General, Valley Voices

Pim’s Great Christmas Adventure

T’is the season for Christmas stories, and Pim’s wild adventure in Santa’s sleigh is this month’s Valley Voices selection. A narrated version of this story is posted at

Story Craig Spence / Art Diana Durrand

Pim was one of Santa’s favorite elves. True, he was always getting into trouble and causing toy works foreman Fanafroo grief. ‘He’s just a lad,’ Santa would say, year after year, ‘he’ll grow out of it.’

But elves, you must know, are like Douglas fir, it takes them a forever to mature, and old Fanafroo would have none of Santa’s excuses. ‘He’ll ruin Christmas one of these days,’ the gnarly elf predicted. ‘You mark my words, sir, one of these years millions of kids are going to be miserable on account of that bundle of mischief.’

‘Now Fanafroo,’ Santa frowned whenever the conversation turned in this direction. ‘You know I don’t like that kind of talk. Why can’t you be a little more patient with the boy?’

Fanafroo couldn’t be patient, though. Nor could he keep from saying harsh things about Pim. After all, he did have a toy factory to run, and deadlines to meet, and problems to solve, and every day it seemed something went wrong on account of the one worker who could never get anything right – Pim.

‘You’re a bungle-fingered, left-footed, tongue flapper and no doubt about it,’ Pim’s good friend Whizzpop would tease. Whizzpop was the North Pole’s Master of Mysterious Inventions. If you ever needed a widget, or a wodgit, or a whatsit or a thingamajig, he was just the fellow.

Of course, Fanafroo didn’t like Whizzpop either. ‘Those new fangled inventions of his are just so many spanners in the works, sir,’ he would complain whenever he got a chance. Fanafroo could never understand why widgets – wonderful as they are – sometimes break down; and wodgits must occasionally explode; and whatsits have a habit of running into thingamajigs.

‘I know none of us likes change,’ Santa would explain when Fanafroo grumped about Whizzpop’s inventions. ‘But we must keep up with the times, for as you know, the world is growing, and each year there are more children writing for more things.’

‘Bah!’ Fanafroo always concluded. ‘I tell you, sir, with them two on the loose it’s a miracle we get a single present off the line. An absolute miracle!’

That Christmas is a miracle, Santa had to agree. ‘An absolute miracle!’ he echoed each year. But making miracles come true takes a lot of hard work, and sometimes – after a very long day (or rather long night, it being the North Pole) – Santa would weary of his endless chores and responsibilities. ‘That’s why I like Pim and Whizzpop,’ he said. ‘They make me laugh and marvel, they do.’

There was one other person who thought a great deal about Pim – Dabbledee, an apprentice in the toy factory’s paint shop, who had earned the great honour of touching up Santa’s sleigh each Christmas Eve. She could not keep her eyes off the young elf, and cringed whenever there was a commotion out on the great factory floor, because she knew Pim would almost certainly be in the thick of it.

‘You flabbergasting, gear-grinding little twit! Now look what you’ve done!’ Fanafroo might rant, and Dabbledee would wince because, although she had to agree Pim could be flabbergasting, and might sometimes be charged with gear-grinding, she was certain he should not be called a ‘twit’.

For his part Pim hardly seemed affected by these outbursts. ‘I’ll fix it in a jiffy, boss,’ he might say. ‘You just watch me!’ Then, before Fanafroo could let out another yell, Pim would disappear under a conveyor belt or behind a machine, where he would inevitably cause even more damage, clunking and clanking with wrenches and hammers as mangled toys flew through the air, landing at Fanafroo’s feet, occasionally bopping him on the noggin.

‘Honestly, I fear for Pim’s life,’ Dabbledee told Mrs. Claus one day. ‘Fanafroo gets so angry. His face gets red as a tomato, his eyes bulge like water balloons, and he bellows like a fog horn. I’m sure he’s going to murder Pim,’ she fretted. ‘I’m sure of it.’

‘Don’t be silly, child,’ Mrs. Claus would answer. ‘Fanafroo has been popping gaskets for more years than a doll has hairs. If it wasn’t Pim, he’d find someone else to be mad at, my dear. Really, I think he’s mad at himself.’

‘Oh?’ Dabbledee said doubtfully.

‘Believe me,’ Mrs. Claus assured. ‘Pim is destined for a great adventure, and I believe you shall have a part in it.’

At this Dabbledee blushed and fumbled with her tea cup, almost tipping it over. How Mrs. Claus could say something like that she would never know, but Mrs. Claus’ predictions were not to be taken lightly.

‘Me!’ Dabbledee croaked. ‘In a great adventure?’

‘Oh yes, I think so,’ Mrs. Claus confirmed, her pale blue eyes squinting merrily behind her spectacles. ‘We must all have a great adventure in our lives, and yours, I believe, is just around the corner. I can feel it, my dear. I can feel it in my bones.’ With that, the kindly Matron of the North rocked back in her chair, sighed contentedly and refused to say another word because she was busy ‘digesting tea and biscuits.’

Walking home, Dabbledee couldn’t forget what Mrs. Claus had said. It was a clear night. A crescent moon skimmed the horizon, looking ever so much like the headlamp of a fantastic sleigh, cutting along ridges of ice that had been pushed up by the Arctic Ocean.

‘Great adventure indeed,’ Dabbledee wondered. Beautiful as it was on a winter’s night, the North Pole was hardly a place where you were likely to find an adventure laying about. ‘No, no,’ she clucked. Borealis was a realm of routines. Work, work, work, albeit merrily (when Fanafroo wasn’t about); then dinner, family, friends and games; then peaceful slumber; then back to work at the crack of dawn. She laughed at this last thought, remembering there was only one ‘dawn’ at the Pole each year, followed by a six months of day, then one sunset, followed six months of night.

Still, Dabbledee mused, an adventure would be lovely… a great adventure with Pim. ‘Wouldn’t that be exciting!’ she smiled, then retreated back into the ice tunnel that led from the Toy Factory to the great domed village of Borealis. The night was frigid and it wouldn’t do to stand outdoors for long, not even for a northern elf. ‘Besides,’ she scolded, ‘why am I out here gawking at the stars when Christmas Eve is but a single spin of the world away. Get in with you girl, and get busy!’ she bossed.

Her job that night, as it had been for many a year, would be to touch up and polish Santa’s great sleigh. She bustled down the dim blue corridor, her boots squeaking in the packed snow. ‘It’s a tremendous honor,’ she repeated puffing herself up just a little and feeling very proud and important for once.

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