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PREPARING THE WAY

In a carefully orchestrated montage sequence, we are now taken on a spectacular tour of the elves' daily routine. This, apparently, represents the countdown to the days prior to what Patch referred to as "Season's Greetings." It begins as the elves wake up first thing in the morning --- and twist the names at the end of their bedposts so that other elves can sleep in shifts, thereby guaranteeing round-the-clock toymaking. Then, we see a series of sequences depicting a wide variety of aspects into how a toy is made. But, of course, it's not just toys per se, as we see when we join Anya, Patch, Puffy and Goober, the elves' senior tailor. They're discussing the plans for Claus' costume --- the one he will be wearing when he takes to the skies --- for the very first time!

"Maybe it's the massive bulk of it," Goober is musing. "I've never done an extra-large before."

"Oh, the size is just fine," Anya reassures him. "Please don't think I'm criticizing, but green's just not his color."

"What about brown?" suggests Puffy.

"Red?" wonders Patch.

Anya's eyes immediately light up. "Red! Perfect! Matches his cheeks and everything."

Meanwhile, in other areas of North Pole Headquarters, elves are seen painting elements of certain toys with the tips of their beards, flinging stardust at wrapping paper, passing various packages, removing them from the innards of the Toy Tunnel and placing them into a huge, endless sack; while, in the stables, Patch, Boog, Honka and Vout harness up the eight reindeer, and even polish the beasts' hooves.

Finally, in a continuous panning shot, we see the full five-level compound in all its fascinating glory, with everybody working happily together.... and all this will eventually culminate in one incredible moment.

It begins with all the elves gathered in a huge circle; far above, Dooley scans for the position of the North Star aboard his huge telescope. Patch observes Dooley's progress from nearby. "Well?" he asks.

"Coming closer now..... not just yet......," Dooley replies, maintaining his gaze through the telescope. "2 more degrees north by northwest......." Then, lowering his arm, Dooley shouts, "NOW!" At that pre-arranged signal, the huge upper windows of the Great Hall are opened, and suddenly a brilliant, magical light suffuses the assembled throng. Suddenly everyone begins shaking one another's hands, saying the words "Season's Greetings!" Before long, the handshaking melts into a joyous dance. Claus and Anya observe this awesome finale from the balcony of their new house; clearly, the magic of this celebration, and the diligence and persistence of the elves, gets them into the spirit as well. Soon, all the NPH inhabitants are dancing unceasingly. The final moments of this, the day of Christmas Eve, are about to arrive.

THE PROPHECY FULFILLED

Now, we see Claus, muttering to himself some of the directions he will follow as he makes the journey that will make history. For the first time, we see him wearing the familiar full red suit with ermine trim which has become his trademark all these aeons. Anya is dressed in similarly-styled regalia. Now, Claus stands up, and we see that his regalia presents him as every inch the Santa Claus the Planet will come to know and love.

He wonders if he looks perfect. "A handsome man looks good in anything," Anya replies. "I'm so proud of you," she adds, kissing him tenderly.

A knock is then heard on the house door. It is Dooley. "It's time, sir," he says gravely. "They're waiting."

And now, Claus and Anya, with Dooley in tow, enter the Toy Tunnel, all its toys polished and shiny just for this moment. The entire population of North Pole Headquarters has gathered en masse, for this is the supreme moment they've literally spent centuries preparing for. A hush soon falls over the Tunnel. A strange light shines over the recrafted sleigh and its captain-to-be.

About 10 Elves march forward in solemn procession, each bearing, like a ceremonial royal train, the huge strands of probably the biggest beard imaginable. Claus realizes that this beard can only belong to the Master of the Vendequm --- the Ancient One (Burgess Meredith), the elves' true spiritual leader, whose visions had once foretold of what is now about to happen!

Reverently, all the Elves bow before the Ancient One; Patch, holding Anya's hand, instructs her to follow their example. Even the reindeer bow their heads before the Master, for all concerned here know that the word of the Ancient One is law.

