We’ve all heard of Santa Claus and his loving wife Mrs. Claus, and how they’re living happily ever after, but have you ever heard the story of how this iconic couple came to be? Well, their relationship wasn’t always so perfect, in fact, they faced many obstacles throughout the beginning of it, but the true love they share was great enough to overcome all the problems that stood in their way. This love story starts many, many years ago in a quiet little town near the North Pole, when a little boy and a little girl were both born, each to very different families, but in the same small town.
The little girl was named Madeline Merry, and she was born into the most affluent family in the town of Longyearbyen. She had a loving mother and father, along with three older sisters, Ariana, Natalie, and Amelia. Her family had founded the local library, the college, the first pharmacy, the post office, and almost every original building in town. Mr. Merry was the proud and prosperous CEO of Merry Coal Industries, and Mrs. Merry worked in the home raising the children, and was very involved in the community.
The little boy was born Christopher Kringle, to a little family in Longyearbyen. His mother and father were very caring, and Christopher was a brother to his seven brothers and sisters. There was never much money to spare in the Kringle household, but they had a lot of love, as well as hand-me-downs to keep them warm throughout the winter months. Christopher’s father, John, was a hard-worker, and he was an employee at Merry Coal Industries, where he had worked for all his life. Christopher’s mother, Donna, was a very generous woman, and she volunteered at the local children’s shelter almost daily. She was also a great baker, and would often sell her baked goods on the main street in Longyearbyen if the weather was good.
Throughout their childhood, Christopher and Madeline had few interactions. They were in the same classes throughout grade school, and Christopher always thought that Madeline was the prettiest girl in school, but he was always too nervous to talk to her in class. There was never time for him to talk to her after school though, because Madeline’s afternoons were always filled with ballet lessons, or horseback riding, or piano classes, so Christopher settled on seeing her in school, and spent the rest of his time volunteering at the church and helping his mother at the children’s shelter.
Madeline was a very pretty girl, and there were many boys in school that would ask her out on dates, but she was always bored by those boys. The boys would only ever talk to her about themselves, and ask her to try and get them a job with her father, and Madeline began to feel like the boys were only using her to get good connections with her family rather than because they actually like her. Another thing she didn’t like about the boys was how they would take her out on extravagant dates or buy her expensive gifts because that’s what they thought she wanted, rather than just ask her what she wanted to do. If they had bothered to ask her, she would’ve told them how she would rather go to the local diner and share a milkshake or just go on a walk in the park, but it seemed as though the boys thought they knew what she wanted more than she did.
Christopher, however, caught Madeline’s eye, and she believed there was something different about him than all the other boys in school. She would often see him helping with the children at the children’s shelter on her way home from school, and she was intrigued by him. He always stayed after in class to help teachers tidy the classroom at the end of the school day, and he just seemed so positive and kind to everyone he interacted with. Madeline had always wanted to get to know him more, but she thought that because he didn’t try to talk to her in school that he wasn’t interested in her, which couldn’t have been further from the truth.
When Madeline and Christopher were both getting ready to graduate high school it was assumed that Madeline would be attending the local college as her family had helped found it, and that was where everyone in her family had gone to college for over a hundred years. No one assumed Christopher would go to college though. His family couldn’t afford it, and neither of his parents had attended college, so it was assumed that Christopher would get a job at the coal company just as his father had done. Christopher was a very smart boy, and had always dreamt of going to college, but he knew it was an unattainable dream. The day of their graduation, however, a large check was brought to the high school, with Christopher’s name on it. The church and children’s shelter had pulled together enough money to send Christopher to college! This was the greatest gift that Christopher had ever received, and he promised them that he would make the most of his time in college.
The summer before their first semester of college, Madeline’s oldest sister, Ariana, got married to her fiancé Michael, and there was a huge party to celebrate. Michael was a very successful man from a wealthy family in a nearby town, and he worked with Mr. Merry at the coal company. He and Ariana would be very happy together. Christopher worked many small jobs throughout the summer before college to try and save up some money, and one of those jobs was for the catering company that was hosting the wedding party. Christopher’s job was to refill drinks and make sure that the guests were kept happy. When he noticed that Madeline’s drink was empty, he rushed over to her, but he wasn’t paying attention and bumped into another worker, which caused him to spill the drink on Madeline’s dress, which was no doubt worth more than double his paycheck. Mr. and Mrs. Merry were very upset and began to cause a scene, but Madeline tried hard to calm them down, and assured Christopher that it was alright. He walked with her to the backroom, where she tried to get the spilled drink off of her dress and he was apologizing profusely, to which she reassured him that she was not upset, and that she never really liked the dress anyways. While Christopher was embarrassed from the whole interaction, it was his first time really talking to Madeline, which was something he had wanted to do since the second grade. Madeline finished cleaning off her dress and went back to the party, but she was thinking about Christopher the whole rest of the night, and how nice he had been.
