The Newfoundland Herald, in connection with the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland & Labrador, challenged readers from grade 7-12 to send us their original ideas for our Christmas Story Contest! This year’s theme? Tell us Santa’s back story. We received dozens of inventive and original pieces, but only five could be selected for publication. Here are our final honourable mentions and winner!
Santa Drives a Snowmobile
BY Erica Emily House, Port Saunders — Honourable Mention
It was a blustery winter day in the quaint town of Donner Lake, when Johnny and a few of his buddies were preparing and getting things ready for their annual cross-country skidoo trip. Snowmobiles were parked outside of Johnny’s home, and bags were stuffed full of delicious food, and warm drinks. Snow suits were laid upon the floor, and ready to be slipped upon their layered bodies, while helmets and gloves were getting toasted by the wood stove.
Johnny, who was known as the leader when they went on outings, was a bigger man, extreme in height, and had a bushy beard with hairs that were turning gray.
The other boys were known by the names of; Larry, Max, Henry, and Rudy. All four of these men were similar in looks. They were quite short, each with brownish hair, and they had not one pinch of hair on their youthful looking faces. They were all eagerly awaiting to get suited up, and head to the woods.
Around 1 o’clock, the blustery weather had ended and they were finally ready to hit the powder. Just before the five men got ready to leave the house, they each laid a smooch upon their wives’ cheeks, took a final look at the warm lights of the Christmas tree, said their goodbyes, and headed out the door.
They started their skidoos, one by one, and the loud muffle of their engines seemed to scream out in the cold. They stopped one final time at the gas station, then finally made their way along the skidoo trail.
The trails were perfectly groomed and were quickly filling with fresh powder. It took about three hours of straight going, broke up with some stops, for them to finally eye the base of Bluebird Mountain.
The first part up Bluebird was quite pleasant, but visibility was low. As they made it through the trees and open terrain they reached the deep gulch. Once they entered the snowy gulch, everything was silent.
The wind had almost stopped and there was a sense of peace. At this time they stopped for a small break, each taking out their food and indulging, whilst singing Christmas carols and talking about fond memories they had shared in the past.
After about an hour of this, they got on their sleds and drove a little bit further, only to have the silence interrupted with a loud rumbling and roaring bangs.
‘You saved our lives’
The boys looked out through their goggles and saw nothing but disaster. In the distance, two out of Johnny’s four other friends were fiercely flung off their skidoos and one looked to be buried. The snow was tumbling down and crushing the sleds. After the chaos seemed to be going on forever, everything stopped. Maybe Johnny blacked out, or maybe something beyond that happened, but when he awoke, everything was poles apart from what he had last seen.
There was Christmas music playing loudly somewhere near, short men were running around hysterically, and trees danced in the cool breeze wrapped with lines of lights.
Johnny looked to his right and to his surprise he saw Henry and Rudy, and to his left he spotted Larry and Max, alive and laughing. They were wrapped up in blankets and drinking hot cocoa.
Johnny came to his feet and was almost knocked back down again by the large old man coming towards him.
“Thank heavens you’re here. We need you and your friends badly, and all of you fit our qualifications perfectly. We want to make the Christmas season better somehow, by delivering gifts to each and every child around the world.”
One of Johnny’s buddies, Rudy, immediately said, “Anything you need, we will do! You saved our lives out there. We will never be able to repay you.”
“This feels like some type of dream, but we are all up for it,” said Johnny, looking around at his other buddies and nodding his head. “But there’s one condition. Would we be able to get connected to our wives? They probably think we’re good as gone by now.”
“Of course. We will only need you a couple days before and after the 25th of December anyways, then life up here will be pretty simple. Johnny you will take the name Santa Claus and be the leader, while the rest of your jolly fellows will just help you get the work done and be your elves,” said one of the shorter guys in the back.
pulling off Christmas
Work up there seemed to be extremely hurried, and immediately after the boys got their titles, they scurried away to get working. Johnny led his friends into building millions of toys, while the ‘elves’, listened obediently, and did everything Johnny said. They all worked hard, and pulled off Christmas in a completely different way.
Santa Claus came to be someone who brought joy worldwide, and was sort of ‘magic.’ As different and strange as it was, they loved where they were, and what had miraculously happened. The end.
The Gift of Magic
BY Bianca Samson, River of ponds (Honourable Mention)
December 1st, 9:00 am
The day has finally come, the holiday season has begun. The time of year where everyone competes with lights of all different colours and when the bakeries all around town smell like Christmas goodness. This year won’t be the same since my parents sadly passed away last year in a terrible car accident.
Oh sorry, hi I’m Nick. I work at the Waffle House down around the turn on West Street. Speaking of the Waffle House I have to get going or I’m gonna be late for my 12:30 shift.
I grab the keys off my key rack that my mom made at her church group, and I make my way to the door and all of a sudden a weird feeling came over me. But me being me I just let it be and went on with my day. A few hours went by and now it’s time for me to close up the place. So I unplugged all the waffle machines and then the feeling came over me again, but this time I started to feel different. “Jingle, Jingle.” The bells of the door opened and this short man walked in.
“Can I get one holly jolly milkshake?” I looked at him with a confused look saying “what? we were just clos-”. I lost my words as I looked out the window to see ten reindeer. Well that’s what they looked like at least. My heart skipped a few beats and then I looked back at the man and then POOF! He was gone.
