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. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR SALLY

    Colin’s Christmas Treat by Sally Yorke Viney

    Colin was sad, his Chelsea was gone.

    Heaven’s new dog was a really good one.

    Mom wanted to help, “Christmas is soon!

    Let’s hang up some balls or sing Christmas tunes!”

    But Colin could not for the moment be glad

    He missed his sweet dog. He was so very sad!

    Mom said, “Let’s make cookies, a real special type!

    For four legged friends, who bark and who yipe!”

    Colin with that, was beginning to smile,

    Although he missed Chelsea, he’d help for a while.

    He could make special treats for pups at the shelter

    Preheat the oven! We’re going to swelter!

    He mixed eggs with flour and pumpkin puree,

    A little dry milk and stirred right away.

    Mom rolled out the dough and got cookie cutters

    The hearts and the bone shapes were used more than others.

    Into the oven and back out on racks

    Five dozen were made and stuffed into sacks.

    They were placed all in baskets, in boxes and crates

    Off to the shelter, they just couldn’t wait.

    The girls at the shelter all oohed when they saw

    This Christmas surprise that each dog could gnaw.

    The doggies they barked, they jumped, and they smiled

    Colin gave each dog one, then he paused for a while.

    What he saw was his name on one little pup’s collar,

    He turned to his mom and he started to holler!

    “This puppy is mine?” Colin cried, very clever!

    “Of course!” said his mom,” You’re the best helper ever!”

      • syorkeviney says:

        Thanks so much… parts of this are true and parts fiction. But I love the goodness that comes out of the sadness. Your comment is so appreciated! Happy Holidays!

    • Linda Evans Hofke says:

      I thought of writing this same storyline because my cousin bakes treats for the shelter dogs each Christmas. And last week she got a new dog to foster until they find a home for it. I’m so glad I ended up writing something else.

      I enjoyed your story, Sally.

      • syorkeviney says:

        Linda, thanks! I am so glad for your cousin! She is doing such a wonderful service for the rescue animals and those that care for them. Thank you again!

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR PAUL

    App-y Christmas!
    by Paul Kurtz

    Elfley scribbles like crazy. “A gazillion more Christmas gift tags to address. My hand hurts already! Why did I volunteer to help?”

    He stares at a computer and printer gathering dust in a corner of Santa’s workshop.

    “I can whip up an app and print them in no time, but Santa doesn’t trust computers. Maybe I won’t tell him.”

    “Ho-Ho-Ho!” Santa’s belly shakes. “Elfley, great work labeling! It’s not dark yet and the sleigh’s packed to fly.”

    Grinning, Elfley salutes. “Glad to help, Boss.”

    Christmas morning, Alaska—

    Leo unzips his parka and smiles. “All done shoveling snow and feeding you huskies. Let’s go see what Santa brought us.”

    The sled dogs, tails wagging, tear open the package.

    Leo scratches his head. “A surfboard?”

    Farther south—

    Lea brushes off her sandy flip-flops. “Finished feeding you nēnēs and watering pineapples. Santa left my gift in the lanai by the Christmas palm.”

    She hurries to it and strips away the wrapping.

    “A dog sled?”

    At the North Pole—

    Ms. Claus takes her present from under the Christmas tree. “Whatever could this be?” She carefully unwraps it. “A Hairy-Harry Beard and Moustache Trimmer?”

    Santa picks up the pink envelope addressed to him and sniffs. “Orchids?” He rips it open. “A gift card for a lady’s spa-day at the Honolulu Hilton?” His face turns redder than his coat. “ELFLEY!”

    Elfley hulas through the door in a grass skirt and orchid lei, strumming a ukulele. “Aloha everyone!” He giggles. “My best Christmas presents—EVER!”

  3. Katie Brandyberry (@KTBrandyberry) says:

    SANTA’S ELVES NEED HELPERS TOO
    By Katie Brandyberry, 250 words

    Santa’s elves bring lots of joy
    with every special Christmas toy.
    But Santa’s elves begin to stress
    because the workshop’s such a mess!

    Tangled lights spill out of drawers
    while candy canes make sticky floors.
    The oven smokes from burning ham.
    A mouse is sneaking Christmas jam!

    There’s sparkle glitter everywhere…
    It’s Santa’s very worst nightmare!

    “ACHOO!”
    Suddenly, the elves all freeze.
    The sloppy shop makes Santa sneeze!

    “HO HO HMMMM…” he starts to speak.
    “YOU KNOW SANTA’S A CLEAN FREAK!
    Gulp the cocoa, grab a treat.
    When I return – I need this neat!”

    Santa’s elves turn red, then green…
    because they don’t know how to clean!
    Frantically they run around,
    but slippers stick straight to the ground.

    “We’re stuck now – what will we do?
    SANTA’S ELVES NEED HELPERS TOO!”

    Elves twist and turn, but all in vain.
    they curse those sticky candy canes!
    They’re trapped in place and start to yawn.
    “Santa won’t be home ’til dawn…”

    The elves are snoring, fast asleep…
    when a little helper starts to sweep.
    The elves all dream of sugar plums…
    while whiskers wipe up cookie crumbs.

    No creature stirs…except for one.
    A squeaky clean… a job well done.

    Elves wake up and loudly cheer
    “Some Christmas magic happened here!
    Who helped us out? Who can we thank?”
    The baffled elves all draw a blank.

    “It must be someone big and strong!”
    But Santa’s elves are very wrong.

    The creature stirring in the house…
    was the merry little Christmas mouse.

    ###

  4. Stephanie Cullen says:

    The Red Caboose
    By Stephanie Cullen

    It was Christmas Eve, and all the Christmas tree ornaments were sleeping soundly, waiting for Christmas Day to come when…

    Crash! The Big Star at the top of the tree fell to the ground!

    “Oh no!” cried all the ornaments. “Without the star at the top of the tree, Christmas will be ruined. The children will be so upset!”

    “Don’t worry,” chugged the Red Caboose. “We can fix this. I’ll carry the star back to the top of the tree.”

    “But how will you get the star into your carriage?” asked the Wooden Soldier.

    “You will have to lift it for me,” said the Red Caboose.

    So the soldier helped lift the star and the Caboose began chugging his way up the tree. But when he was only halfway up…

    “Oh no,” said the Christmas Ribbon. “There’s a gap in the branches!”

    “You will have to stretch between them,” said the Red Caboose.

    So the ribbon made a track for the Caboose, and he continued on his way. But when he got to the top of the tree…

    “Oh no!” said the Snowman. “How will you get it on top of the tree?”

    “You will have to use your stick arms to place it,” said the Red Caboose.

    So the Snowman heaved the star from the Red Caboose’s carriage and placed it on top of the tree.

    And when the children woke up on Christmas morning, they didn’t notice anything different. But the tree – and the star – looked perfect.

    • Linda Evans Hofke says:

      In the first sentence, when I read “all the Christmas tree ornaments were sleeping soundly”, I knew this was going to be a fun story. I love your storyline and all the helpful characters.

  5. Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf says:

    Christmas in Germany
    238 words

    Anna and Lara shared a desk in school, and their mothers wanted them to be friends, but there was no chance of that happening. Lara didn’t like the way Anna breathed on her all the time, and Anna didn’t like that Lara sniffed all the time and then wiped the contents of her nose under the desk.
    One morning shortly before Christmas the teacher announced it was time for wichteln, or Secret Santa. As the children started to get out their presents, Lara looked around and saw that tears were running down Anna’s face.
    “What’s wrong?” asked Lara in spite of herself.
    “I forgot to bring in my present for Pia,” Anna whispered.
    Lara thought of how much she liked her own present from last year, a glitter hair clip — which she happened to be wearing – and how it bad it would be for Pia not to get a present.
    Suddenly, Lara grabbed the clip out of her hair and handed it to Anna. “Here,” she said.
    “What is this for?”
    “Go ahead,” said Lara, sniffing. “Give this to Pia.”
    “Wow…thanks!” Anna said. She produced a Kleenex and gave it to Lara.
    “Don’t tell about this,” said Lara suddenly, remembering.
    “No, I won’t,” said Anna.
    They grinned at each other.
    Everybody was getting a present, and Anna and Lara had a secret from their mothers. It looked like it was going to be a pretty good Christmas.
    ###

  6. annmalaspina2013 says:

    LEO AND THE TREE LADY

    One snowy morning, a pine forest sprang up in an empty lot on Leo’s block. The trees smelled spicy and fresh like Gramps’ tree farm up in Maine.
    “Christmas Trees for Sale” the sign said.

    Leo’s apartment wasn’t big enough for a tree. Not with the new baby, and all her extra stuff. “We’ll get a wreath, instead,” said Dad, wrapping baby Dora in a clean blanket.

    After school, Leo stopped to look at the trees. Each one was different. Leo didn’t know which tree he liked the best.
    He remembered last Christmas at Gramps’ farm. Leo and his cousins played hide-and-seek under the snowy pine branches—and then helped bring one of the trees inside.

    But the farm in Maine was far away from the city. Too far for a baby to travel in the winter.

    Leo’s family was staying home this year.

