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The Mysterious Santa
by Chrysta Baker

Christmas Ornaments High in the mountain regions of Northern Germany there was an old shopkeeper and artisan named Fritz who made beautiful handmade wooden Christmas ornaments and figurines. Fritz was very well known throughout Germany as making some of the most beautiful and intricately detailed German ornaments that had ever been designed. Fritz made his wooden ornaments for nearly six decades using the traditional hand carving methods his family had been using to make Christmas ornaments for generations. While Fritz knew great success as a German ornament maker, there was one thing that people did not know about Fritz until after he died.

Winter in Germany can be extremely cold and very brutal, especially in the hard-to-reach mountain and forest regions or the north. Many of the roads leading to the tiny villages and towns that are located in the German mountains become impassable during the winter months due to heavy snows that block the roads completely. Even with the modern plows of today, many regions high in the German mountains become isolated. Before the invention of the Internet, cell phones, and all-wheel drive, these areas would be become completely isolated and separated from the rest of the world around them. This was the case in the village that Fritz grew up in and it was sometimes difficult for the locals due to the overwhelming feeling of isolation and loneliness. It was during these early years that Fritz began a Christmas tradition that would last throughout the rest of his life. Few knew that Fritz was responsible for starting and carrying on the tradition, but that was by design because he did not do it for the notoriety, he did it because he loved it.

As a young apprentice ornament and figurine maker, Fritz had the kind of natural talent that made him seem destined to become a great woodcarver. However, carving out wooden Christmas ornaments and figurines was not initially what Fritz wanted to do with the rest of his life. Fritz dreamed of traveling the world and seeing the moon and stars in the night sky from all the different corners of the earth. He would look up into the sky and dream of the day when he could leave his small German village and travel the world. Unfortunately, at the time, he was too poor and knew he would never be able to reach his goals if he did not make something of himself with the tools that he had. So, Fritz threw himself into his wooden ornament and figurine carving and set out to become the greatest wood carver he could be. Throughout the year he would practice carving and painting different kinds of ornaments and figurines, especially during the long cold winter months when there was little else to do. He practiced making angel ornaments, nutcracker figurines, Santa ornaments, and nativity scenes until his fingers bled and became blistered from all the intricate woodcarving work he had done.

Christmas Ornaments One day he looked at the pile of wooden Christmas ornaments he had made and thought about what he should do with them. While they were beautiful ornaments by any standard, Fritz was a perfectionist and did not dare sell those that were not absolutely perfect in the shop that his father owned. So, instead Fritz came up with an idea that he never dreamed he would continue on with for the rest of his life. Fritz knew that the German winters were hard for everyone who lived in his mountain village and he wanted to give a little Christmas joy to those he had known his entire life. So, Fritz decided that instead of burning his little practice wooden ornaments and figurines, he would distribute them anonymously throughout the village in hopes of putting a smile on their faces on Christmas morning. So, Fritz made his own little costume out of an old red coat and hat and turned it into a makeshift Santa Claus outfit, just in case he was spotted while distributing his little gifts. He made a beard and trimmed his hat and suit out of wool and made sure his face would be covered so that no one could recognize him.

Fritz then found an old wooden sleigh in the back of the shed that his father kept and fixed its broken pieces so that he could easily carry his heavy load of wooden ornaments and figurines through the snow covered roads of the village. That first year Fritz did not bother to wrap the ornaments and figurines and instead just placed them in a large brown sack and strapped it on to the sleigh. In the years to come though, Fritz began wrapping his little gifts in brown paper wrapping, tied together with twine. As he put on the Santa disguise and set out for that first delivery, Fritz wondered what people might think of him if he were caught. Would they think he was up to no good or even crazy? He decided to just do it and worry about the consequences later.

Christmas Ornaments It was late at night after everyone else had gone to bed as Fritz made his way to every home that existed in the tiny German village. While it was a small town, it did take him several hours to unload all of his wooden ornaments and figurines that Christmas night because many of the homes were spread far apart from each other. On each doorstep Fritz would hang one or two of his wooden ornaments on the door handle or place his wooden figurines in a spot where it was sure to be found the next morning. If he knew the family had several children he would leave one ornament or figurine for each child so as not to cause them to fight over it. By the end of the night, Fritz had successfully placed one of his ornaments or figurines on every doorstep without being seen. Considering it a success, Fritz went home and slept a deep, satisfying sleep.

The next morning, Fritz got up as usual, made himself some breakfast, and went into town to see if anyone had noticed his little gifts left the night before. He was not sure what he was expecting to find, but he was not prepared for what he saw. As he walked through the streets he found that the children of the village were all running around with his little ornaments and figurines in their hands, playing with them and showing them to each other. Their faces were filled with joy and it put a smile on his face seeing how much they enjoyed their gifts. Fritz spent the day visiting friends and family members that Christmas day and everywhere he went everyone was buzzing about the mysterious gifts that had been left the night before. No one had any idea who could have done such a wonderful thing and Fritz played along so as not to seem suspicious. It was then that Fritz decided that this was something that he wanted to do every Christmas and started making his new batch of wooden ornaments and figurines for the following year that very night.

For over sixty years, Fritz continued his Christmas night tradition and only those closest to him learned of his true identity. Fritz married, had three sons and a daughter, and as the village grew and he got on in years, he recruited the help of his children. His daughter and one son joined the family Christmas ornament and figurine business and they continued to help him make his ornaments and deliver them throughout the town until his death and have carried on the tradition in his absence. As a result of his tireless work making the thousands of giveaway ornaments and figurines, Fritz became a master woodcarver and his business thrived. He became known throughout Germany and the world as one of the masters of the industry and he was able to fulfill his childhood dream of seeing the moon and stars at every corner of the world. Today, the villagers now know the identity of their very own little Santa Claus, but the children still delight in receiving their special little wooden ornaments and figurines on every year on Christmas morning.

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