Authors: Kirsten Mortensen
The most unbelievable Christmas Story you’ve ever read. And
it’s absolutely true.
By Kirsten Mortensen
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any
persons, living or dead, or to any actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright 2014 by Kirsten Mortensen
First of all: forget everything you ever heard about
him being a fat old guy who’s never seen a razor.
I mean, think about it. Santa’s an immortal. He’s
A god, basically. And I’m telling you, he looks like a god.
The guy is
Those things you’ve seen about the goofy red suit
and the big jiggly belly? Most of it comes from a poem a guy wrote for his
kids. “’Twas the night before Christmas.” You know the poem I mean. And it’s a
nice poem. It’s a timeless classic.
But the guy who wrote that poem? He’d never seen
He made it all up.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I saw him—but I’m not
the one who found him.
Clare found him.
She found him—then she nearly lost him again.
The whole thing was really hard on Clare. So at one
point, when she was at a very low place, I suggested she write everything down.
I was trying to help her get through it all. Journaling
seemed like a logical thing to do.
Most of this little book is Clare’s journal.
I had to tweak a few things. Clare’s an awful
speller, for one thing, so I had to fix her spelling. Second, I added some
notes. I wrote a little bit about Clare at the beginning, and there are times
when I added my observations to make the story clearer.
Third, I broke it into chapters. I put my name—I’m Savannah—on
my chapters and Clare’s name on the chapters taken from her journal.
So with that introduction, I’ll tell you a little
bit about Clare.
My best friend: Clare.
We’ve been friends ever since the fifth grade, when we sat
next to each other in Miss Salito’s math class.
It started out a partnership of convenience. Fifth
grade was the year that homework became more challenging, and we found out that
we complemented each other beautifully. Clare helped me with Language Arts. I
helped her with Math.
As we got older, we started to become truly close. We
discovered that we are both fascinated by people and why they behave as they
do. We’d talk for hours about our friends and our friends’ parents and topics
like “sibling order and its effect on personality.”
By junior high, everybody started thinking of us as best
It felt good. I’m a logical person, but when it came
to Clare, I got that same kind of achy happiness about being best friends that
I’d feel later when I started to get crushes on boys.
Being friends also helped us both cope with puberty
and all the crazy social stuff that happens during high school. Clare was my
sounding board for everything. I was her sounding board for everything.
It made things so much
Speaking of boys: we each dated a little here and
there, but we both agreed that there was really only one boy in the entire
school who was worthy of our love.
I guess every school has a Josh Martin. He was suave
beyond his years and had an adorable smile. He got good grades, but wasn’t the least
bit nerdy. He was an excellent athlete, but never acted cocky about it.
He was perfect.
There’s not a girl in our class who would have
turned down a chance to date Josh Martin.
Clare and I talked about him endlessly. He was the
universal measuring stick for every other boy we ever discussed: the closer any
boy came to being exactly like Josh Martin, the more perfect he was.
Of course, we both knew that Josh Martin would never
ask either of
on a date. We were both late bloomers. I still had my
baby fat until midway through college. As for Clare, back in high school she
had the habit of ducking her head whenever anyone looked at her. Don’t
misunderstand: she was already beautiful by high school … although, in
retrospect, her looks were a bit too exotic for high school boys. She had high
cheekbones, and thick glossy hair, and enormous eyes. She looked almost like an
anime character, with those eyes.
You get the picture. Both Clare and I were waaaay
down the list of prospective girl friends for Josh Martin.
That didn’t stop us from pretending. Sure, we both
liked other boys from time to time. But our girl talks would always go like
“You won’t believe this! [Fill in the blank] was
staring at me all through physics lab!”
“Oh my gawd. He is SO going to ask you out!”
“And he is SO cute!”
“Why don’t you ask
“I just might! Unless Josh Martin asks me out
And then we’d start laughing uncontrollably.
That line always made us laugh.
You know what else is funny? How the habits you make
during high school stick with you afterwards. Of course, the whole “Josh Martin
is all that” thing evolved as we got older. It no longer gave us the giggles,
but it was still our inside joke. We both attended SUNY Geneseo, and even there,
if a guy asked one of us out, we’d smile at each other and say, “He’s not bad.
But he’s no Josh Martin!”
We also sometimes talked about whether our standards
were too high.
Had our Josh Martin standard morphed into a fantasy
lover scenario that no real guy would ever be able to match?
Follow up question: is that why when we graduated
college we were both still single … still waiting for the magical entrance of
our One True Loves?
The month we finished college we had our first real
Clare wanted to move out west.
In fact, she almost moved—and thank goodness I
argued her out of it.
What happened was this: there was this guy, Trevor
Huntsman, who we knew because he was also getting his elementary education
certification. We were in a lot of the same classes. He was pretty cute and he
had a crush on Clare, and I think she was starting to like him back. But I
didn’t trust the guy.
One night we ran into him at a frat party and he
said he was moving to Arizona. He said there were more teaching jobs in Arizona
than in New York State. He also said that he had a friend who had offered him a
place to stay.
“You should come too,” Trevor said to us—but mostly
to Clare. “I need someone to share the driving.”
I saw Clare’s eyes light up. The idea excited her.
But the more Trevor talked about it, the more it
started to sound dicey to me. I asked him several good questions. How had he
met this friend he planned to live with? How did he know that there were more jobs
out there? Were our New York State teaching certificates transferrable?
Good questions, don’t you think?
