Ho! Ho! Ho! The 10th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!

⭐️Deck the Halls! ⭐️ Light the menorah! ⭐️ Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja! ⭐️

It’s time for . . .

THE 10TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about a Holiday Helper!

Your helper can be one helper, or a pair, or a group or a bevy or a herd of helpers. Your helpers can be children, animals, elves, aliens, unicorns, fairies . . . whatever your heart desires. He/she/they can help bake, decorate, shovel snow, wrap gifts, clean the house, entertain guests, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, bring the holiday spirit to those who have lost it – sky’s the limit 😊 But the focus of the story must be on helping – not just a brief mention in passing that Marla helped Dad set the table in the middle of a story about her frustration at not getting the starring role in the school holiday pageant.

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, 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 between right now this very second and Wednesday December 9th at 11:59 PM EST, in ONE of the following three ways:

  1. Post your entry on your own blog and enter your post-specific link (not your main blog URL) to the link list below, OR
  2. Paste your entry in the comment section below (please include your byline since if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight I will have no idea who you are 😊), OR
  3. If you have trouble pasting your entry in the comment section for any reason (which unfortunately does happen!) you can email it to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I will post it for you. If you email it, please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email NO ATTACHMENTS – they will not be opened. Please include your title and byline at the top of your entry. (And since there have been many questions about this byline means who it’s by, for example, The Hanukkah Helper by Janie Simcox.)

Please submit your entry only ONCE! If you add it to the blog link list, and the comments, and email me to post it, things get very confusing!  I try to stay as glued to my desk as possible, but sometimes I have to get up so if I don’t respond to your email or approve your post immediately, don’t panic!  I’ll get to it as soon as I can!

There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or Perfect Picture Book) for the duration of the contest so this post with the links and comments will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy until I post the finalists. 

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 Monday December 14th for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 16th 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 Thursday December 17th. (These dates are subject to adjustment if it takes the judges longer than we anticipate to get the judging completed.)

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 Helpers! – the rules state a Holiday Helper story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about someone helping someone else in some way during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose.  The story must center on helping  – the help must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
  • 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.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes!:  The prize list is completely and totally awesome! Read! Covet! Write your best! 😊

A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique by Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary! Although she is currently closed to submissions (making this prize EXTRA special!) a look at her wish list will give you an idea of what she likes.

Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez

A 12×12 Silver Membership (valued at $177 but worth so much more!) generously donated by author and 12×12 founder and queen, Julie Hedlund! 12×12 is a fantastic, educational, supportive community with TONS to offer its members, including interesting and informational webinars of all kinds, access to forums and critiques, and the chance to submit to agents. If you’re not familiar with it, you can learn all about it HERE. Julie is the author of A Troop Is A Group of Monkeys (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2013), My Love For You Is The Sun (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2014), and the forthcoming Over, Bear! Under, Where? (Philomel Books, Fall 2021)

Julie Hedlund
Photo credit Kim Huggins

A Picture Book Manuscript Read and On The Spot Critique by prolific author Laura Purdie Salas! Laura offers a 50-minute on on-the-spot critique via Zoom for one picture book manuscript of up to 600 words (fiction or nonfiction, rhyming or prose or poetry). She will read it out loud to the writer and then do a critique right then and answer questions. Laura is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, her own submissions and work for hire – she’s done it all! She is also the author of a number of fantastic books for writers which are often given as prizes here. Some of her books include A Leaf Can Be (Millbrook Press 2012), Clover Kitty Goes To Kittygarten (Two Lions 2020), Snowman – Cold = Puddle (Charlesbridge 2019), If You Were The Moon (Millbrook Press 2017), Making A Living Writing Books For Kids (CreateSpace 2017), and Picture Books The Write Way (CreateSpace 2014)

Rate Your Story owner, Picture Book Mechanic, and author Lynne Marie is offering 4 amazing prizes!

A 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

Another 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

A Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

[From the Rate Your Story site] “A SPEED PASS allows a Non-Member to submit to Rate Your Story, as well as a Member to submit additional items to best serve the rating and feedback needs of our writing community.

We have a variety of Speedpass options, including pitches, query letters, art or a single manuscript at any time for a rating + guaranteed comments*, and it will be returned in less than 7 days’ time. Should you require a faster turnaround, fast pass options may be purchased to facilitate that.” 

Another Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019)  and  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and two others forthcoming.


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, rhyme or prose) by accomplished author Laura Sassi, author of Goodnight, Ark (Zonderkidz 2014) , Goodnight, Manger (Zonderkidz 2015), Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse (Sterling 2018), Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz 2018), and the forthcoming Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep (Beaming Books, February 2021)

A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Sandra Sutter, whose delightful books include The REAL Farmer In The Dell (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, March 2019) and Stan’s Frightful Halloween (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, September 2020)


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021) She is on twitter at @SarafinaDesign

Author Jenna Waldman


Personalized, signed copies of For Spacious Skies (Albert Whitman, April 2020) and The Queen And The First Christmas Tree (Albert Whitman, October 2018) by award-winning author Nancy Churnin.



Personalized, signed copies of The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids 2019) by Dawn Young and Louis (HMH Books For Young Readers 2020) by Tom Lichtenheld, illustrated by Julie Rowan-Zoch. The Night Baafore Christmas will be signed by Dawn, the author. Louis will be signed by Julie, the illustrator.



Two Picture Books (TBD) donated by Darshana Khiani, whose own picture book How To Wear A Sari is forthcoming from Versify in June 2021.


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, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

This is the part in the proceedings where I would normally post my sample to entertain and encourage you. Ahem. Seems I’ve been a little over-scheduled with life lately, and my sample isn’t quite finished. . . If I can get it done whilst running the contest I’ll pop it in here. If not, you guys have the hang of these contest by now and you don’t really need my example! 😊

I know you guys are going to come up with great stories, and I’m so looking forward to reading them all! 😊

***UPDATE 12/8/20*** – I’m late adding this in and it would have benefited greatly from more time to work and a slightly longer word count, but. . .

