Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates, and happy random day in December for everyone else. My warmest thanks to Addison who’s always so kind and generous and invites me into her space.❤️ [Aw, thank you, Nell, it’s always such a pleasure to have you here!] Today, I’m here to talk about my brand new holiday release, The Santa Emergency, and one of Sweden’s quirkier holiday traditions: Donald Duck!
At 3 pm on Christmas Eve, close to half of Sweden sit down in front of the television to watch the hour-long From All of Us to All of You, the 1958 Disney Christmas special, or as it’s called in Swedish Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas (yes I translated the title for your convenience because I’m willing to bet most of Addison’s blog readers aren’t Swedish). Or simply Donald Duck as we commonly refer to it.
It’s an old tradition; the first time we did it was in 1959, and in 2020 4 519 000 people watched Donald Duck. Out of a population of 10,35 million.
Activities on Christmas Eve are split up between before Donald Duck and after Donald Duck. Every family has their own traditions of what they do and when, but Donald Duck is the North Star of Christmas Eve in Sweden, the thing all other activities center around.
For the longest time, when my daughter was little and it only changed when we moved to Malaysia in 2012, my family’s Christmas eve schedule looked like this:
1 pm: Christmas lunch
3 pm: Donald Duck
4:15 pm: Christmas presents.
Kristian’s family in The Santa Emergency, borrowed my family’s schedule, which is why he’s in a frenzy when he knocks on Sigge’s door a few minutes after 3 pm as his family is watching Donald Duck. He was reminded that he’s forgotten to ask someone to come play Santa for his nieces and nephews, and since Santa is supposed to come just a few short minutes after Donald Duck ends, he’s crunched for time. So in desperation, he knocks on his new neighbor’s door and pleads with him to help.
Do you think Sigge agrees? 🙂
I have a Santa emergency and I desperately need your help.
Sigge isn’t exactly a grinch when it comes to Christmas, but he’s not a fan of the holiday either. So when his new neighbor Kristian shows up in a panic, begging him to help by donning a Santa suit, Sigge’s gut reaction is to say no. But Kristian is cute and funny, rendering Sigge powerless against his heartfelt plea—especially after a promise of spending more time together—so he agrees.
The instant connection deepens as they share mulled wine and conversation as easy as breathing. But is it just holiday magic swirling in the air, or is it something real? Something that will last into the new year and beyond?
M/M Contemporary / 13 816 words
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.
Find Nell on social media:
“My mom broke her leg two weeks ago. We always do Christmas at her house, and she wanted us to this year, too, despite her injury. But she’s not the kind of person to sit idly by and let other people do all the work, especially since she doesn’t let anyone into her kitchen. She’d insist on business as usual, and she’d exhaust herself and risk re-injuring her leg. So my sister came up with the idea of Christmas at my house since I’m the only one in the family besides Mom living in a house and not an apartment.” He rolls his eyes. “Because Santa would surely strike us down with a mighty hammer if we celebrated Christmas in an apartment, right? I know I’m mixing my metaphors, but I’m trying to say that I’m sure the world wouldn’t end. I love my sister to death, but she has the weirdest ideas.”
He speaks with his whole body; he gestures with his hands and his face is lively and animated, and I can easily read every emotion as he experiences them, even after only being in his presence for a few minutes. All that makes him even more irresistible. In a society where everything is about hiding the truth behind a pretty surface, meeting someone open is refreshing.
“Anyway,” he says, “that gave me two whole weeks to unpack my stuff and plan a party. Dammit, Sigge, I’m a copywriter, not a party planner!”
Holy crap. He’s paraphrasing Star Trek, too? Is he perfect?
“But I did all right. The food, the decorations, everything is perfect. Or you know…everything except that I forgot to convince someone to come play Santa. When my sister found out, she lectured me in her scariest hissing voice until I was overcome with the urge to run away from my own house. She said I must not love my nieces and nephews since I forgot about a Santa. Her blame game is on point.” He grimaces.
“It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa always comes after Donald Duck is over. I can’t believe I forgot. The kids reach meltdown level if someone needs to go to the bathroom after the TV is turned off, so I have exactly—” he looks at his watch and gasps “—thirty-five minutes until my sister declares me the worst uncle ever. You must help me. Pretty please with sugar on top.”
His eyes are wide and pleading, his eyebrows slumping sadly, and I swear I can detect a hint of a tremble in his lower lip. I reach out and ease the cup out of his hands and pour more mulled wine into it before handing it back to him. “Drink this.”
He nods and tosses it back like it’s a shot, and I hope he doesn’t choke on the almonds or burns his tongue. “Thank you,” he says, then slumps back on the couch, the corners of his mouth drawn down, his lower lip pouting a little.
“What do you need from me?” I ask.
“I need you to be Santa.”
I blink. I really should’ve seen that one coming, but I didn’t. “Huh?”
“I need a Santa or the kiddos will be heartbroken. You’re my only hope.”
“I can’t be your only hope. What if I hadn’t been at home?”
“I would have been seriously fucked. Everyone I know is knee-deep in their own celebrations. I could probably convince my best friend Anton to do it because he’s too nice for his own good, but he’s a new dad and I don’t want to tear him away from his baby girl on her first Christmas.”
“I don’t even know how to be Santa.”
“Of course, you do. Everyone knows how to be Santa. All you have to do is be jolly, say ho-ho-ho, and ask if there are any good children in the house. Then you give presents to the kids whether they say yes or no. But if my sister says she deserves a gift, don’t believe her. She doesn’t. Not after the lecture she gave me.”
Of course, I know how a Santa behaves. In theory. There was no Santa when I was a kid, rarely any presents, so all encounters I’ve had with him come from TV and movies. I know it’s not like he’s asking me to do an in-depth interpretation of a complex character, but my instinct is to say no. I have little experience with kids, I’m awkward around people, and I don’t do Christmas.
“Oh.” He sits up straight. “Are you…religious? I mean…did I offend your religious beliefs with my request? If so, I’m sorry; I didn’t think before barging into your home. I mean, you haven’t decorated, and—”
He snaps his mouth shut and looks at me with his eyes full of concern.
“I’m not religious. That’s not why I’m hesitating.” It’s because you’re cute and I don’t want to look like a fool in front of you, my brain adds, but luckily I’m able to stop the words from spilling out of my mouth.
“Whew.” He relaxes his stiff posture “I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with my new neighbors. And you’re really cute.” His eyes widen and he sucks his lips into his mouth as though he’s trying to stuff back the words from whence they came.
Cute? He thinks I’m cute? No one’s ever called me cute before. Scary or intimidating, yes. Even hot. But not cute. “Thank you,” I say, unable to fight a smile taking over my face.
“Yes. I’m…uh…flattered you think so.” Flattered is an understatement, but I don’t want to tell him about the tickle in my belly caused by his words.
“Okay.” He looks at me from under fluttering eyelashes, a content smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
A quick glance at his chunky watch snaps his focus back to where it belongs. “So…Santa?”