“But she’s a Jew!” Nicholas’s father screamed.
“Where did we go wrong? How could we have raised such an ungrateful son?” Nicholas’s mother sobbed into a handkerchief.
“I love Sara!” Nicholas protested. “I’m going to marry her one day!”
Nicholas’s mother wailed into her husband’s arms, blubbering into his shirt. His father glared at Nicholas. “How can you be so selfish, Nicholas? How can you do this to us? You only think about yourself. Just leave! Just leave us!”
Nicholas left home, feeling dejected and betrayed. He had always been taught love and acceptance, and now his parents were telling him who he could not love. Nicholas ran to his love’s house, in hopes that they could run off together.
“Nicholas. I can’t just run off and leave my family. They need me. My mother is sick and it would destroy my father if I left, especially with a Christian boy.”
“So, it’s just because I’m a Christian.”
“No, Nicholas. I…” she looked over her shoulder. “Please go home, Nicholas. I can never be your wife.” She closed the door and the snow bit at his face. Nicholas hated the snow. It made him feel alone.
On his way home, Nicholas saw a bright star in the sky and prayed. His parents had called him selfish and maybe he was. Both they and Sara had told him to leave because of old traditions. If they shared the same village, Nicholas didn’t understand why they couldn’t share a home. Jesus preached love for all men. Maybe he could understand Sara’s lack of sight, but he could not tolerate his parents disrespect for doctrine. That night, he stole some food from the kitchen and left home on the night before Christmas. He never saw his parents again.
Nicholas travelled much of the world and found much good and much evil. People willingly let him into their homes and gave him food wherever he went, but he saw and heard of the most horrible people that he had thought were devils from Hell itself. In a little town in Eastern Europe, there was a famine. People did not have much to spare, but a kind Christian family offered their home to him in exchange for manual labor, though there wasn’t much for him to do with such a poor harvest season. Nicholas went to the butcher to buy some meat to thank the kind family for taking care of him. He knocked and entered, but the butcher wasn’t home. Not a creature was stirring, at least not until he heard the silent cries of a child from one of the barrels. He pried open the top and found three malnourished children looking up at him. He pulled them out, one at a time, and led them out. Just as he opened the door, he met eyes with the butcher. Nicholas made a wild swing to the man’s jaw and he dove at him, punching wildly at the man. The people in the street were outraged by the stranger beating on their butcher. They pulled him off and cried for him to be hung, but the biggest child stopped them.
“The stranger saved our lives! The butcher has been cutting up the kids and eating them!”
The villagers looked at each other, not acting right away. Many of them had sold their children to the butcher, who claimed he had connections with slavers. They knew that they had sold away their children’s lives, but they couldn’t imagine that their children were being sold back to them as food. They never spoke of their own guilt. Instead, they put up the masks of an angry mob. They took their farm equipment and beat the butcher to death, then they threw him in a shallow grave. They hailed Nicholas as a hero for saving the children, making stories about how he brought the children back to life. They were buying his silence with praise. Nicholas was disgusted with himself and everyone else in the world. These people were all children once. How could such pure children, maybe a little naughty at times, grow up to be so cruel to one another? He left that village in the dark of night, just as he had left his home so long ago. Only this time, he took nothing with him. He went north, looking for a place where he wouldn’t have to see another living soul ever again.