A Not-So-Christmas Story

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Frontispiece for the 1905 edition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with art by George Alfred Williams | published by The Platt & Peck Co (New York)

Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors of all time, and although A Christmas Carol is far from my favorite of his works, it is a vastly important novella in that it largely influenced our contemporary “classic Christmas” aesthetic and traditions. As Dickens wrote:

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Happy holidays to you and your families, my friends. Whether you’ll be celebrating or not, I hope you find comfort, cheer and at least a touch of magic in the coming week.

Writing Prompt:

Write a story or scene that is NOT related to the holidays using at least 6 of the following words (bonus imaginary internet points if you can include all 12):

holly
gift
sleigh
jingle
merry
reindeer

snowman
cheer
carol
elf
ornament
Chevy Chase


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136 thoughts on “A Not-So-Christmas Story

  1. xmanibus

    There was 13 minutes until I was done with all of my classes for the year. I was sitting in math class staring at the kid in front of me trying to finish his final with the remaining time. Summer was about to officially take off, but no one would hear me cheer when the final bell rang.
    Summer used to be my favorite time of the year– swimming, tanning, friends, not a care in the world. Those things no longer made me merry. I was in the worst drought of my life, and the depression was just sinking into my life like a sleigh into fresh snow. I’m fairly certain that I had failed this math final, as I did three problems of the 100 problem review. My dad would be disappointed, but only for a few days until something more important came up at work.
    This round of emptiness started with the jingle of the bell on the door at Greggory’s, the candy store where I work, two months ago. It’s not as glamorous as one thinks, to work at a candy shop. When I first worked there, I ate candy constantly, but after a few stomach aches, you learn the lesson pretty fast.
    We Anyway, the jingle brought in Greggory, you guessed it, the owner of the store. He owns three of these small candy shops that are spread about 10 miles apart, and stops in only to criticize or change things. I mostly stayed out of his way, but on this particular day, that would not be the case. At the time, all I knew was that him and my manager, Carol, were having a long chat in the workers room. Then an hour later, they walked out, Greggory expressionless, and Carol with a set face.
    Greggory gave me a small fake smile, with a wave, and walked out of the store. I walked over to Carol to see what he had said. She started talking before, I could form any words.
    “Madilane, we’re going under,” she said not looking me in the eyes. “I’m sorry, he wants to fire you to save money.”
    I nodded solemnly. I liked working here, but it wasn’t my entire world. I wouldn’t feel that loss until later. I finished my shift with dignity, and on the way out, I finally turned on my phone, to see that I had two missed calls and several texts from Holly, one of my best friends
    These texts would be engraved to my mind forever. The first one asked if I had seen Jacklyn, our other best friend because she didn’t meet her for the coffee they had agreed on. The second read We found her, there was an accident, don’t know how serious yet. The second one put panic and adrenaline into my veins. The last text read Call me. Now. I’m at the hospital.
    I called her, and rushed into my car, already going to the hospital. The call went directly to voicemail. I focused on driving as fast as possible to the hospital, getting a bad feeling in my gut.
    I arrived at the hospital, and rushed up the stairs. The fluorescent lights were blinding, but I got help from a nurse to direct me in the way of Jacklyn’s family. When I turned the corner to reveal her family, I knew my life would never be the same again.
    The next hours were a blur of crying, hugging, and full on shock. I spent the next weeks in a darkness that I can’t remember. I stayed home from school, stayed in my room, and stayed away from everyone. My dad did his best to help, but he was never good with this kind of stuff. After two weeks, he insisted I go back to school.
    For the last two months, I have been dragging through life, just trying to make it to summer when I could retreat back into my room, away from any life I had known.

  2. Jennifer Park

    4. The Bully

    [This comes after “the Toilet” under “The Duality of Humankind.]

    Barbara sat alone on a wooden bench, rolling her eyes as she watched another tenth-grader named Chevy chase a new kid named Carol across the courtyard. Chevy’s elf-like, impish face, ornamented with jingling jewels typical of his tribe, was very much incongruent with the fact that he was a vicious bully intent on hazing everyone he deemed fit or unfit. It did not take long for him to reach Carol, tackle her to the ground, and ride her body across the slippery tiles like a sleigh, unholy cheer blooming on his psychopathic lips.

    Ever since arriving at Holyoake Academy—the Holly—this supposed boarding school for the cream of the crop of Earth elites, Barbara was appalled by the sheer brutality with which the students treated one another. Were allowed, even encouraged, to brutalize one another in this secluded exurb of Geneva.

    At least the classes were interesting.

    ===========

    “Quantized Bubble Theory establishes that nothing exists contiguously over time, thus solving the old philosophical question of whether our consciousness truly is contiguous over time. The answer is that nothing is, and therefore, when a creature… say… I don’t know… a reindeer…”—he drew a messy stick figure in the view—“is teleported instantaneously across the galaxy, that reindeer is as much the same reindeer as any reindeer that stayed on Earth… with contiguous consciousness, which means… Barbara? You have a question?”

    She did not. She was scratching her hair to subtly signal to Um that he was being too obvious with his giggles. He was watching a stream. She stood up to answer. “Yes. I was… not… sure about… asymmetric resonation paradox and… how…”

    “Ah! Yes! Reading ahead as always.” The teacher beamed merrily. It always made him happy to have a gifted student who worked hard. “We will get to that, but I will…” He drew on one end of the view two circles forming a figure eight. “See, at the subquark level, when a pro-zeta impression reresonates and impetuates through space, the corresponding anti-impression is formed…” Another figure on the other end of the view. “Perfectly replicating the original. However, if the original is kappaasymmetrical…” He erased and drew one of the circles smaller on the original figure, forming a shape like a snowman. “Then the resonant impetuation has inverse kappapolarity…” On the other figure, the smaller circle was on the bottom. “But, all the other characteristics are conserved. Which, of course, creates a paradox…”

    There was a sudden crashing noise from the courtyard.

    All heads turned toward the windows, but only Barbara had a clear view.

    There was the bloodied body of Chevy sprawled across the water fountain, impaled by a granite protrusion through his stomach.

    In a far corner of the courtyard, Carol emerged from behind a bush, holding an M516 caster. She had shot him.

    Carol dusted herself off as the guards rushed toward her.

    Unflinching, the teacher continued, “Which is not really a paradox if you consider…”

  3. rapidbutterfly

    Blood dripped from the snowman’s mouth. The large lawn decoration was once sweet and merry but now it stood in the front of his house like an ominous warning. The snowman mentioned one thing, he was waiting for them, he knew she would take the bait and come.
    Carol lead the way to the front door, the legs of what looked like the nose evil elf on a shelf wrapped in chains bounce and jingled at her side. She pounded on the door, a women on a mission.
    “If you have the guts to put this possessed looking doll on my bed you can open this door and deal with me.” Her
    knocks echoed through the empty street. The recent cold front had turned the neighborhood into a ghost town.
    She turned, anger burning in her eyes.
    “Holly, back me up would you”
    “It’s the middle of the night and I’m standing on this creepy lawn, how much more backup do you want?” She half whispered half yelled back at her. Carol looked at her in disbelief.
    “God gave you a gift now use it, come pick this lock”.
    Holly wanted to turn around, tell Carol to leave it alone unto lbs he calmed down and thought this out, but she knew she wouldn’t listen. To make things worse Holly had Chevy Chase syndrome, whenever she was around whatever could go wrong would go wrong. She knew nothing about this night was going to go well at all especially when Xavier was involved.
    Xavier had been torturing Carol for weeks now, leaving creepy voice mails, sliding surveillance pictures he had takes of her under her front door and now this lanky, grotesque, blood stained doll in her house, it was too much. Holly had been the one to find the doll, dangling by its neck from the head board Luke an ornament gone wrong.
    Holly cautiously walked passed the snowman. She felt like it watched her as she went by him. She fumbled with the lock for a few seconds. It wasn’t that the lock was giving her a hard time, she truly gifted in the art of B & E. She was trying to give Carol a chance to change her mind. She snuck a quick peek at her, nope nothing was going to change her mind.
    Holly popped the lock and moved out of the way. Carol barged in with Holly following cautiously behind her. Candle light bathed the living room. A lonely chair Sat in the middle of the room. A guest card with Carols name written on it lay on it.
    “We need to go.” Holly was backing up to the door as she said it. For the first time that night Carol listened to Holly,she turned to leave but stopped. Holly turned already knowing what she would see. Xavier stood in the doorway, a cruel smile
    played across his face.
    “You came, I was starting to wonder what I needed to do to get you here.
    Holly reached for Carols hand. Carol was trembling, tears in her eyes, her tough front completely gone. They needed a way out, an way past him but she couldn’t see one.
    “Oh no, cheer up my love, don’t cry. I’m not mad that you brought a friend with you. He closed the front door as he spoke, the dead bolt clicking into place was the only thing that Holly really heard.
    “We’ll have much more fun this way, you’ll see.

