Mr and Mrs Christian spend the night with Father Christmas, final part

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“Sir,” said Mr C to Father Christmas, “do you have a room where we pilgrims can meet?”

Father Christmas slowly smiled, then winked. “Yes, by the street door,” he said. “I think you can find your own way…”

The pilgrims hurried out of his splendid dining hall, and past the door that led onto the main square of Vanity Fair. This door had been left open, and Godly Affection closed it with a strong hand against the howling wind and moonless darkness. They sought and found refuge in the small appointed room…


Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5


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Sweet Remembrance was missing. No sooner had the pilgrims reached the private room than they noticed. Immediately Mr Christian and Godly Affection left to find her, while her mother, Blessed Fellowship, led the women in prayer.

After they had prayed, Fellowship said, “Remembrance has always been sensitive, dwelling too much on the past. And Father Christmas has made much of her, you see, and it’s difficult not to respond in a friendly way when friendship is offered by such a person.”

“I remember how she was as a little girl,” said Mrs C. “She couldn’t bear to see even a tiny flower crushed underfoot and cried over it.”

“That’s true!” Godly Joy exclaimed. “I often tried to comfort her.”

Fellowship sighed. “Recently she determined to remember only the good things. But this has made her cling to the kind of memories Father Christmas provides.”

True Need stirred in Mrs. C’s arms and Mrs C quieted her. “In this way the Cross of Christ will be forgotten.”

“The cross is an offense,” Fellowship replied. “But in the home of Father Christmas there is no offense.”

Joy seemed to consider this. “Here, there is happiness. But in the cross of Christ there is eternal bliss.”

Fellowship smiled at Joy. “Your sister knows all of this but finds it difficult to part with things.”

There was a sharp knock and the door was flung open. Father Christmas appeared, his face flushed more than usual. He was gripping Remembrance by the arm, and he pushed her towards them, saying, “She is harping on the past again – even weeping about ‘the massacre of the innocents’! Did a massacre even happen? And the men overstepped the bounds! Here they come, ranting like hypocrites!”

Mr C and Godly Affection entered behind him. “Ho!” Godly Affection cried. “What is happening here?”

“And you!” Father Christmas’s voice rose. “If you want to talk about death – which is all you do – do your talking elsewhere! This is a house of cheer. I’ve had enough – you were warned, all of you! Take your belongings and go!”

“At night in winter?” Mrs C cried. “Pity us, sir – please! At least think of the child.”

Father Christmas smiled briefly upon True Need whose head was resting on Mrs C’s shoulder. “You have till the cock-crow,” he said.

After reading in their Holy Book the following passage, they spent the night praying.  

24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25 who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed… (Acts 4)

The cock crowed, the child True Need stirred, and the pilgrims awoke, prayed, and went forth into a world of glittering hoarfrost under a low sky that promised a bit of relief from the penetrating cold, their way leading across difficult snowy hills.

Behind them, beneath a creeping fog, the city of Vanity Fair still lay sleeping. Before them, in the distance and aglow with light, the Celestial City stood, beautiful beyond imagining and beckoning to them. Mr and Mrs C were walking with the child True Need safely between them, holding her hands. True Need was now seeing the Celestial City for the first time.

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Cropped image - Val Lemina (TO, Italy) seen from Talucco Alto, F Ceragioli, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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Mr and Mrs Christian spend the night with Father Christmas, part 5

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…Mr and Mrs Christian took a seat at Father Christmas’s dinner table, and Mrs C lifted the little girl True Need onto her lap. Lady Amusement was seated nearby, flanked by admirers, beguiling them with her wit and infectious laughter.

Fellow pilgrims were seated on either side of Mr and Mrs C, their dearest friends – Lady Blessed Fellowship and her daughters, Sweet Remembrance and Godly Joy.

True Need watched them all as she drank from a cup of milk Mrs C held for her…


Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 


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Feeling shy in the presence of such great persons, Mrs Christian silently watched and listened. Lady Amusement seemed to notice Lady Fellowship and her daughters just then, and her face showed that she approved of Fellowship, for Fellowship was indeed gracious and lovely to behold.

“Sober on Christmas Eve, dear Fellowship?” Amusement’s eyes twinkled as she tried to engage her in conversation. “And your daughters sober, too? But every heart needs to be merry at least once a year!”

Amusement’s friend, Mrs Wit, whispered to those near her, ‘Her daughters need to know that if they hope to marry they’ll have to adorn themselves with more than modesty.’