Trevor’s answers were all very vague.
didn’t seem to care about any of those things. When we talked about it
afterward, all that seemed to matter was that it would be an adventure. “Don’t
you want to see other parts of the country before you settle down?” she said.
“Not really,” I told her.
She looked so shocked.
I reconsidered my answer.
“Well,” I said, “sure, I’d like to
But let’s be practical about it. Let’s save our money and take a trip, and
research the job market ourselves while we’re there.”
“But what if we never end up actually doing that?”
“I promise we will,” I said. “And Clare, it will be
so much safer. I mean, you don’t even really
That’s how our conversations went on for maybe two
weeks, until finally she agreed with me. Hopping into a car with a guy you barely
know and driving across country to live with other people you don’t know at
all? It might not be a very mature thing to do.
We reached a compromise. We’d do what I
suggested—save our money—then take a trip together the following summer.
And then: guess what. We never made the trip, and do
you know why?
Because Trevor got murdered. Yep. Right outside that
And it could have been Clare.
I didn’t say as much to her. But she knew it.
She knew that by stopping her, I’d maybe saved her
Instead of the hare-brained move-to-Arizona idea, we
ended up back in Rochester.
We both had a few interviews for teaching jobs that
summer, but we were competing against hundreds of other applicants. So to pay
the bills, Clare took a job at Abercrombie in Eastview Mall and I began waiting
on tables at The Outback in Henrietta.
It paid the rent.
It was a nice summer, really.
Then the leaves turned color, and then fell off, and
the weather turned cold, and it was December.
We agreed we’d exchange Christmas presents. But we
would only give each other one thing, and we’d spend no more than $10 on it.
After all, money was tight and we both had student loans to pay off.
But I ended up getting her a second present—the best
I got her a date with Josh Martin.
But I’ll let Clare start that story …
CLARE: December 8
Is that how I should start this?
I don’t know where to start.
Hang on, I’m going to text Savannah.
CLARE: December 8, con’t
Okay. I texted her.
She said start with Josh.
Here’s what happened.
This was a little over a month ago, early November.
Savannah told me that she’d run into this guy Josh Martin that we’d both
crushed on in high school. He was living in Rochester, it turned out. And he
thought I was hot.
I thought she was joking, I really did.
Josh Martin, really?
But she wasn’t joking. We met up with him the next
night for Happy Hour at Jeremiah’s and sure enough, it was him.
Martin. And he was nice enough to Savannah. But I was the one he was checking
No doubt about it.
I guess it’s one of those things. You’re in high
school, you’re kind of awkward, you lack confidence. Then you go to college,
you grow up, you start to feel more comfortable in your own skin. I mean,
that’s it, right? I was the same person I’d always been. But now Josh was
It was the most exciting thing that had happened to
me in a long time! Because, you know how some people are born misfits? Not me
and Savannah. We were never misfits!
Know what I mean? We fit in. Always did well in
school, never got into any trouble. Always played it safe.
But I was curious about misfits. I tried to hang out
with them in college sometimes. I went to meetings of environmental people and
socialist people and libertarian people and people who meditate for world
peace. I had beers with girls my age who had sleeve tattoos and with boys my
age who had stretchers making big holes in their ear lobes.
Savannah didn’t like it very much, but she put up
with it because I told her I was interested in understanding people and college
might be our last chance to hang out with people who are really different than
But I wasn’t being entirely honest.
The fact was, I was worried.
I was worried that my life might end up being way,
way too boring.
And then we were out of college and instead of going
anywhere or doing anything exciting we were back in the town where we’d grown
up. And it looked like that might be it. My world might never be any bigger
than good ol’ Rochester, New York.
So you can see why having Josh interested in me was
such a big deal.
That first night, when we were leaving, he asked me
for my phone number, and after we got back to the apartment Savannah and I sat
up for hours, we were so excited.
She was calling me Mrs. Josh Martin, and I was
picking out names for our kids—the whole thing.
And it was like, okay, it all makes sense now. This
is why I am here in Rochester instead of off exploring the world …
A quick note to tell you how it happened:
It was an hour or so before I had to be to work.
I was ordering a mocha latte at the Starbucks on
The guy in front of me paid for his coffee and
And it was him. Josh.
But I pretended I was all cool. I said, “Josh
Martin? Savannah Ackerman. We went to high school together.”
And he remembered me!
We ended up sitting at one of the little bistro
tables and chatting. He told me he’d gotten a degree in business administration
and was back in town working at his father’s insurance company.
That made my heart just melt. Josh Martin.
Josh Martin—and he had a real job. He hadn’t gone
off to be a movie star or—I don’t know, something even more exotic and exciting,
like the world’s first Olympic base jumper gold medalist.
Nope. Instead, he’d come back home. He’d done
something so sensible it gave my stomach flip flops.
And guess what else?
He didn’t have a ring on his finger!
Of course I told him I was rooming with Clare.
At first he couldn’t remember her, but then I showed
him a pic of her on my phone and his eyes got all wide.
“Wow,” he said. “Now I remember. She was real shy,
right? Wow. She is
!” He laughed and said he hoped that wasn’t offensive
or anything. I said of course not—and then one thing led to another and we made
plans to get together—me, him and Clare—for a cocktail.
To be honest, I felt a
twinge of jealousy.
But it was only a tiny twinge. Clare and I were best friends. If Josh Martin
asked her out, it would be almost as good as dating him myself.
I didn’t even wait to get back to the apartment to
I texted her as soon as Josh finished his coffee and
u r never going to believe what just happened merry
christmas merry christmas clareclareclareclareclare!!!!