  4. Sundance 244

    Snowman

    How did I end up in Chevy Chase, Maryland?
    Last thing I remembered was entertaining three cheerleaders, Carol, Merry and Holly, in a motel room that would make an elf feel cramped. Holly started a cheer with, “gimme an O,” while bouncing on the tattered bedspread.
    Carol jumped in with. “Gimme an R.”
    And Merry followed with, “and an N.”
    “That spells Ornithologist,” I chimed in. I added a few guesses at orn words – ornery, ornament, orchid – before they all chimed in with an I, O, N and finished the cheer with a gleeful Orion.
    So they weren’t the best spellers on the squad.
    I laughed and sipped my scotch on the rocks out of a plastic motel cup. This is what happens when you stop to help an SUV that had spun off the road. The four wheel drive didn’t help much when the cheer ladies hit a patch of ice and slid off into a field like a sleigh on fresh snow.
    Merry’s phone lit up with a Beyonce’ jingle and she stopped bouncing and looked at the others.
    “It’s the snowman,” she said. “He’s with the car.”
    Carol looked like a reindeer in the headlights.
    Holly hopped of the bed and strode across the little room and grabbed my scotch.
    “You’re done with that,” she said.
    I looked over at the other cheer babes; Carol had a nervous tremor working, Holly pulled a small revolver from her backpack and pointed it at me.
    “Fun times over party boy,” she said.
    Merry held a hand out. “Keys.”
    “What’s going on?” I asked.
    Carol raised her cheer skirt slightly to reveal a fresh bandage on her outer thigh.
    “He chipped her,” Holly said.
    “Bastard,” Merry said.
    “What now?” I asked.
    “We’re leaving,” Holly said.
    I felt the tinge of a needle and settled into the slow gift of unconsciousness.
    I awoke in the back seat of my car. There was blood on my hand and I checked my vitals, thinking the cheer babes might be black market kidney hunters. The blood wasn’t mine. A microchip sat in a drying spot of Carol’s blood.
    A sign on the highway read Welcome to Chevy Chase.
    A white Escalade pulled up behind me and a tall man in a white cashmere overcoat and white gloves stepped out.
    The snowman had arrived.

  5. Beebles

    Guys, apologies for the lack of comments recently, busy time and not gonna let up. just keeping my hand in. Tried to keep it as non-festive as possible, but a very Merry Christmas to you all. It’s an honour to be on the same page.
    —————————

    Elizabeth.

    He called her Betty.

    He was her court jester, she a queen. He sang her songs. He made her laugh. He mimed like Chevy Chase in the Paul Simon video and tears would stain her cheeks.

    Elizabeth.

    He stared at the signature on the letter, the characteristic double sleigh-track slashes defining the last two letters. They sliced into his heart; six years old and still refusing to heal. Now, suddenly, she wrote; an enigmatic promise. A gift to heal his heart.

    He checked the address. The house was somewhere ahead, along the lane, past the rhododendron and holly bushes jealously hiding the iron fences of the old parkland. Probably a merry little thatched estate cottage in the shadow of the main house – now some tycoon’s nineteenth hole – decked in pink roses and dream catcher ornaments that swayed to the jingle of wind chimes.

    Elizabeth.

    She was grace, statuesque and elf-like, one of the green-wood kin. When he first saw her in the office – a ghost in his peripheral vision as he pecked at his laptop like some battery hen – he stopped and stared. Quickly, afraid to lose sight of her for even a moment, he looked around, expecting to see all the other men in the office transfixed by her radiance, some acknowledgement that an immortal had just passed among them. To his disbelief they clucked and tapped, heads down as she floated by, sinuous hips dancing a medieval carol.

    ‘How much do you love me?’ she asked, four or five times a day.

    ‘I would do anything for you,’ he pleaded. ‘Ride a reindeer naked across the arctic. If I were a snowman, I would walk across hot coals, just to be a charred carrot at your side.’

    Her laugh had been like a fisherman’s caste, drawing all the cheer of the world into that moment, just for him.

    That all too short moment.

    Elizabeth. She migrated like the reindeer. Restless, sleepless. She loved him with the heat of summer and then she was gone.

    There was no thatch on the cottage when he arrived, no chimes, only the thudding of his heart. His own dreams caught there. He dusted his jacket, flattened his hair and knocked. A latch was lifted and a grey haired woman in gardening clothes opened the door.

    ‘Elizabeth?’ he stuttered. ‘I came to see Elizabeth.’

    The woman smiled softly, a glimmer of resignation in her eyes. ‘Lizzie’s not here. She left two weeks ago. You must be Alistair.’

    He nodded.

    The woman sighed, as if it was all too familiar. ‘No, Lizzie’s gone, as usual. She said you would come. Hoped you would.’

    Burying his disappointment Alistair asked,’ She said she had a gift. Can you tell me what it is?’

    The woman smirked in a manner Alistair recognised. ‘Not what. Who.’

    Then he saw there was a girl standing in the dim hallway beyond the summer light, no more than six years old. At the woman’s invitation she came forward hesitantly.

    Alistair took a knee and shook the girl formally by the hand, though in his heart he knew he had every right to sweep her into his arms. ‘And who have we here?’

    She looked at her Grandmother who nodded. ‘You can call me Betty,’ she recited.

    For a moment Alistair was speechless, lost in the girl’s familiar cheerful giggle.

    ‘And Betty, you can call me Al.’

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh Lord, Beebles, this is not just magnificent but so much more, I struggle to find a word. You say you’ve been busy but where did this come from ? Something deep.inside you haven’t chosen to.let us see before
      I think.it is your soul in full view. What a sight to see!

    2. Kerry Charlton

      Good Lord Beebles, where did this come from? Magnificant isn’t strong enough to describe it. If I didn’t know better I would think.you poured out your soul for all to see.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Beebles, I’m so pleased you found time to post this. Your characters, even the missing Elizabeth, are very well done. The child is the perfect gift for the season.

  6. cosi van tutte

    My wife bought me a Chevy Chase snowman for our anniversary. Honestly? I never knew such things existed. I don’t even know where she bought it from.

    But my wife has always been eccentric when it comes to anniversary gifts.

    Last year’s gift was a full-sized sleigh with large-as-life reindeer plushies that jingled when you least expected it.

    The year before that was an elf lawn ornament that ate holly leaves. That one gave me nightmares for weeks on end.

    So, anyway.

    I’m sitting here, looking at the diamond necklace that I’d bought her for our anniversary this year. I haven’t given it to her yet.

    She goes so far out of her way to surprise me. I don’t even know how she does it.

    I want to surprise her too.

    I think about all of the gifts she’s given me.

    A Chevy Chase snowman.

    A full-sized sleigh with reindeer.

    An elf lawn ornament.

    They’re all Christmas themed gifts even though this is the middle of July.

    What can I give her in return?

    I smile as a ridiculously awesome plan cobbles and clumps together in my brain.

    ***

    It was a very bad day at work.

    So many things went wrong.

    So many stupid things.

    I just want to go home to my husband.

    He always knows how to cheer me up.

    That’s why I love getting him such extravagant anniversary gifts. Just to show him how much I appreciate him. Plus, I love seeing his reactions.

    I wonder what I’ll get him next year to top…

    I stop my car right in front of our driveway.

    I don’t pull in.

    I get out of the car and approach the large sleigh with the attached reindeer plushies. The elf lawn ornament is munching on holly leaves next to Rudolph.

    The Chevy Chase snowman is sitting in the sleigh’s passenger seat.

    My husband is sitting in the driver’s seat. He grins at me and sings Christmas carols.

    I grin like a complete fool as he goes through his whole Christmas carol repertoire. Silent Night to Frosty the Snowman to Angels We Have Heard On High to Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

    Half-way through Go Tell It On The Mountain, I give up. I can’t just stand there, watching him.

    I climb on the sleigh and stand next to my husband.

    I sing along with him.

    At the end, he kisses me and whispers, “Happy anniversary, darling.”

    1. Moirai-TQ

      Relationship goals.

      My husband and I still hold hands. We’ve been married 20 years (already??) and someone said that to us. I didn’t understand because I thought everyone still held hands after being married that long.

  7. Eileen S

    Our Friend, Frank

    I went with Holly, Carol and Merry to the Wheaton Mall to buy a gift for Frank who was in the hospital and needed cheering up.

    Frank had joined the army ten years ago and was stationed at Fort Wainwright in Alaska for several years before being deployed to Iraq. He was a good soldier and served his country well but decided that he missed civilian life in Washington, DC.

    Frank was driving down the Capital Beltway and his car got rear-ended near Chevy Chase, Maryland. The crash was so bad that when the EMTs arrived, Frank had to be pried out of the wreckage and resuscitated and sent to the hospital. Both his legs were broken and tests revealed some brain damage. Presently, Frank lay in his hospital bed unable to move and we wanted to get something that would entertain him.

    We went into Game Stop and Merry suggested that Frank might like Call of Duty World War II for his PlayStation. Not knowing about these matters, we deferred to her judgement and purchased it.

    We went back to the hospital and gave him the present. Holly operated the PlayStation and he started to smile. The battles were getting too violent for so I stepped away.

    Carol looked at Frank enjoying the battle program and said, “Frank, do you miss the Army?”

    A frightened look come over Frank’s face. “Back in Alaska, I went moose hunting but killed a reindeer, thinking that it was a moose. That’s why the Army sent me to Iraq.”

    Holly stopped the PlayStation and shook her head, “No. Not true, Frank.”

    Frank screamed, “No, I killed Bambi and this is why I’m here.”

    I said, “No, you were in a bad accident on the Beltway. That’s why you’re here. This has nothing to do with Iraq.”

    The four of us looked dumfounded. We couldn’t believe that our brave soldier survived Iraq only to be injured on the highway.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Ellen, recognized your photo from Poetic Asides. Forgive me if you’ve been here before, and I didn’t remember, but a warm welcome whatever the case. This is another great community with several poetry folks, also.

      Your story has lots of depth, and heart with a true spirit of the season.

  8. julia11

    People often ask me why my parents would name their daughter Chevy Chase. Well, long story, but I’ll try to make it short and merry, not boring.

