The Extra 11th Week of Turning Tales: Christmas!

Welcome to the bonus week of Turning Tales!

This week’s writing topic: Christmas :christmas_tree:

Five days until Christmas Eve, five unopened doors on your advent calendar – five festive prompts for you to choose from. Take as many as you want! :santa:

This is the extra 11th week of Turning Tales. How could we end without addressing the topic: Christmas! :gift: It is not a competition, but a celebration. Likes and feedback for your fellow writers still mean the world to them, so if you love someone’s entry, let them know. Leave a Like and a comment.

In the spirit of the holidays, we will give away two full years of Papyrus Author+ to two participants by luck of the draw. Celebrate with us!


– 1 –

It’s Christmas, and what can go wrong, will go wrong.

– 2 –

„Dear Santa …“ Tell the story of your character’s childhood through Christmas wishlists.

– 3 –

Saturday, December 24th, half an hour before closing time. Write a scene that takes place in a store.

Perspective, characters and genre are yours to choose. You want your main character to fall in love? No problem. You want everyone to turn into zombies? Your call. Go as wild or as quiet as you please.

– 4 –

Happily ever after. On the night before Christmas, the kids get to ask for a fairytale. But as they grow older and more inquisitive, they don’t want to hear the story but the sequel.

How long did it take Sleeping Beauty, the prince and all of their servants to clean up the cobwebs and rat’s nests? Did Hansel and Gretel return to the parents who abandoned them in the woods, and how awkward was that? Are a lost slipper and half a night out really a good base for a relationship?

– 5 –

Through a magic mirror, a fairytale character wanders into present-day reality. It falls to your main character to take care of them and protect them from our world – or our world from them. And all your character wanted was a peaceful winter holiday.

If you write a story, a play or a poem is entirely up to you. Have fun!


  • Post your contribution (or contributions) for this week’s prompt into this thread. Done! You automatically participate in the writing season for this week.
  • You can contribute until next Tuesday, December 27, 9:00am ET
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  • Also drop some feedback for your fellow participants in here while you’re at it!
  • In the spirit of the holidays, we will give away two full years of Papyrus Author+ to two of the participants by luck of the draw.
  • Here are the details for the writing season: Turning Tales

:bulb: Use this template to participate:

Replace This Text With Your Title (or delete it if you don’t have one)

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Have fun! :star_struck:

Christmas catastrophe averted

The screen went black, the song denied,
The laptop cracked from side to side
Internal wires completely fried
The lowly maiden softly cried.

In the shop, the maiden sighed,
Frustrated, phoned “Computer died,
Husband, help, I can’t decide.
All of these I put aside.”

Soon he texts “I’m right outside”.
Into the shop, he quickly hied,
“Relax, my love, I will provide.”
and to the till he strode with pride.

The most expensive one he chose,
With highest specs, her heart unfroze -
“Where your heart is, there my heart goes,
Take this gift, my Christmas Rose”.

The Exodus


Andrew J. Mair

Oh, man! I almost hit that kid, Ryan thought as he shifted from reverse to drive. It had been two weeks since he moved into his house on Garland Street, and he had yet to learn there was a newspaper delivery boy for the neighborhood.

But Ryan wasn’t thinking about that. He didn’t have time to stop and consider anything.

Naturally, he would have liked to jump out and scold the paperboy, but he could see that there was no harm done. So he continued; he had more urgent things to do.

Ryan pulled out his cell phoneand punched in the address of his final destination with one hand. He cringed at the idea of driving and manipulating his phone — he knew it was dangerous, but he felt the pull to keep moving. As he turned his car onto Highway 89 southbound, his mind was called back to the last time he spoke to his brother, Johnny.

How could I have let things go this long? He asked himself. Has it been six years?

His brother’s wife, Annie, made it clear that Johnny wanted to see him. Johnny was in the hospital after a car accident. The urgency he could hear in her voice induced an uncomfortable excitement. Ryan’s careful nature, while driving, was being taxed by his desire to make good time.

Why did we let things get so out of hand? Ryan thought. He looked down at his speedometer and slowed his car. I don’t want to die on my way to see him.

The four o’clock hour is not the best time to decide to brave the traffic between Ogden, Utah, and Salt Lake City, let alone drive all the way to St. George. Ryan knew that he would be facing several slowdowns, from where Highway 89 merges onto I-15 to Salt Lake City and beyond. He wondered if he would make it south of Provo before seven. The traffic was much better than expected, and Ryan passed Provo after 6:15 pm.

Just as he felt proud of himself for making good time, a phone call came from Annie. She was in tears.

“They’re telling me they can’t stop the internal bleeding,” Annie cried. “They asked me if I had anyone I could call. I know I told you everything would be alright. . .” the phone went silent, and then Ryan could hear her sniffle several times. His eyes began to water as he waited for Annie to compose herself, “but now I don’t know.” she said.

“Annie, are your parents there?”

“No, they’re in Europe. I left a message on their cell phones, but they haven’t called back. Why did this have to happen right now?” Annie paused and then, with more force, added, “Why did this have to happen at all?”

“Annie, I am on my way. I just passed Provo. I will get there as fast as I can.”

With that, Ryan’s car flew down the interstate. He was not concerned about his speed. He only wished he could travel faster. He tried to wrap his mind around what was going on, formulate some sort of plan. He could not come up with anything. His mind was as hazy as if he was inebriated.

