Ho! Ho! HO! The Eighth Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!

Deck the halls!

Light the menorah!

Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja!

It’s time for…


Super Santa.png

~for children’s writers~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday Hero!  Your hero’s act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one – from saving Christmas to leaving a fresh-baked loaf of Challah bread for a homeless person to something like Gift Of The Magi where two people give up the thing most important to them to be sure someone they love has a good holiday.  Your hero can be obvious or unlikely.  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 Saturday December 8 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below.  This post will remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debuts, Perfect Picture Book, or Would You Read It) 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 midnightwriter1 or something I’ll be able to tell who you are!)  If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email your entry to 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 including byline 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 approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.)  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Friday December 14 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Sunday December 16 at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Monday December 17 (how’s that for ambitious?! 🙂 )

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 Heroism! – the rules state a Holiday Hero story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a hero and act of heroism in some form! 🙂
  • 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!:

Magic Happens When You Make Every Word Count Writing Mentorship with Author Vivian Kirkfield!

Vivian will:
1. Read through your body of work (3-5 PB mss)
2. Skype chat with you to discuss your dream/vision/direction and her general thoughts about your work.
3. Help you choose which manuscript to move forward with/work on with her.
4. Critique that ms and then set up a Skype chat to go over it.
5. Help craft a cover letter and pitch for your ms which will then serve as a template for you as you move forward with your other work.

This is a truly amazing opportunity to work one-on-one with a talented author and critiquer to get you submission-ready for an editor or agent!

Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Vivian Kirkfield

Writer for children – reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. She’s got a bucket list that contains many more than five words – but she’s already ticked off skydiving, parasailing and banana-boat riding. When she is not looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books that she hopes will encourage young kids to become lovers of books and reading. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate(Holiday House, Feb 2019); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book(PomegranateKids, March 2019); Sweet Dreams, Sarah(Creston Books, May 2019); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). You can visit Vivian on her website, Picture Books Help Kids Soar, where she hosts the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge every March. Or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest,Instagram, Linkedin, and just about anywhere people are playing with picture books.

cover on amazon   four otters cover amazon   sweet-dreams-new-on-amazon

A Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique by prolific author Diana Murray!

diana-murray  One Snowy Day

A Non-Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Amy Dixon!

amy-dixon  Maurice

A 2-Pack of Personalized, Signed Picture Books by Tara LuebbeI Am Famous and Shark Nate-O

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O I Am Famous

a spot in my online picture book writing class Making Picture Book Magic (in any month mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)


Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2019 – by Robert Lee Brewer AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card (2 available)

Children's Writer's Guide 2019

– Yes You Can Learn How To Write Beginning Readers And Chapter Books – by Nancy I. Sanders AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card
nancy sanders 2
laura salas educational market
Making A Living
Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂




The time has come for my sample.  I wrote it between midnight and 2 AM, so that’s my excuse for how bad it is and I hope you all appreciate the fact that I am willing to make a complete fool of myself just for you! 🙂  But this should be very comforting because you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that ANYthing you wrote is better than this! 🙂

So.  Are you ready? (Be forewarned you might need a little chocolate to help you through… I’m going to need a LOT! 🙂  I have taken dreadful writing to a whole new level and should probably write a new sample tomorrow!  Also because this one is a few words over the limit 🙂  )


The Christmas Rescue

‘Twas the night before Christmas
The sleigh was packed high.
The team shook their jingle bells
Eager to fly!

Santa and Elsie Elf
Boarded the sleigh
And quick as a wink
They were up and away!

As they soared over rooftops
That glittered with snow
Elsie said,
“Look at that shooting star go!”

Santa leaned forward
And peered through the night.
“That’s no shooting star!
It’s a meteorite!”

“Pretty!” said Elsie.
And Santa said, “Yes…
But it’s going to wreak havoc
With our GPS!”

The NAV screen went blank
A search icon spun round
Because Magnetic North
Could no longer be found!

They tapped at the screen
Turned it off and back on
But it was no use
Their directions were gone!

The meteor’s metal
Messed up Elsie’s phone
So she couldn’t call Tech
At the workshop back home.

“Maybe star navigation?”
said Santa with doubt.
But clouds had moved in
And they blocked the stars out.

“We have no direction
We can’t find our way
To get gifts to good girls and boys
Christmas Day!”

At this precise moment
From out of the blue
A small caped crusader
Flew into their view.

“My goodness!” said Santa.
“Whatever is that?”
The crusader said proudly,
“I’m Super Bat!

I just couldn’t help
Overhearing your plight.
The Bat Squad and I
Can assist you tonight.”

“How?” wondered Elsie.
“Without navigation.”
“No problem,” said Bat,
“we use echolocation!”

With Super Bat skillfully
Guiding the sleigh
The gifts were delivered
By dawn Christmas Day.

“We couldn’t have done this
Without you, you know.”
Santa smiled and said,
“Bat, you’re a Christmas Hero!”


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 you still have until Saturday midnight 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 49 fabulous entries in the comment section below!
(Titles are not links – sorry! Scroll through comments to view)

  1. The Super-Invisible Snowgirl – Anne L
  2. Toby Saves Christmas – Sherry H
  3. The 12 Days of Christmas With Noni – Johanna
  4. Saint Bernard Savior – Sandra
  5. The Cookie Defenders – Darcee
  6. Nippynose Flu – Jennifer
  7. Santa’s Gift – Barbara
  8. I’m Santa – Sarah
  9. Manger Mayhem – Susan
  10. Cat Called Hero – Lily
  11. All By Myself – Jessica
  12. Surprise On The Sleigh – Sarah
  13. Ozzie Owl To The Rescue – Judy
  14. Come Back Santa – Lisa
  15. Christmas Presence – Angelique
  16. Papa Bear’s Rescue – Dianne
  17. Santa Tryouts – Amy F
  18. Just One Bean – Kristy
  19. Merritt Mouse – Saves Christmas – Patricia
  20. Jesse The Pup Saves Hanukkah – Amy B
  21. Sammy, the Skillet Saves Hanukkah – Amy B
  22. UH-OH. OH NO. HO HO – Jill
  23. The Christmas Boots – Sherry F
  24. Christmas Cookies – Kami
  25. Christmas In The Park – John
  26. A Christmas Scent-sation – Jill
  27. A Christmas Prayer – Michelle
  28. A Special Nest – Beverly
  29. Tent City Christmas – Anne B
  30. Who Was The Real Hero The Night Baby Jesus Was Born? – Carmen
  31. The Cookies That Saved Christmas – Jamie
  32. Fox And The Red Wagon – Kathy
  33. Listen To Libby – Nannette
  34. The Soldier’s Little Girl – Beth
  35. Momo The Xmas Hero – Shariffa
  36. The Santa Kid – Mega
  37. Dasher Saves The Day By Night – Tara
  38. Alex & Apple Save Christmas – Nicole
  39. Sparkle’s Special Christmas Wish – Lucretia
  40. Santa’s Beard – Linda
  41. Christmas Kindness – Beth B
  42. A Neighborly Christmas Eve – Mona
  43. Ellen – Priya
  44. The Christmas Pick-Up – Laura
  45. Christmas-time Tea – Elizabeth
  46. The Holiday Hero – Ranessa
  47. The Little Reindeer – Debora
  48. The Hay – Anna
  49. Happy Rose For Christmas – Liz

472 thoughts on “Ho! Ho! HO! The Eighth Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!