    It was the hottest summer on record, definitely not snowman visiting weather. My Dad wanted to propose to my Mom and he knew it had to be special. After all, her name was Holly and she kept a stuffed elf ornament swinging from her car rearview mirror year round. She explained it had been a gift from her Grandma Carol the day she was born and every jingle of the tiny cap brought her luck.

    Dad came up with a plan. Finally, on an evening in mid-July after working several long, sweaty, secretive nights in his garage, he picked up Mom for a date. Grabbing her hand, they walked around the corner of the house. Laughing, her eyes widened at the sight of the handmade wooden sleigh attached to an oversized plush reindeer standing in my Dad’s backyard. After helping her onto the seat, he climbed in beside her, pulling a ring box from his pocket. Opening the lid, he popped the question. Mom cried and, of course, said “yes”.

    Celebrating that night, they watched old reruns of SNL while over indulging in bubbly cheer, which led from one thing to another. Nine months later I came along. Frankly, I believe it was more the drinks than Chevy delivering the SNL news.

    Now the sleigh, painted a bright pink, is the headboard for my own daughter’s bed.

    And, much to my Dad’s chagrin, the elf now dangles from the mirror of the new Mercedes he gave my Mom for their 30th wedding anniversary.

    I’m often asked why my parents would name their daughter Chevy Chase. Well, it’s a long story, but I’ll try to make it short and merry, not boring.

    It was the hottest summer on record, definitely not snowman visiting weather. My Dad wanted to propose to my Mom and it had to be special. After all her name was Holly and she kept a stuffed elf ornament swinging from her car rearview mirror all year round. She explained it had been a gift from her Grandma Carol when she was born and every jingle of the tiny hat had always brought her luck.

    Finally, Dad came up with a plan. On an evening in mid-July after working several long, secretive nights in his garage, he brought Mom to his place for a date. As they rounded the corner of the house, she let out a surprised laugh, catching sight of the handmade wood sleigh attached to an oversized plush reindeer standing in my Dad’s backyard. After they climbed in and were seated, Dad pulled a ring from his pocket and popped the question. Of course, Mom cried and said, “yes”.

    While celebrating that night they watched old reruns of SNL and over indulged in the bubbly cheer which led from one thing to another.nine months later I came along. Though, frankly, I’ve believed all along it was more the drinks than Chevy on the SNL news.

    Now the sleigh, painted pink, is the headboard for my own daughter’s bed.

    And much to my Dad’s chagrin, the elf now dangles from the rearview mirror of the new Mercedes he gave my Mom for their 30th wedding anniversary.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great story, really like how you used Chevy Chase, I’ll bet the gremlin on this site played a trick when you posted. That’s been happening here, and on Poetic Asides.

  9. Moirai-TQ

    The two men were sitting on the park bench in the city of Glendive. It was late January and the snow was gently falling.

    “Hey, Clyde! Look at the reindeer poop in the snow over there!”

    “Mr. Holly, that’s not reindeer poop; those are rocks sticking up through the snow.”

    “Oh man, you slay me with how clearly you see things. I need to get my eyes checked,” Mr. Holly said cheerily. “I should go see Merry and Carol at the local Walmart Eye Center. I’ll give them a jingle when I get home.”

    The men were silent for a moment, as men are at times. They both looked to their left when they heard sleigh bells further up the road. There was an elf riding behind Chevy Chase on a big black horse.

    “Mr. Holly? Do you see that? Chevy Chase and an elf on a horse? “

    The big black horse stopped in front of the men. It shook its powerful head and snorted in the cold air. There was one little wooden ornament hanging from the center of the bridle above its eyes. The elf slide down from the saddle and handed each man a gift wrapped in red fleece and adorned with holly berries.

    “Clyde, I do at that. I think we need to wait until the sun goes down before we start drinking.”

      1. Moirai-TQ

        Reatha – I went to a remote corner of Montana. I needed to find a small place that would still have snow in January. And where it wouldn’t be weird to have two men sitting on a park bench. I’ll have to check where Wibaux is.

        Thank you for your kind words.

  10. rlk67

    Ten nervous fourth-graders sitting on the stage. Parents watching, smiling, holding their breaths.

    In walks Mrs. Chowley. A short woman with a rather commanding voice. Her multi-colored silk scarf flowing behind. Her arms waving in a welcoming gesture despite the stern face. Let us begin.

    She turns to the shivering students. “You know how this works. Without any further ado…A-D-O…”

    No one laughs. Humor is not Mrs. Chowley’s strength.

    “Ahem. Charles, the first word is for you. The word is…ORNAMENT.”

    Charles somehow pushes himself off his chair. Balancing from right foot to left foot and back again. Mr. and Mrs. Angot think that Charles might need the bathroom. Oh, please, no…no.

    Charles squeaks. “ORNAMENT. O-R-N-E-M…”

    Mrs. Angot grabs Mr. Angot’s tie and grunts loudly. “UGH…No, not with an E, Char–” Her voice trails off.

    Mrs. Chowley claps in mid-word. “Sorry, dear, that was incorrect.” Mrs. Chowley is not sorry. The witch.

    Mr. Angot sighs and slumps. Charles sits.

    Julie stands. “Julie, I did not ask you to stand.” Julie sits. “Stand, Julie.” Julie stands. Mrs. Kenbo grabs her seat, her head spinning.

    “Julie, your word is…SLEIGH.”

    Mr. Kenbo protests. “These words are too hard!”

    Mrs. Chowley easily puts down puny Krenbo with her glare. “These-words-are-age-appropriate.” So there.

    “SLEIGH…S-L-A-” Mrs. Chowley puts up her hand. “Give it up, dear. Next.” Mrs. Kenbo sinks in her seat.

    And so it went. Artie tried to spell “REINDEER” with a few more E’s than necessary. Holly spelled ‘CAROL’ with two L’s, and Carol spelled ‘HOLLY’ with one. It didn’t end there. Cheer was not had by all.

    In the end, only Gus spelled a word correctly. The word was ELF.

    The crowd was murmuring. There was going to be a riot.

    But with Chowley at the helm, everyone dispersed peacefully. “Thank you all for coming! See you next year.”

    Gus’s parents remained in the auditorium congratulating their son. Mr. Finley walked up to the stage.

    “Mrs. Chowley?”

    “Yes, dear?”

    “Why did you give my son such an easy word?”

    Mrs. Chowley coughed. “Gus has had a hard few months so far, didn’t he? A little tonic of bullying and sadness, mixed with some failed tests. I wanted to let him experience a…happier time. Our gift to him.”

    Mrs. Finley just stared. “Our gift?”

    Mrs. Chowley smiled, because she did that sometimes. “The other kids can spell just fine, thank you very much. It was OUR gift.”

    And Gus had a merry holiday.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Well cdoner with a heartfelt story. kindness comes from strange places sometimes and also your story pointed out, judging from appearances is not a good idea. I hope the writers that read this, put this syory to heart, I CERTAINLY WILL.

    2. Bushkill

      Lovely twist at the end. We see what we want to see; expect what we want to expect. I suppose it’s because humans are so irrevocably human… but they do offer surprises, too.

  11. Russ

    I walked in a daze, very drunk. Today, I thought, I will wander the forest in search of beautiful nature. Yes, that is what I shall do. So I, merry and singing a jingle, ventured towards the forest hiking path, and reached it no more than five minutes later. I will go off the path, I thought. I had my compass, I had the sun (although it was setting), and the forest was not very dense. I will go east, I thought. I will go east.

    So I went off the path and headed east, according to my handy compass. After a decent amount of time, I reached a treeless, somewhat grassy hill. Strangely, I saw a bush on the slant of the hill move with the wind, and I swore it was an elf riding on a sleigh. I shook my head. I noticed I was feeling a bit dizzy.

    I began to walk up the hill. It was very steep, and my drunkenness made it seem like a mountain; although it was a large hill. I struggled up it. The sun was setting. It was rather steep. I was concentrating on nothing other than climbing up it. And when I reached the top, I cheered with a loud whoop. It was dusk.

    I looked below me onto the landscape. I saw, about 300 yards ahead and far below me, a pack of grey wolves trotting on a flat, treeless plain. There must have been ten of them. They weren’t moving very fast, but they were moving north, luckily away from me.

    I looked around me, feeling a bit more sober. I thought it was time to go home. So I hurried down the hill and went west. I walked west for what seemed like 20 minutes. It was very dark and getting cold when I stumbled across a giant pine cone. It was the biggest I had ever seen. A gift, I thought, for my son. I picked it up and continued walking. I was in a bit of a panic near the end there, until I finally reached the path. I went back into civilization.

  12. RafTriesToWrite

    I REMEMBER

    I remember when I first met the one and only Mr. Chevy Chase, I was amazed. But I wasn’t feeling very merry that day because the glass ornament that reads: “Hugs from a snowman may be cold but at least you get a hug”, that I was supposed to give to Holly as a gift to say thank you, broke. Because I know she hangs them all around her room to cheer her up whenever she’s down.

    I remember one time during summer when we were in 4th grade, she took me inside her room for the first time, and I asked her about the ornaments hanging around her room while we were watching some random “non-christmassy” jingle on the TV. I remember this specifically, she told me “Carol, the ornaments you see around you… They help to cheer me up”

    Back then I didn’t know what Down Syndrome was or that she had it. I knew she was special, but not that kind of special. She then asked me what cheers me up. I told her watching Chevy Chase always tickled my funny bone in the best way possible.

