“This just can’t be, Jasmine!”  Harvey called out to Jasmine in a worried voice.  “What do we do now?”

Santa noticed his helper’s confusion and called out to them, “Is anything wrong up there?”

“We will get it under control in a few minutes, Santa.”  Jasmine replied, trying not to sound too panicked.

“Let’s just fake it for a minute or two and see if the GPS turns back on,” Jasmine whispered to Harvey.

Five minutes passed, and the helpers got no bleep of even one home with children needing toys in Morro Bay.  How would they ever complete their task?

Harvey, thinking fast, shouted to Santa, “Let’s touch down on Morro Bay Boulevard and take a slight break before we deliver this last town’s gifts.”

Santa aimed Rudolph for the Boulevard, but descending too fast in the fog, he instead almost clipped the sleigh runners on the antennas at the local Police Station, ending up landing with a bump behind the station.  In fact, he came only inches from hitting Officer Hannibal, who was coming in early to substitute so another office could stay home with his family on Christmas Day.

“What the heck!” were the first shocked words out of Officer Hannibal’s mouth, who leapt to the side to avoid getting a reindeer hoof planted on top of his hat.  For a police officer, Hannibal possessed a very kind and gentle soul, and believed in many wondrous things his entire life.  Santa Claus was certainly one of them.  The pre dawn appearance of the jolly old elf, his sleigh and two Eclectus parrots sporting tiny shoes, didn’t surprise Officer Hannibal in the least.

“Why did you land at the Police Station and what can I do for you?” were the words that calmly came out of Officer Hannibal’s mouth, as though this were quite an ordinary occurrence.

Quickly flying to Officer Hannibal’s shoulder, Harvey whispered in his quietest voice, “We are helping Santa distribute toys all over the world, but for some reason our GPS quit working when we got to Morro Bay.  Do you think that huge rock out there in the bay is messing with our signal?”

Officer Hannibal pondered for several seconds, looked over at a stressed Santa and replied, “Sir, I know you are tired. It has been a very long night for all of you.  Since Morro Bay is your last stop, why not let the Police Department help out? Our town is so small; we know where all the children live. Let us have the toys to distribute them.  We can have it all done before the sun comes up.  I promise.”

All eyes were on Santa, who would have the final word in the operation.  Energy level sinking low, Santa looked ragged and tired from his marathon Christmas Eve journey.  After thinking a few seconds, Santa conceded, “We are all beat. We won’t remember which children need toys here without my list, and my back is killing me from this last rough landing.  As the kids say, ‘Go for it’, Officer Hannibal.”

With twinkling eyes, Officer Hannibal beckoned his buddies out of the station. The policemen stared in amazement at reindeer pawing the sidewalk, the tired man in red, and the two frazzled birds.  Without a word, the officers took the remaining toys from Santa’s sleigh, loading all of the cop cars with toys, stuffed clear to the top.  “Every last toy will be delivered to every last child in Morro Bay.” Officer Hannibal reassured Santa. 

With a simultaneous sigh of relief, Harvey and Jasmine Eclectus saw the last toy leave the sleigh, tucked under Officer Hannibal’s arm.  “At least we did a good job for Santa most of the night.”  Jasmine whispered proudly to Harvey through her shiny black beak.  She noticed Harvey’s chest was puffed out in pride as he nodded in agreement.

“We did a spectacular job for Santa.”  Harvey assured her as they both boarded the sleigh for the long trip home.  But the keenest ears in the world were only a few feet away.  “You kids were wonderful!  I’ve never had such good helpers. And most importantly, made sure the job got done, whether you could complete it or not,” Santa said reaching forward to hand them each an almond.

Officer Hannibal said his goodbyes and shook Santa’s hand, petting the birdy-helpers and reindeer as well.  With everyone tucked safely into the sleigh, Santa gave the up-up command to Rudolph.  They were all airborne again, but barely cleared the satellite dish and the pine trees behind the station.  All of Santa’s crew were quite bushed!

As they climbed into the damp, foggy early morning air, Harvey and Jasmine could see the station lights gradually disappear.  The cop car lights, which for some inexplicable reason were flashing red and green, were next to fade, and last, the very top of Morro Rock, poking its craggy tip through the mist.  Circling over the top of California and climbing upward very fast, a tiny present tumbled out of the sleigh.  Harvey excitedly asked Jasmine, “Shall we try to fly and catch it?  I wonder who we missed?”  But they agreed that the tiny present was falling fast and they didn’t want to chance losing Santa and the sleigh.

The little present was circling almost out of sight when they were amazed to see it began to glow and give off a scintillating fireworks-like light.  It opened up on its own and began to shine with a sparkling, silvery-blue light, which dispersed into an ever-expanding area until a delightful, wondrous, sweet smelling, super fine mist covered California, visible as far as the eye could see.  As the sleigh climbed still higher in the sky, Harvey and Jasmine saw that the magical silvery light was encompassing the whole world.

Unbeknownst to the riders in the sleigh, Officer Hannibal tucked a tiny present into Santa’s sleigh when he was bidding them goodbye.  When the group hit air turbulence just after lift off, the gift was knocked loose from its hiding place and fell overboard.  The tiny little package contained the glittering gift of peace, to be distributed over the whole world in time for Christmas morning. 

For you see, the same busy Magical Mystical Maker of Elf Shoes had also visited Morro Bay, and tucked the tiny gift of Peace into Officer Hannibal’s hand to pass on to Harvey and Jasmine for disbursal.  And that, my dear friends, is why even today we still call them Peace Officers!   

Special thanks goes to Lisa Woodworth for the use of her photos, and an excellent job of editing.  Thanks also to Richard Hannibal for photos and the inspiration. 

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©2001 Susie Christian.

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