  1. anneuro says:

    The Super-Invisible Snowgirl
    by Anne Lipton

    Shakti wrapped a sari around her snowgirl.

    BAM! Vic hit Shakti with a snowball. SPLAT!

    Shakti fired back. KA-POW!

    Vic flung the snowgirl’s sari until the wind carried it like a cape. WHOOSH!

    Shakti held her tongue. That was better than getting it stuck to a mailbox, which is what Vic dared her to do last winter. Maybe Vic was mean because he was cold. He never wore a hat, scarf, or gloves.

    Griffin and Kara ran up.

    “Nice snowman,” said Griffin. “What’s his superpower?”

    “She’s a snowgirl,” said Shakti.

    “I wish I had superpowers,” said Kara. “I’d shovel the sidewalk with super strength and speed.”

    “I’d be invisible,” said Griffin, “so I could sneak Christmas cookies and surprise you during snowball fights.”

    “I’d be a human fireball,” said Vic, “and torch your marshmallow snowballs. What about you, Shakti?” Vic glared at her with his heat-ray vision.

    Shakti’s heart beat super-fast. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. All she wanted to do was escape.

    “I’d fly,” she blurted.

    “Cool,” said Griffin. “Santa is my superhero.”

    Everyone woke up to a magical Christmas morning. Kara’s sidewalk was shoveled. A box of sweet, snowball-shaped sandesh leaned against Griffin’s door. The snowgirl wore her sari properly again. And Shakti lay in the snow, making a pretty angel.

    Vic ran outside wearing the snowgirl’s hat, scarf, and mittens.

    “Thanks, Snowgirl,” he said with a smile. “Let me fix your cape.”

    Shakti rose from the snow. “That’s no cape. That’s a sari.”

  2. Sherry Howard says:

    Toby Saves Christmas

    Sherry Howard

    ‘Twas on Christmas Day we all gathered this way,
    with stockings still hung, but no Santa and sleigh.
    The mantle looked empty without Santa there—
    the figure that highlights the fun that we share.
    Cousins have gathered from all round the world—
    new dresses, and shirts, and hair tightly curled.

    Oh, but this year we see no Santa in place!
    This year, we’re sad in so many ways,
    because we’ve lost our very own gran,
    the head and the love of our wonderful clan,
    The sadness, it wrapped the whole house like a hug,
    tomorrow her place in the ground would be dug.

    Toby pondered the problem and nodded his head.
    He could help out a little, and get them all fed.
    Everyone’s sad but gran made us promise,
    we have to keep Christmas just like she’d want us.
    He shared his big plan and made them all practice—
    some holiday cheer should soften the sadness.

    They sang all the carols—to the grownups delight—
    the first smiles of the day, merry and bright.
    Toby stepped forward and cleared his young throat.
    He’d never spoken a poem—this one he wrote:
    Gran loved us all and we loved her back.
    She made holidays fun and that’s a true fact.
    We’re sad that she’s gone, we miss her a lot!
    We remember the fun and the things that she taught,
    she’ll see us keep Christmas with her memory close
    she’s smiling in heaven, we love her, she knows.

  3. viviankirkfield says:

    Yippee! It’s really here! The 8th Annual Holiday Contest! Thank you so much, Susanna…for being such a generous mentor to all of us. And I LOVE the SuperBat solution of echolocation…pure genius! Can’t wait to read all of the wonderful entries…and Ann has started us off by setting the bar high. I’m wishing everyone a beautiful holiday season filled with joy and hope.

  4. Johanna Speizer says:

    The 12 Days of Christmas with Noni

    I pull on my garden hat and big sunglasses. Noni puts on her baseball cap and fake beard. We jump into the car and park two houses down from Ashley’s house. Noni and I choose a different family each year for the 12 days of Christmas and this year it is Ashley and her little boy AJ. He just had his first birthday in November and his Daddy went to heaven the day after Thanksgiving. He was very sick from cancer.
    It’s December 13th and after trips to Goodwill and the Dollar Tree we are ready. I run up and place 1 Christmas mug with hot chocolate mix on the welcome mat, ring the doorbell, and dash back to the car.
    We continue our stealthy drop-off each night.
    2 Elf hats
    3 Christmas story books
    4 candy canes in 4 mittens
    5 Santa ornaments
    6 cherry cordials in a box
    7 dog treats for the family pet
    8 tiny reindeer and a miniature sleigh
    9 Christmas cookie cutters
    10 puffy gingerbread men stickers
    11 red and green MnM’s in a goodie bag

    It’s finally Christmas Eve and wearing our silly seasonal sweaters we knock on the door. As they open it, we sing “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way.” AJ claps his hands and dances as Ashley eyes’ tear up. Noni hands her a tray of 12 peppermint chocolate cupcakes After lots of hugs and laughing we say goodnight and “Merry Christmas!”

    Johanna Speizer, johannaspeizer@gmail.com

  5. Sandra Sutter says:


    Beau pawed at the door as snow fell fast and heavy on the porch.

    A tiny ball of fur shivered nearby.

    Outside, the world was silent and cold.

    Inside, people wore smiles and Christmas-themed sweaters.

    “Woof!” he barked.

    His human cracked open the door. The smell of pinecones and cinnamon tickled his nose.

    “In a minute, Beau. After all the guests arrive,” she said before closing it again.

    Beau’s mouth watered and his tail wagged.

    Snowy sparkles settled on the tiny ball of fur.

    Time was running short.

    “Woof! Woof!”

    Beau pressed his face against the glass. Hot smudges of drool mixed with muddy pawprints.

    A man with salt-and-pepper hair turned to look at him.

    “Shhh…” he commanded with a finger to his lips. “I can’t hear the music.”

    Beau’s tail dropped and his ears drooped.

    He nudged his nose against the tiny ball of fur.

    A soft mew escaped its body.

    Time was up.

    “Woof! Woof! Woof!”

    Beau’s paws tap-tap-tapped the door.

    A little girl waved and walked towards him. “What’s wrong, cute doggie?” she asked.

    Beau rested his head by the tiny ball of fur.

    “A kitten!” she gasped as she snuggled it in her arms.

    The girl ran back inside, shouting “The doggie gave me a present!”

    Beau strolled inside. Guests patted his head as he walked passed the tree to his cozy bed.

    His human scrunched his velvety ears. As she set a treat in his bowl, she whispered. “Merry Christmas. Beau. My Saint Bernard Savior.”

    By Sandra Sutter (sutters22 AT msn.com)

  6. sarahheturadny says:

    Oh my gosh! What a fabulous first prize! Wish I were so lucky to win that! And all of the other prizes look so exciting, too!
    I can’t wait to read all the entries; I hope I have time!
    Thank you for such a wonderful contest, Susanna!
    (And to think, this time last year I was intimidated by the idea of HAVING a blog; forget trying to post a link to my blog in someone else’s blog!)

  7. Kathy Halsey says:

    As usual, Susanna, you pull out all the stops with this contest. Great prizes. Thanks to you, all the elf judges and prize patrol. I LIKE your story – i had a similar idea. Tee-hee.

  8. Darcee Freier says:

    The Cookie Defenders
    By Darcee A. Freier (147 words)

    Levi piled sprinkles on the last Christmas cookie. “All done.”

    “Very festive!” said Mom. “Guard the cookies while I do some laundry.”

    Levi didn’t know that cookies needed guarding. He surveyed the area. He’d be ready.

