Chris and Martha spent a lot of time together over the next few years. Chris would come and visit the same day every year. Sometimes Chris and Martha would walk through the snow-covered forest near Martha’s village or spend time on her side of the world and sometimes they would travel to Chris’s world and hang out there among the Elves and the magical, flying reindeer.
Martha still wasn’t use to going through the wormhole to the other side, but Islo and the other Elves were warming up to her visiting.
After every visit, Chris would ask her to stay and she would tell him no. Then she would ask him to stay with her and he would say no. This went on for a few years until Martha reached the age of twenty one.
Martha was now one of the only women not married in the village. She worked in the bakery making treats all year round and was living in the small room above the bakery. She saved up a little money from work as well as enjoying her job. On top of that, Martha was making this place her little home.
Her parents were worried about her thinking that she would never get married and have children, but Martha assured her when the right guy came along, she would settle down. Of course, Martha already had a guy in her mind, but it would be impossible to explain to her parents.
The day arrived and Chris returned to Martha’s village. He looked much older this time around. He had grown a beard and his hair had speckles of white in it.
Chris stood at the front of the bakery with flowers in one hand a napsack in the other.
Chris knocked on the front door with his secret knock.
Martha came to the front of the bakery and unlocked the door.
“Hello Martha,” Chris said handing her the flowers.
“These are beautiful,” Martha said examining the flowers.
“Not as beautiful as you,” Chris said planting a kiss on her cheek.
“Thank you,” Martha said with a giggle.
Chris sat the bag down on the counter and started pulling things out of it. He had brought candies, cookies, and Martha’s favorite, hot chocolate.
Martha sipped from the thermos. The hot chocolate was the most delicious thing she had ever tasted.
“Ok so I hope you have something great planned,” Chris said.
“Actually I do,” Martha said.
“Is it making a snowman? I had such a blast doing that two years ago,” Chris said.
“No, not quiet,” Martha said.
“Something better?” Chris asked.
“Well…I thought…you could meet my parents,” Martha said.
Chris stood there holding a plate of gingerbread man with his mouth hanging open.
“I think we should tell my parents about you and our relationship,” Martha said. “They are worried about me because they think I’m antisocial and don’t have any love interests. But I’ve been dating you for what? Seven years? It’s time for you to meet them.”
“How are we going to explain everything to them?” Chris asked.
“The same way you explained everything to me,” Martha said. “I believed you.”
“You thought I was a dream or made up. You told me that,” Chris said.
“But when you returned, I knew you were real,” Martha said.
“Plus I saved you from that icy lake. You had to believe me,” Chris said.
Martha folded her arms.
“Chris. You’re being dramatic,” Martha said.
“What if they don’t like me?” Chris asked.
Martha dropped her arms.
“Your parents. What if they don’t like me? Or they think the whole thing is too strange?” Chris asked.
“Chris, I love you,” Martha said. “That won’t change no matter what my parents think.”
“I love you too,” He said.
Martha grabbed his hand.
“Whatever happens, we’re in this together.” Martha said.
“Right,” Chris said.
Martha kissed Chris and then they made their way to Martha’s old house.
Chris had been here many times over the past few years. But he always stood on the street and waited for Martha. He had never been inside.
Martha knocked on the door.
It took a moment, but eventually Martha’s Father and Mother opened the door.
“Martha?” Her mom seemed confused.
“What are you…?” Her dad’s words trailed off as they both noticed Chris standing there as well.
“Mama. Papa. We need to talk,” Martha said.
Both parents seemed confused by let Martha and Chris into their home. Martha’s mother put a kettle on and warmed up water for tea. Martha’s father put a few more logs in their wood-burning stove which heated the entire house. Then they stood in the living room waiting for an explanation. Chris was incredibly uncomfortable.
“Mama. Papa. Do you remember the day when I fell through the icy lake? Well Chris here is the person who saved me,” Martha explained.
Martha began telling her parents everything. She told them about what happened the day at the lake and how Martha had gotten the fur coat from Chris. She held out the red scarf she wore daily and told them that this was also Chris’s scarf. Martha told them about her trips where she snuck out of the house. She even told them about flying reindeer and her trip to Chris’s village in another world. About Elves and hot chocolate.
The entire time Chris stood there silent not sure what to say. Martha’s parents kept giving glances over to Chris and he would try to give them a smile.
After Martha got done explaining, her parents turned to Chris.
“Is this true, what she said?” Martha’s mother asked.
“Did you save our little girl from freezing to death?” Martha’s father asked.
“Yes…yes sir,” Chris said clearing his throat. “I pulled her from the lake. And gave her the coat and scarf.”
“And you have…magical reindeer?” Martha’s mother looked at Martha and then Chris.
