Ho! Ho! Ho! The 7th Annual Holiday Contest is HERE!

 

Deck the halls!

Light the menorah!

Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja!

It’s time for…

7TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Kangaroo sleigh

 WOO HOO!!!

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) about A Holiday Surprise!  Any kind of surprise – anything at all! – the more unexpected the better! 🙂  Squirrel in the Christmas Tree?  Snowstorm in Jamaica?  Santa delivering toys from an excavator pulled by a herd of worms?  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know!  So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 🙂 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 🙂 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

 

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between right now this very second and Sunday December 10 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below.  This post will remain up through Friday December 15 for your reading pleasure.  There will be no Perfect Picture Book or Would You Read It posts for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section below (please be sure to include your byline so that if your posting handle is staysuplate2write or something I’ll be able to tell who you are!)  If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post your entry for you! But please don’t send attachments!  Just copy and paste your story into the email.  Also, please only post your entry once – either in the comment section of my blog or on the link list or by emailing me and asking me to post it.  Multiple postings of the same entry get confusing.

 

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on Friday December 15 (or, if we’re desperate for a little extra time, Saturday December 16) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Sunday December 17 at 5 PM EST (or Monday December 18th if we need that extra time.)  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place, and the winners will be announced on Monday December 18 (or Tuesday December 19).

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Holiday Surprise! – the rules state a Holiday Surprise story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a surprise! 🙂
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 🙂  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 🙂  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

 

The Prizes!:  Ok.  This is the moment where I officially admit to probably having bitten off more than I can chew! 🙂   I’ve been in Brazil for the past week, and upon my return was met with some deadlines I have to add into the time equation, in addition to a couple of school visits and getting ready for the holidays and family coming etc.  I wrote my sample entry at the literal 11th hour just before midnight last night.  (That will be extremely obvious when you read it below 🙂 )  So.  I will add to the prizes today and probably have to update them.  My sincere apologies for having over-scheduled my time – it was not intentional! – but I figured you guys would rather have the contest even on a slightly loosey-goosey schedule than not! 🙂

– a critique of a picture-book manuscript or dummy by agent Rachel Orr of Prospect Agency!!!

rachel-orr-2

– a spot in Renee LaTulippe’s fantastic INTENSIVE RHYME AND METER SELF-STUDY COURSE!!!

Renee-LaTulippeScreen Shot 2017-10-28 at 8.37.39 AM

– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the FABULOUS Vivian Kirkfield, author of the forth coming Sweet Dreams, Sarah and experienced and much-loved critiquer!

vivian-kirkfieldsweet-dreams-new-on-amazon

– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the amazing Lori Degman (NORBERT’S BIG DREAM – Sleeping Bear Press 2016, COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! – Creston Books 2014, 1 ZANY ZOO – Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers 2010) – a terrific choice for any rhymers out there!

Lori Norbert

– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the wonderful Amy Dixon (MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY – Sterling Children’s Books 2017, SOPHIE’S ANIMAL PARADE – Sky Pony Press 2015, MARATHON MOUSE – Sky Pony Press 2012)

amy-dixon Maurice

– Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)

2018 Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.  (2 available)

– a bundle of books! (itemized list forthcoming, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise)

– a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing What’s The Story Cards  (scroll about 1/2 way down the page… (2 available)

I can’t thank these authors and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

Now.

The time has come for my sample.  And I think I can say that I have really outdone myself this time in the Worst Ever Sample department! 🙂  Are you ready?  Have some chocolate to get you in a good mood! 🙂  But this should be very comforting to all of you because you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that ANYthing you wrote is better than this! 🙂

(And as I told you, I wrote it in a jet-lagged stupor at nearly midnight last night and I openly admit that it is 39 words over the word limit because I didn’t have time to make it shorter!)

So really.  Are you ready? 🙂

The Christmas Plan
(289 words because I ran out of time and also am not actually in the contest! 🙂 )

Christmas Eve in Santa’s barnyard,
Secret meeting underway.
Said the cow, “We’d better hurry –
Any time they’ll hitch the sleigh!”

Duck looked ‘round. “Are you all ready?
Everyone know what to do?”
All the others nodded gravely.
“Okay, then, let’s move out, crew!”

Each went in their own direction
Silently through dark and snow.
Pulled their parts off to perfection,
Met up in the workshop’s glow.

Quietly, they filed inside
Where elves were loading up the sleigh.
Santa called, “Let’s hitch the reindeer!
Time we headed on our way!”

Eight elves hurried to the stable
With intent to fetch the deer.
Soon came running back in panic.
“Sir! The team has disappeared!”

Santa bellowed, “Were they stolen?
Kidnapped? Hidden? Just set loose?”
“If you need a quick replacement,
I’ll step in,” said Christmas Goose.

Santa muttered, disbelieving,
“Why’d my team go on the lam?”
“Never mind, Sir, we can help you,”
Kindly offered Christmas Ham.

Moments later, in the harness,
Ham and Goose were joined by Hare,
Christmas Roast Beef, Duck, and Turkey.
Plan still working – almost there!

Santa, looking quite bemused, said,
“I can’t drive this motley crew!”
“Sorry, Sir, we’re out of options.
There is nothing else to do!”

So it was that not much later,
Waiting hidden in the night,
Josie, hoping to see Santa,
Saw a most surprising sight!

Santa’s sleigh with bells a-jingling
Flying high above her head,
Being pulled by. . . Christmas Dinner?!
“This must be a dream!” she said.

But all around the world next day
When fam-i-lies sat down to eat,
Christmas fowl and roasts were absent.
Served instead? Tofurkey feast!

Back inside the North Pole barnyard
Secret meeting once again,
Cow and Duck high-fived the others.
“Here’s to vegetarians!”

