Tag Archives: Christmas

Mixed Signals

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! Thank you to everyone who has read any of my stories over the past year. I am looking forward to big things in the coming year.

By the way, this story takes place before COVID times. 🙂

Mixed Signals

I’d spent a week preparing for the Christmas party. We even got an eggnog fountain.

Little Ellie-Mae wanted to put a sign at the end of the driveway, so people knew where to turn. “Eggnog for all!” it would say.

Twenty minutes later, she was back. She’d made the letters too big. “Can it just say EGGNOG?”


Ten minutes later, she returned. “How many G’s does ‘eggnog’ have?”


“Oh. I only put one in.”


When no one showed up, I walked down to the road to look for cars.

That’s how we learned about Ellie-Mae’s dyslexia.

copyright Trish Nankivell

Portentous Tinsel

My apologies to all my Friday Fictioneers friends that I could not read your stories a few weeks back. I usually try to read as many as I can but this has been a busy time. I’m looking forward to reading them this week, plus looking forward to Thanksgiving in a few weeks when I can get a few days off.

copyright Dale Rogerson

Portentous Tinsel

Dad thought Christmas made everything better, so when he started putting up decorations in August, we knew something terrible had happened.

Jasmine felt the dog’s pulse as Dad assembled the Christmas tree. When he put on carols, I called to check on Grandma.

By the afternoon, he was putting up the outside lights and my search history included words like “asteroid” and “zombies”. Mom had no idea, but she gave us a signed affidavit they weren’t getting divorced.

Dad came inside. “Merry Christmas.” He wiped away a tear. “I have tragic news. Tom Seaver died today.”

Silence. “Who?” Mom asked.

In case your reaction was the same as Mom’s: Tom Seaver

Playing Chicken on Christmas

Christmas chicken

How does this happen every year? I’m standing on a suburban street with the Christmas stars burning overhead as my parents hurtle towards each other in their cars, going 88 miles per hour as if they want to go back in time and fix the whole big mess they’ve gotten themselves into. And I’m standing between them, like I’m the Hulk or something, hoping they’ll come to their senses and not kill me and each other.

Where to begin? Part of it is the eggnog. Mom makes it virgin but then Dad adds a nip of brandy to it; Grandma Helen splashes in some bourbon and Uncle Murray ends up dumping in some vodka, ‘cuz he’s got no sense. And then of course, you get the years when the dog or the baby drool in it, but you can’t blame them because Uncle Bert keeps putting the bowl on the floor. Anyway, it ends up one potent, disgusting mix, but we all drink it anyway ‘cuz it’s tradition.

Then there’s the board game tournament. I don’t know who came up with this particular tradition (that apparently God Himself couldn’t set aside for one measly year) but they were no friend of our family, it seems. Monopoly, Scrabble and Spades are the staples but sometimes they throw in a kid version too for the littler ones. By this time, all the adults have had a couple glasses of eggnog or a few slices of my cousin Jewel’s rum cake, which is more rum than cake. We argue for fifteen minutes about house rules, and keep arguing as we play. Uncle Murray always cheats, Aunt Pat always yells at him for it, and Mom yells at everyone to be civil. Dad keeps quiet but as the stress mounts, I can see his hands twitching for the smoke he hasn’t had in six years.

By the time the games are over, it’s about 8pm on Christmas Day and everyone is just about sick of each other. That would be a great time to call it quits or watch a movie or something, but tradition is the rule of law in our house, and what comes next is Christmas carols. You’d think this would calm everyone down but nope. Mom wants to only sing religious songs and Jewel wants to sing Rudolph. No one else cares, but soon we’re all shouting at each other to calm down.

Mom blows up when she’s stressed but not Dad. He’s like a sponge and I can see it all working on him, twitching him up good. I swear this is the only day of the year he regrets quitting smoking. I see him working up and every year, I try to think how to stop what’s coming and every year, I just can’t.

The next tradition is dancing, although it never lasts long. The problem is that after all the stress, my mom really wants my dad to dance with her and calm her down. Stress makes her lonely. Dad’s the opposite and although he’s a good dancer, stress makes him want to go away and be alone. She yells at him for ruining the holiday, accuses him of not liking her, stuff like that, and I wonder if I’m the only one who sees what’s going to happen—maybe they all can too, but no one can stop it either.

At a certain point, my dad snaps, just starts yelling. He storms outside and gets in his car. Mom bursts into tears, then gets real angry and follows him.

And here’s the part no one really understands, at least I don’t. Dad takes off in one direction, Mom in the other. They go up to the stoplights at each end of our road, then turn around, like they’ve reconsidered and are going to make up. But they come at each other and just floor it, like all the stress of the day is going into the gas pedal.

Every year, I consider letting them just have at it. They would swerve at the last minute. They wouldn’t crash into each other. Except there’s that tiny spark of fear in me that this year, the stress and eggnog will be too much and they just won’t and I’ll be an orphan. So I run out in the road, pleading for them to stop.

Sometimes they stop in plenty of time. Sometimes they swerve, lose control and hit a snowbank. Mom got a slight concussion one year, but that’s been the worst of it.

