It is a new year. It is “planning for Christmas” season.
That means just one thing at the North Pole: calendars.
Every elf here has a calendar. This is the time of year they all get new calendars and they spend weeks scribbling plans, goals and big dates on their new calendars.
I think it is silly.
The North Pole has clocks and countdown timers everywhere. Christmas is coming and everywhere we turn around there is a reminder of how many months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds remain until Santa launches.
Every elf lives for that moment. In fact, it is as if no other date really exists.
So why do we need calendars?
I think I am the only elf here at the North Pole without a calendar. It’s just so goofy.
It’s easy to tell what day it is around here. It’s easy to see how much time we have to get things done. Why do we need calendars?
I know this is a Santa thing.
Santa is a planner.
He’s an expert at making lists and getting things done. Since everyone here wants to be like Santa they all think getting a calendar and writing down every little thing they need to do every day of the year will make them as productive as Santa is.
There’s this elf I know that I will call Francis.
That is not his real name. If I used his real name everyone here would know who I’m talking about because he has a very singular name. It’s a great name, a name I would love to tell you, but I dare not do it.
I’d rather just talk about him by using a fake name and, to me, no name is more fake than Francis.
Elf Francis is a production elf in Santa’s workshop.
He is a very skilled dude. He is a machinist, which means he makes stuff.
Francis can actually make anything.
His backyard is like the world’s best playground. Because we have snow year-round Francis designed playground equipment that works best in snowy conditions. His yard really awesome.
There are slides that dump riders into snowbanks.
There are sled trails and snowball launching machines – just all kinds of inventive snow toys that you see nowhere else.
Elf Francis’ yard is one of the most popular places to play at the North Pole.
I tell you this because Elf Francis is one talented, inventive elf.
But he’s no planner.
You see, Santa puts people to work based on their talents.
If you need a dispenser for paper sacks, Elf Francis is your elf. If you want to craft something to store the paper sack in, Elf Francis can figure it out. Elf Francis can make anything.
But he couldn’t plan his way out of a paper sack.
Seriously. That just isn’t his vibe. Not anything he can do.
Sorry, I’m not saying this to be mean, I’m just saying a talented elf like Francis just doesn’t have the talent to plan.
But there he is, with his little calendar, trying to plan his year.
Elf Francis likes to eat his lunch outside. Rain or snow, daylight or dark, he goes out there every day with his lunch pail and his calendar.
I see him out there every day, sitting at the cold outside picnic table, trying and trying and trying to fill out his calendar.
He’s been out there every day this month.
I finally went out to see him today and I asked him about all the work he was putting on his calendar.
“Francis,” I said, “What are you planning on your calendar?”
“Everything,” he said. “Look, I’m almost done with January.”
Well. January is almost done with January.
I looked at his calendar.
Every day had things he was planning to do: “Eat breakfast, walk Bumpers (his dog), fold laundry.”
Each day had dozens of little list items like that.
As kindly as I could, I asked Francis why he had to put all his normal everyday stuff as a plan on his calendar.
He stared at me for the longest time, not understanding my question.
Finally, he asked, “Well, what else would I put on my calendar?”
I asked him about the biggest project he was given in Santa’s workshop.
Without hesitating, Elf Francis said he needed to make a prototype for special part on a new skateboard. He called it a “fluid bearing”, whatever that is.
“Plan that, Francis.” I said.
“I can’t plan that!” he shouted. “That’s not something you can put on a calendar. That’s like saying you know what tomorrow’s clouds will look like. That’s impossible!”
He was really passionate.
Maybe even a little upset.
He looked at me like I had two heads.
Look, I have no idea what it is like to be a genius like Elf Francis.
But what he describes is what everyone has a problem with when it comes to calendars.
They don’t know how to translate their genius into the little boxes of calendars.
Their genius happens when it happens. It cannot be planned.
Now, understand this: Santa has Elf Francis working on “fluid bearings” for a reason.
Elf Francis will get it done, far in advance of Christmas. He’s an elf. He knows the job. He knows when Christmas is. He knows Santa is counting on him.
You can’t put that on a calendar. It is in his heart.