“Yes, yes Ma’am. They can fly and they pull my sleigh,” Chris said.
“And you’re from some other…world?”
“Yes. Our worlds are connected by a doorway which is only open one day a year. I live in a village there with other Elves like me,” Chris said grabbing one of his pointy ears. “It’s a whole community where we make toys, clothing, and other stuff.”
Chris reached down into his bag and pulled out a small glass object.
“This here is what we call a snowglobe,” Chris explained. “It has a little scene on the inside. This one is of the village where I work and live.”
Then Chris shook the snowglobe and small specks floating around in it.
“See. If you shake it, it looks like it is snowing,” Chris said.
He handed the snowglobe to Martha’s parents who studied it.
Martha’s father took a seat and rubbed the side of his head.
“Papa, are you ok?” Martha asked placing a hand on his shoulder.
“It’s just a lot to take in,” He said.
“Agreed,” Chris said.
“Can…can we see the reindeer?” Martha’s mother asked.
“Ummmm…” Chris and Martha exchanged a glance. “Yeah. You can see them.”
Martha’s parents spent a moment changing into some warmer clothes for the trek out to the frozen lake. During this time Martha and Chris stood in the living room.
“So…that went well, I think,” Martha said.
“Yeah I guess so,” Chris said fiddling with the snowglobe.
Martha grabbed Chris’s hand.
“Is that for me?” Martha said pointing at the snowglobe.
“Yeah,” He said. “I was going to surprise you after the date, but yeah I made it for you.”
He handed her the snowglobe.
Martha shook it and watched the snow fall.
“I love it,” Martha said with a smile.
“I’m glad,” Chris said returning the smile.
Martha squeezed his hand.
“I have something to tell you,” She said.
“Yeah what is it?” Chris asked.
“I’ve saved up enough money from working at the bakery to do something big,” Martha said. “I want to start my own bakery.”
“That’s wonderful,” Chris said.
“And I want to open it up in your village,” Martha said.
Chris’s mouth hung open.
“You want to move…permanently to my village to live with me?” Chris asked.
“Yes,” She said.
Chris was about to say something, but Martha’s parents emerged from their bedroom.
“We’re ready,” Martha’s dad said.
They started their journey out towards the frozen lake. Chris and Martha’s father led the way while Martha and her mother were in the back of the group. Martha and her mother whispered to one another while Chris and Martha’s father were silent.
Eventually they made it to the frozen lake and there in the center of it was a large, wooden sleigh painted red with shiny brass runners underneath just as Martha remembered it. At the front of the sleigh was a team of eight reindeer.
“Oh my gosh,” Martha’s mom said covering her mouth.
Chris laughed a little.
“Do you want to meet them?” Chris asked.
Chris and Martha’s father helped the two ladies across the lake up to the reindeer.
“This one is Dasher,” Chris said as Martha’s mom petted Dasher’s snout.
“You said they can fly,” Martha’s dad asked.
“Yes. Yes, they can fly,” Chris said. “Give me one second and I can show you.”
Chris went to the other side of the reindeer team. He unhooked Prancer from the line of reindeer.
“Ok Prancer, you ready to fly?” Chris asked.
Prancer seemed to glance at the two new people.
“Don’t worry. They’re ok,” Chris said. “They just want to see what you can do.”
Prancer gave a little nod and then started to run across the ice. He reached the edge and then leaped into the air. He hovered in the air above the lake’s edge a few inches. He then began to climb higher and higher until he was a few feet over everybody’s head.
“Oh my,” Martha’s mother almost fell over by Martha and her father caught her.
Prancer touched back down by Chris’s side.
“Very good, Prancer,” Chris said petting behind Prancer’s ears.
“Well Martha, he is an interesting fellow to be sure,” Martha’s mother said with a laugh.
“Yeah I like him a lot,” Martha said looking over at Chris.
Chris smiled back at Martha.
The group of four then made their way back to the village. On this trip, Martha’s mother asked Chris a bunch of questions about him and his home. Chris explained a little about the magic he possessed and where he lived. He went into detail about the village and all the shops. How they make and export all types of goods to all over the world. He explained the door between the worlds and how the veil between the worlds is thin enough to breach one day a year.
Martha’s mother was interested and soaked in all this information. Martha’s father seemed less enthused about Chris, but Martha did her best to explain things to him.
All four made it back to Martha’s old house and stood in the street for a moment.
“Do you want to come in?” Martha’s mother asked.
“Well I guess…we can do that,” Chris said.
“Mama, Chris is just being polite,” Martha said. “We don’t have a lot of time before the portal closes and we have to go back. We were hoping to spend some time together here.”
“You’re going back as well?” Martha’s father asked.
