Christian was a rude kid, always being a Negative Nancy. He never liked Christmas because he hadn’t gotten any good presents. One Christmas all he got was a pair of hand me down socks and a tube of toothpaste.
“Alright,” he said, “this year is gonna be different. I was nice to people, I didn’t complain about my chores, and I helped people without being asked.”
Christian believed he had been nice, but he had not done enough. He had smiled at one or two people, he had held the door for someone once sometime during the summer, and he had completed his chores, despite sighing dramatically while he worked. Some of these things may seem normal for a person to do every day, but for Christian it was rare.
Christmas Eve came, and Christian was ready. He knew that his parents were getting him good presents this year because he had behaved as best as he could. With his head on his pillow, he drifted to sleep without even realizing it.
Somewhere near the North Pole, a battle was taking place.
“You can never stop Christmas,” the old bearded man said while getting back on his feet. “I won’t let you.”
“You won’t let me?” a tall thin figure said with a scoff. “How you do expect to stop me?”
“I know who you are,” the bearded man said with a hint of sadness, “or at least I remember who you used to be.”
“I was weak then,” the figure clenched its teeth, “but now I know just how powerful we can become.”
“You’re still just as weak, Kris!”
“Enough!” The figure’s hand slashed through the air, but before it could strike, the bearded man vanished without a trace.
At 7:33 AM on Christmas morning, Christian sat on his bed staring out the window. Snow filled the streets, covering everything in sight. Standing, he stretched and yawned, then slowly made his way to his bedroom door. As he turned the handle and slowly pushed the door open, it did not lead to the hallway of his home, but to what looked like the inside of a cabin. A fire, crackling in the fireplace, kept the cabin warm. Christmas lights hung along the ceiling, and a large Christmas tree sat in the corner, with a single present encased in a shiny gold paper. Through the windows, smooth, rounded hills could be seen. Christian took one look around with his tired eyes, mumbled “No,” and then walked back into his room.
Climbing back into his bed, Christian thought to himself, “what a crazy dream,” and then fell back asleep. When he awoke, he was not in his bedroom, but in the cabin. Confused, he looked at the clock above the main entrance; he saw that only ten minutes had gone by.
“That’s weird,” Christian said, “I’ve never slept that well before.”
Exploring the cabin, he was delighted that the fridge and cabinets in the kitchen were fully stocked with food and drinks. The air smelled like a hint of cinnamon and gingerbread cookies. On the counter was a mug with the words “#1 Elf” printed on it, full of hot cocoa and marshmallows, still warm. Christian grabbed the mug and took a sip. It was the best cocoa he had ever drank. After exploring the house a bit, Christian realized there wasn’t a way back home. He made his way to the living room and took a seat.
“What do I do now?” he asked himself.
“You can start by putting down my cocoa,” the bearded man, dressed in a
red suit, said. Christian nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Who are you?” Christian asked.
“I go by many names, but you can call me Santa.”
“No way, you can’t be Santa,” Christian said in disbelief. “He’s not real!”
“You don’t even want to know how many times I’ve heard that,” Santa said while rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“So,” Christian took a moment to think, “this means that everything I believed about Christmas was wrong?”
“Pretty much, yeah,” Santa nodded.
“Oh…” Christian paused to take a moment of thought, “okay.”
“Anyway, I need your help,” Santa implored.
“What?” Christian asked worriedly. “Why me?”
“Long story or short story?”
“Short, I guess.”
“Okay.” Santa sat in a recliner across from Christian, then began telling the story. “The role of Gift Giver has been passed down in my family for hundreds of years, from father to son. My brother, Kris, and I grew up training together.”
“Wait, Kris?” Christian interrupted, “as in Kris Kringle?”
“Yes,” Santa laughed, “Kringle was a nickname we gave him when we were kids. People got us confused quite often. Anyway we trained together, practicing magic, learning how to drive a sleigh, and wrapping gifts. We were supposed to be a team. In fact, we were going to be the first Claus team in history. However, he began changing. He wouldn’t train with me anymore, and when I confronted him about it, he pushed me away. The last thing that he said to me was that he didn’t need me, and that he was going to become the Gift Giver by himself. I tried to reason with him, but he was in need of much more help than I thought. The last time we met, we fought, but he had more powers than I did. Before he could kill me, I disappeared. This place we’re in now is my hideout while I find help. Which, right now, is you.”
