Abbot was a tiny little thing when Santa found him propped in a fuzzy warm boot on the front doorstep of his castle one March morning. He had long thick ears that stuck straight up like a bunny, and a green face. He wore no coat, but had pockets on his pants. Santa brought the tiny being and his boot into his house at the North Pole and set him before the fire in the fireplace. Mrs. Claus approached when Santa called for her, asking her to come quickly to see what he had found. Santa pulled the little being from the boot and examined the rest of him. The creature smiled at Santa and Mrs. Claus and they couldn’t help but smile back. A rolled up scroll peeked out from his pocket and Santa pulled it out to read it. It was written in such a way a child might write, with misspelled words and large, uncoordinated letters.
“Please take care of Abt,” the note read. “until I come back for him one day.” It was not signed.
Santa and Mrs. Claus looked at each other, and then at Abt, who, with a smile that could melt ice, would then become a permanent member of their home.
In time, Abt was changed to Abbot and he was introduced to the elves in Santa’s workshop, where all the toys are made. The elves enjoyed watching him learn their trade, and taught him as much as they could. His green face and funny ears always brought forth smiles, even from the most grumpy of elves. But Abbot was a dreamer, and a little short of attention, which often got him into undesirable messes. But he was a happy little being, secure in his new life at Santa’s castle. His happy go lucky attitude shone like a beam all around him, and it was hard not to be happy in his presence.
When Abbot became adept enough to use tools to make toys, he had the touch, some said, of an elephant. He hammered too hard, or painted too sloppily, or turned a screw until a hole was bored through. The other elves tried to give him pointers, but he simply couldn’t get the hang of making toys. His spirit was dampened, but then he tried other things. He helped Mrs. Claus in the kitchen making cookies and cakes, but after a few too many burned batches and a few too many “tastes”, he ended up in bed for a week with a belly ache. He tried working in the barn with the farmer elves that took care of the reindeer, but too often forgot to feed them while he was off chasing a mouse or trying to fly away like an owl.
As the years passed most of the elves just laughed about Abbot’s peculiarities. He was a harmless and sweet little creature who made all the elves happy. But, to Abbot, that didn’t mean anything and soon Abbot began to feel as if he had no purpose in the land of elves. He broke the toys he made, he burned the cookies he baked, he starved the reindeer he was supposed to feed…..the only thing he was good at was smiling and being happy. Christmases became increasingly sad for him, and no one knew why. Santa had an idea that he was lonely for his previous life, but Abbot always perked up after the holidays were over. Santa know there was not much he could do, except to keep Abbot safe until someone returned for him. So Abbot continued to smile and make others happy. It seemed to be his gift, the only thing he was good at. And now the fact that it was almost Christmas again brought on the same series of melancholia. Abbot was now experienced with such feelings at Christmas time but he didn’t know why. It was almost as if something was missing.
About 5 miles away Sun Joon and her family were wandering the North Pole with their tribe looking for a place to set up their camps for the winter. They were a native people of the North Pole, used to traveling from location to location to find food. This life sometimes felt hard for Sun Joon but it was the only life she knew. She, her family, and fellow tribe members, covered miles and miles on foot and with the aid of their many dog sled teams. The previous winters had been extremely difficult ones. There was not much food to be found because of storms that kept animals they would normally consume hidden. In order to make up for the losses Sun Joon’s family and the villagers had had to sell some of their belongings, including 2 groups of dogs and sleds. This left them with only 4 sleds for an entire village in which to move from place to place. In addition to the sale of the sled teams, families had sold other goods they did not absolutely need. This included children giving up their dolls and toys. These sales made money in which to buy food to sustain themselves through the winters ahead when food, sometimes, was scarce. However, things were getting better for the tribe and they finally had enough food to get through the winter months. The elders decided they could stay stationed in this location for a few days to see how the hunting would be. They set up their tribal village pitching tents made of animal skins, building igloos and making fires.
Sun Joon knew she and her family had been in this location before. Sun Joon remembered where they were. She remembered the stars in the sky and the placement of the sun. She remembered the mountains in the distance, even though she had been a small girl. She remembered because it was in this place that they set up camp long ago, and she had stolen away into the night when everyone was asleep. She had an old boot that no one needed tucked under her arm, and inside that boot was a green-faced doll that her aunt, The Spirit Creator of the tribe, had made for her when she was a tiny girl. The Spirit Creator had a special talent of breathing life into all she created. The doll came to life for anyone who believed in him. The small being Sun Joon named Abt, when she was old enough to speak, because she had been learning her letters from her mother. Sun Joon was terrified to have to sell Abt to a stranger so she vowed she would find him a home that night no matter how far she had to walk.
Luckily she came upon the castle that belonged to Santa and his workshop. She was so happy then because she knew Santa would keep Abt safe until she could one day get him back. She had already placed a note in his pocket, writing the best she could so Santa would understand. She left Abt in the boot on the doorstep and hoped he would be found quickly.
As Sun Joon remembered that night many years ago she knew she’d have to find a way to retrieve Abt. She didn’t know when her family may pass this way again, nor how long they would be staying. So as her family set up camp that afternoon Sun Joon, telling a tale that she was going to look for ice floes, took her compass and navigated her way to Santa’s castle. It was a long walk, but she was strong, and she knew she had to try. Alomg the way Sun Joon remembered past Christmases she had spent with Abt when she was a little girl. She remembered how anyone who looked upon Abt soon began to smile. She remembered the feeling she had when she held him. At one celebration Sun Joon’s aunt, The Sprit Creator, told her again about Abt’s powers. She had said that wherever Abt went he would bring happiness to all who laid eyes on him. Sun Joon, now as she walked, hoped this was true.