    “Are you looking for a Christmas tree?” the tree lady asked.
    Leo shook his head.
    “Too bad. I have a lot of pretty ones.”
    She turned to help a man pick out a tall tree with wide branches.

    That night, Leo helped bake the ginger cookies. Mom rolled out the dough, and Leo cut out reindeers and stars. His nose tickled when they sprinkled cinnamon on top.
    Gramps and the cousins loved ginger cookies. Leo and his parents would have to eat the cookies all by themselves.

    When Dad hung the wreath on the door, Leo smelled the spicy pine needles. The red ribbon looked nice – but presents don’t fit under a wreath.

    Leo helped Mom at the market on Saturday. On the way home, he saw the tree lady rubbing her hands over a garbage can of hot coals.
    After they unpacked the groceries, Leo looked out the window. “The tree lady looks cold.”
    He wrapped two ginger cookies in a napkin, and ran outside.

    “What’s this?’ the tree lady asked, taking the napkin.
    “Ginger cookies,” Leo said.
    The tree lady was too hungry to talk anymore.

    All week, people crowded the lot, but the tree lady always had time to eat a cookie.
    The forest shrank day by day. Soon there would be no trees at all.

    On the last day before vacation, Mom, Dad, and baby Dora sat in the front row at the holiday concert. Leo sang louder than everyone.
    When the teacher began playing the Christmas tree song, Leo crossed his arms. He wished the holidays were over.

    The next time Leo passed the lot, the tree lady was tying a tree on top of a car. There were only a few trees left.
    Leo threw a snowball on the sidewalk.

    Leo checked the mailbox on Christmas Eve. He opened a card with Gramp’s handwriting. It was a photograph of a graceful pine tree. “Wish you were here to put the star on top,” Gramps wrote in his shaky handwriting.

    Leo cracked open the front door. Under the falling snow, the tree lot was empty and the twinkling lights were out. The tree lady had gone away.

    The sky was dark. The cold wind made Leo shiver.
    Then he saw something under the street lamp.

    The tree was tiny—not much bigger than baby Dora. The stump was freshly cut from a taller tree. On the top branch, a note dangled.
    “This tree will fit anywhere. Merry Christmas – and thanks for the cookies.”

    Leo dragged the tree up the stairs.
    Dad’s mouth fell open. “What is this?”
    “Bring our Christmas tree inside!” Mom said.

    Dad moved the rocker and Mom moved the changing table. The tree fit perfectly by the window.
    When Dora woke up from her nap, Leo put the star on top.

    • Linda Evans Hofke says:

      I like this story a lot, Ann. You had me from the first line. I love how the character thinks of the tree stand as a pine forest. Nice storyline and ending.

  7. Laura Jensen Bower says:

    The Sleigh-Awake Band (229 words)
    By Laura Bower

    Santa packs up his sled for the long night ahead,
    of lifting and gifting and being well-fed.
    The cookies and milk make the big guy feel tired,
    (but staying awake for his job is required!).

    ZZZZZZZZZZ….

    The sleigh teeters left and then sails to the right,
    and loops through the air like a runaway kite.
    The reindeer are dizzy, the presents are sliding –
    “It’s time” shout the elves (who had all been in hiding).

    Jingle’s on cymbals and Jangle’s on cello.
    The sound shakes the sleigh just like jiggly jell-o.
    Now Santa is stirring. Noelle grabs a drum,
    and RAT-A-TAT-TATS til’ her thumbs become numb.

    Then Eve heaves her tuba and gives it a blast.
    BOOM, BOOM “Wake up Santa, and please make it fast!”
    WHOOOSH! Just in time. He grabs hold of the reins.
    The sleigh soars up high, past the birds and the planes.

    The Sleigh-Awake Band jams across the night sky.
    “You rock!” Santa shouts with a gleam in his eye.
    You helped me make presents, baked cookies and cake,
    but you helped me the most when you kept me awake!

    Now, each Christmas Eve, Santa makes sure to pack
    the Sleigh-Awake Band to help keep him on track!
    BOOM BOOM, RATTLE RATTLE, A RAT-A-TAT TAT!
    They’re off to spread joy with the tip of his hat….

  8. Taylor D Gardner (@greenietaylor) says:

    Baba’s Christmas Wish (203 words)
    By Taylor Gardner

    Santa receives millions of letters, but one in particular caught his eye:

    Dear Santa,

    The only thing I want for Christmas is to help you. I love Christmas with all my heart, but I’ve slept through it every single year. I’d be helpful and not get in the way. I’m strong and can lift giant bags of presents and carry them across the North Pole factory to your sleigh. I can dance and entertain the elves while they work, and I’m extra cuddly if anyone is cold. My friends laugh when I tell them my dream of being a Christmas Helper. They think I’ll fall asleep early, but I promise I won’t if I’m with you in the North Pole.

    Yours Truly,

    Baba
    Cave 6, Alaska

    Santa’s eyes twinkled when he read this. “Please invite Baba here to help us,” he directed his chief elf.

    A day later, the chief elf returned by himself. “Santa, Baba fell asleep, but she tried not to. She wore bells on her arms and legs and painted pictures of the tropics in her cave. You see, Baba’s a bear, and she hibernated.”

    Santa smiled. “In that case, we’ll invite Baba to be my summer helper in spring.”

  9. Darcee Freier says:

    A Dear, Dear Boy
    by Darcee A. Freier

    Elma set a ceramic tree on the table. She placed her nativity on the mantle. Hubert loved Christmas, ceiling-scraping trees and decorations galore. But Hubert had gone to glory, leaving Elma to carry on as best she could. She did look forward to one tradition, her yearly reading of A Christmas Carol. Thankful to be done decorating, Elma read.

    As Scrooge recovered from the first ghost’s visit, Elma’s doorbell rang. Bennet, the youngster from next door, sang out, “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Elma! I made cookies for you.”

    “Aren’t you kind. Come in for cocoa before you freeze.”

    “Ah, it’s not cold.” But Bennet hurried in. “Where are all your decorations?”

    “Hubert did those,” said Elma.

    “Sorry.” Bennet gulped his last sip. “Much obliged.”

    Elma ate cookies and eggs for supper, with a large helping of Dickens.

    Snow fell all night. Elma woke late, but her sidewalks were shoveled. “Will wonders never cease.” Inspired, Elma baked stollen, the German sweet bread Hubert loved. She wrapped a loaf for the kind neighbor, then settled in with the spine-tingling ghost of Christmas yet-to-come.

    Elma napped. When she awoke, the room blinked red and green. Her maple tree was draped with sparkling lights, porch railings looped with pine boughs. The entire neighborhood glowed. “Well, I never…”

    Caroling neighbors fanned across the lawn. Bennet ran up, “I didn’t want you to be sad because of, …um, …well, I just wanted you to be happy.”

    Elma wrapped Bennet in a hug. “You dear, dear boy.”

  10. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KATHLEEN

    Changing the World by Kathleen Campbell

    What should I do?

    Where should I go?

    “Be the change in the world!” my parents say so.

    Hmmm…

    I make my decision. I don’t go too far. My mom had to work, couldn’t take me by car.
    Uptown and downtown, and right in-between, there are people in my city all waiting to be seen.

    So I hop on my bike and cover my head, then practice a smile and what will be said.

    “Tell me more.” “Say more.” “Please, more!” are a few.

    It’s said they tell tales about World War Two.

    I can’t stay that long

    Dad says it’s enough

    to warm up the hearts

    who has it quite tough.

    There are ones without family,

    no husband, no wife.

    Their children are distant.

    It seems a hard life.

    I walk through the door; I’m finally there!

    Their faces light up like the Christmas in the air.

    There’re grandmas, and grandpa’s all waiting to be seen.

    I make my way around and meet Mr. Green.

    “How are you?” he asks, his face smiles wide. I feel so comfortable standing by his side.

    “I’m good,” I answer. “How do you do?” “I’m excellent, young boy, cuz I’m gett’n to meet you.”

    He tells me big stories from so long ago,

    his upbringing,

    segregation,

    his best friend called Moe.

    I like my new friend. I think he likes me. Listening to people seems just the right key.

    *Johnathan Hap, an 11-year-old Caucasian boy, meets southerner Mr. Rufus Green an 86-year-old African American veteran, in an assisted living facility.

    • nataliecohn0258 says:

      I loved this about remembering those in nursing homes and assitant living who don’t have vistors and won’t get that christmas cheer this year. We need more kids like Jonthan Hap who takes a little bit of his time to make an elderly man happy. I Ilike the rhyming! Good Luck in the contest!

    • Linda Evans Hofke says:

      sweet story.
      We can learn so much from our seniors and they appreciate when others take the time to have a conversation with them.

  11. Lynn A Camacho says:

    The Christmas Cookie Catastrophe
    By Lynn Camacho

    “I want to help! I want to stir!
    Can I bake cookies, too?”

    Squeak pushed his nose into the group
    to get a better view.

    He spied a bowl of eggs and flour,
    vanilla, and some cream.

    He grabbed a spoon to stir the mix,
    when Jinx let out a scream!

    The bowl went crash! The flour went poof!
    Cream splattered everywhere!