    Levi put on his cape and cowboy hat and grabbed his sword. He paced around the kitchen swinging and jabbing. He whacked the table. A cookie cracked. Levi ate the evidence. He needed backup.

    Levi borrowed the three Wise Men from the nativity. He stationed them in front of the cookies. He mobilized the elf from the shelf, a Santa, an army man, and three Lego people to circle the cookies.

    Levi held up his sword. “We are the Cookie Defenders!”

    No foes appeared. He pretended a cookie-crunching monster charged.

    “Take that!” Levi lunged. The monster fell and so did two cookies. Levi devoured them.

    With no villains in sight, Levi dug through the toy box. He hauled out the Grinch and slunk him up the table leg. The Lego men attacked. The Wise Men played defense. A great battle ensued. At last the Grinch was conquered. Levi ate the mangled cookies and rearranged the Cookie Defenders.

    A hungry cookiesaurus stomped towards the cookies. The army man shot. C-saurus stomped on. The elf karate-chopped. C-saurus stomped on. Santa threw his bag. The cookiesaurus toppled. “Yay!” Levi yelled.

    Mom walked in. “What on earth…?”

    With crumbs on his chin and sword ready, Levi declared, “I’m guarding the cookies, just like you asked.”

  9. Jennifer Broedel (@JBroedelAuthor) says:


    242 words


    Jennifer Broedel

    The night before Christmas, with no time to spare,
    unparalleled storms spilled a chill in the air.

    Amid all the bustle, two tinkering elves
    coughed at each other and startled themselves.
    The shivering, sneezes, and sniffles spread quick,
    till every last elf in the workshop was sick.

    The presents piled up, and the reindeer weren’t fed,
    the list wasn’t checked, and the room filled with dread.
    “Is everyone sick now? Is no one immune?
    We need to do something, or get some help soon!”

    Plain out of time, and with so much to do,
    Christmas was threatened by Nippynose Flu!

    “The snowmen can help us guys, all isn’t lost,”
    said Tinselbelle, wiping her nose clean of frost.
    As soon as the snowmen got wind of the fuss,
    they hollered “Don’t worry, just leave it to us!
    We snowmen enjoy a good frigid-frost chill,
    we can’t catch a flu and we never get ill.”

    So while all the elves were reclining in bed,
    the snowmen saved Christmas, and worked in their stead.
    Where elves had been chilly and starting to freeze,
    the snowmen breezed through all the work with great ease.

    They finished the wrapping and loaded the sleigh,
    happy to help Santa off on his way.

    To top it all off, they brought soup to the elves…
    “We hope you enjoy it, we made it ourselves.
    Our Nana’s own recipe: my, it tastes nice!
    Chicken with snowballs, but we held the ice.”

  10. Barbara Farr Renner says:

    Santa’s Gift
    By Barbara Renner

    “Santa must have forgotten my puppy.” Aliana stares out the window watching the kids ride their new bikes through the melting snow.

    “There’s one more present in the garage.” Mom pats Aliana’s shoulder.

    “Oh boy, I bet it’s my puppy.” Aliana races through the side door.

    A white bicycle with a basket and red bow sits beside the car. She hugs her mom. “Thank you, Mommy.”

    Aliana pedals to the neighborhood park. Passing by a hedge, she notices something moving. “A puppy!” she squeals. “You’re shivering. And your leg is bleeding.” She wraps it in her jacket and places the bundle in the basket.

    Bursting through the door, Aliana calls, “Mommy, look! Santa left my puppy at the park. I knew he wouldn’t forget!”

    Aliana washes the puppy’s leg and gives him water. “You’re so cute. I’ll name you Cuddles.”

    Mom calls, “Aliana, Michelle is on the phone and wants to talk to you.”

    Michelle sobs, “Aliana, the puppy I got for Christmas ran out the door this morning – GASP – and I can’t find him – SNIFF – and your mom told my mom that you -GULP – found a puppy at the park today. Can I come over and see if it’s Buddy?”


    Michelle rushes in the house and squats by the puppy. “Buddy! Thank you, Aliana, for saving him! You’re my hero! You can come over whenever you want to play with him.”

    “I’d like that.” Aliana rubs Cuddles’ ear. “Santa didn’t forget after all.”

  11. Sarah Meade says:

    I’m Santa!
    (Word Count: 249)
    By Sarah Meade

    Nicky loved everything about Christmas, especially Santa Claus.

    One night Nicky looked down at his pajamas. They looked like the suit of someone special.

    “I’m Santa!” said Nicky.

    Mommy laughed and hugged him.

    The next morning, Nicky ate breakfast parfaits with Grammy. Yogurt covered Nicky’s face. Grammy held up a mirror. Nicky’s cheeks and chin looked like the beard of someone special.

    “I’m Santa!” said Nicky.

    Grammy giggled and handed him a washcloth.

    Later, Nicky played in his room.

    “Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!” Nicky said to himself.

    Nicky set up his toys. They looked like the reindeer of someone special.

    “Now, Teddy! Now Bunny! Now, Fire truck and Digger! On, Race car! On, Airplane! On, Engine and Caboose!”

    “What’s going on, Nicky?” asked Daddy.

    “I’m Santa!” said Nicky.

    Daddy smiled and sat down to play, too.

    The next day Nicky wrapped up gifts in shiny paper.

    He lugged a bag of presents to the dinner table. The bag looked like the sack of someone special.

    “I’m Santa!” said Nicky.

    He delivered each gift with a grin.

    Mommy and Daddy looked at each other, then at Grammy. Grammy nodded.

    “I have an idea,” said Grammy.

    The next day, Daddy gave Nicky a special red hat.

    Mommy took Nicky shopping for toys and books.

    Grammy helped Nicky wrap the presents.

    They drove to the children’s hospital and carried bags of gifts inside.

    Nicky felt like someone special.

    “I’m Santa!”

  12. lilyerlic says:

    Lily Erlic
    250 words

    Cat Called Hero

    A cat called Hero sat by the fireplace.

    “I want my stocking to be filled to the rim this year,” he said.

    “Is it because last year you got a lump of coal?” asked Mouse.

    “My stocking was only half full last year,” said Hero.

    “Well what are you going to do?” asked Mouse.

    “I’m going to write a letter to Santa,” said Hero.

    “Do you think Santa will fill my stocking up to the rim?” asked Hero.

    “Have you been a good cat? Have you been kind to your friends? Have you done good deeds?”

    asked Mouse.

    “Well,” said Hero, “I licked my plate clean. I tidied my room. And I meowed less this year.”

    On Christmas morning, Hero raced to his stocking. His whiskers drooped.

    “Santa didn’t listen. My stocking is not even half full. I will have to write to Santa again for next

    year,” said Hero.

    “I’m not sure if you were as good as you thought,” said Mouse.

    That year, Hero worked twice as hard. He volunteered to help pick up litter around the

    school. He collected recycled paper and returnable cans from every classroom. He got a badge

    for ‘most helpful’ in school.

    Christmas arrived again and this time Hero had a big surprise.

    “My stocking, it’s filled to the rim,” said Hero beaming with happiness, “and I know just what to

    do with it.”

    “What?” asked Mouse.

    “I’m taking it to school to share it with my friends, you too mouse, you too.”

    The End.

  13. JessicaReinerHarris says:

    By Jessica Reiner-Harris
    249 words!