 

So now!  Is everyone filled with confidence about their entries?  I certainly hope so after that display!  Never let it be said that I’m not willing to make a fool of myself for you guys 🙂  It just proves how much I love you 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of your (much better!) stories!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still over 3 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet and want to join the fun.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  If you just want to enjoy reading, that’s great too!  We need all the readers we can get, so feel free to spread the word to parents and teachers!  And what better way to entertain yourself and your kids while waiting for the holiday goodies to bake?  Or get someone to read aloud while everyone else wraps presents 🙂

Rejoice! and let the festivities begin!!! 🙂

Happy Holidays to All! 🙂

And don’t miss the additional 34 fabulous entries in the comment section below!
(Scroll through comments to view)

  1. Santa’s Switches – Nina
  2. Sneak A Peek At Santa – Jennifer B
  3. Just Desserts – Jennifer B
  4. The Christmas Pageant – Carol
  5. A Magpie Holiday – Karen
  6. Foxy, Mr. Fox – Dianne
  7. A Timely Arrival – Beverly
  8. Not Even A Mouse – Ryan
  9. Waiting For The Winter Gift – Elizabeth
  10. Santa’s Christmas SSS-Surprise – Jenny
  11. Santa Patrol – Megan
  12. Vegan Cut-Out Cookies – Megan
  13. Essie The Hen And Her Christmas Surprise – Kaye
  14. La Navidad I’ll Never Forget – Carmen
  15. Santa’s Bad Day – Anne
  16. Tootsie The Wonder Dog’s Best Day Ever – Kathy B
  17. Holiday Mix-Up – Barbara
  18. The Very Last Gift – Judy S
  19. Family Is Home And Home Is Wherever It May Land – Mona
  20. Christmas With Aliens – Brian
  21. Here Comes… – Elaine
  22. The Ballad Of Bella La Frost – Nancy
  23. The Animated Elf – Marvin Strikes Again – Lucretia
  24. Santa’s Delivery Dilemma – Lucretia
  25. Christmas Cat’s SQUEEZE Day – Lily
  26. Christmas Eve DRAMA – Deborah
  27. Racing The Sun – Jen
  28. A New Day For Mrs. Claus – Laura
  29. The Given Gift – Sarah
  30. Surprise Guests! – Mary
  31. Christmas Eve Surprises – Jim
  32. A Visit From Santa – Judy V
  33. Favorite Day – Susan
  34. The Naughty Christmas Cookie – Britt

413 thoughts on “Ho! Ho! Ho! The 7th Annual Holiday Contest is HERE!

  1. Angela Brown says:

    Once again you bring together an awesome contest with excellent prizes. And though your example story was thrown together at the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour, it is a hoot. Love it!

    It will be interesting to see what others will share.

  2. Nina Haines says:

    Santa’s Switches
    By Nina Q. Haines

    “I’m tired of doing the same things every year,” Santa said.
    Santa refused to say ho, ho, ho, anymore.
    He wanted to say;
    ding-dong or
    yoo-hoo or
    hi-hoe.
    Santa didn’t want to squeeze down chimneys, anymore.
    He got soot up his nose,
    soot on his clothes,
    and cinders on his pants.
    He decided to drop bundles of toys on rooftops this year.
    In earlier years, the reindeer resisted getting lined up.
    This wore Santa out.
    “The part I like is giving out the presents,” Santa said.
    This year, Santa traveled in style to his stops.
    As he approached houses, children heard a commotion.
    It sounded as if a dragon opened his mouth and flames flew out.
    Children ran to windows and looked out.
    They rubbed their eyes in disbelief.
    Children’s mouths opened in awe, as Santa flew by in a hot-air balloon filled with toys.
    He wore a swimsuit with scuba gear and a red hat.
    Santa dropped bags of toys and shouted hi-hoe.
    Then, Santa said, “To the beach! Let’s go!”
    As the wind gusted, the balloon soared, and the last load of extra presents scattered.
    A present landed next to the turtle doves.
    “A drone, the perfect gift, ” Turtle Dove said.
    The two turtle doves spied on the seven swans a swimming.
    They wanted to see if they really paddled their feet.

  3. Jennifer Broedel (@JBroedelAuthor) says:

    SNEAK A PEEK AT SANTA (246 words)
    Jennifer Broedel

    Santa Claus has always been a guy I’d like to meet.
    I’ve tried for years to capture him, met only with defeat.
    Every year I spread the milk and cookies out as bait,
    sneak behind a glowing tree, and quietly I wait.
    Looking back, I think about the problems that I had
    the year I tried to catch him with that fishing pole from Dad.
    Fish hooks might be dandy if you want to snag a trout,
    but Santa’s much too crafty and he quickly found me out.
    Then there was the time I tried to trap him in a net,
    but Santa’s much too quick, and so I haven’t caught him yet.
    Let’s not even think about the year my lasso missed.
    (Who could really blame me? I was on the naughty list.)
    And so I think it’s time I stop the tricks, rethink my goal,
    and cut the guy a break before he leaves me only coal.
    I feel a little guilty so I’ve scribbled him a note,
    and plan to tuck it underneath his fluffy crimson coat.
    “Santa please forgive me for the tricks I sometimes play.
    I never meant to hurt you, I’ve just always hoped you’d stay
    and play with me. I’ll share whatever presents that you leave.
    Even if you hide from me, I promise- I believe.”
    Trying to be nice this time, I’m hoping, on a whim,
    that maybe, just this once…I’ll catch a glimpse.
    OH, LOOK- IT’S HIM!

  4. Jennifer Broedel (@JBroedelAuthor) says:

    JUST DESSERTS (249 words)
    Jennifer Broedel

    Every year at Christmas, it’s my job to pick a game,
    so this year I suggested that we each should draw a name.
    Last night we went shopping, then came home and wrapped the loot,
    piled up mounds of gifts, and settled in to have a hoot.
    No one knows the trick I played, to make me get the most
    (and I’m not gonna tell them now- I’m not the one to boast).
    What a plan! I bet I’ll get all kinds of awesome stuff.
    Robots, nun chucks, tablets…I just hope I get enough.

    Morning’s here, we all rush down, I feel like I could burst!
    “Settle down,” Mom says. “Let’s all take turns. Now, who goes first?”
    Looking at the shining paper, fluffing all the bows,
    picturing the things we’ll get, I hope it’s good. Who knows?
    Gracie picks her gift up first and shakes it in surprise,
    tears off all the wrapping, “Oh, I can’t believe my eyes!
    It’s everything I wanted! Thank you Mommy, thank you Dad.”
    A doll? Who needs a doll? I guess for her, it’s not so bad…
    Maybe Ollie’s present will be something more my speed.
    Building blocks?! That’s baby stuff. It’s not quite what I need.
    My turn! This one’s heavy! I just can’t believe my luck!
    I yank the paper off and find… “A GIANT FRUITCAKE! YUCK!”
    No big deal, there’s fifteen more, all labeled with my name.
    But ripping each gift open, one by one… THEY’RE ALL THE SAME!