A Little Christmas Joy (249 words)

Cara longed to play in the snow.
She wanted to open her mouth and feel the cold snowflakes melt on her tongue.
She wanted to lie on her back and make snow angels.
But Cara wasn’t allowed outside alone, and everyone was busy inside because it was Christmas Eve.
“So many presents to wrap!” Mom said.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.
She handed Mom scissors and tape, and pressed her finger to the crossed ribbon so Mom could tie a snug bow.
“This tree needs decorating!” said Dad.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.
She hung pepperminty candy canes from the fragrant-needled boughs wherever she felt spaces.
“So much cookie dough to bake!” said Cara’s big sister.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.  She grinned and scooped a fingerful of dough from the bowl into her mouth.
The whole day passed, and Cara never got to play in the snow.
She carefully placed cookies and milk on the hearth for Santa, along with apples for the reindeer.
When Santa arrived, he saw everything Cara had helped with – the presents, the tree, the cookies – and her snow boots waiting hopefully by the back door.
He smiled and whispered, “You help everyone else.  It’s time you got a little special help yourself.”
When Cara awoke, her gift was beside her.  A wet nose, a wagging tail, and a note in Braille on her collar that read: Hi Cara!  I’m Joy, your Guiding Eyes. I can’t wait to take you out to play in the snow!

*** There you have it 😊 ***

With so many great prizes up for grabs I hope there will be a lot of entries – the more the merrier!  And you’ve still got a couple days to write, so you can squeeze in under the wire if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the google form below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)

Eager Readers – just go along the list of links, click on them, and enjoy the stories! And don’t miss the fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  The titles are listed and linked just below the link list at the bottom of the post and will take you directly to the stories!


Happy Writing and Happy Holidays!!!🎄⭐️ ✡️❄️☃️🕎

Don’t miss the 119!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  The titles are linked and will take you directly to the stories!

  1. Ivy’s Christmas Wish – Anne Reilly
  2. Decorating The Tree – Gabrielle Cardwell
  3. Not Too Little – Marty Findley
  4. Christmas AngelBrenda Whitehead
  5. Decorations DeputyNicola Thackrey
  6. A Super ScooperEllen Turcio
  7. A Cranky ChristmasStacey Miller
  8. Sylvia KittySusan Drew
  9. Bug Academy Christmas Pageant Kathiann Weatherbee
  10. Calma The Llama Mattie Noall
  11. Don’t Let The Cat Help Decorate The TreeLu Pierro
  12. BigFoot’s SurpriseNatalie Cohn
  13. A Fine IdeaJill Proctor
  14. Holly The Holiday HelperAshley Congdon
  15. Ollie’s Christmas VisitsMarilyn Wolpin
  16. A Dust Bunny’s ChristmasMarty Bellis
  17. Naserian – A Maasai The Holiday HelperKetan Ram
  18. Who Will Do It? (April Helps Out)Elizabeth Westra
  19. Bambini ChristmasMartha Holguin
  20. Holiday HelpersShariffa Keshavjee
  21. A Servant’s HeartEllen Crosby
  22. Snail’s Starry NightBecky Loescher
  23. Sandy Claws’ HelpersSusan E. Schipper
  24. Dear SantaDawn Young
  25. Christmas NeighborLinda Staszak
  26. Sugar’s SpinMegan & Rob Hunnicut
  27. Elf And The PixiesVicky Langdon
  28. The Signed ConfessionCristina Raymer
  29. The Reverse Advent CalendarAnne Lipton
  30. Holiday Helper ExtraordinaireSusan Summers
  31. Home For ChristmasP. J. Purtee
  32. Three Christmas CamelsDeb Robertson
  33. Reindeer ShoesKatherine Rahoy
  34. A Little Holiday HelpNina Nolan
  35. Christmas Is For EveryoneGerry Lynne Baker
  36. The Best Christmas HelperJean Hall
  37. Gingerbread Construction CrewAshlee Hashman
  38. A Swedish Pageant And The Mystery Of The Missing MeatballsKathryn Rammell
  39. Christmas SmilesAlli Strauss
  40. A Hanukah DetourSandra Budiansky
  41. The Oldest ElfJim Chaize
  42. Santa’s HelpersE. Elle Bea
  43. La Navidad I’ll Never ForgetCarmen Gilbert
  44. I’m Helping For The Holidays (No, You’re Not)Krista Harrington
  45. Have A New Year!Karen Keesling
  46. Not Too Small At AllSarah Hawklyn
  47. To Celebrate We Mix It UpSarah Hawklyn
  48. Christmas GiftsDonna Kurtz
  49. Colin’s Christmas TreatSally Yorke Viney
  50. App-y Christmas!Paul Kurtz
  51. Santa’s Elves Need Helpers Too Katie Brandyberry
  52. The Red CabooseStephanie Cullen
  53. Christmas In GermanyElizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf
  54. Leo And The Tree LadyAnn Malaspina
  55. The Sleigh-Awake BandLaura Bower
  56. Baba’s Christmas WishTaylor Gardner
  57. A Dear, Dear BoyDarcee A. Freier
  58. Changing The WorldKathleen Campbell
  59. The Christmas Cookie CatastropheLynn Camacho
  60. Grandma’s Christmas Helper, A COVID Alphabet StorySarah Hetu-Radny
  61. Baia’s Bags Of BlessingsElyse Trevers
  62. Chanukah HelpersMarla Yablon
  63. The Farmyard NativityKrystal Snead
  64. Sprinkles For SantaCindy Sommer
  65. The Crocheted StarBeverly Warren
  66. The Toymaker And The Christmas TomteCathrene Valente Youngquist
  67. New Year’s CheerMia Geiger
  68. Santa’s Surprise HelperLiz Kehrli
  69. Holiday Helpers Galore! Isabel Cruz Rodgriguez
  70. Nothing To GiveMaria Marianayagam
  71. Oy To The World: An Ode To 2020Mary Vander Plas
  72. Gingerbread CommotionJC Kelly
  73. Hummus For SantaLeila Boukarim
  74. Island Santa – Anne Sawan
  75. Samosas For Santa Namita Moolani Mehra
  76. Beaver’s GiftDeb Buschman
  77. Let It Grow! Let It Grow! Let It Grow!Allison Strick
  78. Star Light, Star BrightEstelle Grace Tudor
  79. Candy And Cain’s Big JobBecky Kimbrough
  80. Santa KnowsDiane Hanington
  81. The Best Christmas EverDiane Hanington
  82. Little LightPatti Tomarelli
  83. Runny-Nosed RudolphSarah Hetu-Radny
  84. Ask SantaJennifer Reichow
  85. Not Counting On Sweet Treats This YearLinda Hofke
  86. The Runaway Reindeer Caroline Perry
  87. Flossy’s Fairy Fail Laura Howard
  88. The Christmas TreeCynthia Stacey
  89. The Greatest GiftLisa Khan
  90. Adorable, Not AbominableKimberly Lee
  91. Maya’s LightKaryn Curtis
  92. Tiffani And The Talking TreeCourtney Ryan
  93. Santa’s HelpersMeghan Wallace
  94. Missing MagicDarci Nielson
  95. One Cold ChristmasToni Hawks Floyd
  96. Merry MarsmasMegan Walvoord
  97. Me Do It! Simon Yeend
  98. ‘Twas A Night On A FarmPenelope McNally
  99. Winter Welcome Jessica Whipple
  100. A Not-So-Helpful Helper Liv Gehlbach
  101. The Kindness CrewMichelle S. Kennedy
  102. Christmas For The Birds Elizabeth Volkmann
  103. Christmas ShelterRita Russell
  104. Princess ObliviousBill Canterbury
  105. A Forest ChristmasBarbara Keevil Parker
  106. Little Donkey, The Christmas HelperJacqui Boulter
  107. Cam’s ChristmasAnn Gray
  108. Santa’s Helper Mary Rudzinski
  109. “For The Girl Who Has Everything”Bill Canterbury
  110. Buon The ChristmouseGeorgette Kaftan
  111. Great Aunt MaccaBeaDanielle Sharkan
  112. Blue and Boots and the Christmas SpiritKatie Schwartz
  113. Santa’s SlumberJennifer Lowe
  114. The Holiday Helper ThingCindy L. Jeklin
  115. Holiday HelpersBonnie Anderson
  116. GRA’MERE’S COOKIESLoren Hackney

