnight, and the race to place all the presents before sunrise began in earnest.
Gregory had been dreading it for weeks, stressing over the presents in his dreams as they turned to nightmares. Tonight they came true in the form of a very clumsy reindeer. Prancer had drunk far too much chocolate milk early in the evening (chocolate having a particularly disorienting effect on reindeer).
Landing the sleigh on a bumpy rooftop wasn’t easy at the best of times. The enthusiastic reindeer had stumbled, the sleigh skidding along the rooftop. Santa’s sack flew open, presents spewing out in all directions.
Prancer did his best, battling to halt the sleigh as it teetered on the edge of the tiled roof. Sitting down was all that saved them.
Unfortunately, many of the presents had been beneath his furry rump when he planted it on the snow-covered roof. Seeing the squashed and skewed bows, Gregory burst into tears, which promptly froze upon his cheeks.
The small elf had spent the last hour brushing reindeer hair off the presents and straightening bows. He deemed many bows un-savable and was re-tying presents with spare ribbons he had stowed in the sleigh’s secret compartments.
He also had a stash of pre-made bows the other elves had given him as a Secret Santa present, but he refused to use them. Shop bought bows! He would never, ever, stoop to using such a thing. Gregory’s pointy ears quivered indignantly. His professional integrity would be questioned, and his reputation would never be the same. Gregory was a very proud elf.
The sleigh began its descent. Its occupants clenched their teeth against the snow and wind whipping their faces. Gregory squeezed his eyes shut, as with a sickening crunch, the sleigh landed. It skidded off to the right, weaving madly. Hooves clattered up the rooftop. The sleigh stopped and Gregory opened his eyes. He wished he hadn’t. The sleigh balanced on the peak of the roofline. Gregory peered over the side at the steep drop beneath them. He gulped and gingerly climbed out of the sleigh, ribbons trailing behind him.
The little elf paused. He had a bad feeling about this one. He should arm himself. Gregory reached back and grasped the box of bows, all perfect and plumped in three neat rows. Gregory stowed the package in his pocket and reached for the chimney, stepping into fresh, powdery snow. He sank straight down, his slippered feet hitting the slick tiles beneath. Only the bell dangling from the tip of his hat would be visible above the snow. Determined, he charged through the snow towards the chimney. One of the reindeer snickered and his face reddened, matching his nose.
Large black boots thumped down beside him.
“Ho, Ho. Now, where’s that O.C.D. Elf? He’s got some ribbons trailing around here, somewhere…”
Gregory felt a tug on his hat and was lifted out of the snow and deposited down the chimney. He flew out of the fireplace and landed with a thunk before a tall, handsomely dressed Christmas tree.
Brushing himself off, Gregory moved out of the way just as Santa landed behind him with a loud, “Wheeeeee!”
The Big Man chuckled, stomping over to the table where a plate of food rested. Crunching down cookies, Santa tossed carrots at the fireplace where they whooshed up the chimney to the hungry reindeer above.
Santa slid presents across the floor like bowling balls. They stopped beneath the tree, ribbons trailing down their sides. Gregory sighed and stooped on the floor, brushing snow and biscuit crumbs into a tiny dustpan. Santa finished with the last present and leaned into the fireplace. He shot up the chimney with a bellowing laugh.
Gregory perched on top of the messy present stack, nimble fingers tidying the bows. Using the last of his spare ribbons on a tennis racquet shaped present, he smiled. There. They looked wonderful. How pleased the children would be in the morning. Gregory imagined happy squeals at the sight of all those beautiful, shiny bows. He was pleased with his work.
As he tip-toed to the fireplace, Gregory spotted one last present. It had fallen on its’ side. Gregory saw to his horror that the bow was completely squashed. He reached for his ribbon roll and came up with an empty reel. He gasped. The elf would have to use the pre-made bows.
He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. But then he thought of the happy smiles faltering, the child sadly looking at his squashed little bow. A tear rolled slowly down the little elf’s cheek. He took a breath and opened the box. A single, shiny red bow slid onto his hand.
With trembling fingers, the elf tugged off the cover on the sticky section and placed the bow gently on the top of the present.
The little bumps of the bow sat up high and jaunty. The red ribbon shone in the firelight.
Gregory stepped back, admiring the little bow. In the morning, this present would be picked up by a child, who would smile at the magic of the little box with a pretty bow on Christmas morning.
Gregory placed the box on top of the pile of presents, turning it so the ribbon caught the flickering light of the fire.
A cough sounded from up on the rooftop. It echoed down the chimney.
“Come on, O.C.D. Elf.”
Gregory surveyed his work, and smiled.
Sometimes the smallest things made the biggest differences.
The elf stepped up to the fireplace. He was proud to be the Obsessive Christmas Disorder Elf.
Jo Seysener is an emerging children’s author living near Brisbane with my three young children, husband and two dogs. They are my daily inspiration. I have three books to be published through Library for All this year, and a short story to be published in a 2019 Anthology, “Elements.” In 2017, I had a short story, “Marvel of the Stars” published in an anthology “Return.” I am working on many children’s picture books and my first middle grade fantasy novel. I adore alpacas.