Chris felt a lump grow in his throat.
“Yes Papa. I’m going to go live with Chris,” Martha said.
There was silence. You could hear each individual snowflake as they fell.
Martha’s father opened his mouth.
“Dear,” Martha’s mother interjected.
She turned towards her husband.
“Before you say anything. Remember that Martha is a grown woman. She can make up her own mind. Plus, even though we just met Chris here, he seems like a very nice man who loves our daughter,” She finished.
“I..I do. I love your daughter more than anything in the world,” Chris said.
Martha’s father let out a heavy sigh.
“We’re going to miss you,” Martha’s father said.
“I’ll miss you too Papa, Mama,” Martha said tearing up.
She gave her parents both a hug.
“Don’t worry. I’ll visit every year on this day,” Martha said.
“We’ll be counting the seconds,” Martha’s mother said.
“Take care of her,” Martha’s father placed a heavy hand on Chris’s shoulder.
“Of course, Sir,” Chris said still very nervous.
“Well you two better be off,” Martha’s mother said. “You have a lot of packing to do.”
“Thanks Mama,” Martha said.
“Nice to meet you two,” Chris said.
“Same to you, Chris,” Martha’s mother said.
Martha exchanged another round of hugs with her parents and then Chris and Martha made their way to the bakery.
Martha started to place her stuff into Chris’s bag which held it all without growing in size.
“You sure I’ll be able to get everything out of here once we are on the other side?” Martha asked.
“Absolutely,” Chris said with a smile.
Martha turned to him.
“You excited?” Chris asked her.
“Yeah and a little nervous,” Martha said.
“Don’t worry. It’s going to be great,” Chris said. “We’re going to find the best storefront for your bakery. And the Elves will love you.”
“I hope so,” Martha said.
Chris grabbed both her hands and pulled her close for a kiss.
“I love you,” Chris said.
“I love you too,” Martha said.
So Martha left with Chris with her stuff and they made their journey back to Chris’s village. Martha settled in to her new home and her new life with Chris. They had a bakery set up in middle of town and Martha spent most of her days baking cookies and other sweets with the Elves. She even tried her hand at making toys and decided that wasn’t really for her. She learned administrative things from Chris’s main assistance, Islo and eventually figured out how everything worked. Under her supervision, trade routes from the village grew double in size and the village started recruiting Elves from other villages. Eventually the village doubled and doubled again in size until it was the size of the largest cities in Martha’s world.
Chris and Martha made the journey back to Martha’s village every year to meet with Martha’s family. Eventually the story of Martha’s disappearance from the village and this new traveler spread throughout the village. People would come from all around to meet Chris and Chris handed out presents from his village.
The next year Chris and Martha got married out by the frozen lake. It was cold, but it was a quick wedding, so people didn’t freeze. Both humans from Martha’s village and Elves from Chris’s attended the ceremony. Both Chris and Martha wore red which became their signature color.
Eventually the news of a magical gift-giver wrapped in red and his cookie-loving wife spread around the entire world. This gave Martha the idea that Chris should open trade routes throughout Martha’s world as well. The problem being was that the portal would only allow one night a year when trade would happen.
Martha suggested that Chris use his magical abilities as well as the Elven technology to figure out a way to deliver goods all over the world in one night and then return home to the other side. Eventually threw many years of trial and error, Chris had improved his magic and the technology well enough to make this possible.
However, Chris decided that he did not want to set up trade routes for profit. He instead wanted to give back to the world that Martha lived in as a way to thank them for letting him visit and for letting him take Martha back with him. Martha agreed with this idea.
Chris then spent the next few years traveling all around the world delivering presents of toys, clothes, cookies, and other goods to people all over the world as a way to give back. Some people seemed unsure of the man in red, but others embraced him and showered him in thanks. Chris was especially popular with children who loved getting gifts and loved eating the cookies that Martha baked. Then those children grew up and taught their children about a man who would come visit them one night a year and deliver them presents.
Chris’s first stop would be Martha’s village where he would drop off Martha to see her parents. Then he would take a trip around the world delivering presents across the globe all in one night. His last stop was Martha’s village once again where Chris would relax for a little bit after an extensive journey. Everyone would exchange gifts. Chris prided himself on being the best gift giver, but Martha always got Chris the perfect gift. Then Martha and Chris would get back in the sleigh and return home until the next year.
Eventually Chris decided it would be best to change his name. The legends around Chris as a man had grown, but he thought that he could reach more people if he went by some kind of title.
“What about Santa Claus,” Martha suggested.
“Only if you go by Mrs. Claus,” Chris said.
They would be Mr and Mrs. Claus.
Header Photo Credit to Susan Comish
Merry Christmas Photo Credit to Covenant House, Vancouver