“Me?” Christian asked. “Why me?”
“When I first got here I sent out a sort of makeshift ‘magical emergency beacon.’ I made it out of these neat things that I send to check up on kids who are on my Naughty List. It looks nearly identical to a snowflake, so you wouldn’t have been able to notice it. I tried to reprogram it to go to a kid who was on the Nice List.”
“So, that’s why it landed at my house?” Christian asked with hope.
“Um, the thing is, you’re on the Naughty List,” Santa shrugged, “so it must have been following its original programming correctly.”
“I knew it.” Christian yelled disappointedly.
“Anyway, you’re here now, and I know how you can help.”
Santa walked to the kitchen with Christian following him. He reached into a cupboard and retrieved a small, metal container with a lock keeping it shut. Reaching into his pocket, Santa pulled out a large key ring. After searching for the correct key, he finally found it. He opened the box and inside was a package of hot cocoa mix.
“Cocoa?” Christian asked, confused.
“Not just any cocoa.” Santa pointed to the ingredient section of the package.
“Cocoa, sugar, and magic,” Christian observed.
“Yep, made right here in the North Pole,” Santa said with obvious pride.
“What happens when I drink it?”
“You’ll gain magical powers, but only temporarily.”
“That’s pretty cool, I guess.”
Santa quickly prepared his unexpected sidekick a mug of the hot drink, being careful to get the mixture perfect.
“One cup of this stuff will make you powerful enough to help me save Kris.”
Christian took the mug and sipped. It was the best drink he had ever drank.
“Okay, so how does this work?” he asked, feeling a strange sense of joy.
“I’m not sure, a human has never drank it” Santa replied.
That response worried Christian; he felt like a lab rat.
“I would give you training, but we’re gonna have to wing it,” Santa said.
“Quickly, Christian, follow me!” shouted Santa as he ran to a wall in the living room.
“What are you doing?” Christian wondered as Santa ran his hands along the wall.
“Give me a moment,” Santa said.
“Take your time, it’s not like we have some evil guy to save, or something,” Christian said with sarcasm.
“Aha!” Santa pulled a lever hidden in the wall to reveal a garage with a red sleigh in the center. Christmas decorations covered the walls. Boxes full of Christmas lights were neatly stacked in the corner. Christian barely got a chance to look around before Santa jumped in the sleigh.
“Hop in!” he said as he patted the seat next to him.
Christian climbed in and took a seat next to Santa, and wondered how they were gonna fly if they didn’t have the reindeer. Santa pressed a button on the sleighs dashboard, which lifted up yet another secret wall to reveal the stable where Santa kept his reindeer. Each reindeer had their own section of the large room. Santa, with one short whistle, called all eight reindeer from their stables inside the garage. The reindeer all attached themselves to the sleigh, and soon enough the sleigh began to move. As the sleigh reached outside, the brightness of the snow caught Christian off guard. After a short moment, Christian's eyes adjusted. A gentle breeze blew throughout the sleigh.
“How come I don’t feel cold?” Christian asked.
“Perks of having magic!” Santa said with a laugh.
They began to gain speed and eventually took flight. Christian peered down at the ground and watched as they passed by hills and large snow banks. It was a gorgeous sunny day in the North Pole. Suddenly, a loud explosion from the rear of the sleigh caught Santa and Christian off guard.
“Ah, he’s here!” Santa said.
“I guess we’re doing this now!” Christian said, holding tightly to the seat as the sleigh began falling to the ground.
“I have to let the reindeer go,” Santa said. “They’ll find their way back home.”
Santa pressed a button which detached the reindeer from the sleigh. Christian let out a short scream as they plummeted through the air. As the sleigh crashed, it spun across the icy ground. When it finally stopped, Christian took a moment to allow the dizziness fade. Santa stepped out of the heavily damaged sleigh, with Christian following. He wished that he had more time to learn how to use his magic, because he had no idea what he was doing.
