NaNo Chapter 1—Happiness Can’t Be Wrapped

NaNoWriMo is wrapping up! So far, I’m on track to finish my 50,000 words by the end of the month…although I haven’t hit every story concept I planned to. Some story ideas took two days to write down! (Which is fine, because some days’ ideas barely filled a page!)

Enjoy the first chapter of this idea! 😉

By the way, my Dad has also been blogging his NaNo progress. Check out his AD&D-inspired adventure, or his fan fiction set in my White Mesa world!!


Twinkle entered the office on tip-toes – not because that made her practically soundless, but because she was nervous.

Santa’s office, after all. The big man himself!

The office chair groaned, and a face appeared over the desk…a huge, red face with a bushy white beard.

“Ah! There you are,” rumbled the deep voice. “Go ahead and have a seat, my little friend.”

Twinkle sprang twice her own hight and landed in the chair in front of the desk. A second chair sat a few feet to the side, where a male elf sat, playing with the bells on the toes of his shoes. He must be nervous, too.

“I’ve asked you two here for a very special reason,” said Santa, sitting back down with a thump that shook the floor. “You see, we’ve run into something of a problem.”

Santa turned his computer screen around to face the two of them.

“The Letter Office turned this up from one of those ‘Email Santa’ sites. Take a look, and tell me what you think.”

Twinkle shifted forward to read better.

Dear Santa,

How are you? I am fine.

I see some kids telling you how good they’ve been, but if you can really see us all the time that doesn’t make sense.

This year all I want is whatever will make Daddy happy. He’s been really quiet and sad lately.

Please and thank you.

Love, Jessie Morgan, New York City, USA

P.S. My teacher Miss Frantz helped me write this.

P.P.S. Are you secretly Jesus? Because he knows everything about what everyone’s done, too. That would be really convenient, because then we could just pray to you instead of writing letters and emails.

Twinkle smiled. The minds of children were so adorable.

“Well,” said the other elf, stroking his chin. “It’s hardly specific. ‘Whatever will make Daddy happy’…There’s a lot of directions that could go in.”

“I love it,” said Twinkle. “It’s so unselfish. Mama Clause gave a lecture just the other day about the problem of selfish children, and whether we were enabling the behavior –”

“Of course she was,” grunted the other elf under his breath.

“Well, I found it fascinating,” said Twinkle. “And I think this is a delightful counter-example.”

“Good points, both of you,” said Santa, putting the computer back in its place. “But my concern is this: our recent initiative for getting every child exactly what they want…no more, no less.”

“Total Accuracy,” quoted the other elf. “Prefer a cheap present with maximum emotional impact to an egalitarian view of economic exchange –”

“Which is just common sense,” said Twinkle.

“Quite,” said Santa. “Glad you two are so on board with the program. But here’s our problem…What would make Jessie’s Daddy happy?”

The elves looked at each other, then back at their boss.

“Do you have any background information?” asked the other elf.

“I deal mostly with children,” said Twinkle. “But I imagine American dads would be very similar.”

“Hardly!” insisted the other elf. “Single? Married? Recently widowed or separated? Is he a sports fan, gamer, workaholic, or academic?”

“But would something catering to those side interests actually make him happy?” exclaimed Twinkle. “Remember our other motto: Happiness isn’t found in a stocking.”

“Well, I feel confident in assigning you to this case,” said Santa. “This is a fact-gathering mission, my friends. As useful as the internet has become in these last few years, sometimes you have to go back to good, old-fashioned footwork.”

“What are our orders, sir?” asked Twinkle, bouncing to an “at attention” pose.

“And mission parameters?” asked the other elf.

“First off,” said Santa. “Twinkle, this is Shimmer. Shimmer, Twinkle.”

Santa’s mustache crinkled, as though he wanted to laugh.

Twinkle loved whenever he laughed during official dinners or speeches or such.

She turned to the other elf, and found his hand stuck out toward her.

She took his hand and shook it.

“Charmed, I’m sure,” said Shimmer.

“So glad to meet you,” said Twinkle. “I’m Pleiades Barracks. You?”

“Polaris Barracks.”

“Right,” said Santa. “The sooner you two start, the better. November is almost gone, you know.”

“Ah, yes,” said Twinkle, jumping down.

“Wait a moment,” said Shimmer. “Do I understand we’re supposed to travel to New York City and investigate this family at close range?”

“Precisely.”

“Ah. What sort of equipment –?”

“Any equipment you think you’ll need for a clandestine operation. Well, now…Anything I left out?”

“Let’s go see the Morgan family,” cheered Twinkle, bouncing up and down in front of the door. “Mission: discover Mr. Morgan’s perfect Christmas present.”

Shimmer cleared his throat, looked to Santa for a nod of affirmation, and jumped to the ground with a grunt.

Santa waved at them, and Twinkle waved back as they left the office.

“I’ll head to the armory for supplies,” said Shimmer. “Will you need to pack anything?”

“I suppose we might be a couple days,” said Twinkle as they headed down the corridor.

“A few days! This is a serious assignment. Clandestine movements, operating under the noses of the humans, cautious observation over an extended period of time…If we really intend to deliver the perfect Christmas present, that’s not something you can decide on after a single day of observation –!”

“Well, gotta go pack,” said Twinkle, skipping down the hallway. “Meet you at the hanger!”

“Meet by 1400 hours,” hollered Shimmer down the hall after her.

Whatever. Why had Santa chosen the two of them to be partners? And especially when everything in the workshop and shipping department was shifting from “high gear” to “highest gear” — the faster they could complete this assignment, they sooner they’d be back to help with other operations.

Still…the Total Accuracy Initiative… A present for Jessie’s Daddy was a present for Jessie, and every child deserved the perfect gift.

Even if it meant thinking outside the box.

Twinkle paused to stare at the poster tacked to the wall of the corridor. It was a picture of Santa in his outfit, and he was smiling broadly and pointing at his temple.

On top it declared, “Think outside the box!”

The text beneath proclaimed the motto: “Happiness isn’t found in a stocking.”

Twinkle scurried toward her barracks to pack what she would need. The mission was on!


Kimia Wood grew up under aNaNo Chapter 1—Happiness Can't Be Wrappedn aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

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