557 thoughts on “Ho! Ho! Ho! The 10th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!

  1. Megan J. Walvoord (@mjwalvoord2) says:

    Merry Marsmas
    By Megan Walvoord
    Words Count: 234

    Thar hurried up the hall with the package. He must not be late, or Santa Martian wouldn’t have all the presents for the younglings. The South Pole had a schedule to keep so Santa could catch the dust devils to travel all over the planet.
    Then the countdown began. 59, 58, 57… The robot shop whizzed by as he went. Thar bumped through the giant telescope room. Cellophane tripped him up as he ran through the wrapping room. Halfway there.
    Red sandcastles flew past as Thar picked up speed. He leaned back as he skidded under the strings of lights. His arms flailed through the air as he jumped over the cleaning bot.
    30, 29, 28… Fifty more paces to go. Hurry! Hurry! He slid through the ice sculptures onto the black tarp that Santa had walked down moments ago.
    The last ten steps, he saw a bright light shining on Santa’s capsule. Thar pushed past his fellow Martians and reached over their bald heads to shove the gift through the cargo door and slammed it closed.
    10, 9, 8… The group were pushed back behind the shield. “Set and ready to launch into the first giant Dust Devil.” Thar breathed a sigh of relief as he watched the capsule launch towards the first twister. Now all the younglings around Olympus Mons would have a gift. It would be a Merry Marsmas for everyone.

  2. Simon Yeend (@SimonYeend) says:

    Thanks Susannah for hosting this wonderful competition and a huge thanks also to all the people offering such amazing prizes. Happy Holidays!

    ME DO IT!

    By Simon Yeend (136 words)

    “Me do it! Me do it!”
    “OK, Bailey. You can help Mommy make the special Christmas Cake.”

    “Me pour!”
    PITTER PATTER! THWUMP!
    “Ooh, Bailey. I thought you were going to pour the flour INTO the bowl. But around the outside is also fine.”

    “Me do the eggs!”
    CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! OOZE!
    “Oh! It’s OK. I can pick out those pesky egg shells.”

    “Me stir it!”
    CLICKETY-CLACK! SPLISH! SPLASH! SPLOSH!
    “Eeewwwwwwww! Not to worry. The mix will wash out of my dress. And my hair. And I’ll get the raisin out of my ear, sure thing.”

    WIPETY, WIPETY, WIPE

    “Me smooth the cake… slowly, Mommy, I promise.”
    SCRAPE. GIGGLE. BLOOP. CHUCKLE.
    “Great job, Bailey. You are the most fantastic little Christmas helper. Best if I put our cake in the oven, though. HOT!

    PING!

    “Me eat it!”

  3. Penelope McNally says:

    ‘TWAS A NIGHT ON THE FARM
    (with a nod to Clement C. Moore)
    Penelope McNally

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the farm
    The snow streamed down swiftly, giving cause for alarm
    The gifts were all wrapped, we were ready to go
    We’ll never get to Grandmas, there’s just too much snow.

    The goats, cows and pigs all loved Grandma too.
    She fed them and loved them, the whole barnyard zoo.
    “Listen up!” shouted Pony, “We have to be quick.
    The snow’s piling up, we can’t let it stick.”

    When out on the lawn, we heard grunts and loud moos.
    The animals were gathering, lining up two by twos.
    We opened the front door and stood there in awe.
    The animals dug quickly, scraping their paws’

    They cleared a straight path, they did wonderful work.
    Snow flying, hooves digging, they were going berserk!
    With the little old pony in charge of the team,
    They were finished in no time; it was just like a dream

    The animals did it, the snow’s cleared away!
    We can make it to Grandma’s, we won’t need a sleigh.
    Now children, now Mama, let’s pack up the car,
    The gifts and the food, the tree with the star.
    Barnyard friends, we thank you, thank you all very much.
    You came through for our family, our hearts you did touch.

    Pony gave us a wink, “Was there ever a doubt?
    Friends helping each other, it’s what the season’s all about.”

  4. jrwhip48 says:

    REPOSTING BECAUSE I DIDN’T INCLUDE MY BYLINE THE FIRST TIME

    Title: Winter Welcome by Jessica Whipple (@JessicaWhippl17)
    Word count: 250

    “Squirrels!” Mister Miller stomped. “Stay out of my bird feeders! Don’t you know you aren’t welcome?” he shouted through the window. “Bushy tails like… like…toilet brushes!”

    There was one oak tree on the entire block and the acorns were already tucked away. But bird feeders were always full! How could a squirrel resist?

    “Sure, help yourselves!” Mr. Miller complained over the newspaper. The weather page said snow would be coming overnight, and he was expecting a guest in the morning. It was his grandson Peter, visiting for Christmas. Peter hadn’t come over in years. Matter of fact, nobody had been to Mr. Miller’s house since he got so grumpy. But that was okay. It saved him from having to make his house presentable.