His distraction led to an increasingly faster speed until he was cruising at almost a hundred miles an hour as he approached Fillmore. Unsurprisingly, a member of the Utah highway patrol pulled him over right before he reached the Fillmore exit.

Come on, Ryan! He scolded himself. You know better than to drive so fast.

As the police officer approached the car, Ryan debated whether he should tell the officer why he was speeding or if he should just let the officer do his job so he could get on his way. He decided that any explanation would complicate things and may cause more of a delay.

“Where are you going so fast?” The officer remarked.

“St. George,” replied Ryan.

“Any particular reason you are in such a hurry?”

“No, sir.”

“License and registration, please,” replied the officer.

Ryan retrieved the paperwork from his glove compartment and added his driver’s license as he handed them both to the officer. He had always been calm under pressure, but not today. He was stunned to feel his hands begin to shake. As sweat began to bead along his forehead, he realized his heart was pounding, and he started to experience the sensation of being out of breath. Ryan hoped that when the officer returned with his ticket and identification, there would be little conversation.

The officer returned, walking Ryan through all of the ordinary things one might expect when a cop issues a driver a ticket. Something about not admitting guilt and agreeing to appear, or something like that. Ryan barely listened. He was ready to get back on the road. As the officer walked back to his car, Ryan put his car into what he thought was drive.

Wham! Crunch!

Ryan somehow put his gear shift into reverse instead, and now his car was stopped. Right up against the patrol car. The situation would have been funny if not so tragic.

He wondered if he would make it to St. George before midnight. Based on his conversation with Annie, he questioned if that was enough time. He tried to gain some composure, but he could not stop his heart from pounding.

Ryan stepped out of his vehicle to inspect the damage, and to his surprise, it was minimal. He knew there would be some calls back and forth with his insurance company, but he figured it was not that bad — until he looked up at the officer. The policeman was not inspecting the damage; he was inspecting Ryan.

“I’m speechless,” the officer said.

Ryan could no longer contain his emotions, and tears flowed as he tried to explain. He told the officer about his brother’s car accident earlier in the day and about the phone call from Annie. As he did, the stern, disapproving look of the patrolman appeared more focused, and it seemed to Ryan that the officer became more fierce.

The officer remained silent for quite some time. As he walked around the vehicle, Ryan worried about what else might be going on in this stern policeman’s thoughts.

“Well,” the officer said, breaking the long silence. “I can’t let you back into that car. You’re not in a state to drive safely, and I’m going to call for a truck to swing by and pick it up.”

Ryan’s head dropped into his hands as a feeling of helplessness and defeat swept over him. He cursed himself for driving too fast and cursed himself again for letting such stupid things come between him and his brother. He worried about Annie, sitting in the hospital alone, waiting to find out what would happen to her husband. He couldn’t imagine how things could get any worse, nor how he could make it in time to at least tell his brother how sorry he was.

A little over six years ago, Ryan received a similar call (that time from his brother Johnny) about their mother. Johnny’s words were not a surprise; their mother’s health had been dwindling for some time. Johnny told Ryan that he and his girls needed to see their grandma as soon as possible.

It was a tougher thing to arrange than one might expect. For Ryan, it was easy — he was done for the season, so his time was his. The long days of work during the prime asphalt paving season meant that Ryan was nearly unreachable from April to November but hardly worked from December to March.

Working it out with his kids’ mother would not be as simple. That first year after splitting up had become treacherous. Lawyers, court dates, splitting up assets, and especially working out custody, all seemed to drive knives deeper into Ryan’s and his ex-wife Debra’s hearts.

His strange pattern of living not only affected his relationship with Debra and how often he could see his girls, but it was used against him as they fought over custody. The battles for who had the girls on which holiday and weekend or any other day had turned an otherwise painful divorce into a breeding ground of resentment that was edging on the brink of domestic civil war.

Six years ago, as Ryan dialed Debra’s cell phone, he did so with more than a little trepidation. He expected the next thirty minutes to spark a war of words as he asked for leniency to take his girls to St. George to spend their last Christmas with their grandma.

“Oh, Ryan,” a compassionate voice answered.

Ryan struggled to believe it was Debra’s voice. The words were expected, but the tone was not.

“Of course. Are you okay? What can I do?” she added.

Ryan was taken back by the compassionate response, a welcome reprieve after months of fighting.

“Ryan, if you want, I can come with you,” Debra offered. “I have a friend in St. George I can stay with. You remember Cherie? I could stay there, and it would give the girls a place to go if you need a break.”

Who am I listening to? It can’t be Debra, Ryan marveled. Except it was. The voice sounded much like the Debra he once fell in love with, the one he thought he lost long ago to his inability to express himself. The compassion showed by Debra helped to heal the rift that had grown between them. They both stopped their fighting and began, to at least be civil, even friendly.

In contrast, the aftermath of his mother’s passing left much to be desired when it came to his relationship with his brother Johnny. The last weeks of his mother’s life had been wonderful.

Ryan and the girls stayed at Johnny’s house. His girls loved spending time with their Aunt Annie and their cousin Jeff while Ryan, Johnny, Annie, and Debra prepared the basement for their mother to come home from the care facility. They prepared as if she may be there for a month, or even a year or two. Deep down, they knew her time was much shorter than that.

The fact that all of this happened at Christmas time was a blessing and a curse — a blessing because the girls only missed one day of school before the winter break. A curse because Ryan was concerned it would tarnish the girls’ memories of the holiday season. Another blessing was Debra; she did come down and, though she stayed with her friend, it was almost like they were a team once again.