    It started on Christmas Eve, when my little brother Aidan wanted to brush his teeth…


    Mom tried to help him not eat toothpaste or chew his toothbrush, but…


    So we went to bed, Aidan’s teeth unbrushed.

    I woke up to Mom shaking me awake.
    The house was soaked. In the middle of the night, Aidan had decided to brush his teeth…


    …and left the faucet on.

    The presents under the tree were ruined. The train Grandpa and I built together was under water. Forget White Christmas, this was a WET Christmas.

    We tried to leave the house quickly, but Aidan had to get dressed…


    And put on his seatbelt…


    We went looking for an open room. But in the spirit of Christmas, there was no room at any inn. Mom said it was time for the “last resort.”

    I hoped it was a beach resort.

    Instead, we went to our neighbors’ house. Aidan wanted to ring the doorbell…


    The Bermans took us in without question. They didn’t have a tree or wreath, but they had a pretty candle-holder on the table. Mrs. Berman told me it was a menorah for Hanukkah, which is all about a miracle.

    I told her Christmas is about a miracle, too! We told them about Christmas, and they told us about Hanukkah. And Aidan got to light the menorah…


    …with a little help.

  14. Sarah Meade says:


    By Sarah Meade
    (Word Count: 250)

    Santa loved his job. Nothing would stop him from completing his Christmas mission.

    Quill the elf had a secret. After building toys all day, he stayed up working.

    On Christmas Eve, Quill hid a surprise in Santa’s sack.

    “Ho ho ho! Ready for the show?” asked Santa.

    “Yes!” called the elves.

    “Ho ho ho! Let’s go!”

    The sleigh soared into the sky.

    The elves waved and ran back to the workshop.

    Quill the elf hung back, grinning about his secret gift.

    Meanwhile back on the sleigh…

    Santa delivered presents and ate countless cookies.

    The night was winding down.

    Santa spotted one last unwrapped box in his sack.

    But, wait!

    “Ho ho ho! Oh no!”

    It wasn’t just one gift. Santa looked inside the box and found… books.

    Hundreds of books! Maybe more.

    All written by Quill the elf!

    “Ho ho ho! I didn’t know!” Santa fretted.

    He needed to deliver everything in his sack to complete his Christmas mission. But he’d already given gifts to the children on his list.

    What to do?

    “Ho ho ho! Let’s fly down low!”

    Santa gazed out.

    “Ho ho ho! What’s that in the snow?”

    Santa hopped out.

    It was the Little Free Library. A place for books!

    “Ho ho ho! I know! I know!”

    Santa grabbed two books and tucked them inside.

    “Ho ho ho! There’s more, I know!”

    Santa found more Little Free Libraries for Quill’s storybooks.

    Santa returned to the North Pole, saving one book for himself.

    Mission complete! Merry Christmas!


  15. Judy Sobanski (@jkspburg) says:


    by Judy Sobanski
    (239 words)

    Santa was set. The sleigh was full.
    Reindeer lined up, ready to pull.
    Off they flew into the night.
    “Hmmm,” Santa said. “Something’s not right.
    My GPS, it’s on the blink.
    Am I heading South?
    No…East? I think?
    This is bad. Where am I going?
    Could this get worse? Yes! Now it’s snowing!”
    An owl flew next to Santa’s sleigh.
    His wings were white with flecks of gray
    “Ozzie!” cried Santa. “Help me, please!
    I need your directional expertise!”
    Ozzie turned his head around.
    Looked straight up,
    Then peered straight down.
    “Follow me! I’ll lead the way!”
    Santa followed in his sleigh.
    Ozzie kept them all on track.
    Soon every gift in Santa’s pack,
    sparkled ‘neath a Christmas tree,
    for the morning’s jubilee.
    “Guide us home OZ,” Santa cried.
    The reindeer convoyed side by side.
    Rudolph’s nose provided light,
    while Ozzie used his keen eyesight.
    Soon a sign that read NORTH POLE,
    let Santa switch to cruise control.
    “You good from here?” Ozzie asked.
    “Thank you!” said Santa. “You finished the task!
    You saved the day. What a hero you are!
    You guided us like the Christmas Star!”
    “It’s nothing,” said Oz. “But I’ll take my leave.
    My family awaits me for Christmas Eve!”
    Ozzie flew one way, and Santa another.
    With a wing and a hand, they waved to each other.
    And Santa exclaimed as he drove out of sight,
    “HAPPY CHRISTMAS to Owl….and to Owl a Good-night!”

  16. Lisa L Furness 🌻🍁🍂🌾 (@_lisafurness) says:

    by Lisa Lee Furness
    248 word count

    Its Christmas Eve night and I’m wide awake.
    My sister is lucky – she’s fast asleep.

    Will Santa bring a bike? That new game I want? What if I never get to sleep?
    Santa only delivers presents when you’re asleep.

    First I’ll count as high as I can.
    One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine…
    HMMM, what number comes after a million, billion?

    Next, I can try to remember the names of Santa’s reindeer.
    Dancer, Flasher, Panster, Chicken, Comet, Connor, Dollar, and Bitten.
    No, that’s not right. Who did I forget?
    I’m. Still. Not. Asleep.

    Then I try yoga.
    This will help.

    Reindeer and sleigh bells!
    It’s Santa! But I’m not asleep!

    I jump into bed, close my eyes and don’t move a muscle.
    “AH AH-CHOO!”
    I hope Santa didn’t hear that.
    Santa’s gone!
    Now my sister won’t get any gifts because I wasn’t asleep.
    I’ve ruined Christmas.
    How will I get him to come back?

    Dear Santa,
    I’m sorry. I tried but I couldn’t get to sleep.
    Please come back and leave gifts for my sister.
    She was asleep.
    Love, Will

    YAWN! I hope he sees my note. YAWN! I hope Santa comes back.

    It’s Christmas and on the tree is a note!

    Dear Will,
    I know when you’re asleep.
    I know when you’re awake.
    I know you tried and you did your best.
    Enjoy the gifts.
    Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.

  17. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Christmas Presence

    by Angelique Pacheco

    The chandelier glistened like stars and shed light on the ginormous Christmas tree in the corner where gifts of every size and color towered on all sides of the tree. I sat on the staircase and watched the party before me. Glasses clinked loudly in celebration, voices twittered in anticipation and when the lights of the Christmas tree were turned on, gasps of joy and excitement were heard throughout.

    That’s when I saw him, standing in a corner by himself. He looked sad. He was dressed in Jeans and a plaid shirt and looked completely out of place among the ballgowns and suits. From where I was sitting, I could smell the wood oil and I knew he was a carpenter. He seemed so familiar though. He looked at me and his blue eyes pierced my soul. It was Jesus. He had come to celebrate his birthday with others, but they were celebrating themselves instead. They only cared about the party, the presents and the food. I started crying. I knew what it felt like to be left out of games and groups at school, and here we were, doing the same thing to Jesus.

    “STOP!” I yelled loudly. The room went quiet and everyone looked at me, shocked. “You’re supposed to be celebrating Jesus’ birthday! That’s what Christmas is about!” My mother grabbed me by the hand and pulled me upstairs. As I looked back, Jesus was now dressed in white, smiling broadly.

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    PAPA BEAR’S RESCUE 241 words
    By Dianne Moritz

    The night before Christmas, we bears got ready.
    I made some meatballs, while Ma boiled spaghetti.

    Three stockings were pinned to the mantle with flair,
    Waiting for Santa to fill them with care.

