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Travelling Ava was feeling excited. Today was the first day of December, the start of Christmas. Overnight big cardboard boxes had appeared in the living room. She was very curious about their contents. This was to be her first ever Christmas and she was looking forward to a proper Christmas adventure. She hoped it would snow, she had never played in the snow before and she wanted to make a snowman.

Ava wandered over to the first box, a long red box that contained a Christmas tree.

“How can a tree fit in this narrow box?” She wondered.

She flipped open the box lid and to her surprise, there was the tree all folded up. Ava found it difficult assembling the tree and straightening the branches. It was amazing, a tree could fit in a box. Next Ava turned her attention to the boxes filled with decorations. She unpacked the boxes, admiring the pretty handmade decorations before placing them on the tree. The living room was slowly being transformed with festive ornaments. The final decoration was a beautiful golden star that Ava placed at the top of the tree, it looked magical. It was hard work transforming the house for Christmas. She took a little break to admire the pretty lights twinkle on the tree. She felt a little flutter of excitement in her tummy. She ran to the window, checking outside to see if it snowed. It hadn’t yet. Next, they needed to wrap the presents to put under the tree. Ava loves watching the presents turning into neat little parcels. Ava’s wrapping attempts weren’t very neat at all but she had great fun sticking bows on everything.

It still wasn’t snowing outside so she decided to write a letter to Santa. She sat at the dining room table with her special Christmas pen, a big mug of hot chocolate and started her letter. This was her first ever letter to Santa. She scrunched up her face thinking about what to write. How do you start a letter to Santa? She sipped her hot chocolate, which was very difficult because it had a mountain of whipped cream on the top, marshmallows and sprinkles. Ava thought it was like Christmas in a mug. Of course, she got cream all over her nose. As she sat sipping her hot chocolate she thought she heard jingle bells. A little tinkle. She paused mid-sip to listen, but she heard nothing. She got back to writing her letter.

“Dear Santa, I hope you are well…”

There it was again, a little tinkle. Where was it coming from?

Travelling Ava jumped down from the chair she was sitting on to investigate the mysterious noise. It wasn’t coming from the dining room. She made her way into the living room, tinkle, tinkle, there it was again. Ava thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Was that an elf? If it was an elf it had vanished into thin air, or had it? As Ava moved further into the living room she discovered a trail of sparkly red footprints. Ava was feeling excited. Was she actually going to meet one of Santa’s elves?

She followed the little red footprints. Instead of an elf, they led to a little door that appeared as if by magic under the Christmas tree. She had so many questions and now felt even more excited. Where had the door come from? It hadn’t been there before the Christmas tree went up. Should she go through the little door she wondered. Ava didn’t know what to do next but it felt very rude to open the door without knocking first. Could this little door lead all the way to the North Pole? She gave a polite little knock on the tiny door.

The door swung open slowly. Although Ava herself is only very small the door was tiny and she had to squeeze through the little doorway. She made a popping sound when she reached the other side. Ava realised that is the sound of old fairy magic working. She stood up straight and adjusted her hat and bag. It had been quite a squeeze getting through that doorway.

She took a moment to take in her surroundings. It wasn’t a house. She thought it looked like a large cupboard or a small storeroom? Each from floor to ceiling had beautiful toys filling them. She could see a pair of ladders stretching up from the floor. They had wheels on the bottom and it looked like they moved around on a rail that wrapped around the top of the room. She looked back at the doorway. It was still there. She fished around in her explorer bag pulling out a green ribbon and tied it around the doorknob. At least this way she would know which door led home.

There was a larger door leading out of the storeroom on the far wall. She stopped and pressed her ear against it. She thought she might be on the North Pole but she still wasn’t sure. On the other side of the door, she could hear lots of clattering and hammering. She couldn’t hear the jingle bells that had led her this far but she could hear singing. It sounded like they were singing Deck the Halls. How wonderful thought Ava. She was eager now to see what was on the other side of the door. She pushed it open.

Nothing could prepare her for what was now in front of her. She found herself standing in the most beautiful workshop. A workshop full of elves. The little elves were working away making toys, whistling and singing Christmas songs. They had lovely green velvet hats with their names embroidered on the front in golden thread. They also had a single large golden bell on the top of their hats. A jingle bell!

