(Part 3 of 4)

Rudolph flew off toward Santa’s disabled sleigh as swiftly as he was able. Since he was a young buck, he was still among the swiftest. After all, he had to be to lead the team. When they reached Santa and the falling sleigh, Santa immediately hitched up the new team and proceeded on his way. Now he felt somewhat better knowing that all the good little girls and boys would not be disappointed on Christmas morn. But what happened next told him he wasn’t out of the woods yet.

As his team of reindeer glided down to land softly near the chimney on a steep roof, the wild northern winds suddenly picked up and the snow blew across the roof so heavily it became a difficult landing - even for was Santa. In the process, the sleigh’s runners unintentionally slid sideways on the icy rooftop and stopped with the sleigh filled with bags of toys hanging halfway over. Below was an icy patch of rocky driveway that could have pulverized vehicles and destroyed any presents, including those on Santa’s sleigh.

Glancing at the roof, the drop-off, and then the bottom of the sleigh, Santa saw immediately what had happened. When he landed, he did so on bent sleigh runners. It happened at such an angle it made it nearly impossible to land correctly. Upon inspecting the damage more closely, Santa spotted the problem. When the bits of broken antlers from the first team fell off, they hit the sleigh’s runners. At speeds they were traveling, it didn’t take much for those hard antler bits to damage the runners. Those broken antler bits made big time dents.

Now there Santa and his second team were, somewhere over northwestern Indiana. They had just finished Chicago on their upward swing, and then turned east and south toward Gary, Indiana when the heavy snow started. Santa knew the forecast had called for blizzard conditions. Heading toward South Bend, the snow almost created a whiteout. That near whiteout was what caused the accident to happen. If he could not fix the runners, so many good girls and boys from Indiana to Ohio, including the Akron/Canton area, and east to the Atlantic coast may not wake up to presents in the morning. 

If only he had a flat area to work, somewhere out of the wind, he might be able to fix the runners good enough to finish his deliveries. Santa looked ahead to the golden dome of Notre Dame and then glanced behind him. He turned left and then right, but saw nothing that could have helped him repair the sleigh runners. In a brief moment of frustration and a slight feeling of helplessness, Santa sighed and raised his head skyward. As he did, his eyes came to rest on a tall building. Two sides of it were blank. But on the front was a larger than life size mosaic of Christ with His arms outstretched and pointing upward, much like a football umpire does to signal a touchdown.

Because you can see it through the football field’s goalposts, many Notre Dame fans affectionately refer to the mosaic as "Touchdown Jesus." They say it helps remind them that there’s always hope and never to give up. Santa focused his eyes on the mosaic of Christ. It’s when he turned around that he saw it. Surprised, Santa glowed. His heart filled with hope and joy as if he had just been handed his first Christmas present. To his front was the fabled football field glistening with a sparkling cover of fresh white snow.

Approximately one hundred and fifty yards long from beyond one goal post to beyond the other, it gave Santa plenty of room to attempt a repair on his sleigh runners. Both sides of the field and the farthest end zone were protected from the wild winds by the high stands and scoreboard. The uppermost seats reached high into the sky. The other end zone was protected by the even higher building with the mosaic of Christ. Since the field was protected from the harsh winds by all sides, it was an ideal location for Santa to repair the sleigh runners. But first he had to carefully remove the sleigh.

With the sleigh still hanging halfway over the roof in mid-air and ready to drop at a moment’s notice, it seemed as if there was little he could do to correct the problem. However, if he could just make it down to that field, he might be able to straighten out the runners enough, to finish his deliveries. Santa thought deeply about this and suddenly his eyes lit up.  He had an idea.

Whether it would work or not he’d soon find out.

(to be continued)

Next week: The Magic of Christmas

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com