Dad: We all hope everyone is enjoying the story. It must be better than last years, because Dolce hasn't fallen asleep once yet.
Dolce: It's because this one is all about a cat. Although, I don't mind stories with dogs, I like your stories that are about kitties.
Dad: Is everything replenished?
Dad: Did you put more catnip cookies, and leafy greens and water and catmilk for your furriends?
Dolce: Why didn't you just say that? No point in making up words to make yourself sound smart.
Dad: I didn't make up that word, Dolce.
Dolce: Sure, Dad. I hear people saying Ree-plen-isht all the time.
Dad: Dolce, don't roll your eyes at me.
Dolce: It's only because I love you.
Dad: I love you too. Here come your brothers and sister. I see that your furriends are here now too. How about we get started with the story?
Dolce: That would be great.
Dad: So we left Jingles finding out that all the cats were on the Naughty List. He was determined to find out from Santa why and what could be done to change that fact...
Jingles found Santa in his office looking at the Naughty and Nice Scrolls. Santa had just reset the scrolls from last Christmas, and he was already reviewing names that were showing up on the Naughty List. Jingles jumped up onto the desk and sat down in front of Santa. Jingles waited for Santa to give him a scritch underneath his chin, but Santa’s eyes never lifted from the scrolls.
“Santa.” Jingles put his right paw onto the Naughtly Scroll and pulled it down slightly. “Santa, there is something I need to talk to you about.”
“Jingles.” Santa looked up with a sigh. “I am kind of busy right now. I need to get the preproduction schedules to the elves by the end of this week.”
“I wanted to ask you about the Naughty List.” Jingles stated.
“At least the same thing is bothering us both.” Santa sighed, as he placed the Naughty List scroll down on his desk. “Look here. This little girl lied to her mother about doing her chores, and has already starting asking for toys for next Christmas. This boy hit his little brother with the toy guitar he got this year and he is now asking for a heavier electric guitar.”
Jingles saw a twinge of doubt and worry sneak into Santa’s normally happy blue eyes.
“It’s okay.” Jingles said as he turned away and moved to jump down off of the desk. “I ask you about it later.”
“Jingles.” Santa scooped up Jingles and cradled him against his chest. He started scratching Jingles’ tummy fur. “I’m sorry. It just seems the Naughty List fills up faster than it use to. What is bothering you?”
“It’s about the Naughty List.” Jingles asked over his own purrs, “I looked at last year's list before you reset it for next Christmas. It seemed that there were a lot of cats on the Naughty List.”
“Yes, there usually are.” Santa interjected.
“But there were none on the Nice List.” Jingles countered. “I mean there was not a single cat on the Nice List. Of all the cats in the world, not one made the Nice List. Not even me, and I was a kitten.”
“Oh yes.” Santa smiled. “The reason you didn’t make the Nice List was your many adventures in…what did you call it? Oh yes; The Forbidden Cave. Tracking all that soot across the floor is what got you onto the Naughty List.”
“I only did that once.” Jingles said sheepishly.
“Santa knows, Jingles.” Santa replied. “You did it eleven times.”
“Oh.” Jingles admitted softly. “But all cats can’t be that Naughty all the time. There are times we when we are good. Surely those times more than cover the naughty times.”
“When each item or event is weighed against all others, cats always seem to balance out on the naughty side.” Santa explained. “I have to use the same rules for all creatures; otherwise it would not be fair.”
Jingles realized that Santa was correct. He had hoped he would be able to convince Santa that cats deserved to be on the Nice List. He had only been a kitten and somehow he had ended up on the Naughty List eleven times. If he could not get any of the cats back onto the Nice List, Jingles had to find a way to do something special for all the cats.
“I’m sorry for bothering you Santa.” Jingles jumped down from Santa’s lap.
“Jingles.” Santa said. “You never bother me. It’s too bad you work at the North Pole. You might have actually been the first cat to make the Nice List. But as an employee you are disqualified from any material benefit of goods or services. Don’t blame me, the elves in legal came up with that rule many years ago, after a couple elves tried to corner the market in Cabbage Patch dolls. It was a very messy scene.”
