It was total chaos! There were so many people, so much noise, so much activity and so much colour that if somebody accidentally walked into Santa's warehouse at that moment they were likely to be wrapped up in a box and rediscovered on Christmas morning in a stocking. However, for the elves hard at work there was no chaos, only order and the knowledge that they had no choice but to be ready for Christmas Eve or face disappointing children across the world… and they could never allow that to happen.
High above the whirl of colour and commotion on the far wall was the Christmas Clock, which was one of the most beautiful objects you are ever likely to see, or not as the case maybe. For hundreds of years the Clock has counted down to Christmas after Christmas continually reminding the workers how much time remains before Santa's sleigh lifts off and every year, as the number of children increases, the deadline moves forward a few seconds - a few seconds may not mean much to you, but to an elf it is more precious than gold.
CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! The entire warehouse paused at once, silence falling across the entire room as all eyes looked up at the Christmas Clock that now read "23 Days to go" - it was December 1st and Christmas was rapidly approaching. The clock clanged nine more times, signalling midnight, and the elf workers returned to work even faster than before, although there was one feathered worker moving a little slower than the rest and he was being watched by a rather large moose.
"Matti, you have to be a bit faster with those things!" whispered Mika to his friend. "What? Can't hear you over all this noise!" squawked Matti, as he tried to fit a wheel on to a little toy car. "I said," repeated Mika a little louder, "You must go faster with the wheels or the toy cars won't be ready in time!" Matti wasn't very good at receiving criticism and this time was no different, "What! What! I am going as fast as I can, but these wheels are so small!" Mika looked over at an elf standing next to Matti, who was making twenty toy cars to every one that Matti made, and shook his head, the elf smiled back.
Matti had volunteered to help in the workshop because they were running behind schedule because a surprising number of children had been good this year and they hadn't been ready and Mika was keeping him company because, as Matti stated, "Mika can't help because his big clumsy hoofs will just smash all the toys!" The wheel Matti was trying to fix on to the car jumped out of his claws and rolled across the floor, "Arghh!" shouted Matti angrily and he threw the car on the floor, "I hate little toy wheels! They are too small for me and why do there have to be four wheels? Why can't I help make toy motorbikes? They only have two wheels!"
The elf put down his work and walked up to Matti, "Hey Matti, why don't you go and take a break? Go and have a big mug of hot chocolate and a cookie; it will help calm you down. You have been working hard and deserve a rest." Mika nodded in agreement, "What a good idea! I'll go with you, I fancy something to eat." Matti sighed and picked up the toy car from the floor and handed it to the friendly elf, "Here you go, it isn't broken. I'm going to take a break and come back to work even harder than before! Come on, Mika; let's go to the Grand Hall."
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