The tensions of the holiday, mixed with how they would take care of their mother, weighed heavily on both brothers. Agitations over dumb things began to arise between them.

Growing up, Ryan and Johnny rarely fought. Ryan was almost four years older than Johnny, and Johnny idealized Ryan, as many younger brothers do. Since they grew up in a home without a father, Ryan often stepped into that role. There was the odd disagreement, but they never erupted into an all-out battle, physical or otherwise. Ryan loved his brother, and the feeling was mutual. It was more than a little unnerving to begin to have these squabbles now.

The disagreements began with what kind of flowers their mother may want at her funeral or which hymns to sing at the church service. Ryan thought that his mother’s favorite hymn was “How Great Thou Art,” and Johnny swore that it was “There is a Green Hill Far-Away” Neither Ryan nor his brother wanted to relent until Debra and Annie piped up and suggested to include them both in the service.

Both sons could only speak to their mother in the small windows of lucidity that seemed to shrink as the days passed. The Alzheimer’s had been taking its effect for a few years, and they were used to telling their mom the same stories or listening as she repeated herself over and over. Once in a while, often in the afternoon after lunch, their mother would have moments of clarity. She would ask Ryan how the girls were doing and remind Johnny to make sure that Jeff kept his grades up.

During these times, the brothers knew that, if they wanted to, they could use this time to clear up some of their disagreements but decided not to corrupt the little moments when the family could be with their grandma.

On December 23rd, six years ago, Evelyn Rasmussen left this earth. She passed away with her family by her side.

The funeral came and went without any more disagreements, thanks to an end of life plan Annie found in Evelyn’s papers. They had hoped to find a will or document stating what to do with the remaining assets and bills.

The bills were manageable; she had money in a bank account. The house was simple; they both decided to sell it. There were a few knick-knacks divvied out to one family member or another.

The girls all received some of their grandmother’s costume jewelry. Jeff was given an old .22 caliber rifle owned by Evelyn’s brother before he passed away in a farming accident as a teenager. Ryan and Johnny both swapped stories of using that rifle on one rabbit hunting expedition or another. Johnny told Jeff he could have the rifle when he completed a Hunter Safety course and demonstrated his knowledge and ability to handle the gun.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly until the question of who would take possession of their mother’s wedding ring was broached. The ring was more than a representation of something precious that connected them with their mother. It was also a physical connection to their father. The brothers were both young when their dad left for the war in Afghanistan. On the way to his first assignment, his helicopter was attacked, killing him and his team. Johnny was eight, and Ryan was twelve.

The battle over who would keep the ring erupted over dinner on the night Ryan left to go back home. One brother claimed it should be his for one reason, and the other claimed it should be his for another. Ryan barely remembered the reasons he gave that justified why he should have it instead of Johnny.

The only thing Ryan could concretely remember was that as he left, he told his brother, “Keep the damn thing. You always needed Mom more than I did anyway! You couldn’t even move out of town for that big job you wanted. If it makes you feel better, just take it. I don’t care!” With that, Ryan left, slamming his car door as he began the drive back toward Ogden. He hasn’t spoken to Johnny since.

Six years later, Ryan stood on the side of I-15 feeling like he had no hope to talk to Johnny again — to ask for his forgiveness. He started to wonder if he should try to video chat but realized he had no signal. It seemed that the universe, maybe even God himself, did not want Ryan to reconcile with his brother. Ryan’s feeling of despair became nearly unbearable.

“Get your stuff and jump in,” the officer said. “We’ve gotta get you to your brother.”

Ryan grabbed what he thought he might need out of the car and frantically jumped into the patrol car’s passenger seat. It was the first time Ryan bothered to look at the officer’s last name and thought, Talmage would make a great first name if I ever have a son.

As they drove south along I-15, officer Talmage spoke to his dispatch and then to another officer. Ryan wasn’t exactly paying attention, so he was surprised when Officer Talmage exited the freeway at Cove Fort. He was surprised again when they pulled up to another patrol car, Officer Talmage said goodbye, and Officer Young said hello.

In Beaver, he said goodbye to Officer Young and hello to Officer Jensen. In Parowan, it was Officer Kimball, and in Cedar City, it was Officer Seegmiller who drove Ryan directly to St George. Officer Seegmiller walked Ryan into the Dixie Regional Medical Center and remained for a while as support.

These officers did not need to perform this service. They had done their duty. No one could possibly blame them for impounding Ryan’s car. Ryan was driving much too fast and was as close to being drunk with grief as if he had spent all evening drinking whiskey.

Ryan tried to thank Officer Seegmiller, but the words stuck in his throat. The officer nodded his head, letting Ryan know he accepted his unspoken thanks, and then motioned for Ryan to proceed into his brother’s room.

Johnny was stable when Ryan entered the hospital room. The two brothers cried and apologized for the lost time. After a while, Ryan looked up to see that Officer Seegmiller was standing outside, talking to one of the doctors. He excused himself. He wanted to offer his gratitude to the Utah Highway Patrol members for seeing him safely to his brother. Ryan had made it in time.

The internal bleeding was unrepairable and, within a few hours of Ryan’s arrival, Johnny exited this life.

Annie remained with Johnny in the hospital room until the mortuary arrived. Ryan stepped out to find a drinking fountain. As he finished drinking the cold water, his phone rang. It was Debra.