It was getting darker outside when she arrived at Santa’s castle, Sun Joon was both excited and nervous. What would Santa say to her? What if Abt went to live with another child? What if Abt didn’t want her anymore? There were too many sad things to think about but Sun Joon needed to know if her dear Abt missed her as much as she missed him. She hoped that his powers would help him to remember her. But she wasn’t sure if they would.
Sun Joon knocked on the big wooden door. It thumped and echoed like a large drum. At once a woman dressed in a red calico dress opened the door. She smelled of cinnamon and sugar. Sun Joon decided it must be Mrs. Claus. Sun Joon must have looked bewildered as the woman asked her who she was and what she was doing so far from home.
“I am Sun Joon,” she said. “I have come to get the doll that I love.”
Mrs. Claus smiled at her and said kindly, “Well, that sure was a long way for you to come just for a doll, my dear! Why didn’t you just wait until Christmas? I’m sure Santa would have brought one to you.”
Sun Joon stammered, “Nnnno…No, you don’t understand. I am Sun Joon. I left my doll Abt here long ago, when I was a small girl. I wanted to see if I could get him back please?”
Mrs. Claus was astounded. She remembered the letter in Abbot’s pocket that read, “until I come back for him one day.”
Mrs. Claus invited Sun Joon into the house and offered her some hot cocoa, which Sun Joon accepted and drank heartily. Mrs. Claus went to find Santa in his workshop to show him who had come to visit. When Santa saw Sun Joon he felt he already knew what she was there for, remembering the letter himself. Sun Joon introduced herself to the jolly man in the red plaid shirt and told him as well, she had come to get Abt back. She explained the reason she had left him behind, and how she didn’t want to sell him to help her family. She explained she was ashamed to have hidden him, disobeying her family, but that she wanted him to be safe, cared for, and happy. Santa looked at Sun Joon with a winsome grin and explained to Sun Joon that she had come at just the right time. Abbot was not feeling himself. “It happens every Christmas,” he said. “Abbot makes everyone so happy, yet I feel he’s a little lonely himself. Oh, we’ve kept him busy and happy over the years but he always carried a little loneliness in his eyes. And now I think I know why. I think maybe the one he’s lonely for is you.”
“Abbot does have special powers, I know that. His greatest power is making everyone feel happy. All they have to do is look at him and be around him. Can I see him, Sir? Can I see my Abt?” Sun Joon asked with a tear I her eye. Maybe Abt hadn’t forgotten her at all! Maybe he just needed to feel her and see her face. She knew she needed to see his.
“Why, I’ll send for him at once!” Santa chuckled, and he blew a tiny flute to summon an elf. “Better yet,” he said, “I’ll have Xander take you to the workshop to find him yourself!”
Sun Joon’s heart began to flutter as she worried and wondered, again, if Abt would remember her. Xander led the way to the workshop and when they approached the large shop Sun Joon spotted Abt right away playing with a toy truck. He was moving it across the floor with his hand, making revving sounds like a truck would make. All the elves turned to see who Xander had brought into the room, and soon it became quiet, with the exception of Abbot’s sounds. When Abbot realized it had become silent, he too turned toward the place where Xander and Sun Joon stood. Abbot looked at Sun Joon, and Sun Joon at Abbot. Sun Joon’s eyes released tears of joy when she saw her tiny green faced creature happy and safe. Abbot stood up from where he was playing, and slowly walked to Sun Joon. Sun Joon said nothing, but her tears brought gasps in her breathing. Then Abbot stopped walking. He stopped and looked at her closely, as if retrieving a memory. The he ran toward her, as fast as his little legs would carry him, and he leaped into her arms. Santa and Mrs. Claus had arrived to the shop and witnessed one of the most joyous reunions ever. The elves cheered and shouted. They danced and sang as Sun Joon twirled Abbot around and around, stopping only to hug him some more. Cookies were eaten, eggnog was drank, a real celebration took place, until it got very late. Sun Joon realized her parents may be worried about her so she told Santa and Mrs. Claus she had to leave. Santa offered to take her back to her tribe’s camp in his wondrous sleigh and she accepted. It would be easier to explain to her parents if Santa was on her side.
Sun Joon gathered Abbot into her arms and spoke, “Abt, you have been here with Santa’s helpers for 5 years. I know you are happy, and I know you may not forgive me for leaving you 5 years ago. But, I love you and want you to come home with me. But it is your choice. If you decide to come with me I can’t promise cookies and fun like you’ve had here, but I can promise you we will visit as often as we can. And I promise to love you and keep you safe forever, and to never leave you again.” Then she paused. With her head down she waited for an answer from her special being with the green face and big smile.
Abbot tilted his head to one side, then used his ears to prop Sun Joon’s chin so that he could look into her eyes. The he nodded. He said yes.
Santa took Abbot and Sun Joon back to the tribe’s camp, helped explain to Sun Joon’s family, who were very worried about her, about where she was. Sun Joon got ready for bed and tucked Abbot in next to her, so they lay face to face. Sun Joon tickled him, whispered that she loved him, and closed her eyes to sleep. Just then a feeling grew inside Abbot and he remembered why he had been so happy with Sun Joon. And his loneliness slipped away.