“Hey, Santa?” Christian asked as the two walked together.
“Yes?” Santa replied as he checked his surroundings for Kris.
“Since you didn’t train me, how am I supposed to fight?”
“Um,” Santa hesitated, “instincts.”
“That’s helpful,” Christian said with a tone of irritation.
Santa spotted Kris who attempted to creep away unnoticed. Kris turned towards Santa and Christian, who were ready for a fight.
“Why do you always have to ruin my plans?” Kris said with detest.
“Kris Kringle,” Santa pleaded, “you don’t have to do this.”
“I told you not to call me that anymore!” Kris yelled.
Kris lunged to attack Christian, but he dodged, regained his footing, and threw his hand out towards Kris. Ice flew out of his fingers and struck Kris in the side, which caused him to stumble. Christian’s instincts had taken over. Santa took this opportunity to use some of his own magic against Kris. He pulled his hands back, then thrusted them forward, and from his hands came a barrage of jingle bells. They rained down upon Kris, weakening him.
“No,” Kris said, “you both can’t be this powerful!”
“Well, we are,” Christian replied, “and we’re much more powerful than you.”
At that moment, Christian clenched his fists, and with a yell focused all of his magical ability into hitting Kris. Christian’s fist collided with Kris’s face and it sent him flying completely out of sight. Christian looked down at his hands in awe. Santa and Christian began walking towards where he landed.
“That was very impressive,” Santa said while the two walked together. “You have some serious skill for a beginner magic user.”
“Thanks,” Christian replied, “I guess I’m a natural.”
As they approached the spot where Kris should be, all that was left was a short Santa Claus statue made of poorly molded plastic.
“Did I do this?” Christian asked.
“You must have,” Santa replied while he scratched his chin. “I don’t think Kris would have willingly turned himself into a statue.”
Santa picked up the statue and scoffed, “Did you have to make it so ugly?”
“Shouldn’t you be a bit more worried about your brother?” asked Christian with concern. “I mean, I did just turn him into a statue.”
“Magic like this,” Santa bent over to pick the statue up, “wears off over time.”
“That means that Kris is only inside the statue temporarily?”
“What are you gonna do with him?”
“For now,” Santa began, “I’m gonna keep him locked up at the North Pole laboratories until my scientists and I can find something that will revert him back to his old self.”
“Sounds complicated,” Christian yawned.
Santa blew on a small golden whistle, and not more than a minute later the reindeer arrived with a new sleigh.
“Wait, you have more than one sleigh?” Christian asked.
“Oh,” Santa answered, “of course. It always helps to keep a spare around.”
Christian, climbing into the sleigh, began to realize just how exhausted he was.
“Why do I feel so tired already?” he asked. “It’s only been a few hours since I’ve been awake.”
“Magic can do that to you,” Santa replied, “it takes years of practice to get the hang of it.”
“That makes sense,” Christian yawned, “I guess.”
The sleigh flew steadily through the air. Christian began to fall asleep.
“I better be on the nice list this year for helping you,” Christian mumbled under his breath.
Suddenly awakening from his sleep, Christian discovered that he was back home in his bed.
“What?” he thought to himself. “That was all just a dream?”
He got up out of bed and rushed downstairs and into the living room. Presents filled the room, for him and his family. All the gifts were enveloped in the same red and green wrapping paper, except for one. It was a box covered in gold wrapping paper with a tag that read “To: Christian. From: A Friend.” He sat down on the floor and began unwrapping the gift. Inside was a box labeled “Genuine North Pole Cocoa!” drawn in ornate calligraphy, He flipped over to the ingredients section and smiled. As he set the box down, a letter fell out. It read:
“Hello, Christian! I can’t thank you enough for helping me save Kris. It wouldn’t have been possible without you. Inside this box is a container of that magic cocoa. This cocoa won’t make you as powerful as before, but you’ll still have a lot of fun with it. Since everything is back to normal here at the North Pole, I can send you more if you ever run out. I also left a little reminder of our adventure in your front yard. Until next Christmas, Santa Claus.”
He rushed to the window, and saw an ugly Santa Claus statue sitting on the ground.