    Except this time. With the snow coming, something would have to be done about the sidewalk out front. But it had been so long since he had visitors, he had forgotten all about chores like shoveling and went to bed.

    Mr. Miller woke to his yard dressed in white. “Great. They said it would only be a dusting,” he grumbled. On stiff legs he wobbled outside to sweep, but he was breathing heavier than he’d expected. Before turning to go inside, he noticed the bird feeder was empty. “Squirrels.”

    As if on cue, twenty squirrels flicked their tails and got to work. In short strokes they brushed the walkway with their bushy tails until it was completely clear, then filled the feeder.

    Just in time for Peter.

  5. ojgoltermanngmailcom says:

    A Not-So-Helpful Helper
    by Liv Gehlbach
    Word Count: 150

    “Can I…“

    “No!” Mom exclaimed. “For the last time, no!”

    I’d been asking to help all day. Now six years old, I could be quite helpful!

    I decorated. I only got a little glitter on the floor. And the ceiling. And the walls in between.

    I baked. I didn’t mean to eat all the cookies.

    I wrapped. It wasn’t my fault the cat wouldn’t sit still!

    …But now I was banned from helping. And Christmas was only two days away!

    Then I noticed my baby brother clinging to mom’s leg. I had an idea.

    We decorated, placing all his stuffed animals under the tree.

    We baked, feeding all his animals pretend cookies.

    We wrapped, making sure each animal was swaddled in a blanket.

    That night, as Mom tucked me in, she whispered, “Thank you.”

    It wasn’t how I wanted to help, but maybe I was a good helper after all.

  6. Michelle S. Kennedy (@MichelleSKenned) says:

    The Kindness Crew (WC 224)
    By Michelle S. Kennedy

    Christmastime is almost here.
    But Covid keeps the world in fear.
    Cancel this! And cancel that!
    Put away your party hat.

    Stay indoors and stay away.
    No one gathers Christmas Day…

    Though the chaos swirls around,
    some caring folks can still be found.
    Several people start to pray.
    How to help, yet stay away?

    Zoom calls help the world unite.
    A group is formed to make things right…

    They call themselves: The Kindness Crew—
    to help a cause, each other too.
    One by one they do some good,
    social distanced as they should.

    Everyone is helping out
    so no one has to go without.

    Santa needs to wear a shield
    behind a mask, his face concealed.
    Elves help reindeer pack the sleigh
    with P.P.E. and Lysol spray.

    Volunteers from here and there
    make Christmas calls to show they care.

    They mail out cards to those shut-in
    and phone a friend to make them grin.
    They stop the talk that’s causing strife.
    and donate blood to save a life.

    Near and far, the love shines through.
    The Kindness Crew knows what to do!

    Hope is spread from shore to shore,
    in six feet widths or maybe more.
    This Christmas lives within the heart.
    Not up close, but it’s a start!

    Do your part and help out too.
    The Kindness Crew is up to you.

  7. lizluvselephants says:

    Christmas For The Birds
    Elizabeth Volkmann
    243 words

    Snow flakes were falling, the birds were in flight
    seeking out places to snuggle in tight.

    Low bending pine trees, dropped cones to the ground.
    Leaves, sticks and branches were blown all around.

    I handed Maya a cup of warm tea.
    “We’ve got to help!” she said, looking at me.

    “But now’s Christmas Eve, with much to be done!
    I promise our chores will be oh so much fun!

    With presents to wrap! And cookies to bake!
    Garlands to string! And a dinner to make!”

    Maya sighed deeply and looked to the snow.
    Her brother leaned in, wondering, “Where will they go?”

    Later that day, we brought in the tree.
    Now we were ready, our family of three.

    The storm clouds had vanished, the sky glowed in pink.
    Maya got quiet and curled up to think.

    She nibbled a cookie and then ate another.
    “I’ve got it!” she said – and called for her brother.

    Bundled up warm, they headed outside.
    They tromped through the snow with a slip and a slide.

    They filled up their baskets and trundled back in,
    unloaded their treasures and cried, “Let’s begin!”

    I handed them jars, a big bag of seed,
    a large ball of twine – that’s all they would need.

    They smeared and they dipped, they stacked and they piled
    And when they were done, they faced me and smiled.

    On bushes and branches we hung up their treats –
    “Thank you!” – rang up in a chorus of tweets!

  8. writewelltoday says:

    CHRISTMAS SHELTER
    by Rita D. Russell
    (250 words)

    Ten-year-old Shayla wiped up the punch on the floor.

    “I didn’t mean to spill,” quivered Charlie.

    “I know,” said Shayla. Her five-year-old sister was just as nervous now as she had been when they’d come to St. Vincent’s weeks ago. Last year, the girls lived in a nice apartment. They had a Christmas tree with presents. And Daddy was feeling well enough to bake his secret recipe chocolate sugar cookies, with a little help from his Sweet Peas and Mama.

    Now Daddy was gone. And so was their old life.

    “Will Santa still bring me a Jasmine doll?” asked Charlie. “I promise no more accidents.”

    Christmas magic is the only thing Charlie has left, thought Shayla. She’s too little to stop believing, like me.

    Daddy had said not to fib, but Shayla hoped he’d understand this time.

    “Listen, Charlie. You know Santa’s helpers?”

    “The elves,” Charlie nodded.

    “Well, big sisters are helpers, too,” said Shayla. “Santa sent me a special message just for you.”

    Charlie grinned. “What did he say?”

    “Well, he’s going to bring you a Jasmine doll. But not until –”

    “Charlie! Shayla! Your turn for presents,” the shelter director interrupted.

    Charlie raced up front. She found her gift and tore it open. “I knew it!” she squealed, hugging her Jasmine doll. “What did Santa bring you, Shay?”

    Shayla had no idea. Carefully, she unwrapped her package: Chocolate sugar cookies! Daddy’s secret recipe card!

    Shayla beamed. Now Charlie wasn’t the only Sweet Pea who believed in Christmas magic.