    Jinx threw her hands up in surprise
    as eggs dripped down her hair!

    “Oh, dear! Oh, Squeak! You naughty mouse!
    Just look at this big mess!”

    “Our Christmas cookie dough is gone,
    and you have soiled my dress!”

    The other mice glared at poor Squeak,
    and made him feel so small.

    Squeak dropped his head in guilt and shame.
    His tears began to fall.

    Jinx looked at Squeak and said, “Don’t cry.
    I’m sorry I was stern.”

    “But when you want to help us bake,
    you have to wait your turn.”

    Then one, by one, the other mice
    embraced the sniffling mouse.

    Together, they worked as a team,
    to clean the gooey house.

    Jinx wiped her dress and combed her hair.
    She even washed her feet!

    She asked, “Who’d like to try once more
    to bake a Christmas treat?”

    Squeak jumped straight up and raised his hand.
    “I’d like to help you, please!”

    “Well, come on, then. Let’s start again,”
    and she gave Squeak a squeeze.

    The friends took turns and baked until
    their cookies were all done.

    They laughed, they smiled, and all agreed
    that sharing work was fun!

    Merry Christmas!

    • nataliecohn0258 says:

      I love Squeak the mouse and mice stories in general! I could feel the emotion in your story when Squeak messed up and was embarssed. This is a great story about forgiveness and patience. Good luck on the contest!

    • Linda Evans Hofke says:

      This is a sweet story.
      Sometimes when kids (or here, mice) try to help, things go wrong. I like how the other characters handled the situation and how you wrapped it up with a happy ending.

  12. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR SARAH

    Byline: Sarah Hetu
    Title: GRANDMA’S CHRISTMAS HELPER,
    A COVID Alphabet Story

    Story:
    I’m going to Grandma’s for Christmas and I’m bringing Antibiotic soap.

    I’m going to Grandma’s for Christmas and I’m bringing Bleach.

    I’m going to Grandma’s for Christmas and I’m bringing Crossword puzzles.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing a Dustpan.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Envelopes and writing supplies.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing a Face shield.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Hand sanitizer.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Isopropyl alcohol.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Juice.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Kleenex.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Lysol wipes.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing a Mask.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing No germs!

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing my Onion vaporizer.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Paper towels.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Quest lab results (COVID negative!).

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing the Reading glasses she misplaced.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Safety glasses.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing a Thermometer.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Utensils (plastic!).

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Vitamins.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Whatever she needs.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing my brother’s Xig game.

    I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing Yummy healthy treats.

    Hmm…maybe I’ll just ZOOM with Grandma this Christmas, so that I can help keep her healthy!

  13. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR ELYSE

    Baia’s Bags of Blessings
    By Elyse Trevers

    “This will be the worst holiday ever, “ said Baia as she helped Mommy peel potatoes for the Chanukah latkes.

    Dad celebrated Christmas and Mommy was Jewish, and they decorated the house for both holidays as usual, but this year no one would be dropping in because of the virus.

    “What about people who are by themselves and have no one to celebrate with?” Baia asked Daddy as she helped him decorate Christmas sugar cookies. “It’s not fair.”

    Then Baia got an idea. She decorated several eco-friendly bags with her fabric markers. She wrapped latkes and cookies and placed them in the bags. She added dreidels, candy canes, foil-wrapped chocolate gelt and tinsel. Then she printed out holiday songs from the computer and added them to each bag.

    She and Dad drove around town making deliveries. At each stop, Baia put on her mask, ran up the steps, rang the bell, and shouted as she returned to the car. “See you tonight.”

    That night at 6:00 pm, everyone zoomed and celebrated. The guests included people who were alone like Mr. Cohn, the piano teacher, 90 year old Herman and his wife Jean, Maryann, the babysitter and cousin Marty. They ate and sang and laughed. With her bags, Baia helped to make it a memorable holiday, one they would talk about when they were all together next year.

    • Linda Evans Hofke says:

      Nice story.
      One of my friends said the company where she works is actually doing this since they aren’t allowed to hold the company Christmas party in the usual way. They get a packed meal from a catering business when they leave work and then go home and sign on to the Zoom party.
      2020 has people thinking of creative ways to do lots of things.

  14. Marla Yablon says:

    Chanukah Helpers
    By Marla Yablon
    It’s Chanukah time, and that means latkes!
    Now everyone wants to help.
    They’re running around.
    The levels of sound
    Are making the poor dog yelp!

    Now Bubbe’s upset with all the chaos.
    She stands, and cries, “Oy gevalt!
    You all have to sit.
    Stay quiet a bit.
    This craziness has to halt.”

    She sets up a system. All can assist.
    Each one has a job to do.
    “There’s lots to be done,
    But it will be fun.
    We’ll work as a kitchen crew!”

    So Miriam will wash and peel potatoes
    To get them all set for Josh,
    Who’ll grate them up fine
    With never a whine,
    Because he can’t wait to nosh.

    We really were working well together,
    ‘Til Rachel began to cry.
    The onions were chopped,
    Then everything stopped.
    And nary an eye was dry.

    The grated potatoes fell all over,
    As Joshua dropped the bowl,
    Which broke into bits,
    And gave poor Josh fits.
    Then everyone lost control.

    We couldn’t stop sobbing. Tears were falling.
    Now Bubbe yelled out, “Oy vey!
    You all have to stop!
    Go get me a mop.
    We really don’t have all day.

    But, if you will help with this disaster,
    I’ll finish the latke dish.
    We’ll have them all fried.
    Your tears will be dried.
    The dinner will be delish!

    Because you all tried to help with cooking,
    We’ll have extra treats for you.
    I’ll call up the store,
    And order some more
    Sufganiyot* for my crew.

    *jelly doughnuts

  15. Krystal Snead (@KrysPhk) says:

    The Farmyard Nativity
    By Krystal Snead

    The farmyard friends huddled together on a carpet of straw; a buzz of excitement whipped through the air.
    “Hector will play…the Shepherd!” announced Laila, the farmer’s daughter.
    “Snort!” replied Hector.
    “Molly will be…Mary!”
    Molly blushed as the animals pawed the ground in appreciation.
    Only Kody remained. Laila smiled and declared, “You’ll be…the Inn Keeper!”
    Kody’s head dropped. He wanted to be the star!
    “Because of the Inn Keeper Mary had a safe place to give birth to the baby Jesus,” Laila explained. They all agreed it was a very important role.
    On the eve of the big performance the barn was filled with chatter and excitement. So much chatter that no one heard Molly slip away. And it wasn’t until the next day that anyone noticed she was missing.
    “It’s ruined!” cried Laila.
    “Woof!” replied Kody and bounded out of the barn in search of his friend.
    He looked everywhere but Molly had vanished. Kody slumped on a haystack, defeated, when…
    “BAAAAAA!”
    “Molly?” he asked. “Why did you leave?”
    “I can’t do it,” she groaned. “My tummy hurts!”
    Kody remembered his first sheepdog trial and how his paws quaked, but Farmer Jack urged him on.
    “Come back and I’ll help you,” he said. Even though her tummy still ached Molly knew she could trust him.
    Molly placed one hoof on stage and glanced at the audience, sitting right at the front was Kody. She fixed her eyes on his and bravely trotted out.
    That was how Kody saved the show.

  16. Cindy N Robert Sommer says:

    SPRINKLES FOR SANTA

    By Cindy Sommer

    Kate pushed away her little sister’s hand. “Mom, Emma’s using too many sprinkles!”
    “I like pinkles!” Emma poured red and green crystals over the dough.
    Kate rolled her eyes. Why did she have to help? These had to be perfect for Santa.
    Emma coughed.
    “Honey, don’t get so close to those nuts. You know you’re allergic,” said Mom.
    Emma shoved cookie dough into her mouth. “Yum!”
    “Emma, no!” Mom tried to grab the piece out, but it was too late. “Come with me!”
    Emma stomped her feet and screamed. She coughed, then sneezed. Red bumps appeared
    on her neck and face.
    Mom carried Emma away to give her medicine.
    No more cookie decorating for Emma. Mom plopped her on the couch to watch TV.
    “Emma want help!”
    “I’m sorry, you can’t Honey.”
    Kate finished another batch for Mom to place in the oven. The cookies looked much neater
    without Emma helping. Santa would love them.
    Emma whimpered.
    Kate cut out angel shapes in the dough. They were Emma’s favorite. She got an idea.
    “Emma, come here.” She placed a cloth mask on Emma’s face and latex gloves on her
    hands. “Mom, can she help now?”
    Mom looked at Emma. “I guess so. But no eating dough!”
    Emma nodded and jumped up and down.
    Kate cut out more angels.
    Emma dumped red and green sprinkles on them. “More pinkles?”
    “No, that’s enough!” Kate swirled the piles into designs. “Emma, Santa will love these.”