    And because of her, I got to meet him in person. Meeting Chevy Chase was the best moment and gift I could ever have received from someone, given the fact that it wasn’t near Christmas or whatever. It was a sudden gift, on the spur of the moment, without reason other than the fact that the person just wanted to give someone a present.

    But with the ornament incident and all, I knew I had to make it up to Holly. I searched long and hard for this special ornament. It didn’t have any quotes in it, which she may not like, but I know she loves reindeers so I got her a reindeer sitting on a sleigh to replace the ornament that I initially was supposed to give her and to top it all off, I wore my elf costume that I used on a play when I was in the 3rd grade and became her personal assistant for that day.

    We went to the movies, got some ice cream and rode some of the new rides at the carnival that just opened up a few blocks from the movie theatre. Basically, we had fun all day long while I was in an elf costume. I had to do it for her.

    I still visit her room sometimes, just to look at all the ornaments and also because it still smelled like her. Holly’s parents said I was always welcome in their home. She was my best friend. The best friend I could ever have and I miss her dearly.

    Two years already feels like forever.

      1. writer_sk

        Glad you’re back. Nice work avoiding it being Christmas.

        I like how meeting Chevy Chase was one of the focal points. I would have liked to see Carol meet him.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          This in a way sad but at the same time wonderful. It takes an unusual child to care like that for a friend in need
          Makes me feel warm all over. Thank you. Kerry

  13. JosephFazzone

    For his birthday, Chevy Chase once received a gift good cheer from a snowman of an ornament depicting a merry elf wreathed in holly singing a carol while riding a sleigh with some reindeers that would jingle when jostled. He immediately smashed it under his foot.

    “CHEATER!!!”

    “Okay, okay, I will start over…”

    A chase of Chevys, a Chevy chase, Camaros to be exact, were racing down the Sepulveda Boulevard at speed the equivalent of a sleigh screaming down the side of Mount Everest.

    Carol, as petite as an elf, was in the lead as her red Camaro flew down the street. Holly, jolly and merry, prompted by the cheer from the crowd, slammed her foot down hard on the accelerator, and began to make up ground. Her keys gave a jingle, as the car bounced along.

    Carol stared down her hood ornament, narrowing her eyes as she focused on the finish line, and her gift for winning the race was a thousand dollars from the Snowman, Pacoima’s prominent cocaine dealer.

    Holly’s grim determination matched the cars momentum as her green Chevy caught up, and eventually passed Carol.

    By the nose she eked out an incredible finish and won the race! Holly cheered, the crowd was merry. It had been an exciting race.

    Snowman came up to her, and handed her the winnings, and said, “Make it rain, Dear.”
    ————-
    Miss you guys. Merry Holidays and such! =)

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Zippidity Zippidity along Joseph. Much fun it is to ride a Camaro. I had one of the first ones. Slicker than owl. I loved the race report you made and was cheering for both girls. Why?.Well two girls are more fun than.one unless a fight breaks out. But your head has to swivel 360 degrees to really enjoy. It. Merry Carol Christmas. Ho Ho

  14. Kerry Charlton

    A GIRL FROM CHEVY CHASE DRIVE

    It’s been a while sine I’d seen Carol Sleigh, probably not long enough. But last week she jingled back into my life as if she were a merry little elf. Still full of cheer she was, having returned from Hollywood with a three year contract with Walt Disney Studios. And after she told him she loved him, she broke down and cried,

    “Brian you’re the only one who understands me. Most men look at me as if I were an ornament on a tree and have no idea about my mind. I thought I was clear of the ‘snowman’ but he called last night.”

    “Why Carol, you told me you were off the scag.“

    “I‘m clean and have been for a year. He‘s trying to blackmail me with my past.”

    “Where is he, I’ll talk to him?”

    “He’s at the reindeer lodge at Stone Oak mountain. Be careful, he has henchmen.”

    “I haven’t be a gumshoe for no reason. I’ll take ’Long Charlie and Bobby the Hook with me. We’re more than a match.”

    “Be careful Brian, I have so much to tell you.”

    “I will Carol, by the way did you mean it?

    “The love I have for you? Of course I meant it. Will you stay in touch?”

    “Certainly.”

    An hour before sundown Brian’s car made the drive up the mountain. He realized in front the only thing the ‘Snowman’ would accept was a gift of lead from his three 38 Police Specials Bobby had two throwing knives and an antique ice hook as weapons while Charlie brought his WWII bazooka with a gift loaded in it, plus his handy bowie knife. .

    . It was ironic that Snowman had rented a cabin at the rear of the lodge. He was a sitting duck for the bazooka’s present. Brian stood off a bit and called the Snowman,

    “Cone outside you piece of filth.”

    “Is that you gummy?. Did Carol send you here?”

    “Never mind, come out or I’ll come in.“

    “Suit yourself, I have Carol you know, don’t you?“

    “Put her on the phone, scum?”

    “Carol, you all right?”

    “He has a knife at my throat. I swear he kidnapped me this afternoon.”

    Brian huddled with Charlie,

    “Can you disarm the explosive and fire it anyway?”

    “Yes”

    “Get closer to the cabin Charlie, you have one chance, don’t harm Carol if possible. Blow the door in.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Bushkill, I left the reader hanging on the rest of the story. I wrote an ending and it was so sad I didn’t want to use it at Christmas but if you want to read it or anyone else does, I will add.it as part two.

  15. Rene Paul

    My wife’s sister, Carol, lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a thousand-mile road trip from our home in Nova Scotia. Her birthday is in two days. Holly, that’s my wife, decided we should buy her sister, a true movieholic, a small collection of CD’s, flicks we know she’ll enjoy as her present. The set includes Reindeer Games, Elf, The Falcon and the Snowman and her favorite comedy, A Very Merry Mix-up.

    Holly decorated the gift bag with an assortment of miniature ornaments, two cars, and a small airplane, that way, Carol’s five-year-old son can play with them afterward.

    Because my sister-in-law has a way of forgetting things, I asked Holly to give her a jingle to be sure she remembered we were visiting. Holly didn’t want to do it, “She won’t forget this time,” she said.

    “Cheer me up and call,” I said. “Let’s make sure the plans are still a go on both ends!”

    Holly ignored my request. Instead, she peeked out the kitchen window, and said, “We should leave earlier than planned, it’s starting to snow outside.”

    “Great,” I replied, “Perhaps we should take the sleigh instead of the car, or, perhaps, we can shed a few pounds by jogging.”

    I could tell I upset her when she slapped both hands down on the table, knocking over a new toy I was developing. “You’re a moron, Nick,” she said, “just because you don’t like my sister, you don’t have to be sarcastic whenever we talk about her.”

    “It has nothing to do with me liking your sister or not,” I countered, “I can’t afford to lose the working days, precious time I can’t spare when preparing for my December run.

    The truth is, I don’t like being Santa in November.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Good story Rene. Chatter between the two is dead on.and it draws you in.so you are slightly uncomfortable listening to a private conversation
      .Please take that as a compliment.
      My sister in.law is a gem. But if you ask a question, she has a twenty.munite answer

      1. Rene Paul

        Thanks, writer_sk, I didn’t have an ending in sight until halfway through the story. I was trying to figure out how to weave all 12 words in without being too obvious. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  16. Bushkill

    A Holy Night

    I sat, staring at the tv and waiting one more time for the attic stair to fall and blast Chevy Chase into next week. All the cheer had gone out of my world. Reindeer had finally had enough and mounted a coup. They captured the entire holiday season, sleigh bells and all.

    They had help, too. Snowmen from deep in the north came south with their four-footed overlords and joined in a merry stream of chaos that left children in tears and carol singing persons hung from eaves like misshapen ornaments.

    Oh, the humanity!

    The air force couldn’t stop them. They had tried, but the magic and insane flight mechanics employed by a devilish and less than merry elf foiled them over and over. The army mustered only to be met by a marching line of gingerbread miles long and twice as deep. It seemed the season was a total loss.

    Outside, the new masters wandered back and forth, hacking holly off doors and piling it into a massive fire burning in the center of town. The snowmen withdrew from the heat, fear in their coal-black eyes except for one solitary chap. One snowman in the lot stood near enough to the flames to put on a fine sheen. His tall black hat seemed immune to the conflagration and lent to the distorted shadow that danced across the empty and barren pumpkin patches.

    I climbed tiredly from my couch to take a walk outside. I heard a solitary jingle from the neighbor’s dog collar as he headed to the backyard, a friendly bird chirping at his shoulder and flying in strange loops.

    A moment later there was a rumble from that direction, a solitary sound that thundered through the night like hope on the wings of an angel. Out from between the houses, splitting the hedgerow and tossing shredded branches in all directions rocketed a doghouse. On its roof, goggles pulled low and scarf whipping in the wind was my neighbor’s dog. Clinging at the back of the airborne home clung the same strange, yellow bird.

    I watched as hope powered into the streets. Twin machine guns on the front of the aero house sprang to life and an entire row of gingerbread persons disintegrated. Snowmen reared to fight this new threat but then faltered and evaporated under withering fire. The pooch sneered as he corkscrewed up into the clouds to prep for another dive.

    In the distance, I heard the church bells ring.

    Out of nowhere, a second plane showed up, ancient by modern standards and scarlet red. He zoomed after the pooch and together they used their combined firepower to overwhelm the local threat to the season.

    Several minutes later, mischief managed, they turned around and angled out of town. As the biplane passed me it dipped its wings and the pilot waved, shouting to be heard. “Merry Christmas, my friend!”
    I nodded and raised my glass in salute, thankful for their heartfelt gift.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I posted a reply once and it disappeared. I think it would be alright to mention Snoopy and possibly change the plane to a red tri wing and bring in the Red Baron. All the more merrier. This story is a lot deeper than first read. It brings in so many avenues to consider, like society today and how screwed up it is. Great read.