  5. Carol Lescinski says:

    THE CHRISTMAS PAGEANT
    ( 241 words) Carol Lescinski

    A tear slid silently down Anna’s cheek. “Maybe next year.” Pastor Allan sighed.

    Every year the little country church had a pageant on Christmas Eve. Anna would sing, accompanied by her mom on the piano. This year more people were attending a larger church in town. Anna’s friends said they had more music there,just….more of everything. There would be no pageant at the little country church.

    The next day Anna’s friends talked endlessly about the costumes and music for their church pageant.

    The week dragged by for Anna.

    On Sunday, Anna’s friends listened to Pastor Tom. “We are ALL God’s children, the building is not the church, PEOPLE are the church.” This gave Anna’s friends an idea. They knew Anna was sad, feeling left out. They met with Pastor Tom. “Can the pageant be a community event, so everyone can participate?” Pastor Tom smiled, his eyes sparkling. “Great idea, let’s do it!”

    Finally it was Christmas Eve. Anna and her parents drove to the pageant. Decorations sparkled like diamonds as strains of “Away in a Manger” filled the night.

    As the pageant drew to a close, Pastor Tom came to the microphone. “We have a special gift for you this evening.” he said. “Would Anna Rush and her mom please come to the piano and close our program with ‘Silent Night’?”

    Anna and her mom moved as in a dream, toward the piano. This was the best pageant ever!

  6. viviankirkfield says:

    Oh my gosh…this is going to be such great fun!!!! I’m not entering this year (boo-hoo!),but i’m donating a critique as one of the prizes (yahoo!) and I can’t wait to read all of the fabulous stories (woo-hoo!).
    Thank you so much, Susanna…the kidlit community is grateful for all that you do for us!!!

  7. Karen Morgan says:

    A Magpie Holiday
    248 words Karen Koepcke Morgan

    It was just before Christmas and all through the town,
    there was laughter and singing and dancing around.

    The lampposts were ribboned, the trees all aglow;
    the streets all abuzz and the sky filled with snow.

    Maggie peered down, from her perch way up high,
    and spotted a gift, so she started to fly.

    She swept through the air to the trinket below,
    and picked up a penny, for her dear friend, Joe.

    Maggie flew, back and forth, from her nest to the ground,
    and soon she had gathered a pretty big mound.

    At last she was finished, as she lay down to rest,
    but sleep was not coming with that lump in her nest.

    So she soared down below, to nap in a bush;
    then awoke with a start as she heard a loud swoosh.

    Some great wings were flapping from up near her nest,
    and off flew her treasures, despite her request.

    Poor Maggie was saddened, no gift for each friend;
    None for Robin or Woody, for Joe, Jay or Wren.

    No time to regather, for the party tonight;
    No boxes, no ribbons – such was Maggie’s plight!

    As she hopped branch to branch, with tears in her eyes;
    Maggie saw up above, a delightful surprise!

    It was T-Bird, the wrapper, who had taken her pile,
    He had papered, and tied, put on bows, with such style.

    Maggie chattered and tweeted, and ruffled and sang,
    she now would have gifts, for the whole birdie gang.

  8. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR DIANNE

    FOXY, MR. FOX 158 words
    by Dianne Moritz

    Not last night, but the night before, Mr. Fox knocked at my back door.
    “Evening, neighbor! Pardon my knocks, but may I borrow a little box?”

    Not last night, but the night before, Mr. Fox knocked at my back door.
    “Hi there, neighbor! Now, don’t go ape! I sure could use a roll of tape.”

    Not last night, but the night before, Mr. Fox knocked at my back door.
    “Yoo hoo, neighbor! I’m not fibbin’. Got a piece of pretty ribbon?”
    Not last night, but the night before, Mr. Fox knocked at my back door.
    “Sorry, neighbor! But my caper….needs a sheet of wrapping paper.”

    Not last night, but the night before, Mr. Fox knocked at my back door.
    “I know, neighbor! I am a nag, but all I want is one gift tag.”

    Then today, at half past four, Mr. Fox knocked at my back door.
    “Howdy, neighbor! From me, to you! Wishing you Merry Christmas, too!”

  9. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BEVERLY

    A Timely Arrival
    by Beverly Warren

    She opened her eyes. “Where am I?” the girl asked. Sitting up she noticed a bump on her head. “I have to be somewhere,” she remembered, “but where?” A dog sat beside her. “Who are you?” she asked. He wagged his tail. “Do you know where I have to be?” The dog yanked her coat sleeve. She stood up. The ice was slick under her feet. He tugged her sleeve again. “Alright, lead the way,” she said.

    The girl followed the dog past gaily lit shops. Then they turned onto a side street. “Slow down,” she yelled, as the dog ran into an alley. She followed, but the alley was dimly lit, so she hesitated. “It’s dark,” she thought. She felt a tug at her sleeve. “Is this the right way, pup?” she questioned. The dog pulled harder. “Okay,” she said. They walked on. Beyond the next corner, she saw an open door. A light glowed from within. The girl entered. Inside were seated many people. At the front of the room was a wooden box. Behind it stood several boys. “What’s in the box?” the girl wondered. She walked over to look inside. “A baby doll!” she exclaimed. She knelt down and lifted the doll onto her lap.

    The boys sang, “What child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping?…”

    Then the girl remembered! “Here’s where I had to be!” She looked toward the doorway. There was her friend, wagging his tail!

  10. Ryan Roberts says:

    Not Even a Mouse
    by Ryan Roberts (238 words)

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

    “That’s what they think,” Mouse said, stirring something gooey.

    The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
    While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

    “Sugar-plums? Not a bad idea.” Mouse added some plums.

    When out of the night there arose such a clatter,
    They sprang from their bed to see what was the matter.

    “Do you think they heard?” Mouse picked up a dropped bowl.

    When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
    But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein– deer?

    “Ok, ok, they’re not exactly deer. We dressed up for the occasion.”

    With a little old driver so lively and quick,
    They wondered, at first, if he might be St. Nick.

    “Oh, I’m no saint. Just a mouse. Nice to meet you.”

    The kids shrieked out “Eek!”, and it rang down the hall.
    So, the mice dashed away. They dashed away, all!

    “Would you stick around, after being insulted like that?”