December 2nd, 4:00 am
I woke up to the sound of Christmas music but I don’t remember myself turning on the radio last night. So I slowly woke up and walked out to the living room to see my fireplace lit and all my Christmas decorations up. I was so confused as I stood there looking at all the bright lights on the evergreen tree and the stockings hung with care.
“Who did this?” I thought. Then I saw him, the man from the Waffle House through the fogged-up window. Then, POOF! He was gone once again.
I went back to bed not thinking anything of it. Hours go by and it’s now quarter after 9 in the morning. I woke up to the cold breeze on my skin giving me goosebumps. I suddenly woke up and to see a hardwood ceiling and all I could smell was gingerbread cookies. I jerked my head over to see snow coming in through the window. No wonder I was cold. I hopped out of bed and you would never guess what I saw.
‘ I am Saint Nick’
Everything looked so magical, so much snow, so many lights. Wait am I where I think I am? The North Pole! Woah this is my dream, but why am I here? I walk out of my little cottage and everyone started cheering my name. “NICK”, “GO NICK!” How did they know my name? “Saint Nick,” someone came up and said to me. I looked down and there I was standing in my red suit and my long beard white as snow but how did I go from a man with absolutely no facial hair to a man with a magical white beard? Wait…am I Santa Claus? Then I finally realized what’s going on, I am Saint Nick.
A few days go by and I am still the man in the red suit. Everything is so different here. It’s time for me to get ready to go for a test ride with the reindeer for the big night tonight. The wind blows in my face as I fly over the town of St. Johns. Flurries are coming down from the sky. I leave the North pole at 9:00 which is in an hour so I have to head back to the workshop. It took me two minutes and fifty seconds to get back and now it’s time to load up the sleigh and take Pixi and Coca with me. (My two main elves).
“Up, Up and away we go!”, I say as the sleigh suddenly leaves the ground. I was now flying over the town of Port Saunders, with all the little boys and girls all snug in bed. “Now, Dasher! now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! On Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen and Rudolph!”
“Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!”
BY Emma Penney, Port Saunders — Contest Winner
It had been freezing and blistery that night. I was barely keeping warm under the shelter of an old pine tree when he found me. His eyes shone brightly through the darkness of the storm, and he smiled down at me, the way only a simple woodsman could.
“You look cold,” he had said. “Come with me”
Cozy little wooden cabin
Not wanting to remain in the blizzard any longer, I hastily stood and welcomed the embrace of his warm hand.
Upon awakening the next morning I had found myself on the couch of a cozy little wooden cabin. Glancing around I again saw the old man, tucked away at a table on the far side of the space. I quietly stood and crept towards him, just far enough to peek over his shoulder. On the table before him were dozens of hand made wooden toys. Each one was carefully crafted, down to the last detail.
“Cute, aren’t they?” The man said, letting out a little chuckle. “The children seem to think so,”
“Children?” I asked quizzically. “Where..?”
The man stood, and I realized then that he was quite large in size, his head looking almost out of proportion with the rest of his features. “Everywhere.”
He leaned down and handed me a toy, a small wooden train with smooth wheels. I spun one wheel with my finger and smiled.
“Would you like to deliver these with me tomorrow? I could sure use a hand.” I looked into his kind smile and gave a simple nod. The jolly fellow smiled wider and straightened his posture. “Come on then, there’s a lot to do today.”
Hidden out behind the quaint cabin was a polished wooden sleigh, and laid over the back of it was a giant red sack, currently empty and hanging over the side. Once again the old man chuckled, this time at my expression. “We’ll need an awful lot of power to pull that, won’t we.”
He put his hand up to his mouth and echoed a whistle out into the forest.
About twelve caribou trotted out from the trees in response, their fur shimmering in light mists of sparkling snow. In no time they were hooked up to the front of the sleigh, and the bells on the reins jingled merrily as they swayed along with their gentle movements.
The rest of the day had been spent filling the seemingly bottomless red bag with the thousands upon thousands of toys that had been stashed away in secret places. The top of the sack had reached higher than the chimney, yet it balanced perfectly on the sleigh.
Once nighttime had arrived, we had dressed warm and climbed into the front of the sleigh. The old man took hold of the reins and looked down at me with another heartwarming smile. “Ready to go?”
It was magic
The hours of aimlessly wandering the blizzard the previous night vanished from my memory as we took off, speeding through the trees before lifting high off the ground, soaring over the hills below. I had never experienced anything near as miraculous before in my life. How it all worked? I needed no argument to believe it was magic. As we passed over town after town, the sack grew smaller and smaller, till there was nothing left except for my little train.
For years to come, I stayed there with that cute old man, learned to craft toys like he did, and delivered them around the world on the holiday we call Christmas. One fateful year, my mentor had decided he’d taught me enough.
After returning one night from our adventure, he bid me goodbye and began into the woods, turning to snow in the breeze. At that moment I understood everything. The magic, the hope, and the wonder that he gave the world filled my being, and I knew exactly what I had been chosen to carry on.
I grew old in that cabin, crafting new, extraordinary creations to send out to children all over the globe. For a while, I feared I’d become too old, weak and sore to keep it up myself. I feared I’d have to give up all he had taught me.
However, that fear subsided when I came across a young boy in the forest late one afternoon while out cutting wood. He shivered in his fur coat, looked up at me with desperate eyes. I smiled at him in that woodsman kind of way.
“You look cold. Come with me.”