Jingles walked dejectedly back to the small home he shared with Taylor Tailorson. Taylor was busy patching Santa’s red toy sack. Jingles still had some bad memories of the night he came to the North Pole. Jingles watched as Taylor seamlessly repaired a small worn section of the toy sack. His tiny elfin fingers wove the patches into the original cloth with such precision that no one wold be able to tell the sack had ever been repaired. Jingle’s eyes moved from the toy sack that Taylor was repairing to the large bolt of the magical red velvet cloth leaning against the wall of the shop.
“Do you have any extra fabric, Taylor?” Jingles asked as a plan began to grow in his mind.
“I can always put together some scraps.” Taylor replied. “Do you need a coat or some mittens or a hat made?”
“I have something else in mind.” Jingles said. “I will be back tonight just before dinnertime.”
“Okay” Taylor watched as Jingles dashed out of the house.
Jingle tried to walk slowly, but his thoughts were awhirl with the quickly forming details of his plan. He found himself walking faster and faster, until he was running as fast as he could. He skidded around the corner of the Sweet Shop and Taffy Emporium where all the Candy Canes were made and nearly plowed into a crew of Elves who were repairing the Christmas lights on the light standards lining the lane.
“Sorry.” Jingles called out, as he ran past the elves scrambling to get out of Jingles’ way.
Jingles dashed past the professional building where the legal firm of Holly, Holly, Holly and Holly was located. Jingles had spent an entire afternoon there getting his papers to allow him to stay in the North Pole. Jingles turned the corner and found himself on the main street of the North Pole. There at the far end of the bustling street was one of the largest buildings at the North Pole; the Grand Central Toyworks and Imagination Engineering Department. Jingles followed a group of elves in bright green and red coveralls into the building.
With Christmas eight months away, the elves were busy in preproduction mode. Everywhere molds were being cast, fabrics were being printed, and elven toy machinery was being fine tuned. Jingles looked around and saw the door he was looking for; Production Orders. Jingles walked across the Toyworks shop floor to the entrance of the Production Orders department. He took a quick glance around and then snuck into the office.
The Production Orders Department was still quiet. They were waiting for Santa to determine what the list of Toys the elves would be making this year besides the staples of Teddy Bears, Dolls, Toy Trucks and Cars, and Sailboats and Planes. Jingles had spent some time with the elf in charge of the Production Orders Department, Planny McPlannerson; so he knew how the Great Toy Computer worked.
Jingles placed his white mitted paw on the shiny brass colored keyboard, and watched as the Toy Computer started up. Jingles selected New Toy Item from the menu. He glanced up at the doorway to see if anyone had noticed his presence in the office.
“C-A-T-N-I-P M-O-U-S-E.” Jingle typed in the name of the toy he wanted to be built.
“SPECIFICATIONS?” The Toy Computer asked.
“Let’s see.” Jingles thought as he typed.”2 and half inches square with a velcro closure. Filled with two tablespoons of catnip. Color should be random.”
“QUANTITY SOURCE?” The Toy Computer asked.
Jingles grew nervous as he knew his next instructions would cause a warning to go off in the Production Orders office.
“Source: Naughty List; Section: Cats.” Jingles typed. He hesitated slightly before pressing the enter button.
“USE OF NAUGHTY LIST REQUIRES SANTA LEVEL OVERRIDE.” The Toy Computer flashed a bright red warning.
Jingles swallowed hard and then entered Santa’s password. Jingles had seen Santa use it to approve Market Analysis Travel for some Elves to go and find out what the next hot toy was going to be down south.
“PRODUCTION ORDER CONFIRMED.” The Toy Computer flashed a green message. “SHIPPING DESTINATION?”
“Loading Dock ZZ99.” Jingles typed. He hoped that no one would notice a pile of catnip toys located at a seldom use part of the Sleigh Loading Area.
“ORDER COMPLETE.” The Toy computer stated and then flashed a second message. “PRODUCTION QUEUED.”
Jingles turned off the Great Toy Computer. The first part of his plan was in motion. Now he had to get his friend Taylor to help him. Jingles suddenly realized that he was going to have to ask some other Elves to assist him.
Jingles ran back to his house. He found Taylor sitting in his chair with a large cup of Hot Chocolate in his hands. Jingles wiped his paws on the doormat and walked over to where Taylor was sitting.