“Ryan, where are you? Did you forget? Tonight was Allison’s band concert. She kept looking for you.”

“Oh. Yeah. I am so sorry. No, I’m in St. George.’


“It’s Johnny. He’s gone.” Ryan wanted to give more of an explanation, but he lost the ability to speak.

“Oh, Ryan, what happened?”

After a pause, Ryan regained some ability to talk and, between his sobs, tried to tell Debra about Johnny’s accident and his exodus to St. George.

“Why does it always seem like everyone leaves us at Christmas time?” he cried. “Aren’t we supposed to be happy? Isn’t it supposed to be fun?”

“I don’t know about fun, but I think you are mixing up the difference between happiness and joy. I never thought there was any promise that we would be happy at Christmas. Only that Christmas would bring us joy.”


“Let me say it another way. Christmas is no worse or better than any other time of the year when experiencing life’s tragedies and loss. When you and I separated, that was in May, and that was probably the worst day of my life. Our expectations around Christmas time may be the problem,” Debra said. “But based on what you told me, from a certain point of view, your day was filled with the joy of Christmas.

“As each officer took his time to move you closer and closer to your destination, you experienced the joy of being served and having a burden lifted.

“You were able to forgive Johnny, and he was able to forgive you. And you are now able to be there for Annie as she puts her life back together. Yes, you are sad.” She said. “And it may be a while before you feel happiness. But happiness is fleeting. Joy is lasting.”

Ryan realized his tears had subsided, and he felt, at least for a moment, that he could maintain his composure.

“Deb?” It had been quite a while since he had called her Deb. “How did I ever let you slip away?”

“Well, that’s a much longer conversation,” Deb said with a bit of sarcasm.

“Can I ask you a favor?”

“Yes, of course, you can have the girls for the funeral. They probably want to be there for Christmas, too.”

“Thank you. But that’s not exactly what I was going to ask.”

“What is it?” Debra replied.

“Do you want to come down here?” Ryan asked carefully. “I would love it if we could spend the holidays as a family. You know, like we used to?”

“Of course I do.”

Authors note:

If I told you that a driver was pulled over and then immediately backed into the police officer that pulled her over for speeding, you would probably roll your eyes and say something like,” I can’t believe some people are allowed on the road.” And you probably wouldn’t have any issue with that cop impounding that driver’s car either.

According to news reports, Helen “Skeeter” Smith left her home in Southern Nevada and sped up I-15 towards Ogden, Utah. She was obviously in a hurry because somewhere in central Utah, she sped past a Utah State Highway Patrolman, who understandably pulled her over. He only gave Helen a warning. But then Helen accidentally backed her car into his police car.

Trooper Jeff Jones felt that it was no longer safe for her to be driving, so he had the car moved to a secure location. That could be the end of the story. A simple speeding situation and a small accident prompted a UHP officer to make sure Helen and the traveling public were safe.

But Officer Jones had discovered the reason why she was making such an accelerated effort to go north. And even though he didn’t have to do anything, he chose to.

You see, Helen had received a phone call about a family member, which prompted her journey. The word came that her son Randy was seriously ill and had been admitted into the Ogden Regional Medical Center.
Christmas. On the other hand, everything about this story is what the “Christmas Spirit” is all about.*
Officer Jones’s paradigm shift resulted in him driving her from Fillmore in Millard County, where she was, to Juab County. He handed her off to Trooper Jared Jensen, who drove her to Utah County, who then handed her off to Trooper Chris Bishop, who took her to Salt Lake County. She was then taken to the Ogden Regional Medical Center by Trooper Andrew Pollard.

With the help of four Utah Highway Patrolmen, Helen made it to Ogden to see her son, who passed a few days later.

*My story, The Exodus, is fiction, but this real story inspired it. Nothing about this story has anything to do with

Remember To Be Grateful
Twas’ the night before Christmas
And all through the streets
The rats chewed on the homeless souls feet
Children cried as they were put to bed
With stomachs gnawing to be fed
Parents prayed that on this most precious of nights
Something would for once just go right .

The rich get richer and the poor struggle on
For them there will be no celebration
No glistening tree with baubles and lights
No star on top nor presents beneath
Neither ham nor turkey will adorn their table
No fine whiskey in crystal decanters
Or waiters dressed in fine black suits

Privileged children will go the park
Have photos with Santa, oh what a lark
Go to the carols and wave candles and sing
Of the joy and love only Christmas can bring.
Other children will cower in darkened rooms
No candles, no Santa, no singing of Jesus or tombs
Left wondering what all the fuss is about.

Centrelink payments will all be withheld
Because a beaurocrat screwed up the paperwork again
Lines at the Salvos will stretch down the street
As people queue for a little something to eat
Children will be grateful for an old teddy bear
Donated by someone with more than their share
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

