Well kids, you know another Christmas Eve is coming up shortly and Santa is busily getting ready for the big day. Up here at the North Pole it is the busiest time of the year and the elves are working hard putting together presents for all of the good children, and Santa knows you are all trying to be good.
The weather at the North Pole has been really strange this year. The summer was cooler than normal, but there were a few weeks that were really warm so Santa put on his Santa shorts and went outside to enjoy the nice weather.
This year Mrs. Claus made Santa some new shorts with cartoon characters all over them. The elves and the reindeer all laughed when Santa wore them, but Santa really liked them, mostly because Santa really loves Mrs. Claus and she made them for him.
Speaking of Mrs. Claus, this year Santa decided he wanted to get a head start on Christmas and bake something very special that he, Mrs. Claus, all of the elves and the reindeer could have for Christmas dinner. Last year it was chocolate chip cookies, Santa’s favorite you know, but since Santa had a lot of time this year to watch cooking shows, Santa decided to try something a bit more difficult, the favorite French Christmas dessert, the Buche de Noel, that some of you might know as the Christmas or Yule log.
Christmas in France is a bit different from Christmas in California or, for that matter, the United States. The Christmas tree has never been really popular in France, and though the use of the huge Yule log to heat the house between Christmas and New Years, has faded, the French still make this traditional Yule log-shaped cake.
The cake is served at the grand feast of the season, which is called “Le Reveillon.” It is a very late supper for everyone held after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Because of that, the French children can stay up late that night. And, before they go to bed they put out their shoes so Pere Noel (that’s what they call Santa in France) can put treats in them.
When I told Mrs. Claus what I wanted to do, she said, “In my kitchen? No way! Remember what happened last year with the cookies or the year before when you decided to bake special biscuits for the reindeer. We were half way through January before I was able to get the kitchen clean enough to see the counter tops and you were so covered from head to toe with flour, eggs and whatever else you could spill on yourself that I just put you and those mischievous, elves that were supposed to be helping you, clothes and all, into the shower. And remember that two days later I found one of the elves still hiding from me in the pantry. Santa, I think you need to find somewhere else to test your baking skills.”
Yes, Santa remembers that and I think that Mrs. Claus may never forget it, so I better be really nice to her.
Well, Santa thought that he might need some help making the Yule log when one of the elves reminded me that I had really loved the cookies that had been left out for me at one house by a little girl in Placerville, California last Christmas. Then he said, “Remember, it was Robert Halabicky, the pastry chef who teaches culinary arts at San Joaquin Delta College who baked them.
“Say, since you have to be in Placerville for the Christmas Parade in early December, why don’t you take an extra day there and see if he can help you? Oh, by the way Santa, we should tell you that knowing that you might forget we made a quick call to Robert and set everything up for you.”
I’m sure glad that Robert was able to help me. Santa is good at delivering toys, but when it comes to baking, well, not so good. He showed Santa how to mix and stir, fold and roll and not get any fingers caught in the mixer. When it was through, Santa got to put the little decorations on the yule log using one of those fancy bags cake decorators use. Santa thought that would be fun, but it was hard. I think I will stick with delivering toys and leave the baking and decorating to the experts.
When Santa got back to the North Pole with the finished Yule log Mrs. Claus, the elves and even the reindeer were very impressed. Of course, Santa didn’t tell them the whole story about the mess he made and how Robert did most of the work (and please don’t tell her).
Santa decided that it should be saved for dessert at Christmas dinner after I get back from my rounds. But, it seems to be slowly disappearing (Mrs. Claus says it is not on her or my diet, but I think she is sneaking some tastes and I am not going to tell her that I am too). And, there are also a few marks where one or two of the reindeer have been nibbling (I keep telling everyone to keep the door closed so the reindeer, especially Dancer, don’t get in, but I think that pesky Dancer has figured out how to open the door). Actually, Santa doesn’t care, as long as everyone enjoys what Robert, with a little help from Santa, made.
Well, Santa thinks he better go into the kitchen and have another taste of the delicious Yule log before it is all gone. I think Mrs. Claus is out helping feed the reindeer, so it is a good time to do it.
Keep sending all those letters to Santa and, most of all, mind your manners, listen to your parents and teachers, be good, be kind and, especially, take good care of each other.
Love, your good friend, Santa Claus
P.S. Yes, the Yule log is wonderful, but Santa’s favorite snack is still chocolate chip cookies and a glass of cold milk.