  9. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BILL

    Princess Oblivious by Bill Canterbury
    (248 words)

    Princess Aida awoke on Christmas morning with an odd thought.
    What if the true meaning of Christmas wasn’t for her to receive endless diamonds and jewels?
    What if the true meaning of Christmas was for her to help someone else to be happy?
    She laughed at such a ridiculous thought. But it wouldn’t go away.
    Princess Aida entered the horse stables.
    “You, stableboy.”
    “Yes, m’lady?”
    “Good heavens, you smell like a rotten radish.”
    “Thank you, m’lady.”
    “Stableboy, from my high-up window I have often seen you gaze upon a certain milkmaid.”
    “Tis true, m’lady.”
    “And do you love her?”
    “Madly and truly, m’lady. For me there is no other.”
    “Then take this ring, stinky stableboy. Ask that milkmaid to marry you.”
    “Tis a beautiful ring, m’lady.”
    “Tis it is. Now go! Enchant her with your stench! I am delighted to have helped you find happiness.”
    Princess Aida watched with excitement from her high-up window.
    The stableboy got to one knee before the milkmaid.
    “Will you marry me?”
    “Isn’t that the princess’s ring?”
    “Indeed. She has given it to me.”
    “You have stolen the princess’s ring?! I will not marry a thief!”
    The milkmaid tried to strangle the stableboy.
    “She’s embracing him!” thought the princess with joy.
    The milkmaid tried to pull out her hair.
    “She’s making herself pretty!”
    The milkmaid ran off in tears.
    “She’s rushing to tell her parents! Success!”
    Princess Aida, so proud of her holiday kindness, began to think of who else she might help.

  10. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BARBARA

    A Forest Christmas 243 words
    By Barbara Keevil Parker

    Bear: Hurry, hurry, come and see
    The forest has a Christmas tree.

    Chipmunk: Where did it come from?

    Owl: Does anyone know?

    Wolf: Maybe it came with the winter snow.

    Moose: Let’s add trimmings to our tree
    To make it beautiful as can be.

    Wolf: Great idea. Let’s all go.
    And off they ran across the snow.

    Wolf: My favorite bone I dug to bring.

    Bear: A honeycomb’s my favorite thing.

    Squirrel: These nuts I’m bringing are my best.

    Owl: Here are ribbons from my nest.

    Mouse: Let me share my string of beads.

    Chipmunk: And I have brought a bunch of seeds.

    Moose: Tasty willows from my bog.
    I found them hidden in the fog.

    Fox: I’ve thought and thought, but I can’t find
    Anything to bring that’s mine.

    Wolf: But Fox, you have a lovely voice,
    Bring that, it is a perfect choice.

    They gather around the Christmas tree.
    To sing their songs, so wild and free

    Each creature’s song rings through the night.
    The forest ripples with delight.

    And Fox, she sings so loud and clear,
    Her song reaches Santa and eight reindeer.

    My friends, he says, you made your tree
    A gift for all your friends to see.

    And now for you, I bring a treat
    To make your Christmas Eve complete.

    Then Santa joins this merry crew
    He and his reindeer sing along too.

    As joyfully they sing their song,
    The forest listens and hummms along.

  11. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR JACQUI

    LITTLE DONKEY, THE CHRISTMAS HELPER By Jacqui Boulter

    Little Donkey knelt before Mary, his small blanket on his back. Joseph tried to lead him away, but Little Donkey would not budge. Mary nodded to Joseph. Donkey brayed and lifted her gently.

    Sure-footed and with a quiet gait, Little Donkey followed Joseph up the dusty trail.

    Joseph stopped at the inn, but no rooms were available.

    Little Donkey followed Joseph along the rocky road. His hooves clip-clopped softly over the smallest rocks.

    Joseph stopped at the inn, but no rooms were available.

    Little Donkey followed Joseph, weaving up the steep hill on sturdy legs.

    Joseph stopped at the inn, but no rooms were available.

    Dusk fell. Mary held tightly onto Little Donkey’s mane and leaned forward. She put one hand on Joseph’s shoulder and the other on her belly.

    Little Donkey tugged on the lead rope. Joseph resisted at first, but Little Donkey led them to a stable nearby.

    Donkey brayed and lowered Mary gently. Mary gave birth to the Christ Child in a stable in Bethlehem. Little Donkey offered Mary his blanket. Mary swaddled the Christ Child and laid him in the manger. Donkey brayed softly next to the manger where he lay, under the bright star that guided visitors from near and far.

  12. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR ANN

    Cam’s Christmas – Ann Gray

    Cam was so excited he couldn’t stay in bed. He ran to the window . Big white flakes of snow were falling and the trees looked like they were covered in icing sugar.

    “Nana” , he called, “Come see the snow!”

    “Hmm” she said, “I’m going to call and see what the roads are like.”

    Cam was with his Nana while his mom was in the city. She was coming to Nana’s for Christmas. She was bringing him a tree and presents.

    As he looked out the window, Nana came and gave him a hug, “I’m sorry but your mom won’t be able to come today. The snow has closed the roads.”

    Cam went outside and made a snowman and smashed him.

    “There won’t be any presents or a tree.” Cam said to his Nana.

    “Look at the birds. The snow is covering their food. Maybe you can help them have a good Christmas.” Nana showed him how to cover pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed. Cam hung them on a pine tree in the yard.

    Chickadees and nuthatches, came to eat the seeds and made little chuckling sounds. The squirrels watched.

    “Nana, What can we make for the squirrels?“

    Cam cut apple slices and he hung them for the squirrels and the robins to eat.

    Nana made pancakes, and lit candles as they watched the birds and the squirrels at the tree. And it felt like Christmas.

  13. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR MARY

    Santa’s Helper
    by Mary Rudzinski
    Word count: 248 words

    Santa’s Helper

    Henry stared at the doll, broken on the floor.

    Ginny, chief doll maker, turned red. “The third doll in two days? Please, just go!”

    Henry’s eyes blurred as he hurried out of the toy shop.

    At the end of Village Lane, Henry noticed the glow of the elf bakery.

    He hurried through the snow.

    “We don’t need help ruining cookies,” said George, the baker.

    Henry heard the giggles as the bakery door slammed behind him.

    Then he saw the lights in the stable.

    “The reindeer! “ smiled Henry.

    As he tiptoed in the barn door, a voice boomed, “Go away! No time for your disasters!”

    Henry trudged out into the snow, tired, alone.

    On this most important day at the North Pole, no one needed his help.

    Ahead, Santa’s shiny sleigh, loaded with bags, waited.

    The bags looked like giant pillows, and Henry climbed up, curled under a blanket, and fell sound asleep.

    Henry awoke to wind whistling in his ears. The stars looked close enough to touch.

    “Welcome aboard!” shouted Santa. “Great to have a helper!”

    Was Santa talking to him?

    “We’re over Canada, so find the right bag.”

    Henry worked through the night, handing gifts to Santa at each stop.

    And one by one, each bag was emptied, each present delivered on time for every child.