    And, then, the wee children beheld a surprise
    when icicle icing and sweets caught their eyes.

    “Hope they like sugar.”

    A gingerbread house had been made just for them,
    with glittering gumdrops and peppermint trim.

    “Mice are surprisingly good builders, you know.”

    A note was attached to this curious sight.
    “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

    P.S. Buy more cheese”

  11. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Susanna! It’s brilliant! I snorted out loud when I got to “Christmas Ham.” Hilarious! Thank you for such a fun read. And thank you for offering a contest during a most harried and jam-packed holiday season! Looking forward to reading everyone’s entries!

  12. curryelizabeth says:

    WAITING FOR THE WINTER GIFT
    By Elizabeth A. Curry (WC 250)

    “Mama, what will we do when winter comes?” Little asked.
    “What deer always do,” Mama said, “slow down and eat what we find.”
    “Can’t we hibernate like Bear?” asked Little.
    “We’ll be cozy beneath the pines,” Mama said.
    “We could dig snow tunnels like vole,” said Little.
    “Our winter coat will block the chill,” said Mama.
    “Let’s vacation like goose!” said Little.
    “And miss the winter gift?” said Mama.
    “What’s that?” said Little.
    “A surprise to wait for,” Mama said.
    Soon snowflakes fell.
    “Is it time?” Little asked.
    “Not yet,” Mama said.
    “Are you certain the gift will come?” Little asked.
    “It always comes,” Mama said.
    Little tired of twigs, bark and pokey pine needles.
    She dreamed of acorns, buds and spring flowers.
    Finally, on the coldest of evenings, Mama’s whisper woke her.
    They crept to the edge of the woods.
    “I can’t see!” said Little.
    “Shhh,” said Mama. “Wait.”
    Little peered into the darkness at a lone pine.
    Suddenly, it gleamed with light.
    “The tree!” Little said.
    “Shhh,” said Mama. “Wait. And listen.”
    Little squinted.
    Dim shapes gathered around the pine.
    Soft voices filled the air.

    “The first Noel, the angels did say
    Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay…”

    As the carolers sang, a boy dragged a sled full of cracked corn toward them.
    “Merry Christmas,” he whispered, leaving the sled behind.
    Little’s tummy tingled hopefully.
    “Is that for us?” Little asked.
    “Yes,” said Mama.
    And soon Little and Mama’s bellies matched their full hearts.

  13. Robyn Campbell says:

    Okay, I entered, Sus. But remember that I have been OUT for a year and only have me as a critique partner for this sort of thing. It was fun though. *trying to get back into the swing of things* Love you, Sus.

  14. yangmommy says:

    Oh wow, these are all so clever!! I can’t wait to read all of them, cup of cocoa in hand. Here goes mine–hope you all enjoy!

    SANTA’S CHRISTMAS SSS-SURPRISE
    by Jenny Buchet (250-w)

    Like all good Gorgons, Little Medusa wore her snake; just not in her hair. Instead, she always wore Addy around her neck.

    And like all Gorgons, Little Medusa loved everything serpentine. But she wasn’t so sure if Santa felt the same way. This year, Little Medusa wasn’t taking any chances.

    On Christmas Eve, every last snake was hidden away, including the vipers and rattlers that decorated the tree. Finally, she tucked Addy into her stocking and fell asleep.

    In the middle of the night, Little Medusa woke with a start. What should have been a ho-ho-ho chuckle sounded more like a “Ho-ho-NOOO” shout.

    She leapt out of bed and ran to the den.

    “There’s a snake on my bag!” cried Santa. “Go away, get out!”

    This was the worst! This couldn’t be! Santa was cowering inside the chimney! He made quite a scene, he looked such a sight, prancing up and down, left foot to right.

    “Santa, it’s OK,” she said. “My snake won’t bite! Please come out and deliver the toys tonight.”

    She dashed over and curled Addy onto her arm. But Santa still wouldn’t budge. This would have been one pythonic problem, but Little Medusa had a plan.

    One by one, she left a trail of cookies leading to the tree. Bite by bite, Santa cautiously stepped out.

    “Addy and I aren’t on the naughty list now, are we?” asked Little Medusa.

    “No, but you gave me fright. Its time now for bed and…”

    “A hissy kissy goodnight!”

  15. Megan Walvoord (@mjwalvoord2) says:

    Santa Patrol
    By Megan Walvoord

    Every Christmas the Santa Patrol swarm,
    See which children are ready for Christmas morn.
    The S.P. live all over creation.
    Flying high all over the nation.

    The S.P. report back to mighty mission control.
    And tell Santa who has the most generous soul.
    They give reports of children helping and giving.
    The patrol looks for kids being kind to all living.

    So, if you want to impress them this year.
    Show them kindness that brings others cheer.
    Give a good friend a generous gift.
    Give all others an encouraging lift.

    Make a homemade gift for your clan.
    Help those in need throughout the land.
    Give your wise teacher Christmas treats.
    Spoil your family with scrumptious sweets.

    Who are these detectives of good tidings?
    Well, they are green and often hiding.
    They like to hop, crawl and creep.
    They may make you shriek.

    They are tiny, but elite.
    Found near your feet.
    Have you made a guess at what they are?
    This Santa Patrol who are never far.

    Never fear for Santa’s loyal insects are watching.
    To see which children, earn goodies for their stocking.
    Santa’s eyes and ears all around.
    So, make sure you are the kindest kid in town.

  16. Megan Walvoord (@mjwalvoord2) says:

    Vegan Cut-Out Cookies
    By Megan Walvoord
    250 words

    Sammy was allergic to a lot of things. He couldn’t have milk or gluten. Peanuts made his face puff up and corn made him throw up.

    His mother found a recipe for cut-out cookies called Zucchini Coconut Oil Vegan Sugar Cookies. It was a big deal to create something sweet.

    He poured and mixed just the right amount. He rolled the dough out. He cut out a Santa, star, and stocking.

    He baked them, cooled them and decorated them. He covered them with homemade frosting and fruit.

    As he finished he started to worry. Would Santa like his treat? Would he be delighted with his sugary sweet?

    He put out the Soy milk and Vegan cookies out on Christmas Eve. Hoping and praying that Santa would like them.

    As He stayed awake in his bed. Thoughts of dread danced in his head. What if he was allergic to coconut?