    Soon baby was tucked in, snug in his bed,
    As visions of crab cakes danced through his head.

    Ma dressed in her nightie, I kicked off my shoes,
    and we settled down for a winter night snooze.

    When outside our den I heard a loud rumpus….
    I tumbled from bed to check out the ruckus.

    And what to my puffed, bleary eyes did appear,
    But a giant sleigh, with eight fluffy reindeer…

    Santa Claus! Coming! Right straight to my lair!
    I, so surprised, plopped down in my chair!

    And then, in a flash, I saw in the snow,
    Reindeer alighting, Santa shouting, “Bravo!”

    I smiled to myself and was pacing around…
    When he hurried in with a hop, skip and bound.

    He gave me a nod, but made nary a noise.
    Our stockings soon bulged with presents and toys.

    He dashed out our door, but fell on some ice.
    He slipped and he slid and broke both legs twice!

    And then in an instant, I knew what to do….
    Finish the job! So I flew off with his crew.

    I delivered presents all through that night,
    while Santa Claus rested by our firelight!

    Yes, I rescued Christmas. This tale is true.
    Christmas was saved, and old Santa Claus, too!

  19. Amy Flynn says:

    Santa Tryouts
    By Amy Flynn
    (Word Count: 235)

    ‘Twas the Santa Claus Tryouts and there was a mob
    Of men at the North Pole who wanted the job.

    At the end of the line there was quite a surprise;
    A kind jolly lady with warm twinkling eyes.

    She noticed the men throw their stares and their glares
    But she simply smiled and gave zero cares.

    Challenge one would start off at the bell after lunch;
    Lots of milk jugs and platters of cookies to munch.

    Challenge two was much harder and many would go.
    They needed to bellow a great HO HO HO.

    Challenge three needed silence, great stealth and strong poise;
    Down the chimney and up without making a noise.

    Only three Santas left so the elves hatched a plot,
    “There is no way that this girl should win! She cannot!”

    The very last task was the pull of each beard;
    She failed that one, and the whole North Pole cheered.

    But a wink of her eye and a twist of her head,
    “So you think you’ve defeated me?” she calmly said.

    Then she climbed on the sleigh and stood up tall and proud.
    She took a deep breath and sang out to the crowd.

    As her sweet calming voice all but filled up the room
    She touched every heart and change started to bloom.

    So she became Santa that wonderful day,
    Sure the magic of Christmas would show her the way.

  20. Kristy Roser Nuttall says:

    By Kristy Roser Nuttall
    (word count 250)

    The town of Bean always had a jelly bean festival on Christmas Day.
    But the jelly beans had mysteriously disappeared.
    The jelly bean festival was doomed.
    Everyone began to fret. There just had to be a jelly bean festival.
    They searched in every cupboard and closet, but the beans had vanished.
    Then Katie McBride remembered she had seen just one jelly bean taped in an old book of fairy tales.
    Katie felt her fingers tingle when she touched the bean. Maybe there was hope. She made a secret wish and planted the bean outside her window on Christmas Eve and waited. She watered it. She sang to it. But nothing happened . . .yet.
    Katie looked out her window Christmas morning to see colorful branches swirling by her window. She dressed in a flash and raced outside to discover. . .the jelly bean she planted was growing.
    Katie watched the branches of the jelly bean tree sprout taller and wider.
    She reached up to touch the branches drooping with jelly beans.
    The flavors dazzled her tongue: candy-cane, cranberry, caramel, and hot cocoa.
    She filled every bucket, bowl, and pot in her house.
    She called her friends and loaded everyone’s wagons with jelly beans.
    They giggled and danced as they rolled their wagons in a parade to the town square.
    Everyone cheered when they saw the wagons full of jelly beans for the festival.
    Katie twirled, bowed, and taped just one bean back in her fairy tale book, just in case.

  21. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Patricia Clock
    232 words

    Merritt mouse lives at Santa’s workshop.
    “Christmas is almost here, Merritt!”says Santa.
    Merritt watches Santa taking one last look at the list.
    “Ho! Ho! Ho! More nice than naughty this year,”says Santa.
    “It’s time for some cookies!”says Santa, putting his glasses down.
    Before they are back. Zap! Santa’s glasses are gone.
    “Where are my glasses? I thought that I put them right here.”
    They look all over. Merritt looks up. Sally spider has Santa’s glasses by her web.
    “Pit, Pat, Pit, Pat!” Merritt crawls up.
    “Squeak! Give Santa’s glasses back!”
    “I need these glasses to see the flies, my eight eyes are tired.”says Sally.
    “Squeak! But Santa needs them to deliver all the presents!”
    “I will give it back if you find something better,”says Sally.
    “Pit, Pat, Pit, Pat!” Down he crawls to the desk and back.
    “Squeak!” This magnifying glass is bigger.”
    “Hummm, No.”says Sally.
    “Pit, Pat, Pit, Pat!” Down he crawls to the desk and back.
    “Squeak! Look, a lamp to attract flies.”
    “Perfect!”says Sally.
    “How will I read my list and lead the reindeers tonight?”says Santa.
    Merritt drops Santa’s glasses in his lap.
    “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merritt, you found my glasses!”
    “You saved Christmas, my little friend.”

  22. Amy Epstein Brazda says:

    Amy Brazda

    Jesse the Pup Saves Hanukkah
    250 words

    Manny, the menorah, screamed to Jesse the pup,
    “Come to the windowsill… hurry up!
    Mountains of snow everywhere…
    How will Mom get candles so Hanukkah I can share?
    None in the box, ALL used last year,
    when everyone played dreidel with joyous cheer!”

    Shira, the shamash, added, “It’s the only time for my important job…
    as the candle that kindles the others. Do something, Jesse, or I will sob!”

    “Friends, don’t shed a tear.
    I’ll fetch candles…have no fear!
    Like Judah the Maccabee who overcame the Syrians’ might,
    I hope my dedication to our family will be our real shining light!”

    I bounded into the frigid air.
    As a labrador, the cold I can bare!
    Stores closed, not a single open one.
    Off to visit candlemaker Caleb to beg a ton.

    “Why are you here in this storm?
    Eating fried potato latkes at home will keep you warm.”

    “Saving Hanukkah for my family.
    Manny needs candles to celebrate with glee.”

    “Jesse, you always do the right thing!”

    With happiness Caleb melted wax as he did sing.
    Crafting candles the Star of David’s color so blue,
    Infused with his love, the best Hanukkah for us I knew!

    Caleb placed the box in a little brown bag,
    with traditional chocolate gelt and sufganiot doughnuts, made my tail wag!
    Written on the box Caleb’s special note to me,
    You did a beautiful mitzvah (good deed) and saved Hanukkah, little Jesse!

    Returning home to cheers so loud…
    I felt so proud!

      • Amy Epstein Brazda says:

        thanks so much for your comments…really appreciate! definitely go eat…and hopefully something yummy if i have made u have the desire…lol!

    • viviankirkfield says:

      Amy…what a fun story…and you managed to get so much of the symbols and explanations in. Love that you brought out about the ‘mitzvah’ being a good deed, and I think Jesse is a hero also for not eating what was in the bag…chocolate and doughnuts. I’m not sure I could have resisted. Nicely done!