Ava stood very still trying to take in every detail of the scene in front of her. The workshop had big oak beams stretching up towards the high ceiling. They met in the middle forming a series of archways. The workshop had large round windows. Each window had its own beautiful stained glass snowflake design. Big wooden workbenches filled the room. The elves stood behind them on stools. The stools had little steps at one side so the elves could climb up and reach their workbench. Some of the elves were busy carving toys out of wood, some were busy painting. In the far corner, there was a cluster of big comfy chairs. It looked to Ava like the elves were busy knitting. In the centre of the room was a big stone fireplace with a roaring fire. Baubles and garlands hung from the arched ceiling beams. Travelling Ava was more excited than she ever imagined possible. She was almost certain the magical door under the Christmas tree had brought her to the North Pole. All the way to Santa’s workshop. Ava let out a little squeal of joy.

The elves had been so busy working and singing that they hadn’t noticed Ava in the few moments since she had entered the workshop. Her squeal of joy had caught the attention of the elves working closest to where she was standing.

“Hello,” said Ava giving them a little wave.

“Hello,” said one of the little elves “Where did you come from?”

“I came from that cupboard,” said Travelling Ava pointing over her shoulder.

The elf looked very confused.

“Well not exactly from the cupboard,” explained Ava.

“I was at home writing my letter to Santa and I heard some jingle bells. I followed the sound and found some sparkly red footprints, so I followed them. That led me to a little door under the Christmas tree. I opened it and then I was somehow in that room full of toys over there,” said Ava pointing again.

She had now attracted quite a bit of attention.

Clarence the Elf rubbed his chin. “You’re not supposed to be able to hear us, see us or travel through our elf doors,” he said after listening to her explanation.

“Well I’m a Travelling Doll,” said Ava. “I can often travel other place people can’t. What is an elf door?” She asked.

“Elf doors are magical doors that we use to travel from the North Pole. We can visit anywhere in the World” replied Clarence.

“Wow” exclaimed Ava.

“Only elves are supposed to be able to travel through them. I have no idea how you got through” said a very puzzled elf.

” What was an elf door doing in my house?” Asked Ava.

“We help Santa with the list checking. We see who has been naughty and nice. It needs to be checked twice you know? Or they might have been there to collect your letter for Santa or spread some Christmas magic. We do that too,” replied Clarence.

” So it’s true then? I’m at the North Pole, this is where Santa lives?” Ava could hardly speak she was so thrilled to be at the North Pole.

“I was busy writing my letter to Santa. Oh no, I never got to finish it,” she exclaimed.

“Don’t worry” reassured the little elf. “Would you like to meet him?”

“Meet Santa? Oh, that would be amazing. Thank you so much. I still can’t believe that I am here, at Santa’s workshop. I’m Ava by the way,” chimed Ava, extending her hand to shake Clarence’s.

“I’m Clarence. I’m the workshop supervisor” he said shaking her hand.

“That sounds like an important job? What do you do?” Inquired Travelling Ava.

“It is my job to make sure all the presents are ready for Santa to deliver on Christmas Eve. Most of the toys are already made.  We make toys all year around to make sure we are ready. We are always busy so I also have to make sure we have lots of festive cheer. That is very important when you are making toys for little girls and boys.” Stated Clarence.

“Do you wrap all the presents in the workshop too?”

“No, we have a workshop where all the presents are wrapped. The elves working over there are always extra busy this time of year. They can’t start wrapping presents until the letters arrive. Most of the letters don’t arrive at the North Pole until December.” Explained Clarence.

Travelling Ava still couldn’t believe she was in the North Pole, talking to an elf and about to meet Santa. She had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.

Ava followed Clarence along a corridor decorated with more garlands, baubles and lights. Everything twinkled, it was magnificent. Everything smelled like Christmas, sweet and cinnamon. This was Ava’s best adventure yet. Suddenly Ava started to get butterflies in her tummy again, she couldn’t believe she was about to meet Santa.

At the end of the corridor was a beautifully carved, large wooden door with an intricate star design. Clarence knocked on the door and waited for a reply.

“Come in” called a jolly voice.

Ava didn’t know what to expect when they walked through those doors.

Clarence opened the door and they entered a cosy room. Opposite the door was another grand fireplace, the fire cast a warm glow across the room. On one side of the fireplace was a huge desk piled high with paper. The piles of paper were so high in fact Ava couldn’t see Santa sitting behind it all.

“Hello Santa” called Clarence “We have a visitor.”

“Hello, Ava” boomed Santa standing up from behind his desk.

He was almost as she had imagined. He wasn’t as tall as she thought he would be and he wasn’t wearing his red suit. He was wearing red corduroy trousers and a red and white checked shirt with a pair of shiny black boots on his feet. He had a big round belly, fluffy, curly white hair and a long white beard. He also had a pair of little glasses perched on the end of his nose.

Ava was so delighted she could barely talk, she could only manage to squeak out a little hello. This made Santa chuckle.

“Would you like a nice cup of hot chocolate?” He asked Ava.

