When I heard that it was time for Susanna Hill’s Fourth Annual Holiday Contest two thoughts sprung to mind:
- Didn’t I just do the Halloween Contest? (Answer: Yes. Yes, I did.)
But that’s holidays for you; they like to creep up when you least expect ’em.
So, between the decorating, the cards, the shopping, and all the extra work that makes me a Christmas crabbypants, I wrote a story!
And writing this story, I am pleased to say, made me a lot less crabby. So thank you, Susanna, for that much-needed dose of de-grinching.
The contest rules are simple: In 350 words or fewer, write a story in which wild weather impacts the holidays.
A CARBON CHRISTMAS
Santa numbly stared at the enormous hole in the ice.
“Did everyone get out?” he asked.
“We’re all here,” an elf replied. “But the toys…”
Santa nodded. His beloved factory was deep underwater. All the toys were inside.
“I told you we needed to move,” Mrs. Claus sighed. “Haven’t you heard of Global Warming? Why would you build a factory on a glacier? And Christmas is just one week away!”
Santa nodded once again. One week wasn’t enough time to make new toys. He needed to get them from someone else.
“We’d love to help you, Mr. Claus!” said the chipper factory manager. His factory was a lovely place, filled with happy workers making excellent toys of all kinds. “Here’s the estimate!”
“Estimate?” Santa asked.
“Well, sure! We don’t give toys away. Making toys for millions of children costs 32 billion dollars.”
Santa coughed. “Could I maybe pay you in cookies?”
“Get out,” said the manager.
The second toy factory had much lower prices.
“Is that lead paint?” Santa asked.
“Just a little,” the man assured him.
“Are you putting broken toys in boxes?”
“Broken toys are cheaper!”
Santa walked away in disgust.
“It’s no use,” he told his elves. “We can’t make deliveries this year.”
He went on TV. Through his tears, Santa let the world know. Then he sadly steered his sleigh for home.
When he arrived, he found an enormous pile of boxes waiting for him.
“What are these?” he asked.
He pulled a note off one box. It read:
I was sad to hear you couldn’t make toys this year. So I took my allowance money and bought this one. Could you give it to somebody who’d like it?
Santa looked at the other notes. Every box was a gift for someone else. And more boxes were arriving by the second.
“It’s unbelievable!” Then Santa remembered how long his “Nice List” was and it didn’t seem so unbelievable anymore.
“We’re delivering toys!” Santa announced. The elves cheered.
“And, for the record,” he added. “We’re no longer giving out coal.”
88 Replies to “Christmas Contest!”
Oh, Mike! You’ve brought a tear to my eye, renewed my faith in the goodness of all us feebly thoughtful souls, and reminded me to check my home insurance. We’re very close to sea level and just a couple of blocks from the San Francisco Bay. Cheers!
I am delighted to hear that my story moved you — both emotionally and to a better insurance plan.
And if someday you fine folks do get washed out, please be aware that there is a lot of high ground in New Jersey. (Unfortunately, New Jersey is also filled with people from New Jersey, which is its own special kind of natural disaster.)
LOL… there IS a measure of truth to that NJ statement! You never cease to amuse me 🙂
More than a measure, my friend. Pound for pound, New Jersey has by far the most New Jersey residents.
You know, Bob Shea is one of the funniest people around. I think you’d give him a run for his money 😉
Awesome story! That line about the coal is perfect and so funny! Two thumbs up from me. 🙂
Thanks, Teresa! I will see your thumbs and raise you a grateful bloggy hug.
You packed a lot of great, unexpected twists in this fantastic story! And the picture is adorable!
Thanks, Ariel. Susanna loves to keep those word counts low, which forces me to shove in the necessary plot points with a crowbar and a comically large cartoon mallet.
Awh that’s adorable! Cool idea to put them under water.
Thanks. I’m sure Santa could’ve saved some of the bath toys.
Great story! I will be reading this to my kids 🙂
Cool beans! Lemme know what they think!
And the results are in….success with a 6 and 3 yr old 🙂 thnx for the great holiday story!
Groovy! Give your little ones my happiest Christmas wishes.
Mike, this story is SO clever, I’m beside myself here. AND I noticed—the Mad Doodler is at it again! 😀 😀 😀
All doodlers are mad. You know this, yes?
So THAT explains it! I should’ve known THIS was indication of my extreme sanity! 😉
That’s a wonderful Christmas story. It’s also very timely. This should become a classic.
Thanks, my friend! I am already planning to rework this one for submission.
Thrilled to hear this, but don’t rework it TOO much! Don’t go squeezing the magic out of it 😀
Aw… You got my vote! 😀
Aw! Yer a sweetie!
Aww…funny and sweet. A brilliant combo of the dangers of global warming and greed vs. the nice brigade. I loved it.
Thanks, Nancy! Are you entering the contest, too? ‘Cause you should!
I am re-telling this wonderful story to my 10 year old daughter who actually still believes in Santa. Covered in awesome sauce! Thank you!
Wow! Ten! You must be brilliant at making magic!
Do let me know what she thinks of the story, OK? I’ve already have possible revisions running through my noodle.
She gives it a 👍! She loved the first factory worker part! 😄
Wonderful! Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Yay!! A wonderful story – and love the pictures, too! Thank you for the smile 🙂
Thank *you* for the kind words, Allison!