  17. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BEVERLY

    THE CROCHETED STAR

    Selina stretched her spindly legs then sprung from her nest to check her web. Again, she found nothing. Slipping down with her silken thread to hunt for an insect, she landed on a sofa, where a small girl sat sobbing.
    “Why are you crying?” she asked.
    “My granny always crocheted a doily to hang on our Christmas tree. But Granny is gone now. I wish I could make one for her, but I can’t crochet.”
    The girl peeked behind her. “Where are you?”
    “I’m nearby.”
    “But I don’t see you. Are you an angel?”
    “I’m a spider.”
    “Funny angel! Spiders can’t talk, but angels talk out of nowhere. Can you crochet? I know you can. Angels can do anything.”
    “Crocheting is my craft.”
    “I want a star for the treetop.”
    “I will crochet you a star. But will you help me?”
    The girl nodded.
    “Please catch me a fly.”
    The girl wrinkled her nose. “Why a fly, Angel, do you collect them?”
    “Something like that.”
    “Do you have many?”
    “No, none right now.”
    “Okay, I’ll find you one.” Sliding off the sofa she left the crochet thread behind to hunt for a fly.
    Selina spun and spun until she formed a star.
    When the girl returned, she dropped the bug, grabbed the doily, and giggled.
    “Angel, this is beautiful! Thank you, this will be a gift from me for my granny.” And she skipped away.
    Thankful too, Selina snatched her prize, struggled up her thread, and scrambled to her nest.

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR CATHRENE

    THE TOYMAKER AND THE CHRISTMAS TOMTE
    by Cathrene Valente Youngquist

    In a little village in Sweden there lived a master toymaker, Sven, and his cat. Four days left until Christmas and there was much to be done.

    The first night old Sven worked on wooden soldiers. He was so tired that he went to sleep. Three Tomte gnomes crept into his workshop. They fed the cat a saucer of milk and got right to work. Buzz-buzz. Tap-tap. Whirr-whirr. The finished soldiers stood at attention. Next morning the toymaker was amazed and grateful.

    The second night tired Sven worked on wooden dolls. He fell asleep and the three Tomte came back. They fed the cat a saucer of milk and went to work. Buzz-buzz. Tap-tap. Whirr-whirr. The dolls cried, Mama!” Next morning the toymaker couldn’t believe his ears.

    The third night Sven cut out wooden animals. This time he hid behind a curtain. The three Tomte crept in. They fed the cat a saucer of milk and got to work. Buzz-buzz. Tap-tap. Whirr-whirr. The animals looked alive!

    Christmas Eve the three Tomte came back. On the work table were three plates of cookies and three cups of milk. It was their turn to be amazed and grateful.

    On Christmas Day Sven passed out his wooden gifts. He was so busy the next year he had to hire two apprentices. Every Christmas Eve the kind toymaker put out cookies and milk, but the Tomte never returned.

  19. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR MIA

    New Year’s Cheer
    By Mia Geiger
    232 words

    As New Year’s drew near,
    Sammy ran to the door.
    “We’ve gotta get noisemakers,
    hats and much more!

    “We need clingers and clangers
    and horns that go toot!
    Whirlers and twirlers
    and ribbons to shoot!”

    “Hold on, little guy,”
    said big brother Jack.
    “Mom still hasn’t gotten
    her other job back.

    “She said to be thrifty,
    and we all agreed.
    We shouldn’t be buying
    the stuff we don’t need.”

    “We have to make NOISE!”
    Sammy said, standing tall.
    “Tonight’s a big night,
    and we need it ALL.”

    Then Jack snuggled close,
    gave his brother a squeeze.
    “I know it’s been hard—
    try to understand…please?”

    “OK,” whispered Sammy.
    “I’m sad Mom’s been blue…
    Let’s help cheer her up!
    …I know what to do.

    “We’ll go to the kitchen,
    and search all around.”
    He ran and pulled open
    each drawer that he found.

    “Look at this pan!”
    he said with a grin.
    “And two wooden spoons
    in the silverware bin!”

    “Go and get Mom!”
    Sammy said, grabbing pots.
    “We don’t need new things
    ’cause we’ve got LOTS…and LOTS!”

    Jack brought in their mom,
    and said “Please, close your eyes.
    In just a few seconds,
    you’ll have a surprise.”

    The clock tick-a-tocked
    until midnight was near…
    BANGITY-CLANG!
    and…
    “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

    “Thank you, my loves!”
    said Mom, with a twirl.
    Please pass me a pot.
    Let’s give this a whirl!”

  20. Liz Kehrli says:

    Santa’s Surprise Helper
    By Liz Kehrli

    Twas the night before Christmas
    and this little elf
    was tired of toy making-
    not being true to himself.

    He longed for a new life
    of adventure and glee,
    to travel the world,
    oh, the sights he would see.

    But he was loyal to Santa
    so, he didn’t take off.
    he completed his work
    with barely a scoff.

    But during his lunch break
    he rode the reindeer
    and while others drank cocoa,
    he flew without fear.

    And thus, he continued
    until it was night,
    and before very long
    he was an expert at flight.

    Then, that Christmas eve
    Santa cried by the tree.
    “My cataracts are so bad,
    I can hardly see.”

    “I must find an assistant,
    for I am in need
    of someone with courage
    to help steer my steed.”

    So, Elf ventured forward
    and though he was small,
    he leapt on the sled
    and amazed them all.

    For he knew a secret
    of a rare reindeer treat-
    a handful of candy corn
    helps lift their feet.

    Elf picked up the reins
    with blind Santa in tow,
    soon all one could hear
    was his small HO HO HO!

  21. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR ISABEL

    Holiday Helpers Galore!
    Isabel Cruz Rodriguez
    Word Count: 52

    Flip Flip here.

    Flop Flop there.

    Footsteps! Laughter!

    Everywhere!

    Sweep Sweep here.

    Mop Mop there.

    Hang up lights.

    Heat bakeware.

    Big hands here.

    Little hands there.

    Helping hands are….everywhere!

    Wrap Wrap here.

    Tie Tie there.

    STOP the cutting! STOP the chat!

    Who took the ribbons?

    The dog and the cat!

    Imagine that!

  22. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR MARIA

    Nothing to Give by Maria Marianayagam

    As we shuffled across the street from mass, I saw him. He shivered silently in the cold, head down, a small frown on his face and a red hat on his head. The sign said Merry Christmas, but I couldn’t understand how he could feel merry at all.

    I wanted to give him something, but my empty hands had nothing to give.

    Mom always said the greatest gift we could give is ourselves. Did that mean I should wrap myself up? I never understood.

    He looked up at me, and our eyes locked. Feathery flakes fell softly around us; we were frozen in a snow globe. I smiled and said Merry Christmas. He looked surprised and waved back.

    That night, my thoughts wandered to the empty space beside him. I said a prayer for him, and in my dreams, we sat together as friends.

    Our choir caroled the neighborhood on Christmas. I asked if we could stop at his corner. Before leaving, I wrote a card.

    We found him there, stunned at the scene of children singing Drummer Boy. I gave him my insignificant gift. The card read, “I have nothing to give but a prayer, a song, and a smile.”

    He looked up with the twinkling eyes of a King. He smiled, a sweet and simple gift in return. We gave each other the gift of ourselves.

  23. maryvanderplas says:

    OY TO THE WORLD: AN ODE TO 2020
    by Mary Vander Plas
    (202 words)

    Kids safely convened for a holiday scene.
    Their neighborhood… red, white, and green.
    But it didn’t take long
    to see something was wrong.
    On this rare break from dull quarantine.

    A lone tiny light lost its twinkle last night,
    OY TO THE WORLD blinked bright white.
    “That’s fitting,” Dad said
    as he stomped off to bed.
    “That old sign’s in the trash come daylight!”

    In the cool midnight air, the light cried in despair.
    “We’re doomed, we haven’t a prayer!”
    But the OY TO lights knew
    what they all had to do.
    They’d help with their own light to spare.

    “We’ll all give a bit to make sure you’re lit.”
    Their power began to transmit.
    And soon a small spark,
    filled the J that was dark.
    But it flickered and flashed, then it quit.

    The little light sighed, “A few of us tried.
    Tomorrow we’ll end up curbside.”
    But THE WORLD then pitched in,
    with its light from within.
    The sign glowed with goodwill as its guide.

    The next night crowds grew, the sign shone on cue.
    It stayed bright the whole season through.
    OY TO THE WORLD
    became JOY TO THE WORLD
    with the help of bright friends tried and true!

  24. writestuff99 says:

    Gingerbread Commotion
    JC Kelly
    (250 Words)

    The Ingredients jostled for position around the mixing bowl on Christmas Eve. Flour pushed his way to the front, shoving Salt aside. “I’m always the first ingredient in the bowl,” he shouted as he slipped through the sifter. “Humph,” grumbled Baking Soda, “you’d be flat without me.”

    “I’m the one who makes everything delicious,” declared Brown Sugar in her sweetest voice. “Wait for me,” cried Molasses as he dribbled in behind her.

    Sloshing into the bowl, Egg insisted that he was the one who held everything together. “But I make everything so gooey and moist,” exclaimed Butter.

    Delicious scents filled the air when the Spices removed their caps, ready to jump in.
    Allspice bragged that he was the all-star of spices, while Cinnamon boasted he was everyone’s favorite. Clove tried to chime in, but Ginger loudly proclaimed that she was clearly the star of gingerbread cookies.