A Christmas Disaster

December 25th Christmas day should be the happiest day of the year right, well it’s not at least for me. Everything up till this day went right, I made my plans, accordingly, paid for my plane tickets ahead of time, and I packed my bags two nights before leaving. I don’t know where it went wrong or what I did to deserve this but I’m here in the middle of the airport being left behind as I watch my plane going home taking off into the air. My phone rang in my head, and I looked at it unsure about what I was going to do or tell my parents when I realized that it was my mom who was calling me.
“Hey mom” I said trying to hide my panic.
“Hey honey, we can’t wait to see you. Aren’t you supposed to be on the plane already?” She asked, a little confused that I had answered the phone. I took in a deep breath and let it out trying to calm my nerves.
“Um, well yes, but…” I had started but still not sure about what to say.
“You missed your flight, didn’t you” my mom knew me too well and I gave a heavy sigh.
“Yes,” I said frustrated as I finally decided to sit down as everyone walked around me rushing to their families. “I’m sorry. I’ll figure something out. I’ll call you later” I said into the phone as I tried to figure out what I was going to do next.
“Okay honey, we love you” my mother’s voice filled my ears and made my eyes sting this was supposed to be a better Christmas for me. I stood up still frazzled from not knowing what to do when I ran into someone, and I felt the hot liquid hit my skin.
“Oh, I’m so sorry” I heard as the initial shock hit me. I looked at the person that I had bumped into and with my luck he was dressed in a deep blue suit that was now also covered in coffee and I felt my stomach drop.
“It’s okay it was my fault I wasn’t watching” I said trying to not look as embarrassed as I felt compared to this man who was obviously a businessman and organized.
“It’s okay Miss. Are you alright?” the man’s deep voice took me back a little and I pushed myself to look at the man. When I looked at him his blue eyes and dark hair matched his deep voice and I found myself staring at him as I tried to think about why he would be asking me if I was alright when I felt the burning on my arm.
“Oh, I um yeah I’m alight” I lied and the look he gave me made it obvious that he knew I was lying to him.
“No, I think that burn isn’t good” he said taking a look at my arm where the coffee had landed, and he was right the burn looked like it might be worse, but I didn’t want to ruin this guy’s Christmas too.
“I’ll have someone look at” I said trying to get this man on his way, but he seemed like he wasn’t in a rush.
“No, I’ll take you” I looked at him confused and apprehensive about letting some random stranger take me anywhere. “I’m sorry my name is Zack” he added looking at me concerned.
“I’m Emily” I replied and he seemed to relax as well. “I really don’t want to keep you from where ever it is that you are headed to” I said looking at the man feeling my face kind of shift with my emotions.
“I’m not headed anywhere special” he replied and I saw the gloom that clouded those beautiful blue eyes of his.
“It’s Christmas, you don’t go see your family?” I said hearing my voice laced with frustration again from remembering that I had missed my own flight to see my family.
“No, I haven’t spoken to my family in years. I should be apologizing to you for missing your meeting with your family I assume” he replied and I looked at my feet as that feeling of embarrassment came over me again. I didn’t want to tell this man I had just met that I’m a horrible daughter because I haven’t been able to go back home to see my family for years and I missed my flight to finally be able to see them.
“Oh no I actually missed my flight and I…” I stopped myself finding myself doing exactly what I didn’t want to do. The man looked at me and I tried to hide my own disappointment in myself from him but I couldn’t tell if it was working at this point what did it matter if it did.
Zack suddenly had me sit down back on the seat that I had gotten up from starting this whole interaction and told me to wait leaving his luggage with me forcing me to stay where I was at. I watched him walk up to one of the clerks at the help desk between the gates. I watched as the woman and him exchanged conversation the woman looked to her computer and then looked back at Zack asked him something and then I watched as he came over to me.
“Where were you headed to?” Zack asked me and I looked at him confused about why he would need to know.
“I…Um, I was going to New York” I said hesitantly and then I watched him rush over to the lady who had been waiting for him. I stood up from my seat ready to take all the luggage with me to see what was going on when I saw the woman handing him four tickets and he quickly walked over to me as I started struggling with the bags.
“Hey, hey I got this come on where are going this way” he took my bag and I looked at him even more confused about what this man was doing. I followed him through the crowded airport when we came to an empty gate and a woman stood at the open door waiting patiently.
“Good morning, Mr. Harris” the woman greeted Zack and she smiled at me with a nod. “Have a safe flight you two” the woman said handing Zack the tickets back and we headed down the jet way.

Christmas Dream

I awoke, bleary eyed and
Totally unsure what day it was
Then, from out of the other room
I heard a yip a whoop and a crash.
Rushing out of my bedroom I found
A scene of total chaos
My wife was sitting
In the middle
Of our broken coffee table,
My two sons were standing
With a look of complete surprise
And a HORSE stood placidly
In the corner chewing
On Christmas candy.

I shook my head and
Woke with a start
The house was quiet
I was alone
And as I realized it was
Christmas morn
I wanted nothing more
Than my wild dream
To have been true.
JR Lacey 12/21/2022

Dear Santa,

It has been a long time and I don’t know where you have been, but we need you back. The world has changed so much and so many people have died or left that I don’t know who we are or what we should do anymore. My friend Fluffy told me about you and how you would bring gifts to the family in the middle of winter. You never asked for anything or took anything, but just brought gifts that people wanted or did not know they wanted or did not want but enjoyed having anyway. Now the people are gone. But whatever the case, it was about gifts and unconditional love. Fluffy said people would write letters about what they wanted, placed them in the big blue box and maybe, if the wishes were important enough or earnest enough or something, they might be made true. So I don’t know if this will work or not, but here goes anyway. Dear Santa, here is my list:

  1. Bring back some of the people. Not all of them, not the ones that made big sounds that killed other things, but the ones that brought us food and comfortable soft things. Especially the little boy that would leave out food for us.
  2. Make the sun come out more often. It is so smokey and cold so much of the time and the plants are doing badly. If you could bring the sun back more that would really help.
  3. Tell us what we should do and be. Why did we lose so much of the world before but gain all these new thoughts and abilities without any idea about how to use them?