There is now a hushed silence as the Ancient One speaks:

"The Prophecy," says he, "has come to pass..... that there would come to us a Chosen One...... that this Chosen One, having no child of his own, would love all children everywhere..... that he himself would be an artisan, and a craftsman, and a skilled maker of toys..... that the joy of giving would dwell within his heart; and that the wish to bring that joy would be embodied within his very spirit...." All nod their heads in silent agreement. "And now, Chosen One," the Ancient One continues, "you may come forward."

Claus does as he is told and removes his own, fur-trimmed hat, which, of course, matches his newly-crafted regalia. "From this day on, now and forever," the Ancient One resumes his mantra, "you will bring all our gifts to all the children in all the world. And all this is to be done on Christmas Eve."

Christmas Eve! That had always been the day Claus delivered his special gifts; indeed, it was, and is, the day that many children of many ages worldwide share their own special holidays. And yet, for all this, one thought still bothers Claus: "How can I do so much in just one night?"

"Know you this: Time travels with you," promises the Ancient One. "The night of the world is a passage of endless night for you --- until your mission is done. This is your legacy. It is also your gift --- as is the gift of flight."

Then, casting his far-seeing eyes to the entire assembly, the Master concludes: "Now, let all those within the sound of my voice and all those upon this Earth everywhere know..... that, from this time henceforth, you will be called........ Santa Claus."

In the background, a few of the elves repeat the name to themselves.... so that they will remember. "And now, everyone.... Merry Christmas!" proclaims the Ancient One before departing. Dooley leads the elves in repeating the wish to their Master, who at that point takes his leave.

There is now a last glance between Santa and Anya; then, donning the familiar hat, the Man Who Will Mean December takes his seat at the reins of his brand-new sleigh.

Next, Patch, Boog, Honka, Vout and four other elves approach the sleigh, bearing huge stacks of hay for the deer. Within the hay is intertwined garlands and garlands of magical reindeer feed...... created from the power of stardust. The deer munch on them furiously, as they are quite eager to get under way. Then, with all the Elves and Anya watching, Santa Claus for the very first time gives his reindeer a hearty command:

"YO!"

Immediately, the deer race off. Behind them, the cheers of the elves can be heard as the sleigh begins moving. Faster and faster they hurtle, straight onward like a speeding bullet --- and then suddenly veering to the right..... and up a ramp ..... and higher .... and higher .... and then, INTO THE STARS THEMSELVES!

From far below, the cheers intensify! The Prophecy has indeed been fulfilled! Liftoff is successful...... and Santa Claus, the Great Knight of Holiday Wishes, is off on his very first journey through the wondrous universe that is Christmas Eve!

Of course, Donner, as usual, isn't too sure about all this. But at least, his boss is at the reins, so that's not too much of a big deal.

"Oh, come on, Donner boy!" Santa reassures the vertigo-laden deer. "There's nothing to worry about. It's only flying." Suddenly, he stops himself in midphrase. "It's only flying? What am I saying?!" He then shrugs his shoulders, and decides to go for it. "Well, all right. Let's just bank to the right," he instructs his furry friends. "Ready?" Indeed they are --- and bank to the right they do. "THAT'S THE WAY!" hollers Santa, who obviously is enjoying every second of it.

SANTA THROUGH THE YEARS, PART ONE

Now, through various shots of Santa and his sleigh in flight, we journey through the years as Santa Claus becomes a universal force, a legend --- in short, an incredible hero for all our ages. The weeks transform into months, then years, then centuries, and even as civilizations rise and fall, the Legend of Santa Claus persists, ever growing, ever changing.

Yet even as the years roll by, Santa and Anya begin to discover that, true to the Ancient One's prophecy, Time no longer touches them, as it has never truly touched the elves. Indeed, Dooley has been right about both of them living forever..... And somehow, it seems, the elves, their Great Hall, this place itself.... is kind of like an old home --- one where everyone is welcome, no matter who its visitors are or where they come from. Many more children begin learning to read and to write; indeed, a good many have taken to writing Santa Claus letters!

Click here to continue The Story.....