      • Amy Epstein Brazda says:

        as i replied to another…i better know my judaic tales as i was a jewish day school elementary student and my teachers would not be happy with me if i could not recall or be able to relay them somehow!!! mitzvahs are important for all to do, not just jews…people of other faiths just need to be educated about what a mitzvah is! and never even thought about jesse’s discipline in not eating food…i guess i made him a hero in this story in that way, but at home he is an 8 month pup eating everything from paper to pillows to real dog food…lol!

      • Amy Epstein Brazda says:

        no problem in entering and i’m in for others in future….THANK U for allowing writers this fun opportunity!!!!! and i better know all of my judaic holiday tales, or my teachers will not be happy with me…i attended jewish day school all of my elementary years, then those same wonderful teachers had my kids!!!!! LOL! thanks for your comments…and fyi, my first book is coming out january-ish about JESSE!

  23. Amy Epstein Brazda says:

    Amy Brazda

    Sammy, the Skillet Saves Hanukkah
    250 words

    I’m Levi, the latke… not feeling good about me…
    Wanting to feel happy.

    Sammy, the skillet, asks, “What’s wrong with you?”

    “Not ready for the job we do.
    Just feeling blue.”

    “I’ll help… your friend so true.
    Whirling in the food processor; that’s so fun!
    Fried in me… taste is second to none!
    Eating you, not for a day, but eight.
    Exclaiming, “Yum, Levi, you’re great!”

    “Yes, but other than The Festival of Lights,
    Bullied by others on most nights.
    Just a spud…
    Big fat dud!
    Used as a side,
    No place to hide!”

    Crinkled, waffled, hashed, and more…
    French fried, mashed, scalloped…so many names, galore!
    Burgers, steaks, next to pancakes I sit.
    Not caring about my feelings, not a bit!
    Sandwiches’ sidekick; chips of cheese, sour cream and onion, barbequed…
    Hoping to feel worthwhile and new!”

    “Stop feeling down.
    Won’t let bullies have you wear a frown.
    Waiting for your crispy crunch…
    More than playing dreidel, family loves to munch!
    Crowding around frying in me,
    Biting into you they announce with glee!

    You ARE the star today.
    Without “you,” there is no holiday!
    The traditional food that Jews eat,
    Everyone’s favorite savory treat.
    Your besties, applesauce and sour cream…
    Don’t ruin their holiday dream!
    Their chance to be on your top,
    Smiling when placed aboard with a hefty dollop!”

    “You’re Hanukkah’s HERO, Sammy!
    Feeling confident now with such kind words to me.
    Grateful for your friendship, helping me feel good.”

    “That’s what friends do…I’m glad I could!”

      • Amy Epstein Brazda says:

        thanks….and if my writing made you want to eat a latke, then one of my goals was accomplished…thanks tons for your comment!

    • viviankirkfield says:

      Hi Amy…I’m so in love with this entry. I think you’ve really got something here…especially the quick, sparsely written sections. This is a laugh out loud hilarious POV of the lowly potato. Well done…and I think you need to pursue this story…honestly…in my humble opinion, it’s got the makings of a book.

      • Amy Epstein Brazda says:

        I feel honored and thrilled by your words and thank you for your comments! I always teach my creative writing students that using different character POVs can make a reader take note more of ideas trying to be relayed, so can’t wait to tell them of your comment!!! And, I always tell them to make me laugh! So glad you enjoyed this….thanks tons for your thoughts!!!

      • Amy Epstein Brazda says:

        thanks so much for your time in commenting!!!! I live for all things potato…seriously, I am always in charge of a “potato dish” at family get-togethers, which is why poor Levi received all the names…I have made ALL of those….LOL!!!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Not sure we’ve ever had an entry from the POV of a skillet, Amy! Very original! Love how Sammy does his best to boost Levi’s self confidence and make him feel better! Friendship and kindness – true embodiments of the holiday spirit!

      • Amy Epstein Brazda says:

        not enough thanks for your time in commenting, and so happy if sammy’s POV is “a first!” for the contest…i feel honored, and thank you for putting this contest out…i am always telling my creative writing students to enter contests, not so much for “the win”…but to share their writing with others, and gain valuable comments from other writers! friendship and kindness…oh my, we need a lot in our more-than-crazy world these days…i am always preaching it… even through skillets…lol!

    • Susan Johnston says:

      Thanks, Vivian! I did lots of school plays (and community theatre productions), so I’ve experienced many mishaps but it’s all part of the fun of live performance. 🙂

  24. Jill Shields Purtee says:

    UH-OH. OH NO. HO HO.
    by Jill Purtee

    Santa slaps on his cap.
    Belts out three oh-oh-oh’s.

    Reindeer buckle his belt
    shouting, “SANTA, LET’S GO!”

    “Santa, scoot on your boots.
    Eat this fresh magic snow.”

    “It’ll flip-flop your words.”
    And it did. “Ho ho ho.”

  25. Sandra Sutter says:

    Oooh, I really like the setting of a school play. It really brings home the idea of overcoming a fear (a real one for so many kids). Good luck!

    • Susan Johnston says:

      Thanks, Sandra! Overcoming anxiety is a theme in a few of my stories and I think it’s an important one for kids.

  26. Susanna Leonard Hill says:



    By: Sherry Fellores

    The city sparkled at Christmastime. Pine boughs and peppermint filled the air. Bella’s arms brimmed with shopping bags.

    As Bella and her mom slipped in and out of the shops, a stylish pair of boots caught Bella’s eye. She slid them onto her feet. The soft fur warmed her toes instantly.

    “Please mom?” Bella pleaded.

    “They’re expensive, but okay,” said mom.

    “Thank you!” Bella said, admiring their beauty.

    As night fell, so did the snow and temperatures. The icy air nipped her fingertips and nose. She drank hot cocoa to keep warm as they took in the sights and sounds of the city. The grand tree glistened. Skaters glided on the ice. A man with his guitar, and a young girl beside him, sang carols. A tin can sat near her feet for people to throw spare change into. Bella noticed the girl’s boots.

    “Hurry, we’ll miss the train,” said mom.

    Bella ran to catch up. Looking down at her feet, her heart played tug-of-war.

    “Wait… there’s something I forgot,” said Bella.

    She ran back to the girl and smiled. She sat down on the ground, slipped off her boots, and set them at the girl’s feet.

    “Merry Christmas!” said Bella.

    “Wait!” the girl said as she slid off her tattered boots and handed them to Bella.

    “Thank you. Merry Christmas,” said the girl.

    Bella put on the worn boots. Her toes instantly froze, but her heart was warmed with the spirit of Christmas.

  27. Kami Huynh says:

    Christmas Cookies
    by Kami Huynh
    (187 words)

    When Santa’s in a slump, his blood sugars too low,
    Christmas cookies to the rescue, they’re the real heroes.

    With sugar and spice, they bring good cheer.
    Sweet cookies save Santa each and every year.

    It’s a lot of work, hauling presents around.
    Sledding and sweating, down the chimney he bounds.

    Santa’s got type one, not type two.
    He gets hypoglycemic. What can he do?

    Santa starts to shake, his tummy rumbles and grumbles.
    If he doesn’t get some cookies, he’s in real big trouble.

    Once the presents are down, he goes on cookie patrol.
    His favorite have sprinkles, roll them into the dough.

    Now Santa’s feeling dizzy, he can’t read his list.
    He’s looking around for a cookie assist.

    By the Christmas tree, he finds his treat,
    Gingerbread cookies get him back on his feet.