So now I’m watching the headlights of Mom’s Sonata and Dad’s RAV4 bearing down on me but I don’t see my loving parents behind the wheel; I see all the stress of trying to make everything perfect and keep every tradition to the letter all come down on me and I hope it won’t kill me this year. But then I hear the screech of brakes and both cars come to a stop. A little closer than I’d like, but still in the safe zone. They get out, Mom crying and even Dad looking a bit misty-eyed. We all hug and everyone apologizes and we all go inside.

Playing chicken on Christmas is a tradition in our family, even if it’s not one people talk about. It’s one I’d kind of like to change, but maybe it’s got its place as a safety valve for the stress. And as long as it doesn’t kill anyone, I guess that’s okay.

3 Thoughts on the War on Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Green-Walled Tower! I got the ladder out and put up lights around the ivy and put a bit of mistletoe somewhere, in case the missus wanders by. I’m sitting, looking out my window at the world all lit up with lights and I notice a small point of conflict.war on christmas

Apparently there is a war on Christmas. For those of you who haven’t heard this term before, it is the conflict (mostly in North America) about saying Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays, and using religious Christmas images in public places. I’m not here to debate the details of this or to say that there isn’t a war on Christmas. I’m here to say why it doesn’t matter one way or the other. I know that this is a very charged issue for a lot of people, but please here me out.

What does Christmas mean?

I’m sure you could get a million answers to this question, ranging from “absolutely nothing” to “buying a lot of expensive crap” to “spending time with family and friends” and “celebrating the birth of Jesus”. Sure, the birth of Jesus is the original meaning of Christmas, but all of these answers are valid. I’m not saying that all of them should or shouldn’t be the meaning of Christmas, but pragmatically, they are. Christmas is a lot of things to a lot of people.

I always try to be a peacemaker and I try to see both sides of every issue. As a Christian, I understand people getting upset that Jesus, not only the reason for the holiday in the first place, but also our Savior, gets a back seat to Santa Claus a lot of times. However, for those of you who think that there is a war on Christmas, I have three thoughts.


1. The original Christmas story is unchanged

I just went and watched the second Hobbit movie a couple days ago. And while I didn’t like everything about it, it was a pretty good movie. However, even if they had really butchered it, the book The Hobbit would have remained unchanged. That is how I view Christmas. Rudolph and Santa cannot erase the Christmas story. Christmas has survived the introduction of Christmas trees, holly, and mistletoe, as well as numerous other traditions that have nothing to do with the original Christmas. Even if the word Christmas is eventually effaced from public usage and people use the term Annual Gift Exchange Day or Santamas, it still won’t affect the original meaning of Christmas, which brings me to the second point.


2. What matters most is how you personally celebrate Christmas

In Korea, Christians in Korea go to church most of the day and then go help poor people. This makes me a bit embarrassed since although I’m a Christian, I don’t go to church on Christmas (that’s for Christmas Eve). Christmas for me is a time for family. I wouldn’t want Koreans judging me for not going to church and so I should not judge others if they want to say Happy Holidays or  read The Night Before Christmas instead of Luke 2. Honestly, I think it’s pretty impressive that non-Christians talk and sing about Jesus as much as they do around Christmas time.

Christmas peace

3. Let’s have a little peace, shall we?

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)


Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you have a great day.

Merry Christmas, from the Green-Walled Tower

Merry Christmas everyone! Happy other holidays too, but since today is Christmas, that’s a good place to start.

Random Christmas fact: did you know that using Xmas for Christmas is hundreds of years old? The “X” stands for the Greek letter “chi” which is the first letter in the Greek spelling of “Christ”.

Anyway, I truly hope you have (or had) a great day, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. At my friends’ house, we were talking about what Christmas means to each of us. Most people said two main things: it is a day to spend with family and it is a celebration of Jesus coming to Earth. However, another theme was that it is a time for reconciliation and restarting things. It is a day of hope. Or it can be, at least.

Thank you again for reading the blog and I hope you have a great season.


manger scene

Visual Fiction – Birds of Hope

I had toiled many days through the snowy mountains until my strength and spirit were almost gone. I was about to despair when I came to an area where stone lanterns sat, capped in snow. Nothing was moving, save a few small birds, which filled the air with their chirping. I tried to move on, but they fluttered around me, always blocking my way.

Stone lantern

Taken in Odaesan National Park, Korea

I finally held out my hand and one of the birds came and perched on it. It may have been my fatigued state, but it seemed to me that the bird spoke to me. “There is hope,” it said. “You have wandered many days and do not know, but today is Christmas. It is a day when all people can find hope, for it was the day that the great Hope came into the world.”

friendly bird

With that, it flew away and although it would not come back to my hand again, I followed the birds to a hidden path and found myself at last in the land of life and hope.

Feline Relations – Friday Fictioneers

The Christmas edition of the Friday Fictioneers. Click here to look at some more stories.

Copyright Scott Vannatter

Copyright Scott Vannatter

You are dreaming.

“…I’m dreaming.”

Cats don’t write Christmas cards.

“…Cats don’t write Christmas cards.”

You will mail these cards tomorrow without question.

“…I’ll mail those cards tomorrow. No questions.”

Go back to bed.

“…I’m going back to bed now.”

And open a can of tuna before you go, would you? The good stuff.

“…Uh …okay.”

(two weeks later)

“Hey honey, I just got some Christmas cards in the mail. Do you know someone called Mr. Lynx? Also, there’s one from a family by the name of Ocelots. Oh no, the cat just grabbed them. Now he’s staring at me…”

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