Dax loved Christmas. It was his favorite holiday. As soon as Thanksgiving was over, his tree went up, and the stockings were hung by the fireplace with care. As studly and imposing as he was at an impressive 6’2” inches with bulging biceps and square chiseled pecs, he turned into an enthusiastic little boy as soon as Christmas music started on the radio and holiday movies came on the TV.

He worked on Wall Street as a junior trader. Dax was as successful as he was intelligent and attractive. Boasting a full head of dark thick hair, deep chestnut-colored eyes that matched his rich olive skin, he was the talk of the water cooler, and every woman in the office wished they were his. He, however, was a confirmed bachelor who desired nothing more than to have a simple life and a sweet, caring boyfriend to love.

The holiday season meant Christmas vacation and time off. Every year, Dax was eager to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and far away from the rat race that was his job. He enjoyed the city and the excitement of trading, but unlike most people he worked with on the stock market floor, he wasn’t driven by power and money. His pleasures were modest and simple.

Family meant everything to him. His parents lived in the mountains of Ohio in a small town called Jasper Hill. Every year Dax looked forward to flying from New York to the modest home in the mountains where they lived. His yearly trip home meant being with the people he loved most and enjoying some much-needed family time.

Dax was thrilled to be able to get a whole week off to see his family. He’d fly out of JFK on the 23rd of December and get to spend several glorious days drinking eggnog and caroling.

While he waited for the limo to pick him up, a notification on his phone warned him that his flight might be canceled.

Oh, no. Why? What’s going on? Dax panicked at the prospect of being stuck in the city for the holiday. The news reported that a significant winter storm had blown in and caused the small mountain airport to be closed indefinitely. It was clear that no one would be flying to Ohio tonight.

“DAMN IT!” Dax canceled the car taking him to the airport and placed his luggage by the front door. He took off his coat and settled back in for the evening. He was very disappointed with the prospect of losing a day with his family, but Dax attempted to keep a positive outlook on when the next flight out would be.

The day passed, and it was now Christmas Eve. Surely the airport in Ohio would be opened now, and the flights would have resumed! Oddly enough, there were no notifications on his phone that his flight was rescheduled. Feverishly Dax searched for information about the storm and his flight. After hours of waiting on hold, it became evident that there would be no flights out of New York to Rickenbacker airport until possibly tomorrow.

No Christmas with the family! When, if ever, would he get there? Dax’s heart sank at the thought of spending Christmas alone in his small apartment.

Dax knew he needed to break the bad news to his folks. He “FaceTimed” with his family and explained the situation. The festive and confused look from his parents only made him miss his family more. Fighting the urge to show how upset he was, he explained to them that there was no way he could make it home for Christmas Eve because of the storm. “I’ll be home soon, mom. I promise! Don’t worry. I’m not missing Christmas; it just may be delayed a bit.” Mom dabbed dry her eyes. “I know you’ll be here as quickly as you could, son. I’ll have your favorite Holiday roast ready for when you arrive.”

Everyone hung up with a teary goodbye. Dax sat looking at his Christmas tree with the sparkling lights flickering. Best to be grateful for all the things I have – My health, friends, and other blessings today. Soon enough, I’ll be able to see my parents, sister, and my nieces, nephews. Let’s not concentrate on the negative. This is only a minor setback.

A big tree, stockings, family photos, and assorted holiday decorations adorned his quaint abode. Dax was grateful that he did his best to make his modest apartment feel like a winter wonderland this year, especially since he’d be spending Christmas eve by himself.

The weather in the city was blistering cold, and even though his apartment was warm, he cozied under a blanket to watch his favorite holiday films.

Dax didn’t know how exhausted he was from the busy week. Without planning it, he fell asleep on the couch unexpectedly early.

A little later, a rumbling in his stomach reminded him that he had missed dinner and was suddenly starving. The clock on the wall indicated that it was about 11 P.M. Since Dax didn’t plan on being home for the holidays, his refrigerator was empty, and his cupboard was bare.

Dax hated the thought of leaving the toasty comfort of his blanket to get to the store, but there was no denying he was hungry and needed to shop for a few items to get him through the night and possibly the next few days. Reluctantly, he slipped on a pair of jeans, a silly holiday sweater that was a gift from his sister the year prior, and prepared himself for a quick run to the store on the corner.

Snow had blanketed the streets. It was bitter cold, but people scurried about the city, eager to finish their shopping or get home to their families even in the harsh weather. Fortunately for Dax, the market he shopped at was only a half-block away. He briskly walked down the sidewalk in hopes of getting to warmth again quickly.

Arriving in the warm store felt terrific since he was chilled to the bones by just walking a few short feet. Dax made a bee-line up the salad bar. He knew he was too hungry to cook himself an entire meal. The corner market prided itself on having the best and freshest salad bar in the city, and they were right. Everything there was delicious.