    As he was almost asleep he heard a BUMP! THUMP! Followed by STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!

    Wow! Santa was heavy. I wonder if I could sneak into see him trying my treat.

    Sammy snuck quietly down the hall. He peeked around the corner. He had to muffle a yell.

    Santa wasn’t human at all. The Santa Stegosaurus tromped around his living room gulping down the cookies and milk.

    Santa Stegosaur turned to Sammy and said, “Thank you! Finally, a kid that knows I’m an herbivore.”

    “Yyyou’re welcome,” said Sammy a smile crossing his face. Who knew that Santa was a dinosaur.

  17. Kaye Baillie says:

    ESSIE THE HEN AND HER CHRISTMAS SURPRISE
    by Kaye Baillie
    245 words

    It was almost Christmas and Essie loved nothing more than chatting
    and scratching
    and fussing over excited chicks.
    Then one day, a horse trampled her foot.
    The kind farmer made a bed for Essie in the kitchen.
    Essie tried to tell Nettle the dog all about it, but Nettle hardly noticed her at all.
    Each day, Essie waited for Nettle.
    Then in the evenings, she did her friendliest best.
    She chatted about her grand chicks.
    Yawn.
    She chatted about her great grand chicks.
    Bigger yawn.
    She even chatted about her great great great grand chicks.
    Snarl!

    Time went by, Essie began to hobble about while Nettle did nothing but sleep.
    What a lonely Christmas this will be, thought Essie. So she decided perhaps she could help.
    Essie tidied the woodchips by the fire.
    She picked up Nettle’s spilt food.
    She even watched for dangerous intruders.
    Bagawk!
    Nothing seemed to work.

    That night, as the fire’s last embers glowed, Essie dreamed of a merry Christmas.
    Then she noticed something strange.
    Nettle was a big squirming monster!
    Essie hid but then …
    “One, two three, four, five … six glorious pups!” she squawked.
    When Nettle went outside, the pups shivered and whimpered
    and cried.
    Essie hobbled straight to the basket …
    and hopped on top of the pups.
    “Cloork, cloork!” sang Essie.
    Nettle stared at Essie sitting on her pups, sniffed her then sat beside the basket.
    What a merry Christmas this would be after all! Brock!

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR CARMEN

    LA NAVIDAD I’LL NEVER FORGET by Carmen Gilbert
    (228 words)

    I was doing my homework at the kitchen table when Papá walked in.
    He placed his lunchbox on the counter, took his hardhat off and looked sadly at Mamá.
    “Pedro, qué pasó”? What happened?
    “I’ve lost my job at the construction company,” he explained.
    “How, why?” Tears rolled down her face.
    “They didn’t need me anymore.”
    “Christmas is one week away. We’ve been waiting for your paycheck to go Christmas shopping.”
    That night we ate supper in silence. Even my sister, Ana María was quiet.
    Next day as I left for school, I stared at the giant pine tree in our front yard.
    I had dreamed of decorating it with all kinds of beautiful balls, garlands, and lights.
    My friends on the street had heard about my dream.
    All their trees were decorated.
    Now that Papá was out of work, would we be able to decorate our tree?
    Our tree looked sad and bare.
    Christmas Day morning our doorbell rang. We heard caroling.
    Papá opened the door.
    Our neighbors were there.
    They asked us to close our eyes and follow them outside.
    “Open your eyes now!”
    We did.
    Our Christmas tree, full of poinsettias, angels, little piñatas, and many more decorations, was brightly lit. What an awesome sight!
    Everybody hugged and laughed. I felt happy and loved.
    ¡Feliz Navidad! ¡Feliz Navidad!
    And that’s the Christmas I’ll never forget!

  19. Anne Cavanaugh Sawan says:

    Santa’s Bad Day.

    It was Christmas Eve and Nicky was worried.
    “I think I’m on the naughty list,” he said to his mother. “I had a really bad day today. At the school party I ate Holly’s cupcake by mistake, then I couldn’t find my holiday poem homework, and then I was fooling around, tripped and broke Mr. Douglas’ snowman decoration.”
    Nicky’s mom gave him a kiss.
    “Everyone has bad days, even Santa,” she said. “Now go to sleep.”
    But Nicky wasn’t so sure.
    That night Nicky heard a noise so he got up and peeked in the living room.
    There was an elf holding an empty plate.
    “That’s was my cookie!” said the elf.
    Santa wiped some crumbs from his beard. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I didn’t know. Hey, let’s have some fun and rock around the Christmas tree!”
    Santa began to dance about.
    “Watch out!”
    Crash!
    “You knocked over the milk!” said the elf.
    “Oh dear,” said Santa.
    “Let’s just get the list, fill these stockings and leave before everyone wakes up,” said the elf.
    “Ummm,” Santa patted his pockets. “I can’t find the list.”
    The elf shook his head. “What are we going to do now?”
    “Here’s the list!” said Nicky. “It fell out when you were dancing and don’t worry, I’ll clean up the milk and Mr. Elf, I have more cookies for you.”
    “Thanks Nicky,” said Santa. “I guess I am just having a really bad day.”
    Nicky smiled and said, “It’s ok everyone has bad days, even me.”

  20. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KATHY

    Tootsie the Wonder Dog’s Best Day Ever
    Kathy Brown

    Tootsie the wonder dog sniffs something in the air.
    Jingle bells, cookies, love and laughter.
    Why it must be Christmas flare!

    But wait, Tootsie the wonder dog woofs, what is this unfamiliar smell under the Christmas tree?
    This surprise smell is coming from a present for me!

    Tootsie the wonder dog joyfully wags her tail as she tells Clarence the doe doe beach bird about the surprising smell under the Christmas tree. Clarence the doe doe beach bird cheeps and chirps while trying to help Tootsie the wonder dog guess what her present is. Could it be a bone, doggie treats, a ball, bacon?

    Christmas day arrives! Tootsie the wonder dog and Clarence the doe doe beach bird zip and zap to the surprise present. Tootsie the wonder dog opens her present and woofs with joy. Clarence the doe doe beach bird asks if the present is…a bone…no, doggie treats…no, a ball…no, bacon…no, no, no….hmmm.

    Clarence the doe doe beach bird flocks his wings, cheeps and chirps, what is this surprise?
    It is purple, hairy, and squeakily squeaky.