“Taylor.” Jingles said sheepishly. “I need a favour.”
“There is a fresh ball of yarn in the closet.” Taylor replied as he sipped from his cup.
“There is.” Jingles was momentarily distracted by the thought of a new ball of yarn. Jingles shook the temptation of playing with the ball of yarn out of his head. “Thank you, but that’s not the favour I need.”
“Are you sure you don’t want the yarn?” Taylor asked skeptically. Jingles shook his head negatively. “So what favour do you need Jingles?”
“I need you to make me a toy sack like Santa’s only smaller so that I can carry it.” Jingles blurted out.
“Why would you need a toy sack like Santa’s?” Taylor asked.
Jingles shared his entire plan with Taylor. He explained how he could not find his brother and sisters names on either the Naughty or Nice list. He said that he was hurt to find that not one cat was on the Nice List so not one cat would be getting a gift from Santa this year. Jingles told Taylor that he thought that was very unfair and that as the sole cat at the North Pole it was up to him to do something about it. Jingles told him about the production order for catnip mice he had made. At the end of his story, Jingles felt a huge wave of relief. He did not like having secrets.
“Well, this is going to be a problem.” Taylor looked sternly at Jingles as he sipped from his hot chocolate. “I’ll need to know the exact number of catnip mice you plan on putting in the sack. We will have stress points and flexibility factors to weigh into the design. Not to mention proper reinforcement points.”
Taylor winked and smiled at Jingles. Jingles felt a deep warm glow grow inside his body.
Jingles went to see Taylor’s cousin and fellow tailor about the next item on his list. Taylor had given Jingles a card to give to Purdy Needlepoint. Jingles was thrilled when Purdy read the card and then began sizing him for a red velvet cap with white fur trim. She told him it would be ready two weeks from Thursday. She booked another appointment for proper sizing into her little leather appointment book. Jingles thanked her and left for his next task.
In the main shop of the Sleighworks, Jingles found Sammy Sleighmaster working on Santa’s sleigh with several other elves. Sammy was calling out orders to the other elves.
“No, No. No.” Sammy corrected a young elf who was installing new Candy Cane Control Crystals into the sleigh’s guidance systems. “You have to lick them first. Otherwise they won’t stay in place when Santa has to make that six-gee turn at Fairbanks, Alaska.”
Sammy looked up and saw Jingles sitting quietly in the doorway of the shop. Everyone at the North pole knew that you did not enter Sammy’s shop without permission. North Pole Health and Safety regulations, Sammy would state.
“What can I do for you, Jingles?” Sammy asked his feline friend.
“I have a strange request for you.” Jingles replied. “It has to do with Santa’s sleigh.”
Like Taylor and Purdy before, Jingles told Sammy Sleighmaster about his plan to take catnip mice to all the cats on the Naughty List. Sammy mulled Jingles request over in his mind as he scratched his chin and pulled on his right earlobe.
“It sounds like we are going to have to put a small trapdoor on the back of the sleigh.” Sammy decided. “Probably will have to go along the right side of the Hot Chocolate Heat Pumps and over the secondary Wreath Gyroscopes. How big is the sack going to be?”
Jingles held his paws apart as far as he could to estimate the size of his not yet made catnip mouse toy sack.
“Got It.” Sammy said. “You need to be here at least four weeks before Christmas so that you can practice getting on and off the sleigh. Santa may look old and slow, but I can tell you he moves pretty fast on Christmas Eve. You will need to keep up or you might get left behind.”
Later that night, Jingles sat down with Taylor and told him how his plan was coming together. Taylor smiled as he saw an energy in Jingles’ eyes and voice that he had never seen or heard before.
“You sound just like Santa in his planning meetings.” Taylor smiled.
“I do?” Jingles said in disbelief.
“Yup.” Taylor nodded. “Same fire in the eyes. I think next Christmas is going to be very interesting. Now can I interest you in that ball of yarn?”
“I can never say no to a ball of yarn.” Jingles laughed.
Jingles’ plan was set in motion. All he needed to do was wait eight months for the next Christmas Eve. Jingles was not sure he could handle the anxiety and excitement for eight months.