    Not one gift from Santa was lost or broken.

    At dawn, Henry sat down next to Santa.

    “Henry, you made tonight a success. Please be my personal helper every year.”

  14. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BILL

    “For the Girl Who Has Everything” by Bill Canterbury
    (230 words)

    Lucy didn’t know what to get Jolene for Christmas. Jolene was her best friend. She was also imaginary.
    Lucy imagined giving Jolene a candy cane.
    Six candy canes.
    Sixteen candy canes and sixteen stomping horses. And a bracelet.
    Jolene wouldn’t want all that.
    “Dad, help me think of a Christmas present for Jolene.”
    “How about some crayons?”
    “Jolene likes using mine.”
    “Maybe she’d like a hat.”
    “She already owns thirty-three purple hats with purple feathers, and she has a blue one for ballet.”
    Lucy twirled and jumped.
    “Jolene seems to already have everything.”
    “Dad, help me!” pleaded Lucy. “You always think of perfect presents for me.”
    “I’m trying. What does Jolene like to do?”
    “She likes to race me up the stairs. She likes when we stretch to see who’s taller. She always likes to be read to.”
    “Do you know what it sounds like Jolene really likes?”
    Lucy twirled twice.
    “She really likes me.”
    “Sometimes the best present is just to let someone know that you love them.”
    The next morning, there was one present left under the tree.
    “Jolene wants to open it upstairs.”
    Lucy raced up the stairs.
    “Beat you!”
    Lucy threw herself on the rug.
    “You should open it yourself, but okay.”
    Inside was a piece of paper. Lucy unfolded it.
    It was a drawing of the two of them holding hands.
    “I love you, Jolene.”

  15. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR GEORGETTE

    Buon the Christmouse (218 words)
    by Georgette Kaftan

    The workshop was a whirlwind of activity.

    Piping. Painting. Packing.

    It was the busiest day of the year, and everyone had a job to do – everyone except Buon.

    Buon was bored.

    He was the only mouse in Santa’s house, and nobody wanted him underfoot… or over feet.

    “How may I help?” he asked Santa.

    “By spreading joy,” Santa chuckled.

    “I am a mouse! And everyone is scared of me. How can I spread joy?”

    But Santa was busy packing his sled, with no time to explain.

    Buon thought hard.

    Then….

    He added cheese to Mrs. Clause’s cookies, but they crumbled.

    He joined the choir to carol, but the songs crackled.

    He placed the star at the top of the tree, but it tumbled!

    “Out of my kitchen!”

    “Out of the choir!”

    “Out of the tree!” everyone decreed.

    Buon sighed. Nothing he did spread joy. Even his tail was sad.

    “I’ve disappointed you, Santa,” he said.

    “Ho, ho, ho!” was Santa’s reply.

    And the workshop erupted with laughter.

    Buon was confused.

    “How can you laugh? I’ve made such a mess,” Buon asked.

    “But you tried your best,” replied Santa.

    Buon turned to see all the smiling faces.

    And at that moment Buon understood that spreading joy comes from giving, regardless of the outcome.

    Buon Natale! Happy holidays to all!

  16. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR DANIELLE

    Great Aunt MaccaBea
    by Danielle Sharkan
    WC 243

    Knock, knock, knock, “I’m here, I’m here!”
    Eve made her presence known.
    She’s visiting her great Aunt Bea,
    who spent Hanukkah alone.

    “Come in, my dear,” a voice called out,
    but when they stepped inside,
    they saw her arm wrapped in a cast,
    “What happened?” Mama cried.

    “Oh nothing, just a little fall,
    now, let’s not make a fuss.”
    But when they looked around they saw,
    no dreidels and no latkes!

    Then Eve glanced at Bea and cried,
    “You didn’t celebrate?”
    “The holiday is over, dear.”
    Eve said, “It’s not too late!”

    Mama chopped potatoes,
    Eve brought out the menorah,
    and when they set the table,
    Aunt Bea whispered, “Kainahora!”

    “Come here, my sheynah meydeleh,
    let’s see how much you’ve grown.
    Your eyes shine like your mother’s,
    your neshama’s all your own.”

    Eve blushed and sweetly smiled,
    then she held dear Auntie’s hand.
    “Now, go turn on the music, hun,
    and choose your favorite band.”

    First broadway tunes, then jazzy beats,
    Eve danced and skipped and swayed.
    Aunt Bea began to shimmy shake,
    as joyful music played.

    Eve grabbed ahold of Mama,
    they circled ‘round Aunt Bea,
    and when they saw her glowing face,
    they sang out cheerfully.

    Time to light the candles,
    recite the Hebrew prayers,
    thank goodness for past miracles,
    enjoy eight dancing flares.

    Many years have passed now, since
    that fun and festive night,
    when they went to cheer up Aunt Bea,
    but it was she who shared her light.

  17. Katie Schwartz says:

    Thank you Susanna! Last minute, but I hate to pass your opportunities up!
    Katie Schwartz

    Blue and Boots and the Christmas Spirit
    WC – 246

    All town square is sparkling
    lights strung everywhere.
    Families at Christmas
    Bustling here and there!

    Just one little warning
    that something is not right
    Signs on posts, that Blue and Boots
    ‘did not come home last night!’

    PLEASE HELP US FIND OUR ANGELS!
    read the póster, in all caps
    They’re lost and wandering,
    they should be lounging in our laps!”

    The photos show a puppy.
    Long legs, and curly hair
    Boots is chill and chubby
    A fat cat with feline flair!

    “We’ll help”, the shoppers shouted.
    “The bakery!” they cried!
    “They’d love Bob Baker’s doughnuts,
    sweet or cakey, baked or fried!”

    “Ahah, I recognize them!
    I gave them each a treat.
    They twitched their tails and then
    were gone, a-scampering down the street.”

    “Lulu’s Shop of Hairdos!”
    “They were here, a charming pair!
    We trimmed and braided, dyed and dried
    They left prancing on the air!”

    We trudge toward Midtown Music
    Tinkling sounds, The Christmas Song!
    “I bet our pets are here,
    They love to howl and sing along!”

    Good-Vibes-Vic looked at the picture
    “They were here, they harmonized!
    Boots was just a little pitchy,
    Blue’s smooth voice was super-sized!”

    Watch out for the mail truck!
    It’s careening down the street!
    The driver grabs two boxes,
    jumps and drops them at our feet.