    Tootsie the wonder dog woofity woofs, it’s a hippopotamus. I have been wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas!

    Tootsie the wonder dog woofity woofs to Clarence the doe doe beach bird….my purple, hairy, squeakily squeaky hippopotamus makes this Christmas the Best Day Ever!

    Kathy Brown

  21. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BARBARA

    Barbara Sharf
    HOLIDAY MIX-UP
    247 words

    Joseph couldn’t wait for the big night. He was relieved the chimney had been cleaned and was ready for the jolly dude to do his thing. Was eleven too old to believe in all the hoopla? Nah. Maybe next year. This year was the year of the drone helicopter.

    Yoseph lit the first candle of Hanukkah. Eight days of food drenched in oil and gifts galore. Anything from socks to pajamas. He had wanted the Cosmos science microscope and hinted that instead of eight gifts one primo one would do.

    Rabbi Kringlestein arrived to the first address on his list.

    Santa plopped near the door of his first house. (In this story Santa had way too much pasta at his favorite all you can eat buffet and couldn’t fit in the chimneys this year.)

    “Hello, Yoseph,” belted Rabbi Kringlestein. “I have your first present of Hannukah.”

    “Merry Christmas, Joseph,” chuckled Santa. “I have your wish list gift.”

    Each boy at each house looked dazed. They informed the Rabbi and Santa a mishap had happened.

    Rabbi and Santa checked the addresses on their IPads to find they had indeed made a mistake.

    “Joseph, take this to Yoseph at 1818 Latke Lane,” said Rabbi

    “Yoseph, take this to Joseph on Dasher Drive,” said Santa.

    The boys met never knowing how close they lived to each other or how much they had in common. A holiday miracle mix-up turned into the best Chrisnukkah ever!

  22. Judy Sobanski (@jkspburg) says:

    THE VERY LAST GIFT
    242 words

    The very last gift, it was now time to leave.
    Old Santa had finished his job Christmas Eve.
    But wait! What’s that box that was still in the sack?
    Did someone get missed? Would he have to go back?
    The label was clear – TO: S-A-N-T-A
    He took it and shook it and turned it each way.
    Just who had been sneaky? Then out of the blue,
    he thought of his wife’s twinkling eyes and he knew.
    He picked up a cookie and took a big bite,
    then opened the package that seemed very light.
    Inside was a shirt that was covered with flowers.
    And a note that said “BEACH WALK in O:14 hours”.
    “Oh, Boy!” chuckled Santa. “Two weeks in the sand.
    Now that’s what I call a ‘legit’ wonderland!”
    He bit off more cookie and sat for a spell,
    then checked on the shirt size – “Oh good, XXL!”
    When Santa got home, Mrs. Claus was all packed
    with all they would need for their trip – and in fact,
    she was wearing a mumu and Polaroid glasses.
    “Get a move on old man, you’re as slow as molasses!”
    “Did you buy airplane tickets?” her husband inquired.
    “We’re taking the sleigh. So no tickets required!”
    They hooked up a trailer to pull with the sleigh
    and loaded the elves for a “group getaway.”
    And off they departed each flaunting a grin,
    to spend two whole weeks at the Holiday Inn – Waikiki!

  23. mona861 says:

    Family Is Home
    And Home Is Wherever It May Land
    by Mona Pease 246 words

    Hazel found a safe spot, deep in the arm of a needly fir. She wove a fluffy nest and welcomed her new litter.
    Winter winds blew. Swoosh! Whoosh!
    Frost sparkled. Crickle! Crackle!
    The field mouse and her growing family snuggled until…
    Clomp!
    Clomp!
    Clomp!
    Chop!
    Chop!
    Chop!
    Hazel and her children held tight as they went topsy-turvy. Their home was dropped, dragged, then propped upright again.
    The mice peered at their woodsy neighborhood from the inside out. Gasp!
    Mesmerized, they peeked at the people dancing, decorating, stretching high to place a star.
    Snap! Lights twinkled
    Choo-choo! A train chugged.
    Children hung stockings.
    Parents pointed at the clock.
    Everyone went upstairs.
    After awhile, Hazel and her curious little ones jumped down to explore their new surroundings.
    They hopped on the train and rode ‘round and ‘round the holiday town. Whee! Then…
    Bump! Thump! Thump!
    Black boots tromped toward the tree.
    Squeakkkkkk! Eeeeeeeek! Hazel and her family raced back to their nest, hoping the big guy with rosy cheeks, twinkly eyes, and white hair, hadn’t seen them.
    He piled people presents high; books, blocks, dolls.
    Then, he looked straight at the mice. Yikes!
    He stretched his black-gloved hand toward them. They froze!
    The big guy’s hand opened. Surprise!
    Presents: coverlets of silky curls, bits of carrots and cookies, and mouse-sized cups of warm cocoa.
    He winked, and waved and left.
    Even though temporary, Hazel and her family celebrated the wondrous night at home, together.

  24. Brian Song says:

    Christmas With Aliens
    by Brian Song
    236 words

    This year Aaron was determined to see Santa. He even made a checklist of all the things he needed to stay awake.
    After his usual bedtime routine, Aaron said goodnight to his parents. The lights went out.
    It was GO time.
    The first few hours were a breeze. But as the night dragged on, Aaron could not keep his eyes open. As his eyes were about to close he was jolted awake by a bright light and noise downstairs.
    Santa! Aaron thought.
    Aaron swiftly and quietly walked downstairs.
    “Santa!” Aaron said in the loudest whisper he could muster without waking his parents.
    “Huh?!” Aaron said. “Santa?”
    Aaron saw two aliens standing next to his Christmas tree. Aaron was confused.
    “Are you guys Santa and Claus?” Aaron asked.
    “Um…” one alien stalled.
    Then someone popped out of the chimney.
    “Santa?” Aaron said.
    Santa looked surprised.
    “Then, who are you guys?” Aaron asked the aliens.
    “We are here to gain knowledge about Christmas and the idea of gifts,” the taller alien said.
    Santa stood frozen.
    “Do you have my gifts, Santa?” Aaron asked.
    Without a word Santa put the gifts under the Christmas tree.
    “Here,” Aaron said giving each alien a gift. “But you can’t open them until Christmas.”
    The aliens left feeling a warmth they had only read about.
    Santa slowly backed away up the chimney.
    Aaron smiled and walked back to his room happy.
    Mission accomplished.

