By Thomas Adams (Rated G)
Once upon a time in medieval Germany, a Knight named Kristof had just gone to sleep on the first night of Advent. A flash of light caused him to awaken, and there in his doorway stood a glowing figure with a long white beard and wearing the garments of a Bishop. Somehow, Kristof knew in his heart that it was Saint Nicholas.
“Arise, Sir Kristof,” said the saint, “and take up thy sword.”
The knight did as he was bidden, and knelt before the saint as he presented his sword.
“Please stand,” Saint Nicholas said as he gently grasped the knight’s shoulder. “In the name of King Jesus, I lay a charge on you. The people of this land are still young in their faith, and the powers of darkness want nothing more than to bring them back into the bondage of sin and fear. You must help them to remember the true reason for this season, that the love of Christ would
shine bright in this dark and cold time of year. But it won’t be easy, my son, for the enemy fights hardest when we are closest to foiling his plans. Be brave, because a force from the darkest part of the history of these lands is attempting to rise again and seeks to rule the hearts of men through fear.”
Kristof’s eyes widened. “How can I defeat this foe?”
“Cling to the light,” Nicholas replied, “and remember, ‘The Lord is your strength and your shield.’” And in that instant, the saint vanished, and Sir Kristof stood alone in his room. The only evidence of what had just transpired was the sword in his hands which now glowed with a heavenly white halo. He sat marveling at his glowing sword for a while, reflecting on his encounter with the saint, and returned to bed.
The next morning, Kristof set to work preparing Advent gifts and letters to his family and neighbors, and the people of his village. And over the weeks to come, he would seek out any way he could to help his people with whatever they might need. The people love Sir Kristof, and soon many even started to show the same kindness and generosity. But just as the saint had predicted, the enemy was preparing to fight harder now than ever before.
It was the last Sunday of Advent, and only a few days before Christmas. The village priest had said a special prayer for protection against the powers of darkness, for the children had begun to see strange shapes at the edge of the forest at night for the past week. Why, just the day before, a boy came running out of the forest for fear of a great hairy beast with the horns of a goat. Now the superstitious old folk of the village had begun to whisper, “Krampus has come back for his vengeance. . .”
Sir Kristof hunted for the beast, each day deeper and deeper into the forest, until at last he found that the cloven hoof prints had led him in a circle back to the village on Christmas Eve.
Kristof prayed for a solution, and suddenly he formed a plan. He cut down a pine tree from the forest and decorated it with candles and cross-shaped ornaments fashioned out of wood and glass, and had it positioned in the very center of the village. Then as a finishing touch, he placed a silver star on top, symbolizing the star that led the wisemen to the Christ child. Next all Sir Kristof had to do was wait, all night if necessary. The plan was that if this didn’t ward off the beast entirely, the devil would see it as a challenge and appear for one final confrontation to decide the fate of Kristof’s lands.
When all of the lamps except for those on the tree had been extinguished for the night, Sir Kristof stood alone with his shield in one hand and a burning torch in the other. He stood silently like this for several minutes until his torch went out, and he could hear the sound of hooves crunching the snow, slowly drawing nearer as they circled the village. Somehow, the candles on the tree had remained burning, and it was by this and the light of the full moon that Kristof saw
his enemy enter the village square. Just as the frightened boy had described, it was a tall, man-like being covered in white fur with the curving horns of a goat. It had a mouth full of savage teeth, red glowing eyes, long arms that ended in large, clawed hands, and walked on two legs that were supported by split hooves like those of a cow.
Kristof said a prayer and drew his sword, which still glowed with a heavenly light as it did on the night he met Saint Nicholas.
Krampus roared and charged at the brave knight, but Sir Kristof held his ground, his shield before him and his sword poised to strike. The battle raged for several minutes, and the whole village came out to see the commotion. Sometimes Kristof seemed to have the upper hand, and sometimes the beast almost had him. At one point, the demon managed to knock Kristof’s shield far out of reach, and everyone thought their beloved knight would surely die, but Kristof knew what he had to do. He remembered the saint’s words: “the Lord is your strength and your shield,” and just when Krampus was about to bring his massive claws down upon him, Sir Kristof swung his blessed sword with such power that the devilish fiend was sliced clean in two.
The people rejoiced as the two halves of Krampus turned dust with unnatural speed and scattered on the winter winds. Hymns of praise to God were sung and the people celebrated their most exciting Christmas ever. And as for Kristof, he lived happily ever after, and was always well-known for his generosity and love of his people. To commemorate this special Christmas, he crafted rings of silver and gold, and gave one to every child in the village, charging them to show the same kindness and love to all they meet, that the love they celebrate on Christmas might last all year. In their language, the children called the rings “Kringel”, and Sir Kristof was known from then on as “Kris Kringel”.
In time, Kristof would grow quite old, and in time he found it necessary to retire from knighthood and pass his lands on to his son. He had taken to raising reindeer, and he soon had a small herd of eight that would gladly pull a sleigh for him. So it was that he often would ride through the lands around his kingdom, his white beard flying in the wind as his sleigh pulled by his eight friends moved with such speeds that even a great charger would blush at it. Then one day, when his wife had chosen to ride along with him, they didn’t return to the castle, and when the village’s best trackers went searching, they followed their trail to the edge of a cliff. Fearing that they must have gone over the edge, they climbed to the bottom in search of remains but found none. Though they never saw Old Kristof or his wife again, every Christmas when someone was in need of a miracle, they would always find their needs mysteriously met, and some of the children who knew him but now had grown old would say if they went outside on a clear Christmas Eve, they sometimes could hear the sound of sleigh bells and the familiar good-natured laugh of their old friend, carrying on the winter winds.