A man was standing on the opposite side of the salad bar. He was wearing black boots surrounded by fur and red fleece pants. He wore a heavy jacket, and upon his head was a red stocking cap. As Dax approached the food, he couldn’t help but smile at the sight before him. He was tickled at the sight of Santa having a salad since Santa Claus wasn’t traditionally known for being health-conscious and mindful of his weight.

Upon closer inspection of Saint Nick, Dax could see that unlike the other Santa’s he’d seen before, this Santa was tall, lean, and fit, certainly not like the other Kris Kringle’s at the department store. Rather than the jolly senior citizen he had expected, stood a dark-haired, blue-eyed stud with a killer smile and rock-hard body. Santa’s jacket was open to reveal his shirtless, muscular torso. WOW. This isn’t Santa at all! Perhaps his son? Dax chuckled to himself – Suddenly, he wasn’t hungry for the salad anymore. I’ll help myself to a second eyeful of this stud. He thought.

“Sorry, am I in your way? Let me make some room for you.” The young Santa smiled as he handed him a plastic tray to fill with salad as he stepped aside, making room for him to join him at the bar. Dax’s face had given him away. There was no denying he was hungry for this sexy Santa.

“Hi. My name is Chris.” He laughed at the silliness of having the same first name as Santa. He continued in an adorably bashful way, “But my last name isn’t Kringle. I was just helping my buddy down at the bar by being a ‘hunky’ Santa for them.” He chuckled at the slightly embarrassing situation.

Dax answered without thinking. “Well, I’m sure all the girls at the bar wanted to sit on your lap!” Chris laughed, “Sadly, no one was there. Just me and my buddy who was tending the bar. It seems that everyone had someplace to be tonight except me – and him, and he’s still working.”

Dax knew the feeling. “Yup. Me too. Nowhere to go tonight. I got snowed in. The airport in Ohio is closed indefinitely. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to see my family for a few days now.”

Chris smiled warmly, “I’m sure you’ll get to spend some time with your family soon. Don’t let a day or two delay get you down.”

Dax was taken by this man’s sweet smile and kind eyes. Without thinking, he asked, “Why aren’t you with your family tonight?”
Chris mustered a sweet grin as he softy replied, “It’s just me –not everyone has a family.” Dax quickly readied himself for an apology, but Chris instantly insisted, “No need for saying you’re sorry for something you didn’t do. It’s fine. Really.”

Dax fought the urge to say anything else. He decided to move on with the conversation with a smile, “Why the midnight meal dress like Santa?” Chris smiled, “As I mentioned, I was helping a buddy at the bar earlier, but now, I’m going to get fully dressed as the real Santa and hand out gifts at the nearby orphanage.”

Dax was touched by this sweet man who was doing all these good deeds on Christmas Eve. “That sounds awesome. It must be gratifying to see young people’s faces light up as they get gifts from you.” Chris suddenly got emotional as it was evident that he was fighting the swelling of a tear in his eye. “It’s what Christmas means to me.”

Dax smiled in appreciation. He was envious of what Chris was doing and what joy it brought him.

“I could always use another elf. With that sweater, you’re dressed perfectly to be a helper.” Chris gave an inviting grin as he continued. “It’ll only take an hour. I think you’d enjoy the experience.”

Dax finished gathering his salad in the plastic tray as he thought more about it. It was true; he didn’t have anywhere to go this evening. Helping out people less fortunate seemed like the right thing to do, especially tonight.

Without further hesitation, Dax replied, “Sure, if you’d like, we could eat quickly at my place and head over. I’ll be happy to help.” Chris looked at his watch. “Only if you live close. I’ve got to be there in thirty minutes, and it’s a ten-minute walk.” Dax assured him that he was only up the block and they’d be able to make it.

Chris was thrilled to have a warm apartment to sit down and eat rather than standing in the chilly little store to eat; plus, he needed a comfortable place to get the rest of his costume on.

After gathering the rest of their food, they hurried up to Dax’s apartment. Dax ate as Chris slipped into his full costume. A red jacket with white fur and a pillow covered Chris’s six-pack abs. Dax helped as he and Chris did their best to make the white beard and wig look natural. It wasn’t easy transforming this hunky stud into a jolly older man, but somehow, they pulled it off.

Chris bellowed with a laugh and a hearty “HO – HO – HO.” Dax was sold. Saint Nick, in all his glory, was now present in his apartment. Chris was pleased with his transformation as he smiled a toothy grin and gave a wink with his sparkling brilliant blue eyes.

Dax couldn’t help himself as he admired Chris. “You went from the sexiest Santa I’d ever seen to the hottest zaddy on the north pole!” Chris chuckled in appreciation of the compliment and reminded Dax they needed to head out so they wouldn’t be late.