Mrs C blushed and let her gaze rest upon the child True Need who had fallen asleep in her arms.

Fellowship answered Amusement: “Sobriety is the friend of true merriment, and modesty of lasting affection. Many worthy men have married a modest wife, dear Amusement, and walked in the light of such companionship the rest of their days. Here is a man who has such a hope coming to greet us!”

Fellowship’s daughter Godly Joy smiled as she watched her betrothed, Godly Affection, crossing the room.

Mrs C smiled as she watched the two young people, but there was something in Godly Affection’s hurried step that warned of evil tidings. Soon Father Christmas was seen hastening after him and calling to him.

“No mention of this during the celebration, sir!” Father Christmas commanded. “Do you hear?!”

Godly Affection quickened his step. Reaching the pilgrims at the table, he leaned down to confer with them. Father Christmas interposed himself, shouting, “Enough!”

Lady Fellowship said to Christmas, “Excuse me, sir, but we must hear him out.” She turned to Godly Affection. “Speak your mind!”

“Yes, please, my dear!” his betrothed pleaded.

Godly Affection answered, “I’ve met a brother who has just returned from visiting his family in the City of Destruction.” 

“What news?” cried Mr C, for his own and his wife’s families lived there.

Mrs C leaned forward, trembling.

Godly Affection said,”The city is full of tumult and confusion, wars, famine and plague.” Godly Joy began to weep and he took her hand.

Father Christmas raised his voice. “Silence! Why trouble ourselves with rumors gotten secondhand? Eat, drink  – be merry! There’s time enough for the Cross tomorrow. Tonight is for the Manger.”

Mr C got to his feet and the other pilgrims followed his example. Mrs C carefully held the sleeping child True Need so as not to waken her.

“Sir,” said Mr C to Father Christmas, “do you have a room where we pilgrims can meet?”

Father Christmas slowly smiled. “Near the street door,” he said. “I believe you can find your way.”

The pilgrims hurried out of Father Christmas’s splendid dining hall, and past the door that led onto the main square of Vanity Fair. This door had been left open, and Godly Affection closed it with a strong hand against the howling wind and moonless darkness. They sought and found refuge in the small appointed room…

Costume Historian: Portrait of a “puritan” – Dutch Mennonite:

“Lady Fellowship” – Pinterest, Portrait of a “puritan” Dutch Mennonite, costumehistorian.blogspot.com

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Mr and Mrs Christian spend the night with Father Christmas, part 4

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…Mrs C ventured, “We just need a quiet corner to rest before going on, and a little bread and milk for the child.”

Mr C said, “We’ll be up with the sun and gone before you know it.”

Father Christmas straightened the crown of holly on his silvery hair, and Mother Madcap linked her arm through Mrs C’s and squeezed it.

“We wouldn’t think of it!” they cried together…


Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3


Guests were pouring into Father Christmas’s house both from the narrow way and the entrance that faced the main square of Vanity Fair. Father Christmas whispered a parting warning to Mr and Mrs C, “Remember, we’re all friends here, eh? So please, no solicitation… ‘er, proselytizing…” Then he hurried his wife Mother Madcap away to greet the new arrivals.

With the doors open, the foyer was filled with the scent of cold pines and whirling snow flurries. There was so much good cheer and noise, calls and greetings, that it was hard not to share in the sense of excitement.

Mr C set the child True Need upon her feet but kept hold of her hand. Mrs C smiled at those around her. Bewildered, the couple scanned the area for a place of retreat. 

A hearty voice boomed, “Mr and Mrs C – my old friends!”

Major Mirth appeared, putting an arm around each. His laughter soared as if meeting them was a good joke. It was always hard to get a word in edgewise with him, so Mr and Mrs C simply smiled and nodded, while True Need peeked at him from behind Mr C’s leg. 

They were moved along with the growing crowd into a large dining hall. At the center of the room stood the most elaborately decorated tree Mrs C had ever seen, its boughs laden with toys and fruit, and trinkets of every kind. The burnished floors were bright with firelight from a fireplace ablaze with a great Yule log, and scattered rugs looked like small islands of color.

The long table was set with sparkling dishes and goblets and cutlery, and delightful aromas perfumed the air – cinnamon, sage, peppermint, baking apples, and succulent roasts of every kind.

Mr C smiled at his wife. “We have to eat, Nellie, so why not join in? Let’s find a seat!”