      1. Bushkill

        Thanks, Kerry. I thought about it, but I didn’t name frosty, Santa, or any of the leading reindeer in the coup, so I left the reader to their sketchy memory of “bells ringing in the village below”. I thought the yellow bird would give it away, too.

        And you caught onto the layers motif. Cool. Thanks for the read and comment!!!

      1. Bushkill

        Thank you. I veered a little from the core theme of the prompt and didn’t entirely avoid Christmas mantras. Reader enjoyment is what I’m after. pleased you liked.

  17. smwrites

    My grandma’s attic is filled to the brim with boxes. A layer of dust covers everything. For a moment, I pause and a wave of sadness crashes over me.

    She’s really gone.

    “Are you sure you’re up for this?” Ana asks.

    I give my big sister a smile. She’s always looking out for me and doing her best to spread cheer. Today is no different, despite our shared grief.

    “Yeah, we have to get this stuff out of here before we can sell the house.”

    I wipe the dust from the box nearest me. Dust swirls around like snowflakes floating through the sky during a winter storm. Unbidden, thoughts come to me of the time so many years ago when Grandma helped me and Ana build a snowman.

    “If you girls keep rolling that snow, we’ll have a giant snowman,” Grandma had warned us.

    “Yes! Let’s make a giant one!” Ana exclaimed, practically wiggling with joy.

    “And how do you expect to get that up on the base?”

    Ana frowned and looked at me.

    “I don’t know.”

    I shrugged my shoulders and echoed my sister.

    “I don’t know! You can figure it out, Grandma!”

    My grandma could figure anything out. I knew it as a child and I lived my life knowing it. And now she’s gone.

    Wiping away a tear, I gingerly open the box. It’s filled with picture frames so fragile they jingle when I move them. I cautiously grab one from the box.

    It’s Grandma as a child, sitting with her own mother. She was so tiny that she looked more like an elf than a child.

    “Hey Ana, come look at this!”

    Wiping the dust off her jeans, Ana moves to my side.

    “Oh wow, is that Grandma?” she exclaims. Then her eyes light up with excitement. “We should get this re-framed and gift it to mom! It would be the perfect ornament for her room.”

    Ana’s smile fades when she sees my face.

    “What is it?”

    “Mom won’t be in the hospital long enough to decorate her room. We should just drop it off at her house.”

    “Holly,” Ana says, her voice soft. “If mom is released, she won’t go back home. There’s no way she could take care of herself. We talked about this.”

    Tears blur my eyes and I feel like a child again; helpless and angry.

    “I won’t just put her in a nursing home to watch her wilt away like Grandma did. She has cancer, but that doesn’t mean I’ll just sit here and watch her die. I won’t.”

    Ana’s arm envelop me in a tight embrace and for a moment the world is small again. Just me and my sister against the world.

    “Then I’ll figure something out. It’ll be okay.”

    I pull away and look at Ana. Her words remind me so much of Grandma that for a moment I feel like she’s there in the attic with us. As peace settles upon me, I realize she must be.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is very well done. It doesn’t hurry, slowing the reader to soak in every line. You nailed the grief exactly. How hard to lose a favorite grandmother and to deal with a mother at the same time. The reality the two sisters need will be found. Your story points that out. This one’s a real winner. I hope none of this is true. You do not need to respond to my last sentence.

      1. smwrites

        Thanks for the kind words! And I don’t mind responding. This is pure fiction, although I have seen my share of grief and wanted to convey those feelings in a way others could possibly connect with.

  18. Pete

    Jay gave me crap about the plan the whole way over. He parked, sat back smug and asked if I needed help crossing the street. I shot him the finger, told him to leave it running.

    Nearing St. Peters Church on seventh and Cabell Street, I tossed my smoke and fixed my hair. I entered through the basement expecting stale coffee and old donuts, so the smell of fresh cookies and homemade pies came as a nice surprise.

    I was only a few steps in when a tiny, elf woman greeted me with a sad smile. “I’m sorry dear, but Narcotics Anonymous meets on Thursday nights,” she whispered. “This is a Grandparent Support group.”

    “Yep. That’s me.” I said, making a line for those cookies.

    The tiny lady’s bejeweled sweater jingled as she tried to keep up. “Oh Dear,” she said. “I’m Holly. Let me introduce you to the others.”

    A quick scan of the others. The only threat looked to be Gene, a merry old gruff with ears the size of side-view mirrors and a US Marines hat with those golden wings on the brim. This was cake.

    I took a seat beside Carol, a woman fending off her mid-sixties who quickly closed in on me. They all did, and I had no problems unloading my life to a semi-circle of repressed bridge players wearing ornamental sweaters.

    “So tell us, about yourself, uh…” Carol gave me a pat on my knee.

    “Chevy,” I said with a shrug. “Chevy Chase.”

    “And you’re a grandfather, Chevy?”

    “Well, I just found out last week,” I said, tossing my hands around my lap. “See, my daughter and I haven’t spoken much in the past few years. My ex told her all sorts of lies about me and so we haven’t spoken in a while.”

    The pity gazes arrived on schedule. The food was delicious. I plodded on through a mouthful of sugar. “So here I am, thirty-seven and a grandparent. It’s quite the transition…Hey uh, Gene, my man. Are there any more of these sugar cookies left?” I held up my plate. “Do you mind?”

    Gene huffed off, his mall-walker sneakers squeaking across the worn tile. The ladies eyed me as though I were a gift from above. Just like I was eyeing the prize—those purses and coats strewn across the tables and chair near the piano.

    Carol handed me a tissue. I was so much like her son. I was everybody’s son, only I was sitting here while the real sons hadn’t called or written in years. The apple pie was still warm in the middle.

    “I mean, to think, my ex-wife cheats on me, takes our only kid and turns her against me. And now, with a new baby, so much innocence—Oh man. Is this crust from scratch?”

    Holly beamed. “Of course, Chevy. You eat that up, okay sweetheart? This is exactly why we have the group. Many of us hardly see our grandchildren at all…let me get my purse, I’ll show you a picture.”

    “You do that, Holls. Anyway, all I want to do is be a part of this child’s life. Play house, or ball, build a snowman, go sleigh riding and all the things I never got to do with my sweet Emma…”

    Two reindeer cookies fell into my lap. Old Gene thrusted a cup of steaming coffee at my face and grunted. “Get a grip, snowflake.”

    Carol set her arm around me and shot him daggers. “Oh Gene, stop it. You’re still sore because your son took his boy to the World Series and you weren’t invited.”

    “Ouch.” I said, breaking character.

    Gene shook his head. “Sixty years I’ve been watching the Cubbies lose. And they can’t take the old guy? Ahh.”

    He waved me off and slunk off to the bathroom.

    Holly stood. “Okay, peeps. It’s time for Teen Slang Bingo!”

    With all the rustling I saw the purses spilling flip phones and pill holders but also the goodies: credit cards and better still, cash.

    Before you could say Guidepost, I had four wallets in my jacket. I grabbed another cookie and turned for the exit. And there was Big Gene, glaring at me, fists balled into blocks, looking ready to give me a piece of the greatest generation.

    “I’ll make you a deal, Grampa,” he said, nodding at my coat. “Hand those back to me, get going, and don’t ever show your face again. In return, I’ll leave your nose on straight.”

    The car was still sitting off the curb. I fell into the seat and motioned for Jay to get moving. He put the car in gear, looking me over.

    “So? What’d you score?”

    “Some good advice.”

    1. Bushkill

      Great ending and I loved the line “fists balled into blocks”. Ima gonna pilfer that at some point in the next decade or so. That entire sentence is truly sublime. I love it.

  19. ShamelessHack

    “Is this the place?”
    “I think so. Yeah this is the right address. I’ll knock on the door.”
    “Yes?”
    “Hello, ma’am. We’ve come to…”
    “Oh, don’t tell me, I know why you came. You want to see him, right?”
    “Yes, ma’am.”
    “OK, follow me. He’s out in the back. I guess I was expecting you fellas. You’re ‘Snowman,’ aren’t you?”
    “Yes.”
    “And you, you’re the one they call ‘Merry,’ right?”
    “My friends call me ‘Elf.’
    “And what about you? Who are you?”
    “Around these parts, they know me as ‘Chevy Chase.’ But my real name is ‘Reindeer Man.’
    “Ha! You don’t fool me with those silly names. I’m sure you’re all wiser than you look.”
    “We’re blushing.”
    “Blushing kings! Now I’ve heard it all. OK, he’s right here. Let me push aside the straw.”
    “Waah!”
    “Shh, it’s OK, son. You have three visitors. And they brought you some presents. Look! Snowman brought you frankincense, Merry brought you myrrh, and Chevy Chase brought you gold.”
    “My Lord!”
    “My Lord!”
    “My Lord!”
    “Stay down on your knees for as long as you like guys, it becomes you. And please…be of good Cheer.”

    ****

    Was that story related to the holidays? Hmm…that’s not certain. What IS certain is my wish for all my friends who write in this friendly little forum:

    A happy, peaceful, and blessed Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate at this blessed time of year…even if its merely a quiet walk under the endless winter stars.

    God bless you, every one!