    Diabetes is tough, but he’ll pull through.
    Thanks for leaving Santa cookies, to wish him adieu.

    When Santa’s in a slump, his blood sugars too low,
    Christmas cookies to the rescue, they’re the real heroes.

    With sugar and spice, they bring good cheer.
    Sweet cookies save Christmas each and every year.

  28. Traci Bold says:

    Susanna, you have the most delightful stories and rhymes. And this one was battastic!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. ❤

  29. bookfish1 says:

    John McGranaghan

    Christmas in the Park
    243 words

    Momma says, “It’s time to go.”

    But I don’t want to go.
    The park is cold.

    “Time to go,” says Daddy.

    I want to stay home
    and make my Christmas list.

    “People are waiting,” says Daddy.

    I grab my coat,
    cross my arms,
    and sit in the back seat.

    The food trays are warm.
    They smell yummy.

    The city lights shine bright.
    But the park is dark.

    It is supper time.
    People start to gather.

    I grab a big spoon,
    and start serving.
    They thank me.

    Momma tells me to say,
    “You’re welcome. Enjoy the meal.”

    Millie squeezes my cheeks.
    Her hands are scratchy,
    not soft like Momma’s.

    Momma and I bring food
    to the lady in the bushes.
    Her hair is messy.
    She does not talk,
    but she takes the food.

    Abraham tells Daddy
    the library won’t let him
    take out any books.
    He has no address.

    Jimmy tells me
    he sleeps under the stars
    like a cowboy.
    But it’s not like the movies.

    I play checkers with Patrick.
    He promises to
    teach me how to play chess.

    Will pulls out a
    crumpled copybook.
    He reads his poems.

    When I ask why we come,
    Daddy says,
    “It’s good to help people.”

    Momma says,
    “People helped us.”

    It is time to go.
    I wave good bye.

    On the way home
    I start my Christmas List.

    Millie – hand lotion
    Lady in the bushes – hair brush
    Abraham – books
    Jimmy – tent
    Patrick – chessboard
    Will – notebook.

    • viviankirkfield says:

      Hello John…as I go through the stories, I read then aloud…it helps me feel the rhythm of the words. When I got to the end of your story, I could barely read the last 7 lines…I was all choked up. And for me, THAT is the hallmark of a fabulous story. Oh my gosh…it’s like a Hallmark movie special. How lovely. And what a beautiful message to any child (or parent) who reads this. I hope this becomes a real book..It is totally needed in our world today. Thank you!

      • bookfish1 says:

        Vivian, Thanks for the kind words. The story was inspired by some work I do with the homeless in the Logan Square section of Philadelphia. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m grateful for the opportunity.

    • Sue Heavenrich says:

      This feels so real – these people could walk off the page and be at home in our town. Hopefully we would see them with our heart the same way this holiday hero sees his newfound friends.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Oh, John! What a wonderful story! You made me all choked up – right at the line where Momma says, “People helped us”…and then when the child makes his generous-hearted list. I love your careful choice of just the right details to bring the story to life. Beautiful job!

  30. Jill Lambert (@LJillLambert) says:

    Thanks again for another inspirational contest, Susanna! Love the entries so far! Here goes mine:

    A Christmas Scent-sation
    By Jill Lambert
    (Word count: 247)

    Two weeks before Christmas,
    way out in the shed,
    presents were stockpiled
    and wrapped, green and red.

    Behind the brick firehouse
    was joy, guaranteed,
    collected each Christmas
    for families in need.

    The firefighters planned
    to deliver the gifts
    the very next day
    when they finished their shifts.

    Then what did their
    sensitive noses detect,
    but a strong scent of skunk–
    all the gifts had been wrecked!

    A skunk made his burrow
    out under the shed,
    then an unwelcome
    possum crawled in it instead.

    Well, what would you think
    that striped stinker should do?
    He blasted the possum
    with skunk musk—P-U!

    And of course all the presents
    soaked up the foul odor
    as it seeped through the floorboards–
    that furry exploder!

    Now what could be done
    to remove the aroma,
    without putting everyone
    into a coma?

    “I’ll call my friend, Stan,”
    the chief told the crew,
    “He’s in wildlife control,
    so he’ll know what to do.”

    Stan was there in a flash
    in his van full of tricks,
    “I’ll fill up my fogger
    with a mystery mix.

    It’s my favorite concoction
    for skunk residue.”
    Then he put on a gas mask,
    his coveralls, too.

    Stan fogged and he fumed
    till the stink disappeared.
    They delivered the packages,
    all the kids cheered:

    “Hooray for old Stan,
    he’s a Christmas scent-sation!
    He rescued our presents
    from contamination!”

    And they heard the skunk mumble
    as he slunk out of sight,
    “Guess I’ll find a new burrow.
    Merry Christmas! Good night!”

  31. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    The Christmas Prayer
    250 words / by Michelle Kennedy

    ‘Twas the eve before Christmas all ‘round the world.
    People were cranky as rumors were swirled.
    Division and fighting were having their say;
    The Spirit of Christmas seemed far, far away.
    But one tiny child, got down on her knees
    And prayed up to heaven, “God will you please?”
    “People are hurting, uncaring and more…
    And no one is giving out help to the poor!”
    God sent a sign that He’d heard her great plea-
    His tears turned to snow as they touched every tree.
    Then He said gently, “All need some love.
    I’m trusting you dear, with my gift from above.”
    Very quickly she ran to her mom in a hurry-
    She hugged her real tightly, replacing her fury.
    Next, she ran over to neighbor McGee.
    She hugged him while saying, “My hugs are free!”
    And once she had hugged everyone on her block,
    She sat back and waited, eyeing the clock.
    At first what she saw was the cheer on mom’s face.
    Her heart jumped for joy when her siblings embraced!
    Suddenly a knock was heard from the door.
    There stood McGee, with gifts for the poor!
    Soon came the masses of peeps from her ‘hood.
    All gathered together as good neighbors should.
    Kindness brought peace and people united.
    Love spread its wings. The girl was delighted!
    The hero, however, was one little prayer.
    Sent out from the world in a time of despair.
    Merry Christmas everyone! Remember the season.
    Whatever you do, let love be the reason.

  32. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    A Special Nest by Beverly Warren

    A distant donkey brayed. Mrs. Sparrow awakened. A silvery light flooded the stable.
    How peculiar, she thought, and flew outside to find its source. A single star brightened the world below.
    Two figures slowly picked their way along the stony path leading to the stable. Mrs. Sparrow flew near.
    “Oh my!” she exclaimed, and raced home. “Wake up Mr. Sparrow. We must build a nest.”
    “What?” he asked “Are you going to lay eggs?”
    “No, Mr. Sparrow. Company is coming. The woman will soon give birth.”
    “Where can we build a nest for an enormous egg?” he asked.
    “Mr. Sparrow, people don’t lay eggs,” she said. “Quick, help me find a place for the nest.”
    They circled the room. He went right, she went left, they collided and tumbled into an empty box.
    Mrs. Sparrow chuckled. “The manger! It’s perfect. But where can we find clean straw?”
    “I know,” chirped Mr. Sparrow. “The innkeeper put fresh hay behind the stable.”
    The two birds gathered strips of hay and packed them snugly, until the silvery light was dimmed
    by the couple’s shadowed form.
    The man settled his wife beside the manger.
    “Do you think it was enough hay, Mrs. Sparrow?”
    A baby’s cry rang out in the room.
    “Oh yes, Mr. Sparrow,” she answered.
    The woman then wrapped her child in cloth and placed him in the manger. Exhausted, she lay down.
    Her eyes caught the movement of two small birds huddled in the rafters above, and she smiled at them.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      What a lovely, child-friendly story, Bev! Love your explanation of how the manger was prepared perfectly to be a soft bed for Baby Jesus, the earnestness of the Sparrows, the humor of the “giant egg” – great job! The Sparrows were heroic indeed! Thanks for joining in the contest!

