2003 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Challenge - "Santa" Challenge
This was written in response to the "Santa" challenge posted by Kit. This one is truly just for laughs. It is another crossover. We had a great deal of fun coming up with the plot for this one. (Well truly it doesn’t have one, but we’re pretending!) Thanks Kit for a wonderful day! We laughed for at least four hours trying to write this one in our minds, as we were no where near the word processor! We hope that everyone can laugh along with this one! We certainly don’t own the familiar HH characters, nor do we make any claims on any character created by Arthur Rankin, Jr. & Jules Bass.
As Christmas Eve approached, many thoughts, of both young and old, soldier and civilian alike, turned toward that special day that only came once a year. The strains of ‘Silent Night’ filled their memories, while the echoes of gunfire and bombs were the stark reality of war. But, still thoughts of Christmas and family occupied the dreams of many.
Stille Nacht! Heil’ge Nacht! -- Alles schlaft; einsam wacht -- Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab’ im locigten Harr, -- Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Silent Night! Holy Night! -- All is calm, all is bright. -- Round yon godly tender pair.
Holy infant with curly hair -- Sleep in heavenly peace, -- Sleep in heavenly peace.
-- First Verse ‘Silent Night’ by Franz Xaver Gruber, Austria, 1818
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Barracks 2, Christmas Eve, 1943, 2100 Hours
Colonel Robert Hogan, the senior Prisoner of War Officer at Stalag 13, was sitting at the central table of Barracks 2. He was listening to his men who were all making a happy roar this night. It was Christmas Eve and his men were taking turns telling tales of how each had celebrated Christmas as children. It had made for a very lively night, which would normally have been a very depressing time for them. There was truly nothing planned for them tonight, no mission to complete, and no visitors in the tunnels. Tonight they were simply POWs who were very far from home, and sharing memories.
As Corporal Artie Rankin finished up his story about surfing the California coast on Christmas, Sergeant Hans Shultz opened the door of the barracks.
"Lights out!" Shultz called out. "Raus, raus, lights out, everyone!"
Amid the groans of protest from the men, Hogan stood up. "Shultz, give us a break. Its Christmas Eve."
"No. I cannot," Shultz replied. "The rules clearly state that the lights must be out at 9 o’clock, sharp."
"We’re just sharing some Christmas memories, we only have a couple more to go Shultz," Hogan said, gesturing towards the men gathered around the table and seated on the bunks nearby.
"Christmas memories?" Shultz asked, interested. "I have so many good memories of Christmas from when I was a child!"
"Then you can let us have, say -- another half hour?" Hogan prompted.
"Ja, ja. -- Oh no, Colonel Hogan. I cannot. The Kommandant can see this barracks from his window!" Shultz protested.
"So why don’t you stay Shultz," Hogan immediately said. "Then you can tell him you were conducting a barracks inspection."
"Ja. Good idea," Shultz agreed, seating himself at the bench that Newkirk gave up for him.
"Hey Shultzie," Newkirk said, catching Colonel Hogan’s eye. Any excuse giving us some extra time. "Why don’t you start us off again?"
"Me?" Shultz asked, "You don’t really want to hear my stories…."
"Yes, yes we do," Kinch and Carter both encouraged the guard, catching on to what the Colonel wanted.
"Oui, why don’t you tell us Shultzie?" LeBeau asked joining in enthusiastically.
"Well. Ok. If you’re sure?" Shultz asked, peering about him suspiciously.
"We’re sure. Go ahead Shultz," Hogan replied supportive.
"Well. This is a story that my father told to me, as his father told him. In fact, it is a story of my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather Gunther Shultz. It has been passed down in my family for generations, almost 200 years now. It is always told on Christmas Eve. I haven’t been home to tell my own children the story in a few years. So, I guess I will tell you," Shultz began, accepting the cup of coffee LeBeau gave him. He took a sip, then picked up the thread of his tale.
"It all began when Gunther opened the Schatze Toy Company. Did I ever tell you that my family owns a toy company?" Shultz asked.
"Yeah, you mentioned it once Shultz," Hogan replied, indicating that the guard should continue.
"Oh. Good. That’s important. Well, as I said, Grandpa Gunther opened the Schatze Toy Company. It was located in a small community outside of Heidelburg, named Rainbow River Valley. It did not take long for Gunther’s Toy Company to become well known in the area. Some said, that even the King knew of the Company. Rainbow River Valley was a pretty place, and the toyshop was located close by the village in a forest near the Mountain of the Whispering Winds. The Mountain was rumored to be haunted, and at the time, the townspeople avoided it whenever they could. Even when I was a child the stories of the mountain were still being told. Even a silly tale about a Winter Warlock who lived on the Mountain of the Whispering Winds," Shultz paused, taking another sip of the coffee. The coffee was hot, and it was very cold outside.
"At the time, Rainbow River Valley was governed by the Bergermeister, Meisterbergers. The Meisterberger was an evil little man, and governed the valley harshly. One day, the Meisterberger came down his steps to address the Townsfolk and tripped on a child’s toy. He broke his foot and immediately outlawed all toys. He had his men, led by the Chief Law Keeper Grisley, confiscate all toys of any kind, shape or form. His declaration said; ‘Toys have been declared illegal, immoral, unlawful. Anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown into the dungeon.’"