    Shameless Hack

  20. Turkey Girl

    That annoying sniveling voice sounded behind her, trailing away as she headed quickly in the other direction. Holly shook her head, tossing her red hair out of her face. Her phone vibrated in her pocket. Reaching down, she pulled it out, glancing at it. Her friends wanted to meet at the coffee shop around the corner. The campus wasn’t that large, and her car was just across the street. She shot a quick text back, then checked her schedule. She sighed.

    “I still have to remember to buy Carol a birthday gift.”

    Shoving the phone back in her pocket, she slowed her walk as she approached the road. But then her blood turned cold. She heard a noise behind her. A small grey stone rolled between her legs and into her view. She turned around slowly to see who was behind her.

    Holly shuddered as she caught sight of the tall dark figure. A smug arrogant grin was plastered on the figure’s face. Greg. He was the local bully. On more than one occasion, he’d given her reason to hate him, trying to destroy her and get her expelled multiple times. Secretly, she wanted to kill him, but whenever she met him, she’d been too frightened to try anything. Her blood boiled as she realized she’d have to back down again.

    “Stop following me,” she said.

    “It’s a free country. I can walk wherever I want. Fight me.”

    Holly took in a deep breath. She was still terrified, but part of her was telling to push back this time. She knew she had to take a stand.

    “Someone has to bring this bully to justice and show him he’s nothing but a whimpering idiot!”

    Holly’s backpack slid from her shoulders, the small ornaments of the Eiffel Tower and the metal piece bearing her name jingling as they fell. It hit the ground with a thud. Holly took a step forwards.

    “You know what, I’m gonna take you up on your offer this time. Hope you’re not afraid to get hurt.”

    Greg faked a smile, but Holly could see that behind it, he was hiding an itching fear that she might just be stronger than he thought. Taking a few slow steps forwards, she suddenly rushed him, swinging her fists into his face and stomach repeatedly. She’d put him into retreat right from the start. Greg tried to walk backwards, but tripped on the curb and went sprawling on the sidewalk.

    But Holly didn’t stop. She continued to punch him. A small group of students was gathering around her, coming to cheer her on. Blood started to run from the side of his mouth, and only then did she stand up, panting and taking several steps away from him. Her gaze was fixed on him as she saw he was nothing more than a wimpy kid.

    Someone clapped her on the back. She turned to see Carol standing behind her.

    “You looked great,” she said. “Just like that elf from the Hobbit movie.”

    1. snuzcook

      You showed our MCs decision to choose courage over her fear well. She was afraid, but she made the decision to stand her ground anyway this time. That makes a great story.

  21. GrahamLewis

    Not trying to “bump” to the top, but I couldn’t stand leaving it with typos.

    SLAYTER LLC

    A late winter afternoon in my writing retreat, a small cabin behind the family home. I’d been struggling all day with what should have been a simple 30-second TV ad promoting a roofing company in nearby Chevy Chase, Maryland. The owner’s name was “Slayter” and he insisted on working the company logo into it, the name stylized into a stupid old-fashioned sleigh, which of course had absolutely nothing to do with roofing. Except for the obvious, which he had made clear was worn out. I took the job as a favor, never imagining I would have to put this much energy into this small time project. This was the first time gotten stuck in years; I’d always had a gift for jingles. Today my head seemed nothing but an ugly ornament, and my brain seemed as frozen as the one on that snowman outside my window.

    I heard a rap at the door. No one was supposed to disturb me at my work. They knew that. Grumbling I flung the door open. My wife Carol and our 5-year old daughter Holly came in. That little elf of a kid was enough to cheer anyone up, and I resolved that no job, certainly not this one, was more important than family. Carol had brought new-made scones and fresh coffee, and life seemed better. After we made merry for a few minutes, they left me to my work.

    And they left me with an idea. I sketched out a mother and young daughter, looking anxiously at their ceiling, which is bulging downward and beginning to drip. The announcer intones about how people sometimes take their roof for granted until it’s too late. The ceiling crashes down, and a herd of reindeer come down and gallop out of the room. The jingle comes up, “No need to be afraid of rain, dear, Slayter will be here . . . You’ll always be worry free, with Slayter Roofing, LLC.” Then the screen fills with that stupid Slayter Roofing logo.

    I cleaned it up and pushed “send.” Stupid but catchy, I hoped. For what they pay, it’s what they deserve. I poured out a cup of coffee and ate the last scone.

  22. jhowe

    The day was unseasonably warm, just a little below zero. Jingle cursed under his fog enhanced breath as his parole officer stamped his feet and waved from the doorway of the coffee shop where they’d met. What a buttonhole that guy was, telling Jingle to keep his nose clean. The small man loosened his jacket and removed his scarf. An ornament fell and shattered on the sidewalk and Jingle cursed again. The damn things appeared with no warning. Crimony it was hot. He was used to glaciers and reindeer and animated figures prancing about. Life in Buffalo was no picnic, so pity the fool that told him to cheer the heck up.

    The Snowman waited in the alley, bundled head to toe in white wool. He took Jingle’s roll of faded bills and slipped them in his pocket.

    “Aren’t you going to count it?” Jingle said, grabbing the foil wrapped packet.

    “If you can’t trust a grieving elf, who the hell can you trust.”

    Jingle cringed. A Christmas carol popped into his head and he fought the urge to sing. He could almost see the fricking sleigh, laden with gifts and draped with holly. What a joke. He should have used more gasoline. Wouldn’t that have been a hoot? The merry old fool got lucky. Who knew he kept a fire extinguisher behind the left runner. And then there was Prancer. That smug bastard and the pained look plastered on his snout; like he wouldn’t have loved the night off.

    Jingle lay on the ice in the alley, his paraphernalia scattered about. The curlicues were back on his shoes. No matter what he bought, the tips always curled up at the toe. He knew the pointy hat would be on his head, even in his enhanced stupor.

    “Nanna look,” a little boy said. “An elf.”

    Jingle jumped to his feet and roared with his tiny voice. He picked up the syringe and threw it at the boy. The woman screamed and gathered her charge and hurried off. A moment later a siren sounded in the distance. Jingle removed the green tasseled hat and tossed it behind some trash as another ornament fell and shattered. He picked up a shard and tried to slice his wrist but his skin wouldn’t cut. Who the hell decided elves should be immortal.

    The patrol car arrived and Officer Nicholas got out, shaking his silver maned head.

    “What would my brother think of this?” the officer said, removing the handcuffs from his belt.

    “Your brother can bite me.”

    The big man picked Jingle up by the collar and tossed him into the back of the car. “Third strike little man,” he said.

    Who gives a crap, Jingle thought. His lips began to tremble and sweat broke out on his forehead. Officer Nicholas gripped the wheel hard, his knuckles turning red. Both men moaned, fighting the urge, but soon they burst into raucous song. Passersby looked on in amazement when they saw Jingle and the officer, now sporting a full beard, get out of the car. They stood on the corner, the last day of February and sang carols until they were hoarse.

    1. Pete

      Oh man, from the opening this one was great. I loved the details, about the weather and the ornaments, and Officer Nicholas. I guess being an elf might drive one to the brink, huh? One of the better posts I’ve read in a while. Well done!

  23. AlaskasOwn

    Blood soaked into the snowman giving its frosty flesh a merry hue. The mere sight of that vivid holly red in an otherwise desolate plain of insipid white fury gave me a good source of cheer. My stranded state on the frozen tundra instilled in me a lonely madness that inspired me to create a friend, a companion. My creation, the snowman, more holiday elf than man, in good reason should have kept the beast away, but it had come just the same as though a gift from some unseen giver.
    The butchered reindeer could be the very element to preserve both body and mind to survive, alone, Dante’s lowest circle of Hell on earth. I loaded the quartered carcass onto my sleigh and utilized the antlers as both ornament and handle to pull my prize back towards camp. Each trudging step over the snow brought me closer and though my spirits were at first bright, the jingle of the keys still in my pocket returned to mind the plight upon my heart. If not for those keys perhaps I would not be forsaken now in the frozen wilderness. If those keys had never opened the door to the hotel room where I had found my beloved Carol atop Chevy Chase I could have stayed. Life would have been normal and I would not be a third to the peculiar dance with madness and survival.

  24. jhowe

    The day was unseasonably warm, just a little below zero. Jingle cursed under his fog enhanced breath as his parole officer stamped his feet and waved from the doorway of the coffee shop where they’d met. What a butthole that guy was, telling Jingle to keep his nose clean. The small man loosened his jacket and removed his scarf. An ornament fell and shattered on the sidewalk and Jingle cursed again. The damn things appeared with no warning. Damn it was hot. He was used to glaciers and reindeer and animated snowmen prancing about. Life in Buffalo was no picnic, so pity the fool that told him to cheer the frick up.

    The Snowman waited in the alley, bundled head to toe in white wool. He took Jingle’s wad of faded bills and slipped them in his pocket.

    “Aren’t you going to count it?” Jingle said, grabbing the foil wrapped packet.

    “If you can’t trust a goddamn elf, who the hell can you trust.”

    Jingle cringed. A Christmas carol popped into his head and he fought the urge to sing. He could almost see the fricking sleigh, laden with gifts and draped with holly. What a joke. He should have used more gasoline. Wouldn’t that have been a hoot? The merry old fool got lucky. Who knew he kept a fire extinguisher behind the left runner. And then there was Prancer. That smug bastard, the pained look plastered on his snout; like he wouldn’t have loved the night off.

    Jingle lay on the ice in the alley, his paraphernalia scattered about. The curlicues were back on his shoes. No matter what he bought, the tips always curled up at the toe. He knew the pointy hat would be on his head, even in his enhanced stupor.

    “Nanna look,” a little boy said. “An elf.”