    There was a ruckus in the bowl as they struggled to blend together. Everyone was talking at once: “READY?” “LET’S MIX!” “DID WE FORGET SOMEONE?”

    Ginger peeked over the edge and saw Salt sitting shyly on the counter. “It’s just Salt,” she said. “We don’t need that puny pinch.”

    All that shouting and boasting had intimidated Salt, but he got a little salty when he heard that!

    “I might be just a tiny sprinkle,” he said, “but my job is to make the rest of you taste better. With my help, we can make the best gingerbread cookies ever. MAKE ROOM – I’M COMING IN!”

  25. Sensitive and Extraordinary Kids says:

    HUMMUS FOR SANTA
    By Leila Boukarim
    250 words

    Baba says Santa will visit Beirut, even after what happened. But I’m not sure.

    It’s Christmas Eve and we don’t have a tree. Or stockings. Or lights.

    “Baba, we need to get ready for Santa.” But he’s not listening.

    I have to do something.

    Who needs decorations when you have paper? My garland is looking good.

    “Look, Baba!”

    But Baba’s on the phone. Again.

    Our old stockings were destroyed, but we have socks. I grab one of mine. And Teta’s. It takes time to find one without a hole for Baba.

    “Look, Baba!”

    But Baba’s talking to Teta about money and flour. Again.

    To help Santa find us, we need lights! The power goes out and I have an idea. I grab some jars and candles. Even better than Christmas lights.

    Then I remember.

    “Are we going to bake cookies for Santa?”

    But Baba is listening to the news. Again.

    There’s a pit in my stomach. I want to cry.

    “Teta, we need cookies for Santa.”

    “We have carrots for his reindeer. They can share.”

    Carrots? For Santa?

    I grab a platter and fill it. Carrots, dried fruit, bread, and a bowl of hummus. A feast for Santa!

    Baba sees me and smiles. His eyes sparkle and I want it to last.

    I have to do something.

    I place the platter in front of him. “Let’s eat, Baba.”

    I’ll write Santa a note to explain.

    But before I do, Baba says, “Let’s leave the hummus for Santa. He’ll love it.”

  26. Anne Sawan says:

    ISLAND SANTA

    Eight plastic flamingos huddled on a cold, winter’s lawn,
    when one shivered and said, “It never snows in San Juan.
    Not in Hawaii, Saint Thomas, or Bermuda.
    Not in the Grand Caymans or on the island of Aruba.”
    The other birds sighed, dreaming of a place sunny and warm,
    but the wind only blew harder and in came the next storm.

    When out of the blizzard, a figure appeared in the snow,
    a man riding a surfboard, laughing, “Ho-ho-ho-ho!”
    He was dressed all in colors, purple, orange, and red,
    with long, beaded braids and a straw hat on his head.
    On his feet, he wore flip-flops, with bright painted toes
    and a glob of white sunscreen covered his nose.

    “Santa?” said the Birds. “But, why are you here?”
    “I’m Island Santa,” said the man. “I can’t have flying reindeer.
    On Christmas, I need tropical helpers like you.
    Won’t you help me and be my holiday crew?”

    “But we’re fake,” cried the Flamingos. “We cannot fly.”
    “Nonsense!” said Santa, “Let’s give it a try!”
    He put on his sunglasses, raised up one hand,
    and sprinkled those birds with magic beach sand.
    The flamingos shook, shimmied, then fluttered around,
    spread out their wings and flew off the ground!

    Away from the cold, away from the snow!
    Away from the ice, those flamingos did go!
    And you could hear Santa holler as his surfboard took flight,
    “A sunny Christmas to all! Aloha, and good night!”

  27. Namita Moolani Mehra says:

    Samosas for Santa
    By Namita Moolani Mehra
    246 words

    “We have to make cookies for Santa, mom!” Aneesa said.
    “He’ll need a snack when he comes by tonight…”
    Mom looked up from her laptop.
    “Cookies! I knew I forgot something…”
    Luckily, grandma’s recipe was right on the fridge.
    As they gathered the ingredients, disaster struck! They were OUT OF SUGAR!
    “We can’t make cookies without sugar!”
    Mom looked like she was going to cry. It was too late to go to the store!
    “Can we make something else for Santa?”
    They looked around…
    Flour, salt, the colorful spice box.
    “SAMOSAS!” Mom cried. “Let’s make Samosas for Santa!”
    “Santa likes Indian food?”
    “Oh, I’m sure he does…I mean he flies all over the world…he’s very well-traveled.”

    Mom and Aneesa got to work.
    Aneesa rolled out the dough and added spices and salt to mashed potatoes.
    Together they filled, folded, and fried.
    Perfect golden-brown samosas.
    “Mom, should we make Chai instead of just serving plain milk? Chai goes well with samosas.”
    “That’s my girl!” Mom said. Aneesa helped boil and strain spiced tea into a big mug.

    As they laid out the samosas and chai, Aneesa worried about what Santa might think of this unusual snack.

    “I’m sure Santa’s looking forward to trying different treats in homes around the world.
    Imagine if you only got cookies to eat everywhere you went!”
    “BORING!” Aneesa giggled.

    Samosas and Chai were anything but boring.

    And Santa agreed!

    Not a single crumb was left on the plate…

  28. Deb Buschman (@DebBuschman) says:

    BEAVER’S GIFT
    By Deb Buschman

    Beaver worked all day. Now he headed to town to buy gifts for his friends. The Christmas party was in three days.
    He whistled along.
    Squeak! Squeak! Squirrel was pinned by a huge branch.
    “Beaver my tail’s stuck!”
    Beaver chewed and chewed until, SNAP! Squirrel sprang free.
    “Thanks for helping me Beaver. Where are you going?”
    “To town, but it’s too dark. I’ll go tomorrow.” Humming along Beaver headed back home.
    The next day after work Beaver strolled to town for his gifts.
    Quack! Quack! Quack!
    “Mrs. Mallard what’s wrong?”
    “Oh Beaver, my baby’s missing.”
    Beaver dove into the pond. He searched and searched. Then deep in the reeds, Beaver found baby duck sound asleep. He swam baby duck back to Mrs. Mallard.
    “Thanks Beaver, for stopping to help. Where are you headed?”
    “To town, but I’ll go tomorrow.” Singing a song Beaver ambled home. The next morning Beaver was up early to work.
    On his way to town heavy wet snow fell. But Beaver waddled on.
    Then he saw Deer stuck in the muck.
    “Don’t worry Deer, I’ll get you out.”
    Beaver dragged branches and limbs so Deer could climb out.
    “Thanks Beaver! See you at the Christmas Party.” Beaver trudged back home.
    He sat in his lodge without gifts for his friends. He couldn’t go to the party.
    Then he heard it. Singing. He peeked outside.
    “Merry Christmas Beaver!” his friends shouted.
    “But I have no gifts for you.”
    “Beaver, you help us every day. That’s your gift.”

  29. Allison Strick (@byallisonstrick) says:

    Let it Grow! Let it Grow! Let it Grow!
    Allison Strick
    209 words

    Oh the weather outside was dreary
    And the plants were looking weary.
    Poor Santa was filled with woe.
    “They won’t grow! They won’t grow! They won’t grow!”

    “A Venus fly-trap for Tommy,
    And a String of Pearls for Mommy?!
    Their progress is much too slow!
    They won’t grow! They won’t grow! They won’t grow!”

    Rudolph finally came one night.
    “How plants hate being out in a storm!
    Northern climate just isn’t right–
    The leaves and the roots should be warm!”

    They ran around helter-skelter
    And devised to build a shelter.
    “Protected from ice and snow,
    They will grow, they will grow, they will grow!”

    Well they didn’t show signs of perking.
    “Oh no, it isn’t working!”
    “Dear Santa, don’t feel so low.
    They will grow! They will grow! They will grow!”

    “It’s not enough to be cozy.”
    So Rudolph lit his nosey.
    The greenhouse was set aglow.
    “There they go! There they go! There they go!”

    Santa finally cheered “Hooray!
    Rudy’s light has again saved the day!
    Little Tom and his mom will cheer,
    And I can grow plants through the year!”

    When the weather outside is nippy
    Santa’s garden still looks zippy.
    “With a greenhouse and Rudolph’s glow,
    Let it snow! Let it blow! They will grow!”

  30. Estelle Grace Tudor 🧚‍♀️🏰🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 (@tinystar1410) says:

    Star Light, Star Bright by Estelle Grace Tudor

    The snow sparkled across the hill as the little girl trudged through it. The star gazed down, watching her slow but determined progress.
    “Too small,” the little girl decided, her head tilted critically. Her voice carried across the clear sky, reaching the star who listened with interest.
    A weary adult followed the child. “Come on, Jenny, just pick one. It’s getting late.”
    Jenny turned and fisted her small hands on her hips. “But, Dad, it has to be the perfect tree!”
    The star, from its wondrous vantage point, could see just the tree. But how could it get the little girl to see it too?
    The star blazed, sparkled, and twinkled with all its might, earnestly trying to get the little girl’s attention but Jenny didn’t look up. Frustrated, the star shook and jiggled until suddenly it was falling. It arced brightly across the sky and finally, Jenny looked up. Gasping, she pointed at the star and followed its trail with her gloved finger, wishing fervently to find the ideal tree. The star dropped low and where it disappeared stood the most magnificent, the most majestic, the most magical tree ever.
    Jenny raced over to it. “This one!” She exclaimed, “Now we need to get it home and decorated before mummy and my new brother come home!”
    Placing a star-shaped sticker with their name onto the tree, they set off to find a helper to cut it down.
    “Thank you, star,” Jenny whispered up into the night sky.

