The night was silent, not even the owl was calling. The tomte looked up at the night sky. Oh, so many stars flew in flocks overhead. The tomte trudged through the snow that was so deep he kept disappearing into deep holes and he was getting wet from climbing out of snowdrifts.
The tomte was looking for a new home. Tomtes had to have homes with families to look after and his family had left their house and moved far away. Tomtes belong on farms and not in the city so he was looking for a new home and some big people who would appreciate him and of course, didn’t already have their own tomte. The tomte sighed, as he made his way through the snow, he really wanted a home for Yule. He wanted children to bring gifts to and a farmer to bless with help on his farm. That is what tomtes did and he didn’t feel right not helping people.
He straightened his tall red pointed cap and tugged his beard straight and climbed out of yet another snow drift when he saw a light in the distance. He was so tired and wet. There was no point in using a drying spell if he was just going to get wet again. He trudged toward the light and came to a large new barn and peered inside. No other tomte was in sight. That was a good sign. He went in and found two cows drowsing in their stalls.
“Cows?” He whispered quietly, “Does a tomte live here?”
The first cow who was a beautiful light brown, looked down at the tomte. “No, we haven’t got a tomte and the family really needs one. This is a brand new farm and my name is Elsie”
“Hello Elsie, very pleased to meet you, my name is Karl, do you think they would mind a little help? Are they the kind of people who would be good to help? ”
The second cow lowed and said, “I’m Delsie and they have never been farmers before and they do need help and they have been very kind to us. I think we are their only wealth and they take very good care of us. I heard them say to the children that they might not get very much for Jul but that that wasn’t what was important. Being together was important.”
This made the tomte think. These might be the people he needed. The cows were beautiful and healthy and that was a very good thing since they hadn’t had a tomte to help them. He thought he’d go watch the family quietly if he could just to make sure they were his people.
The tomte trudged through the snow following some big people footprints back to the house. That made moving through the fresh snow a little easier. He followed the light falling through the window onto the snow and peered into the house from behind the new shutters. The tomte was impressed with how they had been sanded to a shiny soft shine and stained. These people took good care of what they had and had been doing it without a tomte!
In the main room stood a small tree that had been brought into the house in a pot. It’s branches had been hung with strands of popped corn and red berries. There were handmade ornaments of paper that had been obviously done by the children and he could see the mother cutting carefully into paper to make more snowflakes to hang on the tree. The two children were lying on the rug in front of the fire listening to a story that the grandmother was telling. It looked like she was knitting good wool socks as she spoke. The father was sitting smoking his pipe and listening and looking at the family with love and pride in his eyes. The tomte saw that there were no gifts under the Jul tree. He also saw that their clothes had been carefully mended but showed signs of hard wear. The tomte straightened his red hat and thought, “these people look like they could use a tomte like me! I need to help them!”
The tomte made his way over to the door and was about to go through as all tomtes can when the door swung open and the father came out to get more firewood. “That was easier!” thought the tomte as he quickly went to the house and hid behind the hanging brooms in the kitchen.
He waited into the father came in, stamping his feet to get the rest of the snow off and removing his boots. The father then piled the load carefully in the rack and went to hurry everyone to bed. It was Solstice Eve and farmwork and cows still had to be tended to in the early morning. The tomte watched as the family went to bed. The children went to the loft and the parents and grandmother to their rooms downstairs. The house settled down and it became very quiet with only the sound of snow falling off the trees and the slight sigh of the wind.
The tomte went to the mud room first. He cleaned the farmer’s boots and added a waterproofing spell. He then cleaned all the family’s clogs and shoes that were there and waterproofed them too. He went into the kitchen and charmed the pots so they wouldn’t burn the food and he had fun helping the yeast to grow in the bread and Jul rolls rising on the counter above the old wood burning stove. He polished the iron stove and charmed it too so the wood would burn evenly and there would be even heating.
He moved into the main room and stood looking at the lovingly decorated tree. It wasn’t very big but it was still lovely. He liked that the family had carefully dug up a live tree and were obviously going to put it outside again when they could. He liked that they hadn’t killed a tree for the holiday. The tomte decided to make the tree shine. He charmed the red berries to gleam and shine and he made the wooden ornaments glow just a little. He changed the paper snowflakes into flakes of shiny crystal that gleamed in the dimness. He put a spell on the candles that were on the tree to never cause harm and to go out when they burned down. He stood back and looked at his tree. It looked magical. What else could he do?
Tomtes give gifts but he didn’t know what this family wanted. What would be good? What would really help? Meanwhile while he thought, he very quietly left piles of nuts and fruit and candy in the slippers by each bed. The family all looked so peaceful and he felt so good to help. This is what a tomte did best but what would be the biggest help. He decided to go ask Elsie and Delsie what to do.
He hurried through the snow and back to that mostly empty barn to his new friends. “Elsie! Delsie! Your family is so wonderful and they love each other so much. I want to do something wonderful for them this Jul! Do you know anything they want or need?”
Elsie thought carefully, “They have love in plenty and isn’t that the greatest gift?” Delsie nodded her big head.
Delsie said quietly, “If you are helping them, they will have prosperity. What else do they need? Besides don’t tomtes all have goats? Where’s your goat?”
The tomte knew they were right but he still wanted to do something special. And then he knew what he was going to do and found a place in the hay and went quickly to sleep.
Early the next morning, the tomte woke up and cleaned the hay off. He peeked out. The farmer must not be up yet. He couldn’t see any lights in the kitchen. So he crept in the house and unbanked the fire in the stove and set the table. He went back outside and sent a call out to anyone that was listening.
“I’m a tomte and I need a goat? Is there anyone who needs a tomte and a place?” The tomte counted to himself, 1….2…..3……. and there was a small flash and a very young black and white goat was looking shyly at the tomte.
“You asked for a goat? I’m ready! The goat said eagerly.
The tomte looked at the tiny goat, “what’s your name?”
“Flicka” said the goat shyly.
Suddenly the door opened behind the tomte. He froze in place holding the goats mane.
And the farmer came out with his newly clean boots on.
The farmer smiled down at the tomte. “Are you the one that cleaned my boots?” the big man roared out.
The tomte shivered a little. He wasn’t supposed to be caught by the big people. “yes” he said very quietly.
The farmer got down to the tomte’s level and looked in his eyes. He held out his big hand to the tomte. By now the tomte was thoroughly confused. Big people coming down to his size? That hadn’t ever happened before.
“Thank you” the farmer said. “They look cleaner than when I bought them. “Thank you very much!” The tomte started to shake. The farmer was really big up close. “How can I help a tomte today?”
The tomte was now even more confused. “But I need to help you not you help me.” The tomte stammered out. “I need to know if you need anything.”
The farmer looked into the deep blue eyes of the tomte. The tomte noticed the whole family had come to the door and was listening. This was sooo not how it was supposed to work.
The farmer looked at the tomte kindly and back at his family. “All we need this Jul is a good friend. Are you a good friend, Sir Tomte?”
“I think so, I try to be.”
“Well”, said the farmer. Welcome to the house, Sir Tomte and please come in.” The farmer stood up and walked back in the house.
Karl, the tomte followed and when they were inside. He looked up at the farmer and around to the smiling family. “Could I be your Tomte?” he asked quietly.
The farmer looked at the tomte, “I thought you already were. Welcome to our house.” The whole family cheered and the tomte looked at his family and sighed. It was good to be home.