The rest of the summer flew by, and both Madeline and Christopher had almost forgotten about the wedding party interaction they had at the beginning of the summer. They each moved into their college dorms, which just so happened to be in the same building, and began preparing for the first day of classes. Madeline was majoring in journalism, because she wanted to give a voice to those in need who had no way to share their struggles. Christopher was majoring in geography, because he had always wanted to travel around the world and meet new people.
The first day of class came quickly, and Madeline and Christopher were scheduled for their freshman English class at the same time. Christopher came to class 10 minutes early to make sure that he could get a good seat and had time to get a coffee before the class started. Madeline woke up late, and barely had time to brush her teeth and get dressed before she went to class, and when she got there, there was only one seat open, right next to Christopher. She came in and sat down next to him, and they both whispered hello to one another. The wedding party incident where she first talked to Christopher flooded back to her memory, and she was excited to know at least one person in her first college class. Christopher was so excited that she had sat next to him, even though no other seats had been open, and he decided that he would talk to her after class. The class ended, and Christopher waited at the door for Madeline to come out. He said hello to her and the conversation flowed easily between them. He asked her if he could walk her to her next class, which she agreed to, and during their walk they discovered that they lived in the same dorm building. Throughout that first semester, Christopher and Madeline began studying together, which turned into getting coffee or dinner together, and pretty soon they started seeing each other every day.
The first couple years of college Madeline and Christopher were best friends, but as they got closer, their feelings for each other grew, and they began dating seriously. By this time, however, both of Madeline’s two other older sisters, Natalie and Amelia, had gotten married to men from wealthy families, and Mr. and Mrs. Merry were expecting Madeline to do the same. Madeline was not interested in how much money Christopher’s family had, or how great of a job he would get after college, she just knew that she was extremely happy with Christopher and that was all that mattered to her. Their senior year of college, Madeline brought Christopher home for Christmas to meet her family. This should have been a happy time for the Merry family to meet Christopher, but unfortunately, he was not the type of man they wanted Madeline to be with. It was a very uncomfortable Christmas, and to avoid her family, Madeline and Christopher went to volunteer at the children’s shelter with Christopher’s mother, which helped them both to remember what truly mattered about the holidays.
After their time at the children’s shelter, Madeline and Christopher went back to the Claus’ house for a nice Christmas dinner. It was a much more comfortable atmosphere than the Merry house had been, and Madeline felt right at home being around Christopher and his brothers and sisters. They got through the rest of the holidays, and Madeline had to have a very uncomfortable conversation with her parents about Christopher. They told her that they thought he was a lovely man, but he just wasn’t the type of man that a girl like her should be with, and Madeline told them that she didn’t want to be with any other man than Christopher. They told her that she was being selfish for wasting all the opportunities that they had given her to make sure she had a stable future, which was devastating for Madeline, because she felt the most selfless when she was around Christopher and helping him give back to their community. The problem was that her family only gave back to the community because of how it made them look, not because it really helped people, and that was exactly what Madeline was trying to avoid. She knew that if she didn’t take a stand now and defend herself and what she wanted, she would spend the rest of her life exactly like everyone else in her family did, and she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in Longyearbyen only caring about what other people thought of her. She wanted to finish school and travel the world with Christopher, helping and advocating for those in need, but her parents didn’t understand this, and would never allow it.
The second semester of their senior year of college, Madeline started working at the library part time to make some money of her own. She saved all the money she earned, and once her and Christopher graduated, they packed their bags and went on a three-month trip around the world. Her parents were furious and said that they would not support it, but Madeline packed all the money she had earned from working and left for her trip. Madeline and Christopher had the most amazing trip. They visited New York City, and Paris and Rome, where they tried new food and met new people, in each place finding ways to give back to the local communities. They traveled to India, and Japan, and all across Europe with nothing but their backpacks and the money they had. In each place, they stayed they got small jobs to support themselves, and they learned so much about the world and about each other. In their last stop before returning home, Christopher proposed to Madeline with a small gold ring, and she said yes!
She was nervous to come home and face her family, but when they arrived back in Longyearbyen, her family greeted her and Christopher with the warmest of welcomes and told them they supported their relationship as long as they were happy. Mr. and Mrs. Merry told Madeline that they were so angry when she first left, but the longer she was away they more they realized that they were proud of her for standing up for what she wanted, even if it went against their own wants, and that they would rather compromise than never see their daughter again. It was a dream come true for Madeline and Christopher, to have both of their families support in their marriage, and a few months later they were finally married, on Christmas Day, and the whole town celebrated with them. Madeline learned to bake Christopher’s favorite chocolate chip cookies from his mother, and they spent their time giving back to the children of Longyearbyen. Every year around Christmas Mr. and Mrs. Claus would take trips around the world to give to children, and they lived happily ever after.
Sarah L. Gallagher is a senior Biology major with a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies, and is from Fayetteville.