Santa's had enough of his job coming before his family.
“I’m done,” the most important man in the Pole declared. “Christmas is canceled.”
Jack paused in the doorway, their five year old son perched on his hip. “Kris? What’s going on? Why are you cancelling Christmas?”
Kris Kringle turned, a smile brightening his face when he spied Jack and little Nick. “Why shouldn’t I?” His smile dimmed as he recalled what had transpired in recent years. “Fewer and fewer people believe. And it’s become so commercialized. I’d rather spend time with you and Nick.”
Jack shifted Nick in his arms. The boy wouldn’t squirm or try to get down. He knew not to run around in the workshop. “Kris, few people believe in Jack Frost anymore, but you don’t see me quitting. I still head down and get winter started every year.”
“People don’t need to believe in you for your magic to work,” Kris protested. “And Nick is old enough this year to remember the holiday.”
“If you cancel Christmas, Nick won’t have a holiday,” Jack pointed out.
“We can still have our own celebration,” Kris said. He set down the toy he’d been examining when he made his declaration. “Stop production. For this year only, Christmas is canceled.”
Jack whispered to Nick, “Go with your Dad.” Setting the boy down, he nudged him after Kris as Santa swept from the workshop. Turning to the elves that were watching him with apprehension, he sighed.
“Mr. Frost, what are we supposed to do?” the head elf, Holly, asked. “If Santa cancels Christmas this year, there might not be a Christmas next year.”
Jack looked around the workshop, at the toys in disarray and the elves in astonishment from Nick’s pronouncement. “Just give it a few hours. I’ll talk to Kris and see if I can’t get him to change his mind.”
Holly spoke up again, “We have a very tight schedule. Even a couple of hours can throw us off.”
“Can you keep working without alerting him?” Jack questioned.
Holly smiled. “We’re elves. It’s what we do.”
Jack returned her smile. “Good. You keep production up and I’ll work on Kris.”
Leaving the workshop, Jack trailed his fingers along the railings, a trail of frost decorating them in his wake. The elves that were making their way through the village giggled at the designs that crept up the railings and across the buildings and windows. Jack snapped his fingers, sending the frost out farther, and raining snowflakes down on the elves.
Nick poked his head out of the doorway. “Papa! Come inside and stop making snow. Daddy made dinner.”
“Be right in, Nick. Go back in before you catch cold,” Jack called back.
Nick’s head disappeared and Jack took one last look around the settlement before heading inside himself. Nick was carefully carrying soup bowls to the table as Kris carried a large pot. Jack shucked the thin jacket he was wearing, never needing much more than that with his affinity for the winter, and hung it up. As he turned, Nick barreled into his legs and he swung the boy into the air. “Did you help your Daddy with dinner?” he asked.
“I did,” Nick answered proudly. “I stirred the stew. And I set the table.”
“Good job.” Jack set him back down, pressing a kiss to Kris’s lips when he was close enough. “Dinner smells delicious.”
“Come and sit. Everything’s ready. Nick, into your chair.”
Nick scrambled into his booster seat, waiting until Kris had scooped stew into his bowl. While he dug in, Kris served Jack and then himself.
“I wanted to talk to you about your decision,” Jack said once he saw that Nick was involved in his dinner.
“I don’t think there’s anything to talk about,” Kris responded. “I want to spend the holiday with you and Nick. I can’t do that if I’m out delivering presents.”
“Think of all the children that will be disappointed. There’s no reason we can’t celebrate afterwards like we always do.”
“Nick is old enough to remember the holiday now. I don’t want his earliest memory to be that Daddy wasn’t there Christmas morning because he was sleeping off Christmas Eve.”
“Christmas is coming!” Nick burst in.
“It is,” Jack agreed with a smile.
“And don’t you want to spend it with Daddy and Papa?” Kris asked.
Nick frowned. “You aren’t going to take toys to the kids, Daddy?”
“Not this year,” Kris explained. “I’m going to stay home with you and Papa.”
“You have to deliver toys, Daddy,” Nick insisted. “All the good kids should get toys.”
Jack hid a grin behind his glass. Maybe he wouldn’t need to convince Kris; Nick might do it for him.
“You don’t want me to stay home with you and Papa?” Kris asked.
“I have an idea,” Jack said, thinking of a solution. “Why don’t Nick and I go with you? Nick needs to see what happens anyway if he’s going to be Santa someday. And then we can still spend the holiday as a family.”
“Yes!” Nick threw his hands up into the air, thankfully empty. “Can we, Daddy?”
Kris looked between the two other members of his family. “I think I’m out-voted. All right. Christmas is back on. I’ll tell Holly after dinner.”
“No need,” Jack admitted. “I told her to keep working. I was hoping we could change your mind.”
“You know me too well, Jack,” Kris said.
They both looked at Nick who was now banging his spoon on the table and chanting, “Sleigh ride. Sleigh ride. Sleigh ride. Sleigh ride.”
Jack chuckled. “All right, Nick. Finish your dinner. It’s not for a few nights.”
Kris smiled. “I’m glad you thought of this. It’s what the holidays are about after all. Spending them with family.”
Word count: 958