  25. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR ELAINE

    HERE COMES….
    by Elaine D’Alessandro

    “It’s Christmas Eve!” said Willow. “We have to bake cookies and make a card before he comes!”

    Mom measured.

    Willow poured.

    Mom mixed.

    Willow rolled as a gust of wind whistled through the windows. She stopped. Her sparkling eyes gazed. “It’s snowing!” she shouted. Willow hummed while dipping her favorite cookie cutter.

    The stove warmed the kitchen. Willow inhaled the scrumptious scent filling the

    room. She peeked in the oven window as her Santa shaped cookies baked and

    browned.

    Then…

    Ding Ding Ding

    Willow tasted the belly of one cookie.

    “Perfect!” she said. “All done.”

    She frosted Santa’s suits and hats red. Cut bits of black gum drops for the belts

    and boots. And added sprinkles of coconut for the beards and white fur.

    Her grin grew. “I can’t wait for him to see these. They look just like him!”

    Snowplows scraped up one side of the street and down the other. Willow tapped

    her fingers on the windowsill. “He’ll come. He always does.”

    As snow kept falling, Willow kept working.

    She gathered crayons.

    Collected markers.

    Made some pictures.

    Signed her name.

    Perfect!” she said, stretching. “Everything’s done.”

    Willow placed a plate of cookies on the mantle.

    And hung her card.

    She waited.
    And waited.

    Willow wandered.

    Upstairs.

    Downstairs.

    At last, bells sounded outside. Willow whirled around. “Here he comes!”

    The visitor stomped his black boots. Brushed snow from his red coat. Shook

    white crystals from his beard.

    Willow smiled.

    Willow cheered!

    Happy Birthday, Grandpa!!!

  26. nancyriley7 says:

    The Ballad of Bella la Frost (247 words)
    by Nancy D. Riley

    A story is told from the days of old
    of the deeds of Bella la Frost.
    She found a way to save Christmas Day
    when otherwise it would be lost.

    Most elves who were able showed up at the stable
    instead of at work in the shop.
    They stared in dismay at what lay in the hay
    and toy work had ground to a stop.

    “What?” Santa howled. “There’s no time!” he growled.
    “Christmas is one day away!
    I need all the toys for the good girls and boys.
    Please, Bella, go see what they say.”

    So, the sweet little elf got a grip on herself
    and marched up to the door – undaunted.
    She banged on the wood and firmly she stood
    until someone asked what she wanted.

    “What is so bad? Are you angry or sad?”
    asked Bella, to all gathered there.
    “I see,” she replied when they brought her inside.
    “Of course, I know Santa will care.”

    “Dear Santa, come quick! This isn’t a trick!
    Bring oats, warm blankets, and water.”
    “Well, I’ll be,” he said, while scratching his head.
    “Dancer gave birth to a daughter!”

    I have a way to save Christmas Day,”
    whispered Bella in Santa’s left ear.
    “Later today, please hitch up your sleigh
    and I’ll bring you a substitute deer.”

    With the sun setting low – Santa ready to go,
    Bella arrived with a flair.
    A muskox stepped in where Dancer had been
    and the sleigh launched into the air.

  27. Lucretia Schafroth says:

    The Animated Elf—
    Marvin Strikes Again! (Word count: 250)

    by Lucretia Schafroth

    Marvin sniffed the air—peppermint, pine and other holiday scents mingled in it. For weeks, his neighborhood sparkled and glowed nightly with festive finery. Christmas was almost here, which meant…candy canes! His whole body tingled with anticipation.

    Marvin planned this mission since the holiday’s first signs…
    finding the best location…
    devising the ideal disguise…
    and rehearsed until he perfected everything.
    It had to be foolproof—he’d munched his last morsel of candy days ago!

    Peering into windows, Marvin admired the Christmas trees, each uniquely decorated. Then, he noticed something new—stockings adorning each mantle—a Christmas Eve tradition here. “Tonight’s the night!,” he thought.

    Slipping inside stealthily, Marvin scampered up the mantle. He maneuvered carefully next to a kid’s stocking…
    shimmying into an elfin decoration…
    camouflaging his limbs…
    and propped himself along the edge—as the family’s cat prowled below.

    Just after dawn, children bounded downstairs, herding themselves to the fireplace.
    “IT’S… SHOWTIME!,” Marvin thought.

    “Remember…,” said the eldest. “Just stockings, no presents ’til Mom and Dad come down!”

    “I wanna get my own,” replied the youngest, …
    stretching up on his tippy toes…
    reaching for his stocking…
    his arm outstretched.

    When the grasping hand grazed his side, Marvin leaped outward…
    launching into the air…
    springing onto the hearth…
    and shouted, “MERRR-RRY CHRISST-MAS!”

    “CRAZED ELF! RUN!,” screeched the kids. Dropping their stockings, they bolted out of the room.

    Gnawing broken bits of peppermint-flavored deliciousness while nestled in his den,
    Marvin, the chipmunk, thought…
    ‘OPERATION CANDY CANE’…
    SUCCESS!

  28. Lucretia Schafroth says:

    Santa’s Delivery Dilemma

    by Lucretia Schafroth (Word count: 250)

    On Christmas Eve, Santa awoke early, ready for his annual journey.

    Nice list? Check—toys loaded for delivery. Naughty list? Done—coal on board. All the reindeer had their check-ups and international travel vaccinations last month. The sleigh had its annual tuneup last week. Just a pre-departure test flight remained.

    But as the reindeer whisked him into the sky, Santa noticed Rudolph’s nose flickering. Then Rudolph sniffled and sneezed. The sleigh jolted, suddenly losing altitude. Clearly, Rudolph was too sick to fly!

    “What are we going to do?,” worried the other eight reindeer. Laden with gifts, the sleigh needed another strong flyer to complete its deliveries before Christmas morning.

    “I will summon some Arctic alternates!,” said Santa. “We must believe—in ourselves and in Christmas miracles.” Soon, a menagerie of candidates arrived at Santa’s snow-covered driveway.

    A moose plodded up but had no flying experience. “Next!,” called an elf. An athletic polar bear volunteered but was dismissed for exceeding the weight limit. “Next!” A snowy owl eagerly fluttered up but wasn’t strong enough for the position.

