This year has been a strange year, indeed, don’t you think?

There have been so many changes in our daily lives, and I know we have all had to make adjustments. Even I and my friends at the castle have had to change our daily routines. Although it has been a trying year, I am glad that Christmas has finally arrived because it brings us hope!

Santa is getting ready for his sleigh ride on Christmas Eve, and he popped in the other day as I was decorating my tree to ask a favor.

“Belle,” he said, “since this year has been so difficult, do you mind helping me spread Christmas cheer? I believe children need an extra dose of magic in their lives. After all, it is their joy that makes my sleigh fly. Ho, ho, ho.”

I couldn’t help but be tickled because his belly jiggled like a bowl full of jelly!

“I agree,” I told Santa. “But tell me, how can I possibly help you spread holiday cheer? I’m just one princess, and I don’t have a magic sleigh like you do! Besides, you know that everyone is trying to keep their families safe during this time.”

I admit, I did not know how to help Santa, but my heart told me I should.

I must have looked uncertain because he smiled kindly at me and said, “Oh, do not worry, Belle, I am not asking you to travel the world as I do in one night.”

Santa then chuckled so loudly that the books in my library begin to shake.

“No, no, instead, I have asked my helpers all over the world to join me in my mission. I have sent the Easter Bunny hopping to Australia, Jack Frost is nipping at the windows in Maine, Frosty is making snowflakes in Canada, and for you, Belle, I would like to ask you to visit Haywood County, NC.”

Confused, I placed my finger to my rosy cheeks and pondered.

“Haywood County? I am not sure I have been there before. Have you, Santa?”

Excitedly, he replied, “It is a delightful place! In fact, the reason I am sending you there is that it will remind you of your country home that you shared with your Father. There is a charming old home in Waynesville called The Shelton House, where you can stay for a night or two. Pack your bags and choose a story to read to the kids there. We both know how much you love to read.”

There is little doubt that I enjoy reading. I spend most of my time in the library anyway, but I still had a question.

“I would love to share a story with the community, and I have the perfect one in mind! However, how can I read the story to everyone from a safe distance and reach as many as possible?”

“That is where the advances in technology will help you, my dear,” Santa said. “I have already contacted a few people who live tin Haywood County to help you record a video that can be shared with all who live in the town over the Internet. Oh, don’t look puzzled, child. You do not need to understand it all. Just trust them to help you. All you have to do is choose your story, and they will do the rest.”

Santa gave me an elbow bump and then handed me a map.

“I will loan you a sleigh that will take you there in the wink of an eye. And now I must hurry back to the North Pole to finish getting ready. I trust you can do the rest from here.”

In the flicker of a candle, he was gone, and although I did not know what a video was, I trusted he had made arrangements. I gathered my basket and prepared for my journey. The map I was given told me to find the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains.

I arrived earlier this week as the sun was falling into his slumber at The Shelton House. To my surprise, there were a few people there to greet me! My journey was a bit windy, but some delightful ladies from Fab Flawless Makeup Artistry helped make me look presentable. Mandy Tweed had a stunning Christmas gown waiting. Another lady had a tool that made still paintings you can hang on the wall, and she said she could help me get the news out with the “photographs,” I believe she called them. Her name was Sabrina Greene.

Finally, a couple of gentlemen who called themselves 107 South Film kept moving about with their tools and lights. They said they could make a video. It all happened so quickly, but everyone was so kind and guided me to create my moving picture.

I chose to read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to all of you. Although I cannot visit each of you in person, I have been told that you can all see and hear it at

So stay strong, dear ones, and keep your hearts full of hope and cheer. I’m off to visit some other communities, but know I am thinking about you!

Sabrina Greene created this story as a tribute to the children of Haywood County and the magic of Christmas during the pandemic.

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