Dax quickly rushed to the closet to get a warmer jacket for their walk to the nearby orphanage. Inside the front door stood the extra suitcase full of gifts he had packed for his family. Without a second thought, he grabbed the suitcase and told Chris he was ready.

Chris was a bit confused, “Whoa, we’re only going a few blocks away. We’ll be done at midnight. You’re not going to need to take any luggage.”

Dax laughed at the absurdity of him bringing a giant suitcase with them as he explained, “This isn’t clothes; it’s gifts for my nieces and nephews. I’m sure my family would prefer these things go to people who have less than they do.”

Chris couldn’t help but give Dax a bear hug. Rather than the sweet embrace, it was meant to be. The two men giggled at the awkwardness of the moment with Chris’s big belly between them.
“Best go now. This will be a very kind gesture by a charming man,” Chris assured. “I’m sure everyone will be very grateful for your contributions.”

Dax and Chris hurried to get to their appointment. Upon entering the space, thunderous applause and shrieks echoed through the halls of the shelter at the sight of Santa’s arrival. Dax felt like he had joined a rock concert with Santa as the star of the show. Children lit up as Santa hurried to a make-shift throne set in the middle of the room, belting out hearty “HO-HO-HO’s.” Next to the impressively decorated wooden chair lay a large red bag full of gifts for adults and children as each person came up to Santa, eyes sparkling with hope and joy.

Dax couldn’t help but feel grateful for being invited to this wonderful gathering. Although he missed his family, there was nowhere he’d rather be at this moment.

One by one, each of the young adults and children approached Santa. Upon sitting on his lap, they whispered a few sweet thoughts on what they were grateful for this year. Each face glowed with excitement and gratitude after receiving the gift he presented them.

Santa reached in and pulled out the last box, and handed it to a child. The little boy thanked him and scampered away. Oddly enough, there remained numerous children in line waiting for a present. Sadly, Santa’s sizeable red bag was now empty. The remaining few knew what was happening. It was apparent that there were no more presents to give out tonight. The children remained stoic and strong; however, their disappointment was undeniable. Santa quickly bellowed a loud and hearty, “HO, HO, HO, don’t you think that Santa forgot you! This bag may be empty, but my helper here has brought more gifts for everyone!

Santa stood and motioned for Dax to sit on the throne. Dax was shocked and embarrassed to be the center of attention now, but the renewed, shining smiles from the children in line quickly made him feel welcomed. He quickly opened his suitcase, revealing a bounty of colorfully wrapped packages. The children squealed with delight as they hurried to Dax’s lap, grateful for something of their own.

Gift by gift, he handed out to an appreciative child. The line became shorter and shorter, but still, there were a few small children left. Dax quietly grew anxious as the suitcase emptied. He quietly asked for one Christmas wish, “Please, Santa or whoever is up there, please let there be enough presents in this bag for every child here.” Soon the line came to an end as the last child jumped up on Dax’s lap. Her big, sweet eyes looked at Dax with an innocent smile, her pixie brown hair needed to be cut, and her clothes were slightly more worn than they should be. “My name’s Rochelle,” she whispered sweetly; her face conveyed more concern for Dax than for herself. She bashfully leaned in and whispered in his ear, “It’s okay if there are no more gifts for me. It was very nice of you to share what you had with all of us.” Dax could feel tears swelling in his eyes. There was no way he was going to disappoint this little girl on Christmas eve. “Let’s just see if we have one more present for an extraordinary person.” Dax reached down into the suitcase and quietly pleaded that there was something for his hand to grasp. At first, he felt around the corners and could find nothing. His heart sank, but he was determined not to give up.

Suddenly, a large smile formed on his face. It was unlike any he’d ever had before. His fingers could feel a small, square box with a hand-made ribbon on it. He knew exactly what was inside of it, judging from the size. It was something he purchased for his niece –a little gold necklace that ironically said, “I’m special.” This was indeed the perfect gift for this adorable tot, and he knew that it had found its rightful recipient. With a full heart of cheer, the likes he had never felt before, he enthusiastically told the girl, “No one forgot you this Christmas. Here you go. I hope you enjoy it” Dax handed her the box as she smiled in delight and hugged him.” Thank you and Merry Christmas, Mister Elf,” she whispered in his ear. “Merry Christmas to you,” he replied to her.

Santa gave Dax a wink and a joy-filled smile. He assured him it was time to go. Dax agreed, and the two men made a hasty retreat so that everyone could enjoy their gifts and time together.

Once outside, Chris removed his Santa beard and white wig. “Fun, huh?”

Dax was almost too choked up to reply, “Honestly. That was wonderful. Thank you for inviting me to join you.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it. Now you could see why I look forward to doing this every year,” Chris answered.