So that’s all Santa. I know it might be a lot and maybe you can’t do it all, but any one of these would be great.

Yours Truly,


Memories of Christmas past

Christmas day 1994, It was a Sunday and I had to work. Its what you do when you work in a hospital. There wasn’t much activity on Christmas day as families were mostly at home celebrating the holiday with their loved ones. My job was also pretty easy that day as the hospital wasn’t nearly as busy as on other days. My job was as an Environmental Services Technician. To put it in layman’s terms, a glorified janitor. That means I hauled trash, picked up linen, mopped floors and cleaned toilets. Typical janitor stuff.

But it was still Christmas day and previous arrangements were made to go to grandmas house to celebrate Christmas with the rest of the family after I got off work. All of them were in-laws, as the only direct blood relative I had among them was my son who if memory serves, was the ripe old age of five. My only problem was that I had no clue what I was going to bring to everyone as I had maybe $20.00 in my wallet and I had been working all week and didn’t have to time to go shopping for anyone or anything.

Time dragged on and I became increasingly frustrated and disappointed that I was going to show up at grandmas house empty handed. Eventually the clock told me that it was quitting time and I signed out, grabbed my stuff and headed for the parking garage. I started the car and warmed it up for a few minutes before heading off. My brain was spinning. What was I going to do? Surely there wasn’t anything open at this time of day, not on Christmas. Fortunately as I was driving, I passed by a small market that was still open. Maybe I could find something in there that would fill the bill as it were, so I pulled in, parked the car, went inside and started looking around racking my brain for a solution. Just about the time I was about to give up I noticed something at the front of the store as I was leaving and then it hit me. Of course I thought, what a great idea!

I made my purchase and left the store, got back in the car and headed down the road. With traffic and distance, it was going to take around 30 minutes to get to grandmas house out in the country and I had to deal with hazardous road conditions. Now my next task was to come up with some sort of an explanation for the gifts I was bringing and the reason why nothing was wrapped but only in a brown paper bag. About halfway there I had an inspired idea and began to concoct a fantastic tale to impart to the two kids as well as humor the adults.

Arriving at grandmas, I got out of the car and approached the door. Would my story fly? There was only one way to find out. I decided to enter normally cradling my treasures. Upon entering I greeted everyone and at the time, I didn’t know why but you could almost cut the air with a dull knife. I was greeted with almost a deathly silence but decided to go into my act anyway. I took off my coat and gloves and hat and went into the family room where everyone was gathered except for the grandma who was in the kitchen near the side door where I came in.

“Hey you guys… you’ll never guess what happened to me on the way here from work today.” I said as I sat down on the sofa and put my bag between my legs. “What happened? Did you slide off the road?” asked the grandpa. “Almost!” I replied. “You wont believe it!” “What happened?” asked grandpa. Now I had everyone’s attention as all eyes were on me which was rather unusual for this group and I now had the setup I needed to tell my tale.

“WELL!” I started and looked around to see I indeed was the current focus as no one else said a word. “I left work and it was cold outside and started driving out here. I knew it was going to take a little time because the roads were a bit slippery and the wind was blowing, so I was going a bit slower than usual but it took me so long to get here because of what happened next.” The kids leaned in a bit and listened even more intently. “I was about halfway here and that’s when it happened.” “What happened dad?” asked my son. I tipped my head down a bit and raised my eyebrows slightly and looked directly into his eyes. “I heard a noise.” I said. Curious, my brother in law said; “Was there something wrong with the car?” “Nope.” I replied. “It was a sort of tinkly noise coming from somewhere that got louder and louder when all of a sudden something came flying over the car in a great wind and snow like in a blizzard with sparkling lights and landed on the road ahead of me and slid to a stop. The only thing I could think of doing was to put on the brakes because I couldn’t see a thing and when I stopped, the blizzard let up and there was this big thing ahead of me that was sort of red and brown and covered in fur around the edges and I wondered what the heck it was!” I paused.

By this time the kids eyes were about as big around a saucers and staring at me in disbelief. I had em right where I wanted em. I continued; “I got out of the car and looked around but there were no other vehicles on the highway and so I started to carefully go to the middle of the road to see what this thing was and…” “What was it?” asked my niece. “You’re not gonna believe it.” I said. “Tell us!” she exclaimed. “Yeah, tell us!” echoed my son. And now the rest of the tale.

“Nine tiny reindeer and the one in front had a head that glowed so bright it reminded me of a light on a commercial jet. There they were all hooked up to a sleigh that was all sparkly and covered in something that looked like fairy dust and lo and behold there was Santa, the little old elf in his red suit tending to one of the reindeer. I walked up to him and asked what was going on and he turned and smiled the biggest old smile you ever saw and said; “Dasher has gotten a cinder in his foot and is having trouble flying, but its stuck and I can’t seem to get it out!” “I think I can help you with that I told him. Hang on a sec.” and I went to the back of the car and dug around for a moment and returned with a pair of pliers. “Here you go Santa” I said. He replied; “I’ll hold his hoof and you try and get ahold of it and pull it out ok?” I said; “You got it Santa.”

“Between the two of us we managed to remove the cinder from Dashers hoof and Dasher seemed very happy about that and Santa was so pleased that someone stopped to help him that he told me that he had a little something for my efforts and went to the sleigh and reached into his bag and handed me a big handful of toys. He told me who they were for and gave names. “I think you will be needing this where you’re going. Gotta fly!” and climbing into his sleigh he laughed and said: ”Merry Christmas to you and yours and a Happy New Year! Bye Bye!”