    Jingle jumped to his feet and roared with his tiny voice. He picked up the syringe and threw it at the boy. The woman screamed and gathered her charge and hurried off. A moment later a siren sounded in the distance. Jingle removed the green tasseled hat and tossed it behind some trash as another ornament fell and shattered. He picked up a shard and tried to slice his wrist but his skin wouldn’t cut. Who the hell decided elves should be immortal.

    The patrol car arrived and Officer Nicholas got out, shaking his silver maned head.

    “What would my brother think of this?” the officer said, removing the handcuffs from his belt.

    “Your brother can bite me.”

    The big man picked Jingle up by the collar and tossed him into the back of the car. “Third strike little man,” he said.

    Who gives a crap, Jingle thought. His lips began to tremble and sweat broke out on his forehead. Officer Nicholas gripped the wheel hard, his knuckles turning red. Both men moaned, fighting the urge, but soon they burst into raucous song. Passersby looked on in amazement when they saw Jingle and the officer, now sporting a full beard, get out of the car. They stood on the corner, the last day of February and sang carols until they were hoarse.

  25. creaturescry

    Eggy the Elf didn’t choose to be the tour guide of the cookie factory. But there he was in the chocolate chip cookie costume wearing a serious frown on his face. The name tag which said ‘Carol’, the only name tag left, gleamed above his heart. A group of people dressed in poofy hazmats suits strolled by him to the break room on the other side like a parade of snowman. How could they be so cheerful when he felt so miserable? It was like they were mocking him with their stupid Merry attitudes.

    “Are you the tour guide?” asked a young woman.

    Eggy glared at the young woman, and then at her five year old daughter, “yes I’m Eggy and I’ll be your tour guide of the Troll house cookie factory, is it just you two?”

    “Yes,” the woman said, pulling her daughter closer to her.

    “Then let us begin the magical journey,” he began while leading them into the factory, then muttered to himself, “and lets hope you don’t get cavities.”

    “What was that last part sir?”

    “Stay on the path and follow me.”

    As they walked through the factory Eggy said a little about each section they came across like any good tour guide. But secretly inside his mind he made up his own descriptions sprinkled with profanities. He also suffered from chronic sweating due to the cookie suit and the unreal temperatures. Meanwhile the mother and daughter remained unharmed, which made him a little frustrated. Then the little girl asked a question which nearly made lose it for real.

    “Where is the magic?” she asked with beady black eyes trained on him.

    “I don’t know,” Eggy replied, fists clenched tight.

    “But the package says they’re full of magic.”

    “Holly dear that’s just…” her mother sighed.

    “I want a refund mommy!” she whined, throwing her arms about.

    I pulled off my suit and threw it at them, finally losing it for real, “here! Have this! A gift from me to you!”

    “What? We can’t take this from you! Its part of your job,” the mother gasped.

    “It doesn’t matter anymore since I quit!

    1. snuzcook

      Another powerful theme–when is enough enough? And what would it look like to recognize that moment? Interesting shift from third person to first person in the last three lines. Great illustration of throwing in the ‘cookie.’ ;0)

  26. creaturescry

    General Noah picked the leafs off the sprig of holly he had taken off the bush. With each leaf that fell his nerves grew worse and worse. He and the other two Generals had drawn straws to see who would meet with General Dominic, and he had drawn the shortest one. So there he was, trying to get his courage back while he waited for him. Then the door swung wide open and Niro’s doom entered with a cheerful smile. The jingle of the keys on his hip sending a shiver throughout his body.

    “Noah! What a pleasure to see you,” Dominic sang, sitting down beside him at the table, “we haven’t had a nice meeting like in quite a while!”

    “You’re very merry today aren’t you?” Noah mumermered with eyes cast down at the leaves on the floor.

    “I am aren’t I?’ Dominic replied proudly, tossing his head back, then added to his answer, “the torture sessions went well with the elf slaves. They confessed to where their little runaway friend was hiding.”

    “Oh,” his stomach churned like butter, he really couldn’t stand the man, “thats nice…”

    The air grew stale with the silence between the two generals. Noah himself was part dark woods elf, which was reflected through his dark skin and long pointed ears. So he had a special hate for Dominic, the General in charge of the prisons and elf slaves. But he had to work with him if he didn’t want to get mocked by the other two in their quartet of Generals. Which was why he managed to sit beside the man without running his sword through his chest.

    “Well there’s been another attack by the giants has occurred in the Hemlock region,” Noah spread a massive map out across the table, “King Ezra wants us to do something about it quickly since he was planning to put a fort there next summer.”

    “Let’s give them a little gift then shall we?” Dominic laughed, pulling out a little box, “a little Rose Oak poison on some of our slaves would do the trick, they do like Elves don’t they?”

    Noah bit his lip and nodded dumbly, holding back his anger as Dominic continued, “take them out on a sleigh and bam! The giants will be dead without an battle occurring.”

    It hurt him to hear those words, but he somehow managed to nod again. Even though Dominic was by far the worst of the two generals, there was something more disgusting about Noah’s betrayal. He knew he could save the elves who made up half of his being, except he didn’t. His self preservation kept him from saving millions of elves which worked just outside where he sat. on his shoulder sat a demon and an angel, one of which was bound and gagged by his own selfish fear.

  27. GrahamLewis

    SLAYER ROOFING, LLC

    A late winter afternoon in my writing retreat, a small cabin behind the family home. I’d been struggling all day with what should have been a simple 30-second TV ad promoting a roofing company in nearby Chevy Chase, Maryland. The owner’s name was “Slayter” and he insisted on working the company logo into it, the name stylized into a stupid old-fashioned sleigh, which of course had absolutely nothing to do with roofing. Except for the obvious, which he had made clear was worn out. I took the job as a favor, never imagining I would have to put this much energy into this small time project. This was the first time gotten stuck in years; I’d always had a gift for jingles. Today my head seemed nothing but an ugly ornament, and my brain seemed as frozen as the one on that snowman outside my window.

    I heard a rap at the door. No one was supposed to disturb me at my work. They knew that. Grumbling I flung the door open. My wife Carol and our 5-year old daughter Holly, came in. That little elf of a kid was enough to cheer anyone up, and I resolved no job, certainly not this one, was more important than family. Carol had brought new-made scones and fresh coffee, and life seemed better. After we made merry for a few minutes, they left me to my work.

    And they left me with an idea. I sketched out a mother and young daughter, looking anxiously at their ceiling, which is bulging downward and beginning to drip. The announcer intones about how people sometimes take their roof for granted until it’s too late. Suddenly the ceiling crashes down, and a herd of reindeer come down and gallop out of the room. The jingle comes up, “No need to be afraid rain, dear, Slayter’s on the way . . . You’ll always be worry free, with Slayter Roofing, LLC.” Then the screen fills with that stupid Slayter Roofing logo.

    I cleaned it up and pushed “send.” Stupid but catchy, I hoped. For what they pay, it’s what they deserve. I poured out a cup of coffee and ate the last scone.

  28. JRSimmang

    IT TURNS TO WHITE

    Nothing was left after February 6th. No trails, no rivers, no roads or rooftops. There was only white.

    White and solitude.

    At some point I gave up feeling like Superman; I don’t remember when. They say memory becomes frail and fragile when night and day can no longer be distinguished from each other. They say that memory needs events to have context, loci, in order to become imprinted in our minds. Perhaps, then, the snows are the perfect antidote to wiping our minds clean, nature’s whitewash.

    The last Arctic reindeer was seen around 1900 in Greenland (How many times had I seen “The Princess Bride”? How many more times would I see it?). It was a little more than a foregone conclusion that the species was extinct, so I was intrigued after Dr Nooritsky of the Greenland International Federation of Taxonomists called me claiming he found a small pocket of Arctic reindeer in the hinterlands.

    Nooritsky looked like a nobody. His impish features, white stubbly beard, and unkempt locks of stringy hair, reminded me more of Grimm elves than of research scientist. He was plaintively forgettable. I did not expect he would have a trio of trackers he called Snowmen, pedigree experts, and sleigh with a full complement of supplies for the week.

    “These men, especially that Snowman,” he said, his accent drenched in Norsk, “will take you 72 kilometers north by northeast to near Mylius Erichsonland. From there, you will need to traverse another eleven klicks 320 degrees. That is where I found them. Please, please do not disturb them.”

    “Are you sure they’re Arctic?” I asked, rather stupidly.

    He narrowed his eyes at me in response. Richter, the Snowman Dr Nooritsky pointed out, jingled his keys before announcing departure. We had twenty minutes to load up and haul out. Richter and his team did the heavy lifting, packs of MREs, tinder, and toilet buckets. He slung his rifle over his shoulder and we stepped out into the cold.

    “Why firearms?” We were rounding the outside of the encampment when I guess I noticed enough to ask.

    “Predators,” was all he said.

    Greenland is topographically a pyramid. Ice stacks from the coast to the center of the megaisland. This makes traversing it treacherous. Richter kept his eyes straight ahead, never blinking as far as I could tell, and one hand on his sidearm. The other two rode advanced in front of us.

    “Weather,” he muttered.

    “Weather?” I returned.

    He pulled off of the trail and radioed his contingent. They did the same.

    “We’re going to make some decisions,” he told me. “Stay.”

    I didn’t know if I was more shocked at the number of words he spoke to me, or if I was just stunned at being ordered around like a dog. Regardless, I sat, mouth agape, until I heard the gunshots.

    Three in total.

    Then, there was nothing. There were no birds. There was no wind. The sky was darkening to a threatening shade of grey, and I was sitting in the passenger seat of the sleigh.