Mrs C felt uneasy for it was all a bit too inviting. “I suppose we must eat,  and the child is famished…”

They sat down and Mrs C lifted True Need onto her lap. Lady Amusement was seated nearby, flanked by admirers, beguiling everyone within earshot with her wit and infectious laughter. Fellow pilgrims were seated on either side of Mr and Mrs C, the dearest of friends – Sweet Remembrance, Blessed Fellowship, and Godly Joy.

True Need watched them as she drank from a cup of milk Mrs C held for her…

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Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's

“Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle’s” by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), 1837, illustration for Charles Dickens’s novel Pickwick’s Papers, The Victorian Web.

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Mr and Mrs Christian spend the night with Father Christmas, part 3

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…Other pilgrims were making their way to Father Christmas’s home. All but one child hurried away from Mr and Mrs Christian to beg from them. The child True Need put her hand into Mrs C’s and looked up with love and longing.  Mrs C smiled at her, and Mr C swung the sweet child up onto his shoulder. Together the three entered the cheerful residence…


Part 1

Part 2

Poetic license: Father Christmas is a traveling man – whether it’s by car, coach, sleigh, or goat as sometimes depicted. Here, he has settled down and has a wife, somewhat like our notion of Santa Claus.


Father Christmas opened the door to Mr and Mrs Christian. “Friends!” he cried. Studying them, he lowered his voice and said, “To be frank, I hadn’t expected to see you here.” His smile faltered just a bit and he seemed almost reluctant to admit them.

His wife, Mother Madcap, peered over his shoulder, her eyes – as green as emeralds – twinkling. “Well, what are you waiting for, Father?” she said. “Let them in, you old fool!”

Father Christmas stepped aside and his guests entered. Mother Madcap slammed the door behind them. “Just remember the city ordinance,” Father Christmas said, laying a  finger to the side of his nose. “Absolutely no solicitation of any kind, within the corporate limits.” He shook Mr C’s hand and winked at Mrs C.  

“Where are we…?” asked Mrs C, feeling muddled.

“Why Vanity Fair, my girl – your old neighborhood!”

Mrs C’s eyes widened. “But…”

“Sadly, you haven’t come as far as you feel you have,” Father Christmas said. He winked again and for the first time seemed to notice the little girl True Need on Mr C’s shoulder. He shook his head at the sight of her. “Poor mite! This is the just place for her – she’ll soon be as good as new!”

True Need shyly turned her face away and Father Christmas chuckled.

Mrs C ventured, “We just need a quiet corner to rest before going on, and a little bread and milk for the child.”

Mr C said, “We’ll be up with the sun and gone before you know it.”

Father Christmas straightened the crown of holly on his silvery hair, and Mother Madcap linked her arm through Mrs C’s and squeezed it.

“We wouldn’t think of it!” they cried together.

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Mr and Mrs Christian spend the night with Father Christmas, part 2

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…Mrs Christian slipped on a patch of ice and Mr Christian caught her by the hand to steady her. Together they climbed slick steps over the wall toward the home of Father Christmas, abandoning the narrow way…


Part 1


On the far side of the steps, from their new point of view, she saw that the home of Father Christmas was a great and beautiful inn. With its shutters open and lights in the windows, it looked like an enormous Advent Calendar that had come to life. Laughter and music resounded on the frosty air.

Mrs C put her arm through her husband’s, and they crossed the wide, neatly shoveled and salted walk to the door. She was thinking about past Christmases, about family times and comforts, and the children’s innocent delight in the holiday.

She also remembered the sadness. For Christmas was only a winter bloom, its scent intoxicating but quickly fading. People spoke about the magic of the season, and yes, it did have a kind of magic, and so like others she longed for it. But she knew that she would be left with nothing for it always failed to keep its promise of lasting joy.

Something slipped out of Mr C’s pocket. Crouching he retrieved a tattered Book. Mrs C bit her lip as she watched him slip it back in his pocket, then they walked on.

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Lost in her thoughts again, she heard her husband scolding someone – childish voices mingled with his gruff but kindly tones. The two soon were surrounded by urchins, wan faces and pinched faces, imploring ones, resigned ones. Small hands were held up, palms open. Tears streaked dirty faces.

“We need it more than you!” the lad Want said.

Greed tried to force her hand into Mrs C’s pocket, “Give it here!”

“Can you spare just a little?” the girl True Need asked.

Other pilgrims were making their way to Father Christmas’s home. All but one child hurried away to beg from them. True Need put her hand into Mrs C’s and looked up with love and longing.  Mrs C smiled at True Need, and Mr C swung the sweet child up onto his shoulder. Together the three entered the cheerful residence…

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