The two men walked down the street, coyly glancing at the other and shyly looking away—neither of them wanting this evening to end. Dax was full of cheer and adrenaline, “I know it’s late, but if you’re up for a cup of spiked eggnog, I’ve got some back at my place. I’d love it if you came up for a bit.”

Chris nodded as he replied, “that sounds wonderful.”

Minutes later, the two men were back in Dax’s apartment. Dax was in the kitchen warming up the holiday cocktails as Chris slipped out of his Santa suit. From the other room, Dax called out. “The radiator in the apartments broken. I know it’s warm; feel free to make yourself comfortable.”

When Dax returned with the warm mugs, he was pleasantly surprised to see that Chris had done just that. He had removed the oversized Santa shirt and boots and sat comfortably on the couch wearing only his red fleece Santa pants.

Dax couldn’t help but think to himself, “Ho, ho, HOT! Now that’s a package that I’d like to unwrap!” Rather than jumping on top of Chris and kissing him wildly like he desperately wanted to do, he decided to take the more friendly approach. Dax handed him his eggnog, put on some caroling music, and set the beautifully decorated Christmas tree to “twinkle” mode.

Chris eagerly sipped from the mug and further cozied himself on the couch. He was loving every minute of the holiday and excitedly soaked in Dax’s decorations. Chris apologized for his state of undress. “I hope you don’t mind me taking off that huge Santa Shirt, it’s so big, and with that silly fake white fur, it’s kind of uncomfortable.” He continued, “I know that sitting here bare-chested seems kind of forward of me, and I don’t mean it to be awkward. If you’d like, I could put it back on, or if you’d care to loan me a tee-shirt, I could cover-up.”

Dax thought it was adorable at how modest he was. Especially with such an impressive physique. Why cover up something so spectacular? He assured Chris that he wanted him to be comfortable. “No, please, whatever you need to do to be comfortable is fine with me.”

Chris gave him a wry smile, “Well, without a shirt, I could easily catch a chill. Perhaps you could join me on the couch and help me stay warm?”

Dax didn’t need to be asked twice. He gladly joined Chris as they both cuddled on the couch, drinking their eggnog and listening to holiday music.

Chris was the first to speak after a few minutes of quiet snuggling. “This has turned out to be the best Christmas Eve I’ve had in a long while. Thank you for joining me tonight and for your generosity to those kids.”

Dax said that he should be thanking Chris. “Tonight has truly turned into a special night for me too.” He couldn’t stop looking at Chris. It was inevitable that he wouldn’t be able to contain himself much longer. Slowly Dax leaned forward and gently put his lips on Chris’s mouth.

Dax’s heart raced at the sensation of this stud’s soft, warm moist lips pressed against his. He couldn’t resist wrapping his arms around him, pulling him towards him tightly. Before he knew it, Chris had turned the tables on him and had him pinned down on the couch and was kissing him passionately. Dax certainly wasn’t complaining. He wanted even more.

Dax jokingly teased, “Santa, that’s an impressive candy cane in your pocket.”

Chris chuckled a “Thank you,” and replied, “You should see how I use it to stuff a stocking.”

“What are we waiting for?” Dax gleefully replied as he took Chris’s hand and escorted him into the bedroom, where the two men spent the remainder of the evening in each other’s arms making love.

It was in the early morning when a series of alerts on Dax’s phone woke him. The phone’s chimes wouldn’t relent. Dax finally had to look to see what the urgency was.

The messages indicated that the airport near his parents’ house was now clear for arrivals and the next plane out of New York was in two hours. He knew that he could make the flight and be with his family by noon if he hurried.

Dax rolled over to see Chris sleeping next to him. His hair tussled, and a few creases were pressed into his cheek from sleeping so soundly. The morning light bathed his naked body in a golden glow; somehow, this incredible man managed to look even more studly now than he did the night before.

Dax softly kissed Chris to wake him up. Slowly his eyes opened, and a smile emerged on his face.
“Merry Christmas,” he said groggily.

Dax wished him a Merry Christmas and asked him a surprising question. “I know this is going to sound insane, but I was going to run to the airport now to fly to my folk’s house in Ohio. If I could get another ticket, want to join me?”

Considering this ludicrous proposition, the two men lay naked in the bed together for less than a minute. Chris shyly replied, “Are you sure you want me to join you? At your family’s for Christmas?”

Dax laughed, “I’m positive! I want nothing more than for you to join me and meet them.” Chris meekly nodded a “yes” as he whispered, “It sounds like a wonderful way to spend the holiday.”

Minutes later, Dax purchased an additional ticket, he packed a few extra things for him in his bag for Chris to wear, and the two men raced out to the airport.

Dax’s family loved having Chris join them. Dax’s nieces, nephews, and family were delighted to know that their gifts when to people who would genuinely treasure them. And everyone being together made it the best holiday they all had ever had.

That year, …and every day after that, both Dax and Chris got the only gift they both ever wanted… A family.