And with a crack of his reigns and a sharp whistle, the team and the sleigh took off in just a few seconds leaving a sparkly trail of fairy dust that turned into snow and disappeared into the sky.”

The kids were astonished by this point. “I didn’t know what to do so I just got back into the car and found this paper bag and put all the toys in here. You wanna see what I got?” “Yeah!” the kids said together. So I started digging into the bag and began to pull out toys. I gave my niece a package of Tiddly winks. I gave my son a bag of little green army men. I handed the grandpa a paddle-ball toy, my brother in law those little army guys with parachutes you throw up in the air. I gave my sister in law a bottle of bubble fluid and the stick to go with it. I gave my wife a package of plastic bubbles which she loved since a kid and the grandma or my mother in law got a ball and jacks.

Santa said that everybody should get at least one toy for Christmas no matter how old they are I told them. There were six adults and two kids that played with their toys for the rest of the evening and had a ball doing it. They even shared their toys. I even bought myself a paddle-ball and had some fun with that and the grandpa and I had a competition to see who could do it the longest. A couple weeks later the grandma told me that he just had to beat me and managed to whack that thing over 3600 times before it failed.

Later on that evening my mother in law pulled me aside and whispered: “You made the best Christmas ever. I love you so much for what you did!” The sister in law had for some unknown reason been on a rampage and had just completely ruined the day for everyone and no one knew what was going to happen next and then I showed up with an impossible tale and gave everybody toys. Then everybody went home with hugs and smiles and filled with a Christmas spirit. Now here’s the quirky ending to this story. The story is 100% true. It really happened. The End.

Its Christmas Eve and all through the house, mum was shouting but not at a mouse.

Mum’s in the kitchen preparing the turkey, peeling the spuds, whilst dad is wrapping presents of socks and gloves.

Mum has buttered the turkey and stuffed the neck, whilst Dad has forgotten mums present, so he’s writing a cheque.

Mum is stressing and slamming things down, whilst dad has wrapped every present to be found.

Dad looks at mum with a frown “mmm are there any labels love?” he nervously asks.

Mum is fuming and with a snarky smile replies “just one task! That’s all I ask!”

“Yes love, I will make it right, the presents will be wrapped and labelled tonight.”

Mum still has the trimmings of pigs in blankets, cauliflower cheese and three stuffing’s to prepare, whilst granddad is relaxing, snoring in his chair.

Granny has drunk an egg nog or two and currently has her head down the loo.

Christmas carols playing on the radio, Mariah Carey and Aled Jones competing for airplay.

Children playfully creep through the house, opening cupboards and drawers hoping to find their presents on display.

The aunties and uncles are due soon for a Christmas Eve soirée. Mum is feeling a headache coming on, reaches for the wine bottle to keep it at bay.

By the end of the night, everyone has gone home, mum is feeling happy and enjoying a little time alone.

Tomorrow is Christmas day, once more family will walk through the door. With preparations done, mum can begin to enjoy the fun.

The two days of Christmas have come to an end and mum drops into a chair with a sigh of relief. Looking forward to Boxing Day, a day of peace, sitting in front of the TV , eating leftover food, this thought improves mums mood.


“There that wasn’t too bad!” declares Dad "Everyone had such a good time I’ve invited them again tomorrow”

Absent Memories

He sat in his well-worn armchair next to the crackling log fire which provided a welcoming glow in the front room. I noticed a certain tension in his body as he gripped with his well worn hands
the warm, tartan rug that covered his knees .

The firelight illuminated his creased, weathered cheeks as tears gently overflowed from his eyes. He looked bewildered, lost in a space that was beyond our knowing. As he sat there he began to rock gently back and forward as he did so often in an attempt to soothe himself.

His eyes re-focussed on the pulsating lights wreathed round the fir tree, the colourful baubles catching the light occasionally as his tears had done. His body gave a faint acknowledgement which seemed like a ‘knowing’, a ‘familiarity’ as a smile briefly crossed his thin lips. HIs eyes caught the light too, glistening.

From somewhere deep inside his ancient body there emerged a deep vibration; a sound that could have been him humming, yet it had a depth and quality I couldn’t quantify.

It was as if someone had struck a tenor bell, at first creating a very soft, glowing rounded tone. Within a few minutes it had expanded gently to a more tangible, recognisable sound. In the space that followed, those vibrations became something altogether more familiar. He was singing. I will call it that although it had a rich, velvety ethereal quality to it. He was mouthing words too, though they were indistinct. But I knew this music, his music. These were some of the first sounds I heard as a child. The sounds he was making were for me alone. They had become embedded in my memory. They would be indistinguishable to anyone else who may hear them. But I knew!

My dear, beloved father, bereft of so many memories and no longer able to communicate his emotions, was connecting his vision of the overdressed fir tree standing impressively where it appeared every Christmas during his 80 years, to his favourite song: “I am dreaming of a White Christmas”.

Silent tears rolled uncontrollably down my cheeks too as I felt in my heart his deep loss. He could no longer dream of anything; there was no past and future for him, only this moment. Dementia had robbed him of hope, of his dreams too as far as we can tell.