    As Santa considered his predicament, he sensed something behind him. “I’m well-suited for this task,” a voice whispered. Looking back, Santa stared…

    a pink unicorn stood behind him!

    “You’re…actually…REAL?,” Santa gasped. “I stopped believing…in unicorns…years ago,” he admitted.

    Satisfied after one last test flight, Santa began his important journey—led by Trudy, the unicorn, who proudly flew with an LED light duct-taped to her horn.

  29. lilyerlic says:

    Christmas Cat’s SQUEEZE day

    I like lemons

    It’s a lemon SQUEEZE, SQUEEZE, SQUEEZE day!

    When I suck on them

    I get a squishy face.

    Squishier Squishiest

    My face gets squishy!

    It’s a lemon squeeze squeeze, squeeze day!

    I like to squeeze them to make lemonade!

    SQUEEZE, SQUEEZE, SQUEEZE.

    I like to give the lemonade to my friends for Christmas.

    I drink lemonade for breakfast.

    Glug

    I drink lemonade for lunch.

    Glug, Glug

    I drink lemonade for supper.

    Glug, Glug, Glug!

    Help! I got some lemon juice in my eye!

    HELP ME! Please pass me a cloth!

    What if I don’t have enough lemons for a present surprise?

    What if I can’t think of what to make for Christmas?

    What if my friends don’t like my gift?

    I don’t want to suck lemons again! I don’t want to squeeze

    lemons again! I don’t want to make lemonade either! I don’t want to give them away

    anymore!

    TAKE

    THEM AWAY!

    OK I just wiped my eye!

    That’s the last time I have a lemon slice!

    Well maybe just this once

    I HAVE A SQUISHY FACE AGAIN!

    Squishier Squishiest

    Ok, I decided what the surprise will be…..come here and take a look!

    A lemon collage!

    (No more squishing lemons for me! Well, maybe some other time!)

    “We love your surprise, CAT,” said Hamster.

    “Best ever!” said Mouse.

    “Lemony good!” said Dog.

    I feel special. Thanks everyone!

    See what a little lemon can do? It can be more than you thought….just use your

    imagination.

    (Wink)

    THE END

  30. Deborah Boerema (@Deborah_Boerema) says:

    Christmas Eve DRAMA
    By Deborah Bence Boerema
    (249 words)

    Christmas Eve DRAMA. That’s the part the fourth grade Sunday school class has in the annual candlelight service. And the description couldn’t be more accurate.

    We have quite a cast. Isabella Williams won’t stop complaining that it’s not realistic for Mary to hold a doll. (Like a wailing infant with a loaded diaper could realistically “Sleep in heavenly peace”!) Alex Schmeckelbaum thinks he’s an undercover spy dressed as Joseph. Grace Moore insists her angel costume should be covered with sequins and glitter. And I’m just trying not to barf before my shepherd’s line: “Look a baby! Just as the angel told us.”

    We all take our places in the semidarkness as the choir clears the platform. Right before the lights are supposed to come up, a celestial glow unexpectedly illuminates the manger. The bundle of swaddling cloths Isabella just placed on the hay begins to wriggle, and a faint cry is heard. The congregation murmurs in wonder.

    As we all stare at the apparent miracle, a terrified cat twists free of the blankets and leaps from the manger. The cat lands on the piano; jumps to Pastor Dan’s head; darts under the pew; then tears through the sanctuary, dodging feet, purses, and the occasional hymnal.

    Twenty minutes later, Isabella corrals her cat in the baptistery. The source of the mysterious glow is tracked to Alex’s laser wristwatch. Following the drama, we forego the candles. But as we step outside, we’re still blessed by the beauty of a

    Silent Night!

  31. Jen Bagan says:

    RACING THE SUN
    by Jen Bagan
    WC – 250

    Mrs. Claus adjusted Santa’s hat.

    “This night always makes me nervous,” she said.

    “I’ll be fine,” Santa said. “Quick as a wink and back before the sun is up.”

    They kissed goodbye just as the head elf opened the door.

    “Lift off in 5 minutes!”

    The reindeer were waiting.

    Santa said, “Fly like the wind. We stay ahead of the sun tonight.”

    They understood and soon galloped at full speed into the dark night.

    The journey was smooth as Santa whooshed around the South Pacific. Packages flew from his nimble hands through Asia, Africa and Europe.

    But then the sleigh was slammed by a meteor shower.

    “We have to find shelter!” cried Santa.

    The reindeer flew toward earth and landed in the Canadian Rockies.

    Santa checked his watch and looked at the sky. We’re running out of time, he thought.

    Finally, they could take off.

    Santa worked at a frantic pace through Mexico and South America. An amber glow emerged from the darkness as he delivered the last present.

    “Home! On the double!” shouted Santa

    Dawn was breaking as the sleigh touched down at the North Pole.

    “Ouch!” cried Santa as he touched a sizzling blister forming on his cheek.

    The elves whisked him inside to Mrs. Claus.

    “Tonight was too close,” Santa said as he quickly brushed his fangs.

    Mrs. Claus pulled the drapes tight and opened his coffin.

    “In you go,” she said. “I’ll see you tonight.”

    She closed the lid and chuckled.

    If the kids only knew.

  32. Laura Jensen Bower says:

    A New Day for Mrs. Claus
    By Laura Bower
    (210 Words)

    Mrs. Claus loved Christmas time –
    the lights, the gifts, the songs in rhyme.
    It all began so long ago,
    when she was born in falling snow.

    Mrs. Claus stayed very busy –
    working til’ she grew quite dizzy.
    Baking cookies, making toys
    for little girls and little boys.

    Cooking three square meals a day,
    decorating Santa’s sleigh,
    mending stockings – green and red,
    tucking tired elves in bed.

    But since she had been about four,
    she set her sights on something more.
    As thoughts flew fast around her head.
    She wrote them down before they fled.

    She made a grid and filled each row
    with ways to help the Christmas flow –
    Santa tracking in high speed,
    a band to capture each good deed.

    Knot-free lights on Christmas trees
    streamlined gift deliveries.
    Plans in hand, she headed down
    to the biggest biz in town.

    She marched right in and said her name.
    Laser-focused. On her game.
    She passed out egg nog, spread some cheer,
    shook some hands, left with her deer.

    She sat at home. They had to call.
    She knew that she could do it all!
    The next day with her bag in tow,
    she started as the CEO (Christmas Executive Officer).

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