An elf by the name of Jasper P. Theopolis Spunk appeared at the breakfast table where a husband and his wife were having their usual two slices of thick bacon, one fried egg, and two cups of piping hot coffee.
Mr. Spunk climbed up into one of the empty chairs and, with no invitation, smiled and said: “I’m Jasper P. Theopolis Spunk, and I’m here to grant you three wishes; now, what’ll they be?”
The wife said, “I wish to know what to do about this infernal Christmas card list. I mean, it keeps getting longer and longer, the price of postage stamps keeps getting higher and higher, and I’m worn out with the entire business of trying to figure out the names of those to add and those to subtract. Do you have a solution to this problem, my dear sir?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Mr. Spunk declared: “Put the list into the compost heap along with the eggshells and forget it.”
The wife said, “You mean send no Christmas cards this year?”
“I mean,” said Jasper, “do nothing that is going to multiply your worries. Try putting a little Christmas card smile in your voice and a bit of twinkle in your eye the next time you see somebody walking down the street or road, as the case may be.”
The husband said, “My turn!”
“Yes,” said Mr. Spunk, “the second wish is yours, my good man.”
“May I call you Jasper?”
“I would like to be granted the wish for a long and healthy life for me and my wife.”
Jasper cleared his throat, drummed a knuckle on the oak breakfast table, and said: “I have good news and bad news. However, the good may seem bad, and the bad may seem good. You will have to decide which is which.”
The husband and wife stared at the elf, who folded his arms, comfortably crossed his legs, and stared back. He said, “Both the good and the bad news are reality. Neither of you, and not even I as a matter of fact, is going to live forever inside our present bag of bones. As for a healthy life, please take into account all the years you smoked and drank, and ran up and down the ridges. All right, so you didn’t smoke and drink, but only ran up and down the ridges. There’s a limit to everything, and if that were not so, we’d be stacked as high as a purple-tailed kite. Therefore, live each day with sobriety, pray for forgiveness, and stay out of the compost pile.”
The husband and the wife sipped from their coffee cups, then put their heads together to confer as to the nature of the third and final wish.
“Take as much time as you need,” said Jasper P. Theopolis Spunk. “But on the other hand, don’t take too long in your deliberations, because I have other breakfast tables to visit.”
“We wish to know the meaning of the mystery of life,” said the husband and wife.
“Well now, this is the easy news and the difficult news. Yet the easy may seem difficult, and the difficult may seem easy. You’ll have to decide which way the wind blows.”
“Ummm…you mean you don’t know, isn’t that right, Mr. Spunk?”
“I thought I said, it’s all right to call me Jasper. But never mind. The mystery of life resides in a single dewdrop and a single snowflake in the early days of winter. The mystery of life is in a puppy’s wagging tail and a kitten’s curious expression. The mystery of life is in one sip of coffee or a single taste of water.”
“The very best understanding of the miracle you call the mystery of life is the love you share with yourselves and all those who are lonely.”
Jasper P. Theopolis Spunk vanished as quickly as he’d arrived.