Yet so unexpectedly, there was a special magic as that majestic tree touched something deep within him and his song was reborn. …

Callia’s Christmas Tree

It was the night before Christmas and Timmy asked Grandpa to tell a tale of olde. After much thought Grandpa sat down in front of the Christmas tree and called Timmy over. Timmy sat down just as Grandpa began to tell the tale of Callia’s Christmas tree…

'When the roots were young, Callia’s Christmas tree was still too small to cut down and bring inside to decorate. Poppa told Callia that she would have to wait until next year, perhaps then it would be mature enough. He suggested that Callia just put decorations around their cottage. That would be festive enough.

Callia nodded and smiled, but deep down she was disappointed… just last year Poppa had said the very same thing. How long would she have to wait? Callia looked out the window at her poor Christmas tree that was still outside in the dark and cold weather. The tree that her and Poppa had planted just a few years ago, the tree that Poppa had promised that Callia could use as their Christmas tree… someday.

After Poppa had gone to bed Callia had an idea, she would cut the Christmas tree down, drag it inside, decorate it and when Poppa woke up in the morning he would be so happy to see a decorated Christmas tree in their family room.

So, Callia did just that. She spent all night carefully cutting down the tree, dragging it into their cottage, and then decorating it. Carefully placing each ornament on the delicate branches. She didn’t want to hurt the Christmas tree, she just wanted to make it pretty. The very last ornament that she placed was a wooden sheep that she and Poppa had made just last year. Callia had named the sheep, Tria… a special name indeed.

Tria was Callia’s best friend who had moved far, far away. Poppa had said that she was alright, but they would never see Tria again. So, they made an ornament that Callia held dear. After cutting down the Christmas tree, the dragging, and the decorating, Callia was exhausted and immediately fell asleep.

The next morning Callia awoke… the sun was shining brightly through her bedroom window and suddenly she remembered all the events from the night before. Callia jumped out of bed and ran out into the family room to find Poppa sitting in his armchair reading a book.

After a few moments of silence Callia asked Poppa how he slept. He said, ‘Just fine.’ And then went right back to his book. By the evening Poppa’s spirits had lifted and the two of them had dinner and talked just like they always did. Then Poppa asked Callia what her plans were with the Christmas tree.

Callia thought about this for quite some time and then told Poppa that the Christmas tree would live with them forever. Poppa just smiled, but had a sad look in his eyes. Callia dismissed the woeful sadness and went off to bed.

Christmas came and went, and the tree still stood, but appeared to be drying out. Callia asked Poppa what she could do to help the Christmas tree and Poppa told her there was nothing she could do, that once you cut a tree down it will eventually dry out and die. Poppa told Callia that they could plant a new Christmas tree in the Spring once the ground thawed.

Callia stared at Poppa with a look of disbelief on her face and then turned to look at her Christmas tree. The once beautiful tree with full branches was now not so beautiful and thinning out. After much thought Callia began to take the decorations off of the tree one by one, saving Tria the sheep for last. She placed the sheep on the mantle and then took one last look at her Christmas tree.

Poppa took the Christmas tree out to the yard, chopped it up, and placed it in the woodshed. Callia shed a few tears, but learned a valuable lesson that Christmas and never cut down a Christmas tree ever again. The end.’

The stars flickered like confetti in the wind as the ship pushed its way through the unexplored cosmos. Standing in the middle of the star cruisers bridge, a sizeable man in a bright red uniform. The gold braid informed the bystander of his status, and his posture created an illusion of authority. Throughout the cruiser, tannoys clicked as they sprang into life. Confidently the Captain stepped forwards and spoke into the microphone.
“Fellow crew members, our main mission is to roam space and search out young, intelligent planets. But, first, we must encourage them to appreciate the advantage of being part of our greater family. We, as pathfinders, will land on these worlds and assess their learning capacity before we take on the task of inviting hen into our fold.” He turned and looked at his entourage of initiators, each decked in fluorescent green uniforms. They each nodded their agreement.
The title Captain founder of authority was given to a few men. He smiled. The ship wobbled as the automatic pilot altered its flight path to avoid a grade-two meteorite then the central consul blinked as it readjusted its course to its original position. Finally, a voice from the command computer broke the silence.
“Green planet with possible life forms. Designated title Earth seven light years away” The Captain smiled.
“Silly name. You grow plants in the earth, not people. Alter course for planet Earth, a team of initiators and I will investigate and decide their intellect and intelligence.”
The sun pushed long shadows through the trees as young Simon kicked his ball through an imaginary goalpost and shouted his approval. Hidden out of sight, the away team from the Starship watched intently, wondering what this Earthling was doing. Then, breaking cover, the Captain and his two initiators marched into the open and approached young Simon. Standing erect, the Captain held up his hand and spoke.
” Greetings, my name is Captain Founder Chris Mass. We are here to give you gifts of peace.” Simon stared, mouth open. In front of him was a large man dressed in red with two more petite men dressed in green on either side. He dropped his ball and stared in amazement. This was too good to be true.
”Are you Captain Father Christmas? I’ve been good, honest. The three travellers stared in amazement. Looking at each other. They shook their head, turned and left. Leaving Simon wondering what had happened.
”This planet is not ready yet. These people are fools. Back to the ship, men.”Simon ran home as fast as his little legs could carry him.
“Mum, I’ve spoken to father Christmas in the woods. Honest, mum, he was dressed in red and had two green elves next to him. He said he had pieces of presents for us.” His mother looked down and smiled.
”Yes, son, but it’s April, and he doesn’t come till December. So go inside and have your lunch.” She watched her son go inside the house and remembered the imagination she had in her youth.