    “These two were super helpers!
    They took, they ran, they dropped
    every package, just like Santa,
    Amazing job! And then they flopped!

    This day was wondrous, Boots and Blue –
    friends – and strangers – all came through!

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR JENNIFER

    SANTA’S SLUMBER (240 words)
    by Jennifer Lowe

    Santa looks up from his checklist,
    He views the calendar, lets out a weep:
    “Wednesday, December 23rd”
    It is time he gets some sleep!

    For Christmas Eve is coming,
    Santa knows he must work all night.
    His job requires one last nap,
    To prepare for his holiday flight.

    Twitching, Santa lay on his pillow
    In his green and red king-size bed.
    But he’s far too shaky for sleeping,
    Flashes of fiaming flues dance in his head.

    Santa’s helpers send a short memo:
    “Emergency meeting. Come quick!”
    The entire crew converges together.
    A plan is made, they know just the trick!

    One by one, the team arrives.
    Neatly they’ve lined up outside the door.
    All are excited, eager, delighted,
    To perform their crucial chore.

    First comes Mrs. Claus from the kitchen,
    As quiet as snow on a tree.
    On Santa’s bedside table she places
    Freshly-brewed chamomile tea.

    Next to arrive are Santa’s elves,
    With piles of paper – reams!
    Gently reciting one long boring tale,
    Guaranteed to produce mellow dreams.

    Last are the rhythmic reindeer,
    A caribou chorus lined in rows.
    Humming sweet lullabies, “Hush little Santa,”
    Dispatching their boss in a doze.

    Success! Mission accomplished!
    Santa’s helpers saved Christmas anew.
    One last task – Rudolph sets the alarm
    To go off at a quarter to two.

    Santa’s devoted troops depart,
    Don their flannels and kick off their shoes.
    Hours pass, Santa’s alarm goes BUZZ.

    But…

    UH-OH! Santa Claus hit the snooze!

  19. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR CINDY
    (submitted via email on time – I just didn’t get to post until this morning)

    The Holiday Helper Thing
    By: Cindy L. Jeklin
    (249 Words)

    Knock, knock…

    Isla opened the door. “Who’re you?,” she asked.

    “I’m Charlie, the holiday gnome.”

    “A talking holiday gnome. That’s not a thing,” Isla said.

    “It’s definitely a thing,” Charlie said.

    “Weird,” Isla said.

    Charlie handed her a piece of red gnome paper.

    “What’s this?” Isla asked.

    “A message. You’re almost 12 and your helping quota is way down,” Charlie said.

    “Helping quota?” Isla said. “That’s not a thing.”

    “It certainly is! Read…,” Charlie said.

    “Okay, fine. Do something festive to bring seniors cheer. When the task is done, a sign will appear.”

    “Hey, where’d you go?” Isla glanced around the yard. Charlie was gone.

    The next day Isla smiled at every senior she passed in the neighborhood. Each time she did, she expected to receive a reward. Nothing…

    Isla called her two sets of grandparents. They loved to talk on the phone! She really didn’t. She knew a reward would be waiting for bringing her grandparents holiday cheer. Nothing…

    After orchestra rehearsal, Isla walked past a sad looking couple sitting outside their retirement lodge. She took her violin out and played Silent Night. Their faces lit up. Other seniors appeared in open windows and came outside to hear her beautiful holiday music. Inspired by the joy on their faces, Isla continued to play.

    When Isla put her violin away, she saw another piece of red gnome paper in her case. It said: “You’ve just received the true reward for helping – bringing joy to others. (Yes, that’s a thing!).”

  20. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BONNIE
    (entry received on time, trouble with posting)

    Holiday Helpers

    Snow falls. “Whoopie,” I shout, zigging and zagging on the slippery driveway.

    “Oh no,” Mom groans, carefully shoveling soggy snow.

    Snow blows across the driveway. It blocks the car with decorations, games and prizes inside. Every year Mom makes the holiday party at the senior center.

    Singing and Santa bring smiles and laughter for everyone. Without Mom there is no party.

    The snow plow turns the corner and leaves a pile of snow at the edge of the driveway. Flakes hit mom’s glasses. I see tears in her eyes.

    ” That’s it,” she says.” I’m done.”

    Mom puts down the shovel, her shoulders drooping as she shuffles inside.I shovel a bit. The snow is heavy and up to the top of my boots

    I pray for mom. She helps everybody. Now she needs help. I fall into the snow. An angel appears. I can help I think, as I run to my friend’s house. We make a plan.

    Then I skip home.

    Mom and I eat breakfast.

    As she picks up the phone to call work Mom looks outside and then at me. Her eyes nbsparkle and she looks light as a feather.

    I look outside. My friend and her brothers look up at me and wave. The driveway is clear.

    We grab our coats and run to the car. We grin like cheshire cats.

    The senior’s holiday party is safe. By asking for help, I help Mom. Then she helps the seniors.

    We are a good team.

  21. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTYR POSTED FOR LOREN
    (received on time but trouble with posting)

    GRA’MERE’S COOKIES
    By:
    Loren N. Hackney
    October 17, 2020

    Alena walked into her Gra’mere’s beautiful three-story house in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia and smelled cinnamon and apples. The entire block was decorated with Kwanza, Hannukah and Christmas decorations. The house was trimmed with icicle lights and Christmas music played when you came in the front door. The house had garland going around the door and a red and green wreath to match!
    They loved to bake together! Every big holiday Gra’mere and Alena baked together. When Alena was about five-years-old, they started making chocolate chip cookies together for Christmas. Gra’mere watched Alena before school and often times she would spend the night. They had a date to make cookies on December 23rd—right before Holiday Break from school. Alena and Gra’mere put on Christmas music and got down to work. First, they put on their matching green and red black Mrs. Claus aprons, while they listened to “Carole of the Bells”.
    Alena got out the pots, pans and the mixer while Gra’mere got all the cookie ingredients. They truly enjoyed this time together. Little did they know that they were fulfilling a family tradition! Gra’mere had baked Chocolate chip cookies with Alena’s mom and her uncle Don every Christmas too.
    Alena put on her Santa hat and handed Gra’mere hers. She got on a stool and began reading the directions on the back of the cookie package. “Okay!” Gra’mere said excitedly. “Let’s get started!” Alena read, “First measure and mix all of the dry ingredients.” Alena and Gra’mere had a wonderful time mixing the wet and dry ingredients, tasting the batter and spooning the dough onto the cookie sheet. “Into the oven they go!” Gran’mere exclaimed when the dough was in rows on the cookie sheet.
    Gran’mere and Alena flopped onto the ivory colored couch in the brightly decorated living room. Gran’mere had her black Santa and Mrs. Claus figurine collection on display. She had lit garland on the mantle and a miniature light up village.
    They hummed Christmas music and snuggled together on the couch. Next minute they knew the timer went off for the oven. Alena and her grandmother rushed to the oven. Woohoo! Gra’mere and Alena loved the warm cookies. They got the cookies out and half went onto the cooling racks and half went into their mouths!
    When Alena’s mother came back from her writing seminar, she went over to her mother’s house to get Alena. They were asleep on her king-sized, four poster canape bed Alena’s mom crawled right in with them and fell asleep.