“Yes please, I do love a cup of hot chocolate,” said Ava very quietly,  almost a whisper.

“I know,” said Santa with another chuckle.

Santa sat down in the big armchair pulling two stools in front of the fire for Travelling Ava and Clarence to sit on. He rang a bell and another elf appeared wheeling a trolley with delicious drinks. The festive mugs held delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream on top, dusted with chocolate and cinnamon. There was also a plate full of gingerbread biscuits. The mug of hot chocolate was so big Ava struggled to lift it.

“Thank you Santa, this is lovely” Said Ava

Ava, ever curious asked “what are all the big piles of paper? Is it your naughty and nice list?

“No,” said Santa “those are the letters children write to me. I like to read them all. It is a very big job but also a very great one.

This reminded Ava that her own letter was still at home waiting to be finished. She sipped her hot chocolate, it was the most delicious hot chocolate she had ever tasted. The gingerbread was simply scrumptious. How had Santa known that this was her favourite Christmas treat?

Ava was having a lovely time. She was enjoying drinking her hot chocolate and listening to Santa’s stories about the North Pole. He told her all about the workshop, and the reindeer and all the preparations they make for Christmas Eve. She didn’t want to interrupt with questions. It all sounded amazing.

After their afternoon refreshments, Santa and Clarence took Ava to meet the reindeer. It was a large barn, each reindeer had their own stalls. Charming green and gold signs hung above each stall with the name of the reindeer. In the last stall, they found Mrs Claus, she was busy brushing Rudolph. How could Ava have forgotten about Mrs Claus?

“Hello,” said Mrs Claus cheerily. “Would you like to help me get the reindeer ready for our sleigh ride?”

Ava nodded enthusiastically. She helped Mrs Claus get the reindeer ready with their beautiful leather reins and harnesses. She fed them some apples and carrots while she did this. The reindeer were so friendly. Once they had finished this task they were ready to go for a ride. Ava snuggled between Santa and Mrs Claus. The North Pole is very cold and she had forgotten her scarf. Mrs Claus covered their legs with a patchwork quilt and they were off for a ride.

Santa uttered some magical words, that Ava couldn’t hear and the reindeer started to fly. Ava was expecting to see lots of snow and a beautiful, starry sky. What she actually saw was a beautiful little village. All the houses looked like twinkling gingerbread houses. These were the houses where the elves lived explained Mrs Claus.  Mrs Claus helped her to see over the edge of the sleigh as they flew over the little village.  Ava loved her sleigh ride.  It looked like a scene from a Christmas card. After a little while, they returned to the barn and Ava helped to feed the reindeer. This had been an amazing adventure she didn’t want to go home. She finished feeding the reindeer and let out a sigh.

“What’s the matter?” asked Santa

“I will be sad when this adventure is over, I have loved visiting the North Pole and meeting you all” explained Ava.

“Don’t be sad you still need to finish writing your letter or how will I know what you want for Christmas?” replied Santa.

“I could just tell you”

“You could, but letters are much better. If you don’t go home you will miss Christmas day with your family. Spending time with your loved ones is the best thing about Christmas, and the sweet mince pies.” Said Santa with a hearty chuckle.

“That is true,” said Ava thoughtfully. I still have so much to do, this isn’t the end of my Christmas adventure yet.”

Ava said goodbye to the reindeer, then gave Santa and Mrs Claus a hug goodbye. She promised to be good and finish writing her letter when she returned home. She said goodbye to her new elf friends and Clarence led her back to the elf door at the back of the storeroom full of toys. The North Pole is a magical place. She opened the door, stepped through and found herself back under the Christmas Tree. She turned around and the elf door had disappeared.

Ava was glad to be home. She was going to miss the North Pole and all her new friends but it was nice to be back home. She made her way back into the dining room climbing back onto her chair she finished her letter to Santa. She thanked him for making her feel very welcome, for the gingerbread biscuits and hot chocolate and for the sleigh ride.  She also asked Santa for an extra special present, one that she could share with her friends.

On Christmas morning Ava woke up early. She had left carrots out for the reindeer for their long journey back to the North Pole. She had left an extra special box filled with sweet mince pies for Santa that she had baked herself. The little parcels had disappeared from beside the fireplace. Ava found a present from Santa under the tree. It was addressed to her, she tore open the paper and found a beautiful green sledge. She was confused for a moment. This wasn’t what she asked Santa for. Realising what this meant, she ran to the window and pulled open the curtains. Outside everything was covered in a thick blanket of crisp white snow. Santa had got her letter and made her Christmas wish come true. Outside had been turned into a Winter Wonderland she would be able to share with her friends. She was going to build a snowman and play on her new green sledge.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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