"Even 200 years ago the Germans were arresting people for no reason!" Newkirk protested.
"Well, no body is perfect," Shultz commented. "As I was saying, it was now illegal to possess toys. That of course left Grandpa Gunther in a tough spot, as he made toys. Gunther had to close his shop. The town became very somber, no happy laughter of children. The folk, all around, began to refer to the town as ‘Sombertown.’ However, Grandpa Gunther felt the law was a silly one, and secretly gave the children toys to play with. He was able to do this for several months before the Meisterberger discovered his identity. He and the men who worked for him were arrested and placed in the dungeon."
"Just for giving children toys?" Carter asked amazed.
"Ja. Just for that. The law prohibited toys. Grandpa Gunther, however, had a sympathizer in the town. Her name was Jettchen, who eventually became Grandpa Gunther’s wife. She was able to release Gunther and the others. They all became hunted outlaws. They had no choice, but to cross the mountain of the Whispering Winds into the larger town of Heidelburg that had a different Bergermeister. Hopefully there, they would be safe, and they could make toys again."
"Did they make it?" LeBeau asked, truly interested at this point.
"Ja. The Bergermeister in Heidelburg was overjoyed to have them, and the Schatze Toy Company had a new home. However, Gunther couldn’t abandon the children in Sombertown and every year, on Christmas Eve, he crossed the Mountain of the Whispering Winds and delivered toys to the children. The children hid the toys carefully so they would not be taken from them."
"That was a really nice thing to do Shultz," Hogan commented.
"Ja, ja. Grandpa Gunther started that tradition. The Meisterbergers eventually fell out of power and toys were no longer outlawed. The King was so impressed with Grandpa Gunther’s ability to make quality toys that he declared him the ‘First Toy Maker to the King.’"
"Oh come on Shultzie!" Kinch protested. "Toy Maker to the King?"
"No, really. The proclamation is still on the wall in the lobby of the factory!" Shultz said. "Anyway, from that point on the reputation of the Schatze Toy Company grew. It became known far and wide as the finest Toy Company in Germany. And the Tradition of Grandpa Gunther remained. Every Christmas Eve members of our family and staff delivered toys to every orphanage in the area. As travel became easier, and the company grew, we eventually were able to supply every orphanage in Germany with toys." Shultz sighed. "Sadly, because of the War, we are no longer able to do it. The government has taken over the factory and it now makes rifles. No more toys are made there."
"Oh Shultz. That’s such an interesting tale!" Artie Rankin said. "I’ll have to remember it. It is such a lovely Christmas story."
"Ja. Ja. It is why it is always told on Christmas Eve. Weihnachtsmann, your American Santa Claus, or LeBeau’s Pere’ Noel, or Newkirk’s Father Christmas, travels this night. Visiting every child to give a toy. Grandpa Gunther felt this was the best night to honor that tradition with the gift of a toy from the Schatze Toy Company. And every generation has upheld this honor, and as the present owner of the Schatze Toy Company, once this war is over I will continue that tradition," Shultz declared proudly.
Wow, that was a very nice Christmas Story. Very interesting and unexpected from Shultz. The man obviously had some hidden depths, Hogan thought to himself. "Thanks for sharing Shultz," Hogan said. "I do hope when this war is over with, you do get to do just that."
"Thank you Colonel Hogan," Shultz replied. "Who is next?"
Hogan smiled and said, "John Stanley is next, I believe."
The rest of the evening passed even better than Hogan expected. It was wonderful to see the guys truly enjoying themselves, even though we are all so far from our homes. It was a splendid Christmas Eve.
California, USA, Home of Arthur Rankin, Jr., December 15, 1970, 7 o’clock local time
Arthur Rankin Sr, sat with his wife and their son, Arthur Jr. and his family to watch the premier of Rankin & Bass’s new animated Christmas special. Arthur Jr. and his partner Jules, have been working for almost two years to produce this special. Arthur Jr. had told his friend Romeo Muller the Christmas Story that I had repeated to them every year as they were growing up. It was the story I had learned, on a long ago Christmas Eve, in a POW Camp in Germany during WWII. It was the story Hans Shultz had told us all.
It had been Romeo that had been able to finally put the charming tale into a more commercially acceptable Christmas Tale. They had named the story, ‘Santa Claus was Coming to Town.’
"So what did you think Dad?" Arthur asked after the program ended.
"Oh, it was wonderful!" Artie replied, with tears standing in his eyes. "Old Shultz would have been very proud of it. Immortalizing for all time the story of his Granpa Gunther’s Schatze Toy Company. I know that his family has continued the tradition that had originally made them known as ‘The First Official Toy Maker’s to the King.’"
It’s an important responsibility
when you accept an appointment from his majesty
You must strive for the perfect quality
When you’re the first toy makers to the King!
- First verse, Tanta Kringle, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town!’
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