    Years later…

    Alena smoothed out her faded jeans and brushed the tears off of her beautiful dark brown cheeks that came from the sweet memory. She was in her mother’s old bedroom on McCalum Street. The one with the brown wicker canape bed and a wash of lavender and pale green flowers. A light snow just began to fall. Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanza decorations hung on the houses, apartments and mansions in Mt. Airy. It was a perfect winter day, so why was Alena so melancholy? She realized that she was wrapped up in her emotions because she was in Gra’mere’s house, but then she thought of some good memories. Alena remembered when Gra’mere took her to school when she was small. Gra’mere hilariously mimicked the different voices of The Lion King characters, getting steak sandwiches on a rainy Friday evening and teaching Alena how to sew. “Mom!” Alena called downstairs.
    “Can you think of some good memories about Gra’mere?!” She went downstairs to bake with her mother, and her little brother, Mason. Mason was wearing his little elf Christmas hat. The house was decorated for Christmas with a beautifully trimmed tree with the animated tree topper. Every window had a candle and garland was around the door and on the mantle. “Gra’mere? Good memories? That’s easy!” Alena’s mother talked and laughed about the many happy memories she had from her mother, Alena’s Gra’mere. She talked about everything from her mother taking her out Trick or Treating in the costumes that she had sown, from spending an hour in Walmarte picking out nail polish. They laughed together. “You see all memories of someone who has died don’t have to be sad. We hold her in our hearts with our happy memories.”
    Her mother had pre-heated the oven and Mason had gotten all the dry ingredients together and he looked at Alena with his big grey eyes. Alena referred to him as her ‘womb-mate’ . “Come on, Lena! Let’s make cookies!”
    Alena joined her brother and her mother in the kitchen. She hugged her mother. “Yes! Let’s make cookies!” Alena got out the mixer. Her mother smiled. “I’ll mix the wet ingredients!” She gathered the eggs, the butter and the vanilla into the mixing bowl. Mason and Alena got out the flour, sugar, chocolate chips and the brown sugar. This reminded Alena of when she was a kid baking with Gra’mere. It was nice to be able to share and pass this holiday tradition on to her little brother.
    When the dough was placed on the cookie sheet, Mom put them in the oven. They all got mugs of hot cocoa and when into the cozy living room. They sat and played charades and waited for the cookies. When the timer went off, they all hurried into the kitchen. “This is the best part!” Mason said while licking his lips. “Remember to set some aside for the children at the shelter.” Mom reminded them.
    Alena slid the cookies on to the drying racks and Mason put wax paper in the big Black Santa and Mrs. Claus cookie tin. After the tins were filled, Alena wrapped the tin for the kids at the shelter in a beautiful silver ribbon. “I’ll stop by the shelter tomorrow after work.” Then she paused and said, “ This is another family tradition!” Their mother laughed, “How many do we have now? One million?!”
    “Let’s make more! And more!” Mason exclaimed. They all laughed and laughed!

    Gra’mere’s Cookies

    C N S S C Q Q K N S T K C H M
    E O B U P A W M A R R A A A K
    G L O T A A N N Y E A E R K T
    A O I K N L T E R N D R O U F
    L X L Z I A C E L I I B L N N
    L Z A D C E M S X A T Y E N E
    U T Z L B A S G R C I A S U V
    H K A A R O P H K M O D N H O
    T U S G K O W O E W N I P D T
    S A M T S I R H C E S L W I L
    T S H E L T E R D M T O Z F X
    I K C U H U N O S A M H M K G
    I C I C L E L I G H T S T J R
    Y J Q R S Y M Q L D Z F U J X
    Y N N R E J S Z V Y O B Y V M

    ALENA
    CAROLS
    CHRISTMAS
    COOKIESHEET
    GOLDBOW
    GRAMERE
    HOLIDAYBREAK
    HUNNUKAH

    ICICLELIGHTS
    KWANZA
    MASON
    MRSCLAUS
    OVEN
    SANTACLAUS
    SHELTER
    TRADITIONS

  22. Patricia Tiffany Morris says:

    Hello to everyone! Although I noticed that my entry did not show up, and even though posted before the deadline on my blog, yet, for some reason the entry did not go through the email entry. (I’ve lost a lot of emails lately, Google!!) So, realizing this won’t probably count, I’d still like to share this with you here. Marvin is Different: He Knows How to Help!

    The season of giving at Christmas each year

    Turns grinchy and grouchy if God’s not in charge.

    But Marvin is different. He knows how to help.

    He listens and loves, and he prays, serves, and gives.

    The grinch has no heartbeat to offer his love.

    Oscar the Grouch doesn’t have any kindness.

    Yet Marvin is different. He knows how to help.

    He listens and loves, and he prays, serves, and gives.

    Just look at that boy with his hands in his ears.

    He ate all the snacks, and he won’t wash his hands.

    He’s not kind like Marvin, who knows how to help,

    Who listens and loves, and who prays, serves, and gives.

    The girl with the curls and her hair wrapped in bows.

    She couldn’t stop primping to help other friends.

    But look at sweet Marvin. He knows how to help.

    He listens and loves, and he prays, serves, and gives.

    What happens to helpers who promise to help?

    Who listen to God and who offer their time?

    They’ll be just like Marvin who knows how to help.

    They’ll offer to talk to the ones who need love.

    Yes, Marvin is different. He knows how to help.

    He prays for each person and sings songs of joy.

    He gives his allowance and shares with the poor.

    He thanks other helpers and treats them with care.

    Children like Marvin are truly a blessing.

    So, listen and love, and pray, serve, and give.

    Written by Patricia Tiffany Morris
    https://www.patriciatiffanymorris.com/prose/marvin-is-different-he-knows-how-to-help

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