    What do people do when they cannot comprehend a moment? We hear that we fear what we cannot understand. We are told that we choose not to recognize events too traumatic to recall, that we voluntarily, subconsciously delete those memories. But, do they ever disappear?

    I stepped from the sleigh and onto the packed powder. Dead people smell like a machine shop.

    The two Snowmen laid face down, one under a tree and the other on the trail behind the toboggan. Richter was on his belly and halfway back to the sleigh.

    His hand reached up to the sky.

    I ran over to him and grabbed at his hand. “It’s okay, buddy. It’s okay. I’m here. We’ll radio, and we’ll get others out here. We’ll – ”

    He tore his hand from mine to push himself over, met my eyes, and pointed straight up. “Run,” he said in between gurgles of bloody froth.

    What does the body do when it sees death for the first time? What is instinct? Were we cannibals, humans, before we discovered humans were more than animals? Do animals have the same reverence for their own kind like we do?

    I followed his hand up, past the red stains on the snow pile, past the pine cones and sagging branches, past the acrid smell of blood ornamenting the spring air, and toward the first snowflake gingerly alighting on the tops of the trees.

    I ran like he told me, and locked the car.

    The radio was silent.

    The snow fell on the sleigh for I don’t know how long.

    In the dark, memories cannot find purchase. My mind wandered to the Arctic reindeer, and I wondered how much longer they would also forget they ever existed.

    -JR Simmang

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      What a powerful piece. Have you been to Greenland? If it’s not as you describe, it should be. One tiny question, where did the car come from? Oh, and another, who killed the Snowmen? Great writing.

      1. JRSimmang

        Thanks, Reatha. Never been to Greenland; just a great memory for places I’ve never seen.
        I changed sleigh to car toward the end, and that’s not a clear transition. In answer to your other question, that’s one of the mysteries. I may continue this one on my blog and answer that question later…

    2. snuzcook

      Hauntingly poetic, evocative of cold desolation and the confusion of the hypothermic mind. Strong writing.

      However, the weird in this week’s prompt has me anticipating that Santa’s aloft, he’s packing heat, and it’s not safe for anyone ‘naughty’ to come near his reindeer.

  29. snuzcook

    She said her name was Holly. Of course it was. Working in a strip club called The North Pole I naturally expected a stage name. We sat in a booth at the back of the room. Her shift was over and she had changed into street clothes and scrubbed off the glitter. She looked like anybody’s kid sister or the girl next door. She was telling me that she needed a professional to take care of some guy that was stalking her. Nothing new here.

    I was distracted by the redhead onstage wearing reindeer antlers, long black gloves, a puffy little tail, and not much else. Some drunk had a knee up on stage and was trying to pull off her tail. The two bouncers had spotted him and were moving in. In their bizarre outfits, muscle shirts with red pants and green suspenders and their names, Merry and Carol, in block letters on their expansive chests, they were incredibly threatening, like henchmen of some deranged evil Santa. “Let me go! I’m not doing anything,” the drunk wailed loudly as they dragged him across the room. “We’re just helping you to your sleigh, Bub,” smirked one of the bruisers as they tossed him out the door to a waiting cab. “Yeah,” added the other. “You’re over your limit of Christmas cheer!”

    Holly gripped my wrist. “He’s here!” she hissed, eyes wide. I followed her stare. A snowman was gliding toward us. Actually, a guy on skates in a snowman costume was bumping awkwardly between the tables. He had something in his hands he was shoving in our direction.

    I jumped up and blocked him, but one of the waitresses dressed as an elf was in the way and the three of us went careening into the big pink aluminum Christmas tree. We struggled—the elf screeching and whacking me with her tray, the snowman kicking at me with his skates and trying to punch me, broken branches and ornaments popping all around as we rolled across the floor. I had a hard time getting a grip on the guy around his costume and I finally had to just sit on him. When the dust settled I was tangled in strings of blinking lights like something out of a Chevy Chase movie.

    I pulled off his costume head. Holly gasped. “That’s Darryl, my ex. He walked out on me and moved to Toledo!”
    I couldn’t tell if she was going to swoop down and hug him or nail him in the ribs with the toe of her pointy little shoe. “You want him?”

    “God, no!”

    Merry and Carol ‘helped’ the broken and bleeding snowman to his feet and wheeled him away. I picked up the package he had been so intent on delivering. It was covered in brown paper, and there was a gift tag that said “To Holly: You Melt my Cold Cold Heart.” I shook it gently. It jingled.
    “How about this, you want it?”

    Holly took it gingerly and opened the gift. Inside was a small portable hair dryer with a couple of jingle bells attached to it with a red ribbon.

    Holly frowned. “I don’t understand.”

    “He’s a snowman. Think about it.”

    I walked out into the thick reality of the July night where the only reminders of the last few wasted hours were the red and green traffic lights. As I listened to the echo of my own footsteps I realized my sympathies were with the snowman.

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Reatha. What is it about certain place names? Responding to the rhetorical, since I find the topic fasciantingl: I suspect it has to do with how much the smile and laugh muscles around the mouth are stimulated when you say the name–like Walla Walla, or Saskatoon. Reverse engineering emotion by stimulation of the facial expression components?

  30. jhowe

    I would like to say again that I really enjoy the efforts of Jess for this prompt site. The art, the captions, the write-ups, the creative prompts and the personal notes are above and beyond anything I could expect for this type of gathering. Cheers Jess.

    1. Jess Zafarris Post author

      Thank you indeed! Cheers to you as well. So far for this prompt, I’m most impressed by the number of people who have managed to include Chevy Chase. 😉

  31. ReathaThomasOakley

    “Arlee?” Marge called from the kitchen. “You busy?”

    “No, dear. Just reading,” he hurriedly turned the page of the AARP magazine from the S*x after Sixty article, “about those pesky phone scams. You need me to reach something for you?”

    “No, just need a name, that funny tall young man we used to watch on that show I don’t think is on any more. He’d fall down stairs and such like he was President Ford.” Marge came into the den. “I just can’t recall his name, but I keep thinking of Maryland, but I don’t think it’s Baltimore.”

    “Chevy Chase, Marge, and the show’s still on, we just don’t stay up that late any more. Why ever were you wanting his name?”

    “Well, since I’m planning the church Fourth of July picnic, along with Holly and Carol, I thought we’d do some fun things before the fireworks, maybe have a trivia quiz with a little gift, something cheerful, for whoever answers the most. Maybe have a sing-along, folks love that merrily we roll along song, or, I just thought of this, a jingle writing contest using a bunch of random words.” Marge took a breath. “What do you think?”

    “Honey, if that’s what you want to do, it’ll be great.” He folded the magazine. “You’re one smart cookie, not just an ornamental gal.”

    “Oh, Arlee, you’re still the snow man, your compliments just sleigh me, like one of those wagons, with horses, in old pictures.”

    “What?” Here we go, Arlee thought.

    “Not that you’d really run me over, I was just using that as a metaphor for how fast your mind works.” She put her finger to her lips. “Or, maybe fast like those herds of reindeer in Lapland we saw on PBS.” She headed back to the kitchen. “You want some cookies? I just bought some of those they say are baked by elves in a hollow tree.”

    “No, thank you.” Arlee went back to reading.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, JR. I’m considering entering a contest, non-fiction category, doing something on aging couples, like these two. I have lots of material.

    1. Bushkill

      I think I can hear myself and my wife having a conversation like that … though I think the roles are reversed … I’m the forgetful one when it comes to silver screen names.

      Clever story and I love the inclusion of carrol and holly as names. good one, that.

  32. Big Tastey

    I’m a jingle writer, so maybe you’ve heard of me. I wrote the jingle for the county morgue “da-da-da, you stab ’em, we slab ’em”. I’ll admit it’s not particularly cheerful, but I’ve always thought that merry jingles are a dime a dozen. Hallmark made sure of that with every holiday they could think of. And there’s not a lot of money in writing jingles NOT associated with the holidays, so I wasn’t what you would consider a wealthy man.

    One fateful day, Holly, the car saleswoman, showed me the new 2018 Chevy Sleigh and I knew I was in trouble. I couldn’t afford it. If I bought it, my wife Carol would kill me. She would cut through me like a blow torch through a snowman. And the results would be the same. There’d be nothing left of me. But I wanted this car. When was the last time I bought something for myself? I worked hard. I deserved something nice every once in a while. It would be an early birthday gift to myself. I told Holly “let’s write it up.”

    We went into her manager’s office where I met a little elf of a man named Chase. He wrote up the sales deal while I fidgeted in my seat.

    “You’re going to love this car.” Chase said. “All I need is your signature.”

    I hesitated. It was a big decision. A decision I was making without my wife Carol.

    “Is there anything wrong?” Chase said.

    “I know I’ll love this Chevy, Chase, but I wonder if I should talk to my wife about it first.” I said.

    “What’s to talk about? Your credit is good. Besides, this is the last Sleigh I have in stock.” Chase said.

    I signed the paperwork.

    As I was driving my new Sleigh home I thought about what I was going to say to Carol. It’s a safe car. State of the art radar avoidance system. Everyone will envy us. I’ll be the driver, and you can relax, sit back, and be the ornament.

    As I turned a corner the reindeer air freshener swayed to and fro. Its ink-dot eye seemed to be mocking me. Ah, who was I kidding. I was driving home to my own funeral. My own jingle ran around inside of my head … you stab ’em, we slab ’em.

    Merry Christmas. Wishing everyone a safe and happy new year.

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