  31. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BECKY

    Candy and Cain’s Big Job
    By Becky Kimbrough

    Candy and Cain were Santa’s newest elves and bursting with ideas. They wanted to help with something BIG, like a jumbo rocking horse, a mega-T-Rex robot…maybe even a ride along race car. But Candy and Cain quickly learned that they were also Santa’s smallest helpers.

    “Stick to the small stuff,” little ones!” said Holly, the head elf.

    And so it seemed Candy and Cain were trapped by endless, tiny tasks. Doll freckles painted? Yawn…check. Kite strings trimmed? Yawn…check. Crayons counted? Double yawn…check.

    Christmas Eve finally arrived. Santa’s sleigh was ready.

    “Thank you for your help, elves!” said Santa.

    “I’ll just check my watch and be on my way. Can’t be late!”

    If only we helped with something big and important, thought Candy and Cain.

    Santa pulled out his pocket watch and frowned.

    “Broken? Oh fizzling fudge pops, I forgot to replace the battery.”

    “No problem, Santa! Here’s a new one,” said Holly.

    “Can you fix it?” asked Santa. “My fingers are too big.”

    Holly tried, but her fingers were too big.

    “Can anyone else help?” asked Santa.

    Candy and Cane jumped and waved. With a wink and a nod, Santa called them over. Working together, the littlest elves replaced the watch battery, and Santa took flight, just in time.

    “Ho ho ho! Big thanks to everyone,” said Santa, “especially my newest elves, Candy and Cain.”

    “Of course!” they grinned “After all . . . when helping others, there’s no job too small!”

  32. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR DIANE

    SANTA KNOWS By Diane Hanington

    “Two letters to Santa?” Mom asked.
    “One’s to let Santa know Charlie’s in the hospital,” Petey said.
    “Good idea.”
    “I want decorations for my room!”
    Hanging a snowman, Petey looked out his window at Charlie’s house.
    One light shown downstairs and the outside was dark.
    There was no sign of Christmas cheer.
    “Why aren’t you hanging up the decorations?” Dad asked.
    Petey whispered in his ear.
    “I’ll ask,” Dad said. He helped Petey get ready for bed.
    “Can we?” Petey asked Dad the next morning.
    “Yes, let’s go.”
    Charlie’s grandparents met them in Charlie’s hospital room.
    “He’s in physical therapy. It’s very hard and painful for him,” Gramma said.
    “Maybe I can make him feel better.” Petey dumped his decorations on the floor.
    He placed each one around Charlie’s room.
    A small tree flashed with a string of colorful lights.
    Petey hung paper chains, snowflakes, Santa’s, and reindeers on it.
    A toy train ran under the tree.
    Then they waited. In came Charlie, with a tear-stained face.
    “Ohhhhhhhh!”
    “Merry Christmas Charlie!” Petey sang out.
    “Santa doesn’t know I’m here,” Charlie pouted.
    “Yes, he does, I told him!”
    Nurses and Doctors stopped in to sing carols by the tree.
    Treats were served. Charlie’s stocking was hung.
    Charlie’s smile was as bright as the lights. So was Petey’s.
    On Christmas Day, Santa left Petey presents.
    And a note.
    “I won’t forget Charlie!
    Love, Santa.”

  33. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR DIANE

    THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER By Diane Hanington

    Starfish quit!
    “Will you..?” “Will you..?” Andrea asked the sea creatures.
    “No.” “No.” ”No.”
    Andrea swam furiously around the tree.
    “What’s wrong?” Evan asked, peeking out of his cave.
    “Starfish quit! She’s refusing to top the tree this year!” Andrea spat.
    “Why?” Evan asked.
    “She is tired of missing all the games. And always eating alone,” Andrea said. “No one else will do it. Oh, it’s a disaster!”
    “It doesn’t need a topper.”
    “It does! Will you do it Evan?”
    “I don’t like everyone looking at me.” He hid.
    I would have been the topper, but I don’t glow like the others, she thought.
    Andrea swam off, crying. Christmas was ruined!
    Andrea stopped planning the Christmas celebration.
    Days later, knock, knock.
    “Merry Christmas!” the sea creatures cried.
    “I don’t feel very Christmassy.” Andrea said.
    “Come join us!”
    Andrea dragged behind.
    She smelled dinner. Games were set up.
    The water began to get brighter. She looked up.
    Evan, atop the tree, glowed brightly.
    “Evan, you’re our topper!” Andrea beamed.
    “I didn’t want you to be sad.”
    “You’ll miss the fun,” Andrea hung her head. “It’s because I had to have a topper.”
    The starfish swam toward them.
    “We changed the games. Whoever the topper is, can play now.”
    At dinner, the sea creatures joined Evan, sitting among the branches.
    The colorful and glowing creatures lit up the tree.
    “Everyone’s a part of our tree now,” Andrea said. “It’s the best Christmas ever.”

  34. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR PATTI

    Little Light by Patti Tomarelli

    Little Light, shining bright, streaks into the night.
    Below she spots eight burning candles surrounded by songs of love.
    Little Light joins them. “Why do you burn?”
    “It is our sacred act to share.”
    “Would you share your light with me?”
    “Of course!”
    Little Light immerses herself in their light and grows larger with love.

    Little Light, shining bright, shoots down to join a dancing bonfire.
    She joins the fiery romp. “Why do you dance?”
    “For the night. For the day. For the hope of tomorrow.”
    “Would you share your light with me?”
    “Of course!”
    Little Light dives into the flames and grows larger with their hope.

    Little Light, shining bright, joins some bright colored lights draped around a fir tree.
    “Why do you twinkle?”
    “We twinkle for peace and goodwill for all.”
    “Would you share your light with me?”
    “Of course!”
    Little Light kisses each light and becomes full of their color.

    Little Light, shining bright, floats above three red, three green and one black candle.
    “Why do you shine?”
    “We celebrate the strength of the community. ”
    “Would you share your light with me?”
    “Of course!”
    Little Light kisses each flame and pulsates with their strength.

    Love and hope, peace and strength spins inside of Little Light. Swirling and twirling, faster and faster, hotter and hotter, she grows smaller and smaller until …BOOM. Little Light no more. Bright Light streaks forth to find her place in the sky and shines all that was shared with others.

    ***Author’s note added by SLHill 12/12/20 – the “eight candles” in the first paragraph was an error – she intended to write “nine” and she hopes no one has been offended by her typo***

  35. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR SARAH

    RUNNY-NOSED RUDOLPH
    Sarah Hetu-Radny

    Santa here.

    Thank you for your help.

    It started with a “…one horse open– Ahh-CHOO!” That’s how Rudolph got sick, with Christmas in TWO DAYS.

    I called you, Easter Bunny, to borrow your veterinarian. Here’s what happened after that:

    Rudolph tested positive for Coronavirus (the reindeer had been training near Los Angeles). Almost everyone at the North Pole got it.

    Mrs. Clause summoned the DOTMIs (Doctors of the Magically Inclined) to care for all the patients.

    Present preparation? Sleigh transport? Getting rid of germs?

    Mrs. Clause called the Tooth Fairy, but the Tooth Fairy was swamped with work.

    We successfully recruited some sprites, fairies, and leprechauns.

    They all helped sanitize the workshop. Then they finished the presents and packed the sleigh. But we still had no one strong enough to pull it, even with my special anti-gravity charm.

    Pegasus was taking vacation with the unicorns. The cow that jumped over the moon was on maternity leave. And we never really got along with dragons.

    We asked the leprechauns to jinx the sleigh into moving on its own. But they kept encountering ‘errors’ (and they also snuck off with a lot of presents).

    We tried sprinkling the sleigh with fairy dust. Hooray! This magically lightened the load, so the fairies could pull it.

    Deliveries were made wearing gloves, gowns, and masks.

    And that was how Christmas became possible.

    Thank you for your part in saving the day night!

    Your friend,

    Santa Clause

    Ahh-CHOO!

    Oh, no!

  36. Jen (@jenreichow) says:

    Ask Santa by Jennifer Reichow

    Dear Santa,

    My name is Buddy. I’m a scout elf. An elf on the shelf. But I don’t look like most EOSTs. My kid’s name is Claire. Claire’s mom doesn’t have a lot of money but helped me get adopted this year from a discount store adoption center. Claire didn’t like me much because I don’t look like the other elves that live at her friends’ houses, and I didn’t come with a book. But she gave me a great name, I’m named after the most famous elf in the world. However, she’s a little worried because I look different. What do I do?

    Love, Buddy

    P.S. I’m writing to you instead of reporting in person because I’m embarrassed to talk to anyone about this.

