A few of us elves and Santa were sitting around a cosy fire warming our toes and roasting marshmallows waiting for Klem to arrive for our weekly meeting last week. Klem is always late, for everything. When he finally arrived, we shouted our customary greetings to each other, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” As we said that, Santa started to laugh. Not just a little laugh, but one of his deep belly laughs, and Santa has a deep belly from which to call one of these laughs.
Klem said “Santa, why are you laughing at me? You know I don’t try to be late, I just can’t get places on time.”
Santa responded, “Klem my friend, I’m not laughing at you. I know you try to be on time, but you have been late for everything since before you were born, which you were late for too, I should add. No, hearing everyone say ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ reminded me of how we came to say ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ as our greetings. Because all of you are so young, you don’t know the story. Well, since Klem was only a little late, we have some time for a little story.”
After everyone refilled their hot coco and got a new marshmallow to roast, Santa continued. “This story dates back to what Mrs. Claus and I were doing during one particularly hot summer day about three centuries ago. As you know, Mrs. Claus and I have a big garden and one day we were working in it using garden hoes to get rid of some weeds. Mrs. Claus was busily working away, but I fell asleep on a bench in the shade under a big tree. My garden hoe leaning against the tree, also taking a nap.”
“Santa, is that the great big garden Carmela takes care of?” Gwillym asked.“Why yes it is Gwillym. I hear the two of you spend a bit of your free time wondering around in the garden. I hope you two don’t accidently get lost in there.” Santa replied with a wink.
With this Carwyn blushed and the rest of us started laughing. Gwillym didn’t know we already know he and Carmela spend a lot of time together.
“Well, anyway,” Santa continued “I was about an hour into my second nap when Mrs. Claus started shaking me. When I woke up a little, she handed me my garden hoe, and, looking at me straight in the eye, she stated ‘Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!’ in unmistakable terms. I think she was suggesting that I should help her to hoe the weeds in the garden. This was only fair since I ate a lot of what came out of that garden. Anyway, at the very moment Mrs. Claus was calling out ‘Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!’ to me, a number of elves were passing by, and they thought that Mrs. Claus was calling out ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ to them as a greeting. Ever since that scolding Mrs. Claus gave me, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” spread throughout the North Pole, and now all of us use it as our greeting.”
“Santa, is that really why we say ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ to greet each other?” Heilyn asked.
“Of course it is. Would I ever tell you a tall tale? Especially one so easy to check with Mrs. Claus about.” Santa replied with a little smirk on his face.
“Sebastian, enough of my stories, what is first on the agenda this week?”