Once again, Mike — a great one!
Thanks, Teresa! I’m glad you liked it!
Aww, how sweet.
You’re sweet, too!
Have been eagerly waiting your entry. What will Mike write next. Was hoping someone would do something around global warming. And, you did with a great plot with the right amount of danger.! Very original and your ending caught me off guard.
Thanks, Patricia, for your very kind words!
Mike, This is very cute! Love how you turned the story of Santa on its head. I don’t think you have to go so far as to get rid of the coal, though. The guy selling broken and lead-painted toys could sure use some coal. Good luck in the contest!
The problem with giving Lead Paint Guy coal is that he’d just go ahead and burn it. Unfortunately, giving a naughty person a solar panel isn’t much of a punishment.
Very original to use global warming! And I like the subtle message at the end–Christmas is about giving!
I’m glad you liked it. Many thanks!
Nice job, Mike. Great story problem and excellent solution. Very touching. Love the humorous but meaningful last line.
Mike, EXCELLENT story!!! The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to send Santa some presents to get him in gear!!!! HA! Love the global warming spin and showing the Christmas spirit shine through.
Cheer! Gear! You gotta good verse thing going. I’m heading over to your blog to see your contribution!
Great story, great doodle – and great lesson. YOU WIN!!! And I’m sitting here at the cafe with a goofy smile on my face, so you win ‘cheering up’ points too. THANKS.
Yer a peach.
While I love winning contests, cheering up points are the wins I genuinely covet.
What a lovely heart-warming story. It’s a modern classic! (I know you only just wrote it, but that just makes it an even more modern classic). 🙂
Thanks for the kind words, Vanessa. But you know what else is a modern classic? “Sprout Story,” my previous post you didn’t comment on!
(See? I can play this game, too! HA!)
Aww, see, I missed that then! I will go and check it out later. I’ve been around blogs a little less than usual over last couple of weeks due to general busyness, so I’ve missed a few from my regulars!
No pressure. I just saw an opportunity to tease you.
Sounds like it should be a picture book. Love the caption on the last illustration.
Shh. Don’t tell anyone, but I might attempt to make it a PB (after a few jillion rewrites, of course).
Hi Mike- great story. And great minds think alike – my story was also a global warming themed one, though with a different take. Love the ending.
Say wha? Heading over now!
That may have just put me in the Christmas spirit. We did our 2nd annual toy drive here, but this story was the icing on the cake.
I’m delighted to hear this, my friend!
I see you have a growing fan base, Mike. This is a great story! I hope you do make it into a pb, it’s timely. 🙂
I loved your story! I hope you’re planning to submit it to an agent. 🙂
Thanks so much! And yup, I’ll submit it once it’s ready.
Underpants for the naughty kids, instead of coal…yes. Why didn’t we think of that sooner? Good job! And good luck!
Socks are also an excellent “You’ve Been Rotten” gift. Or a new toothbrush. Or plain white pillowcases.
Or “Merry Christmas, kid! Here’s a box of shredded wheat!”
I really should be hired by The Big Guy to handle the naughty list.
Love this!!! Will make a great PB.
This deserves holiday cartoon fame. Move over Frosty.
Oh, I like you’re thinking Cricket.
I never did understand the appeal of that crystallized ice man.
Yeah, what’s up with teaching kids to get attached to fareweather friend–he only fares well when it’s cold outside!
Love it! This is the second post I’ve read this morning about her contests. I think I might give it a go :).
Oh, yes, please do!
What a great story! The “no coal” policy is a good one for parents to remember, too. =)
I concur. Thanks Bridget!
Isn’t this how An Inconvenient Truth ended?! Love your Carbon Christmas.
Are you telling me Al Gore is Santa? Cause I ain’t buying it.
YES, turn it into a PB! I love the original concept, the humor laced w/meaning of the season. Bet you are a top 10 entry, Mike. Cheers.
Thanks! I had a good time writing this.
“I think I’ll just give the bad kids underpants” – hahaha! That would be punishment indeed! Great story, Mike! Love the mix of action, humor, and poignancy. You got the “AW!” moment with the letter from the unselfish child! And I laughed out loud when the chipper factory manager said, “Get out.” 🙂 Thanks so much for joining in the holiday fun – I’m glad you’re feeling less crabby 🙂
Thanks so much for pulling me out of my crabby, my friend! I do so love taking part in your writing contests.
I love the illustrations, Mike, and the last line was a kicker! 🙂 I chuckled when Mrs. Claus said they should have moved. 🙂 A fun read.
Seriously, what kind of a building foundation is ice? What was The Big Guy thinking?
Really great writing — short and snappy with fun humor. I almost missed the best part — “I think I’ll just give the bad kids underpants” — so glad I read Susanna’s comment.
I can’t fathom where the coal idea came from. Underwear is the ultimate you were terrible all year gift. That and a stocking full of Brussels sprouts.
I am so glad that writing the story made you uncrabby because it made me uncrabby too. Thank you.
Then my job here is done.
“If you believe in fairies, clap your hands.” Mike, I still remember standing up in the movie theater in 1953 and clapping my hands until they hurt. Your story gave me the same warm happy feeling. What a lovely unique take on the Christmas spirit…Kudos to you. 😉
Aw! Thanks Vivian. I’m glad it gave you the warm fuzzies.
Great job, Mike! Very funny and clever!