    Dear Buddy,

    I can tell you that Claire’s mom is getting ready to have a discussion with her daughter about the differences between people. There are lots of ways to be different and it’s okay to talk about it, to be curious and ask questions. Claire will realize that you are unique and extra special. We find the spirit of the season in discount stores and homemade elves, and elves and angels and reindeer packaged in fancy boxes with cute books still waiting at adoption centres. You don’t need to do anything other than be the thoughtful and loving elf you already are.

    Love, Santa

    P.S. I expect to see you tomorrow night for a full report!

  37. Linda Evans Hofke says:

    Here is my new entry. I wish I could figure out how to put the letter portion in italics. Instead, I just used more line breaks to set it apart.

    The holiday in my story is Nikolaustag (St. Nicholas Day – celebrated the morning of December 6th in Germany)

    NOT COUNTING ON SWEET TREATS THIS YEAR
    (250 words)
    by Linda Hofke

    “Math homework is hard,” groaned Annika. “Especially tonight.” Soon Sankt Nikolaus would come and fill the boots of good children with sweets and small treats.

    Annika tried to concentrate but the same numbers kept popping into her head. Three—the number of stains she made on the carpet last week. Five, for how many answers she got wrong on her math quiz. (Out of only seven questions.) And nine. The number of minutes she was late for school yesterday.

    “I may not be good at math,” she thought, “but I know how all THAT adds up. No goodies for me. I’ll get a stick instead.”

    Still, she polished her boots and put them by the door. She placed a note inside before going to bed.

    Deer Nikolaus,

    I no I’ll get a stick.
    Sorry about the carpet
    and skool
    and math.

    Annika

    In the morning, she found a letter taped to the door.

    Dear Annika,

    Strawberry jam isn’t good for white carpets. But making toast for Mami when she was sick…how sweet! Be more careful next time.
    You shouldn’t be late for school. But when that lady slipped and fell, you ran for help. That’s a good reason for being late.
    I’ve seen ALL your kind deeds this year and added them up.
    (You’ll learn addition, too. Keep practicing.)

    Go look in your boots.

    Nikolaus

    Annika opened the door to find her boots were filled with chocolates, Lebkuchen, oranges, nuts, a book, bracelet, and…

    …flashcards.

    “Danke, Nikolaus.”

      • Linda Evans Hofke says:

        you are wonderful!!! Thank you, Susanna.
        I knew there was a way to put the italics in, I just couldn’t remember how to do it.

        No worries about the spacing with math and Annika.

        I had so hoped to write a few entries this year like I did last year but it’s been a crazy week and this is all I’ve got. So happy to see it posted properly. I think it’s easier to read with the italics. 🙂

    • viviankirkfield says:

      Oh Linda…what a sweet story! And my granddaughter was showing me her boots the other day that she had cleaned and was leaving them out for Nikolaus in hopes that there would be chocolates and not coal, in the morning.
      Nice pacing and I loved the math tie-in! Well done.

  38. glitzalicious says:

    The Runaway Reindeer
    By Caroline Perry

    187 words

    Sleigh is polished. Suit is pressed.
    Beard is gleaming white.
    Santa’s gadgets pass the test,
    Soon they’ll be in flight!

    “NOT SO FAST!” an elf appears.
    “There’s a small delay!
    “Word has reached my elvish ears…
    “That Blitzen’s gone astray!”

    QUICK! He sounds the search alarm.
    North Pole helpers scour.
    Toy department, reindeer farm,
    Santa’s letter tower!

    Trackers trawl the powder snow.
    Prints will give a clue.
    What’s that in the distance? GO!
    Piles of reindeer poo!

    STOP! A sign! A two-toed trail.
    Jump on the machine!
    Snowmobile hot on her tail.
    Race to the canteen!

    Mounds of crumbs! Some sheepish bleats.
    “I wanted to resist.
    “But Mrs. Claus’s cookie treats…
    “They top my Christmas list!”

    Santa scrambles. Elves disperse.
    “Fetch the harness, fast!”
    One last truck and jeweled purse…
    Loaded up at last.

    “Comet, Vixen, Cupid, fly!
    “Donner, Prancer, go!
    “Dasher, Dancer, take us high!”
    Rudolph’s nose aglow.

    Santa chuckles in midair.
    “Perfect teamwork, crew!”
    Blitzen’s quiet. Feeling spare.
    “What is this deer to do?”

    “You’re a helper, never fear.
    “Our midnight snacks await.
    “And Santa needs your help to clear
    “The cookies from each plate!”

    THE END

  39. Laura Howard says:

    FLOSSY’S FAIRY FAIL
    By Laura Howard

    Flossy the Christmas tree fairy
    stood at the top of the tree,
    shouting to those down below her,
    “Christmas is all about me!”

    “And Santa Claus only comes here
    because of my shimmer and shine.
    He isn’t bothered with you lot,
    this tree is technically mine.”

    The decorations ignore her,
    they hear the same each year.
    She doesn’t brighten their Christmas,
    she dampens their festive cheer.

    But then a catastrophe happens,
    Flossy’s distracted, you see.
    She twirls and skips, then wobbles and slips,
    and falls right out of the tree!

    The decs all look at each other,
    till a mouse squeaks, “Are you okay?
    Quick, hold on to this candy cane,
    I hear bells from Santa’s sleigh.”

    The decs all leap into action,
    helping Flossy back up the tree.
    A snowman swings her higher,
    as Flossy shrieks with glee.

    With helping hands above her,
    she rises branch by branch.
    All of them working together,
    to give the rude fairy a chance.

    Flossy cries, “You’re amazing!”
    For soon, she nears the top,
    riding a golden reindeer,
    not wanting her journey to stop.

    “I’m sorry for being unkind,” she says,
    “How have I got it so wrong?
    These branches are home to everyone,
    This tree’s where we ALL belong!”

  40. Cynthia Stacey says:

    The Christmas Tree – by Cynthia Stacey

    “Let’s decorate the tree!” Jaimie shouted jumping up and down, her blond curls bouncing with each jump.
    “Bah humbug. Santa isn’t real,” Jimmy said. He slumped on the couch reaching for his cellphone.
    Jaimie grabbed the phone, giggling at the shock on his face. “Don’t be a spoil sport,” she said. “You have to help me.”
    “Why?”
    “Cause I’m only this tall.” She pointed to the top of her head. “And the tree is this tall!” She threw her arm in the air and jumped up as high as she could. She kept jumping trying to make her hand reach the top of the tree, which she knew was impossible but Jaimie loved jumping up and down. Her face flushed with exertion.
    “Decorating’s stupid,” Timmy sulked. “Mom’ll do it.”
    “Please help me,” Jaimie pleaded with sad soulful eyes, her mouth formed into a pout. “Please, please, please.” She begged, when the pout didn’t work.
    “Why now?”
    “Cause Mom loves Christmas!” Jaimie shrieked.
    “Fine,” Timmy said. “Stop screaming.”
    “Yay,” She squealed wrapping her arms around him in a hug, squishing with all her might. Timmy snorted despite himself.
    They were both laughing as the last ornament went on, just as their mom walked in the house. She was a police officer, pulling double shifts. Christmas was busy for officers.
    “Surprise!” Jaimie yelled. “Timmy and I decorated the tree.”
    The joy on their mom’s face was well worth the effort. Timmy looked at his little sister, amazed at how awesome she was.

    • Linda Evans Hofke says:

      I was just going through old magazines last week and had a bunch of real Christmas stories. And there was one where the kids did this, they decorated the tree for their single mom who was working late. It said it happened almost 20 years ago and to this day that is still her favorite Christmas memory. How cool is that? So, even though a kind act like this might seem little, it’s not. Your main character, Jamie, really is awesome.

  41. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR LISA

    The Greatest Gift by Lisa Khan
    word count = 247

    The farm was closed for the Christmas holiday season. Everyone was happy!

    ‘Time for relaxation at the spa!’ said the farm horses.

    ‘Time for fun on the slopes!’ said the cows, packing their ski gear.

    ‘Time to party!’ shouted the frogs, gathering up their musical instruments.

    ‘Time for some peace and quiet, at last!, said Mavis, to the other chickens.

    The cows were the first to leave, followed by the frogs and horses.

    The next day whilst out on a jog, Mavis found a penguin shivering under a tree.

    ‘How did you get here?’ she said. But there was no reply.

    Mavis took him to the barn. Fed him and kept him warm in the hay. The other chickens watched over him as he slept.

    Mavis sat knitting away. She knitted a jacket, trousers and even a hat.

    ‘Thank you’, said the penguin all dressed in his new warm clothes.

    Before long everyone was back home.

    ‘What happened?’ said Mavis

    ‘We missed our family. It just wasn’t the same’, they said.

    ‘Time for the celebrations to begin!’, said the farm horses.

    ‘Time for the Jingle Bell farm party!’, said the frogs striking up a cord on the banjo.

    ‘Time to deck the halls’, said the cows

    ‘Time to put the star on the Christmas tree’, said Mavis as we welcome Twinkle to his new home.

    That was the day Twinkle came to the farm and the day he received the greatest Christmas gift ever!