  33. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    TENT CITY CHRISTMAS by Anne Bromley

    (225 words)

    Alicia used to live in a house

    until a firestorm roared

    through her hometown called Paradise.

    Now, her family lives in a tent set up in a Walmart parking lot.

    The air is thick with smoke.

    It’s Christmas Eve, but Alicia is missing Christmas.

    She peeks through the tent flap,

    listens to her older neighbor Pete playing his guitar.

    He lost his home too,

    but he got out with his guitar.

    She hums along with his strumming,

    missing the choir that used to sing carols

    in her burned-to-the-ground neighborhood.

    Pete looks up and says, “Hey there! Come on out and sing along.”

    “Maybe later, Pete. I’ve got to figure out Christmas first.”

    At sunset, Dad says, “Let’s grab a bite to eat.”

    Volunteers serve pizza and huge pots of soup.

    Her tummy says “Yum!”

    But, still. It’s Christmas Eve.

    Something is missing.

    Pete plays a familiar song

    and suddenly her brain lights up like a Christmas tree.

    “Yes!” she shouts.

    She grabs Pete’s hand and says, “Let’s sing!”

    As the sky turns indigo blue,

    Pete softly plays and Alicia sings, “Silent Night . . . ”

    One by one,

    the tent city refugees and all the volunteers

    become a choir whose voices

    soar above the skeleton tree tops. “Holy night!”

    In that moment, the smoke clears

    and stars appear.

    All is calm. All is bright.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      What a wonderful job you did evoking Alicia’s situation, Anne. I could imagine her feeling of displacement, the loss of her home and her temporary existence in Tent City – grateful for life and shelter, but burdened by sadness and the unsettled feeling of not being where she belonged at Christmas time. Silent Night was the perfect song – the clearing smoke and emerging stars the perfect image. And your last line gives us the feeling that Alicia has found peace in her heart. Lovely!

  34. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    by Carmen Gilbert

    (191 words)

    Do you know who the real hero in Bethlehem was the night Baby Jesus was born?
    The one who brought what the newborn truly needed that night?

    Can I guess?


    Was it the shepherd who brought him a baby lamb?


    Was it the camel keeper who gave him a young camel?


    Was it the potter who showed up with clay bowls?


    Was it the musician who left Him a harp and a flute?


    Was it the stable boy who came with a new saddle?


    Was it the fisherman who presented a basket of fish?


    Was it the beekeeper who carried in jars of sweet honey?


    Was it the carpenter who offered carved wooden toys?


    Was it the baker who provided a small loaf of bread?


    Was it the two small children who tiptoed in with a pair of leather sandals?


    Was it the Three Kings who laid boxes of gold, frankincense and myrrh before the Baby?


    I give up! Who was the hero that night?

    The Little Donkey, Burrito was.

    He brought the soft, clean straw on which Mary and Joseph laid Baby
    Jesus so he could rest comfortably.

    • Susan Johnston says:

      Glad you caught the little pun in the title! After reading an earlier draft, my CP said, “hmm … the title’s cute but is there really mayhem?” So I decided to make some mayhem!

  35. Jamie Donahoe says:

    The Cookies That Saved Christmas

    Jamie Donahoe
    248 words

    Anna had been told it would be at least three days before she would be able to go home from the hospital. Three days! That meant no tree decorating, no Secret Santa at school, and, worst of all, no baking cookies with Grandma.

    Anna loved her Grandma, and baking cookies was one of their favorite things to do together, especially at Christmas. Gingerbread, jam thumbprints, cut-out cookies with fancy decorations — sampling as they baked was part of the fun. Not this year. Argh!

    But preparing cookie plates and delivering them to neighbors was part of the fun too. How was she going to do that with both her legs in casts? Anna pounded her pillow in frustration. Stupid accident!

    She woke the next morning, groggy. She saw Grandma, wearing her cookie-baking apron. Anna blinked to make sure she was not seeing things. What was going on?

    Grandma smiled. “You didn’t think all those cookies were going to decorate themselves, did you?” She bustled about and before you could recite Santa’s reindeer’s names, Anna had an entire cookie decoration station set up on her hospital table. Frosting in red, green, and white; small silver balls; candy decorations. Stacks of cookies, bare as could be, begging to be turned into Christmas cookies.

    Anna spent the morning frosting and sprinkling, and the afternoon creating gift tags.

    She made one extra, extra special one, and when Grandma came to say goodbye, Anna presented it to her. “Thank you, Grandma, for saving Christmas.”

  36. Kathy Mazurowski says:

    Fox and The Red Wagon
    By Kathy Mazurowski

    Fox hid between the house and barn, then ran off.
    “Look, there he goes!”
    “Who? Where?” asked Riley.
    “Never mind,” said Jackson, as he pulled their red wagon through the yard. He tried to catch another glimpse of the fox.
    The brothers collected pinecones and fir branches to decorate for Christmas. Light snowflakes fell.
    Fox circled back to have a better look at the visitors.
    The next day, the brothers started out to gather acorns and pinecones. Jackson kept a look out for the fox. The snow kept coming. The boys trudged with their wagon through the deep snow until it got stuck. Reluctantly, they left the wagon in the woods.
    Overnight the snow drifted and blocked the pathways. Riley and Jackson spent the day inside decorating for Christmas. Every now and then, they peeked outside. They couldn’t see the red wagon. Jackson didn’t see any traces of the fox either.
    The next day the boys found their wagon at the cabin door, loaded with woodland treasures.
    “How did that happen?” asked Riley.
    Jackson saw the fox standing guard by the barn. Jackson nodded thanks.

  37. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Listen to Libby
    By Nannette Brophy Major

    Lately, nobody listened to Libby – not even Papa. The town of Bethlehem was bustling with visitors these days, which kept Papa’s inn very full and Papa very busy.

    Libby wondered why people continued arriving day and night. But whenever she asked, Papa would say, “Not now, Libby!” So Libby stopped asking.

    Next to Papa’s inn stood a stable where the guests’ animals rested. Libby’s job was to keep the manger full of hay for them to eat. With Papa too busy to talk, Libby retreated to the stable and tended to her task. Lonely, she tried chatting with the livestock but their long journeys and now full stomachs made them sleepy. The animals dozed as nightfall descended upon the town. Again Libby piled the manger high with hay then, yawning, crawled onto the soft straw herself and fell asleep.

    She awoke to voices coming from the inn. One was Papa’s, and he sounded upset. Curious, Libby left the stable and saw a man with Papa and a woman on a donkey. “Is there at least room for my wife?” pleaded the man. “She’s having a baby.”

    “No,” sighed Papa, “not even room for a baby. “

    “I know of a place!” exclaimed Libby, loudly. “The manger is full of fresh, soft hay and perfect for sleeping!”

    Papa looked at Libby. “Yes,” he smiled then turned to the man, “My daughter will show you. Listen to Libby.”

    Later, a baby’s cry burst forth from the stable into the starry night.


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