    • Linda Evans Hofke says:

      When the penguin entered the picture I thought, wow, wasn’t expecting that!
      I love all your characters. It was a fun story to read.

  42. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KIMBERLY

    ADORABLE, NOT ABOMINABLE
    by Kimberly Lee
    (250 words)

    Addie looked at himself in the mirror. Fangs safely hidden? Check. Shaggy mane neatly brushed back? Check. Voice on volume control? Check.

    He was all set for his first day as a holiday helper at Santa’s Workshop. “Remember, adorable, not abominable,” he told himself. He hoped he’d finally make some new friends.

    “Hi, I’m Addie!” he boomed excitedly, entering the room. The production line screeched to a halt. An elf fainted. “I’ll…just sit right here,” whispered Addie, as he slunk away. How silly of him to think he could ever fit in!

    Just then, Mrs. Claus came running through the door. “Santa’s on his test flight but there’s a blizzard outside! The reindeer don’t know where to land!” Everyone quickly grabbed whatever they could to signal for attention.

    Addie stood up. He knew what he had to do. Unleashing his fangs and his glorious mane, and with the loudest, proudest cry he could muster, Addie ROARED into the night! The sound echoed throughout the blizzard, howling louder than the wind and pushing back against the driving snow. The same elf fainted again.

    Suddenly, there was a shout! “I see Rudolph!” And sure enough, a reassuring red glow came nearer and nearer until…Santa and his reindeer sleigh landed safely!

    The crowd erupted into applause and Addie heard screams; but for the first time, they weren’t screams of fear. Instead, it was the sound of his name being cheered. And Addie knew that Christmas this year wouldn’t be so lonely after all.

    -END-

  43. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KARYN

    Maya’s Light – Karyn Curtis
    215 words

    The night before Christmas, down Candy Cane Lane,
    A reindeer lay moaning, “I’ve got such a pain!”
    Young Rudolph had eaten too much apple pie
    And wouldn’t be able to soar through the sky!

    “Oh, what shall I do?” fretted jolly St. Nick.
    “My sleigh is all set but my reindeer is sick!”
    He pondered and thought, while his fingertips froze.
    “I won’t see a thing without Rudolph’s red nose!”

    “If only the others could glow in the dark!”
    St. Nicholas clearly did not hear the “Bark!”
    “I’ll never be able to see through the fog!”
    Then out of the snow bounded Maya the dog.

    “Hey, Santa,” she hollered, “I’ve got just the thing!”
    “My collar’s all shiny and covered in bling!”
    “There’s flashing red lights and fluorescent white flashes,
    To light up the sky and prevent any crashes!”

    With that they set off in the wintery night,
    Her collar providing a luminous light.
    They flew through the dark and delivered the gifts,
    The snow swirling round them in powdery drifts.

    When they had delivered the last of the load,
    They headed back homeward while Maya’s light glowed.
    St. Nicholas chortled, “To all a good night!”
    “And many thanks, Maya, for your shining light!”

  44. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR COURTNEY

    TIFFANI AND THE TALKING TREE (245 words)\
    by Courtney Ryan

    Tiffani loved making money. Making her bed=15 cents. Putting away the silverware=25 cents. Cleaning her room=50 cents.

    So far, she had $3.75. One more dollar and she could buy herself Splatty Super Slime.

    Tiffani was counting her money in the living room when she heard a throat clear.

    “Hey, kid. Kid, up here.”

    Tiffani squinted at the Christmas tree. It couldn’t be…

    “Yes, I’m a talking tree. Name’s Hal. Now that we’ve gotten that over with, can you please give me some water?”

    “How much—”

    “How much money will I give you? Nothing. Nada. Zero.”

    “Oh…no thanks,” said Tiffani.

    Suddenly, she felt herself shrinking and flying through the air. She was at the top of the tree! And she was ornament-sized!

    “WHAT?!” she said, spitting out pine needles.

    “Shh, just watch,” said Hal.

    Tiffani watched her Mommy and Mom pick up the Legos scattered around the room.

    “I’m done buying Tiffani’s presents,” said Mom, “but we don’t have enough money to get each other anything.”

    “I’ve got you. What else could I need?” said Mommy.

    “Same,” said Mom and they walked out of the room holding hands.

    “Oh.” said Tiffani. Her face felt tight and hot and her eyes hurt. She stared at the money clutched in her hand. “Can you make me my size please?”

    “You got it, kid.”

    Tiffani watered Hal, who glugged happily.

    Unclenching her hand, she slipped all of her money into Mom’s wallet. The Splatty Super Slime could wait.

  45. Meghan Wallace (@mdpwallace) says:

    Santa’s Helpers
    By Meghan Wallace
    (247 words)

    The day after Christmas, Santa begins the long preparations for next year.
    There is so much to be done.

    When Santa starts, by reading the letters that kids send detailing what they’d like for Christmas…
    The mailperson helps.
    By collecting each child’s letter and delivering them directly to Santa’s workshop, with the utmost care.

    After reading all the letters, Santa starts making the first big batch of toys…
    The elves help.
    They add paint and glitter, and wheels when needed. Their extra touches make every toy unique.

    When, during all their hard work, Santa and the elves get thirsty…
    Missus Claus helps.
    She makes them hot cocoa; her secret, special recipe with two giant marshmallows in each cup.

    On Christmas Eve, when Santa and the elves load the presents and hitch up the sleigh…
    The reindeer help.
    They jump to the sky and fly Santa around the globe to every single rooftop.

    As Santa slips into each home, and past every trimmed tree and still-warm fireplace…
    Parents help.
    By getting their kids to bed and keeping them tucked in tight while Santa unloads his gifts.

    And when Santa has delivered to so sooo many houses, but still has more to go…
    Every child helps.
    By leaving Santa milk and cookies, and sometimes a letter, to give him the strength to continue his trip around the world.

    Until Christmas Day begins…
    Everybody helps.
    Everybody helps Santa, in their own way, to make every Christmas the magical day it is.

  46. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR DARCI

    Missing Magic
    By Darci Nielson

    “Grandpa can’t come this year. Can’t risk him getting sick,” said mom.

    Tayla’s sparkle sagged.

    “But Grandpa always says the magic of Christmas starts when we put the star on the tree” Tayla sighed.

    The star fell through her fingers onto the floor, landing just outside our mouse hole. Or as we call it, our door.

    Our family has been living here in the wall beside the fireplace since Tayla was born.

    She means the world to us.

    And not only because all the crumbs she drops have had us living the good life since she was 6 months old.

    She’s special. She’s our magic.

    But this year has been hard for her.

    Calling Grandpa on the computer just isn’t the same.

    So, while she dialed Grandpa, we knew we had to act fast.

    Cousin Judy and Uncle Glen grabbed the garland.

    Dad and I passed out ornament hooks.

    Even Mom and Aunt Laura took positions with the rest of us on the branches.

    And after much scurrying, tossing, leaping and several close calls…

    … the star was in place.

    And not a moment too soon.

    “She’s back!”

    Tayla stopped in her tracks, mouth open, eyes wide.

    The phone nearly slipped from her hands.

    “Tayla, are you there?” we heard Grandpa’s worried voice.

    Tayla blinked and held the phone up toward the star.

    “Grandpa…

    … it really is magic!”

    “Christmas can begin, Tayla!” cheered Grandpa.

    And with the sparkle back in Tayla’s eye, our Christmas magic began too.

  47. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR TONI

    One Cold Christmas by Toni Hawks Floyd

    It’s nice to know someone
    Who touches your heart.
    Like Charlie and Skyler,
    Best friends from the start.

    Their families were neighbors
    Though not very close.
    For years they had nodded,
    “Nice Day!” and
    “Hello!”
    Until one cold Christmas
    When it started to snow…

    The winds kicked up–WOOSH!
    The whiteness was blinding
    The cold was–F-FREEZING!
    It kept them inside-ing.

    The kids were distraught
    They could not be together.
    And their folks disagreed
    What to do in this weather.

    Charlie’s mom said;
    “Stay home! Stay safe! Stay away!”
    Skyler’s Dad said:
    “Hogwash! Just let the kids play!”

    And what was the answer?
    They couldn’t agree.
    One side shouted, “Safety!”
    The other, “Be free!”

    Charlie and Skyler were shocked and dismayed
    As their parents grew angrier day after day.

    “You’re foolish!”
    “You’re cruel!”
    “You’re selfish!”
    “You’re chicken!

    Until the two friends shouted,
    “PLEASE STOP YOUR BICKERIN’!”
    “It won’t last forever, this rotten, harsh weather.”
    “And your arguing doesn’t make anything better.”
    “Remember the meaning of this Christmas season.”
    “We should love one another, without any reasons.”

    Their parents were sorry,
    Embarrassed, and sad,
    “This time should be joyous.”
    “No one should feel bad.”

    “Well, after this quarreling, one thing is clear.”
    “You just want what’s best for the ones you hold dear.”

    Charlie and Sklyer were happy as elves.
    They’d brought peace to their families,
    And peace for themselves.
    They knew that one day, this blizzard would end,
    And that no storm could stop them
    From being best friends.

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