Darlene Foster's Blog

The Bright Lights of Christmas

Posted on: December 15, 2019

Stevie Turner is holding a short story competition with a Christmas theme for the month of December.  You might like to submit a story as well. https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/11/30/share-your-christmas-short-story-or-poem/  

This is my entry. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!

The Bright Lights of Christmas by Darlene Foster

Ten presents this year, the best year ever. Cory Henderson’s eyes sparkled as he dropped to his knees and studied his precious pile of parcels wrapped in festive paper. Santa Clauses, reindeer and snowmen smiled back at him as he pulled out his gifts and lined them up. His mother wanted him to go to bed, but he continued to count his gifts under the tall Christmas tree covered in a profusion of bright lights and glittering ornaments.

“Just a few more minutes, please Mom,” he begged, excited as most nine-year-olds on Christmas Eve.

He counted the packages once more while arranging them under the tree with care. One from Uncle Bob; he always gave good gifts, usually something to do with sports. Two from Grandma and Grandpa; always the best because they seemed to know exactly what he wanted the most. One from Mom and one from Dad; since he´d thrown some pretty good hints around the last two months, some super stuff from his list were sure to be in those packages. One from his older brother, Scott, away studying in China; he always sent cool stuff. The old couple across the street, who he did errands for, dropped off a small package. One from Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joe, another from his cousins Jim and Jeff and an odd shaped one from his best friend, Jerry. Yup, ten presents for him to open tomorrow morning.

He wasn´t sure he would be able to sleep at all when his mother finally convinced him to go to bed. But, a bright light in his window woke him up from a dream of opening hundreds of presents. At first, he thought it was a light from Santa’s sleigh. Then, he thought a space ship might be nearby. Getting out of bed and tiptoeing to the window, he could see it was not Santa’s sleigh or a spaceship causing the bright light. Flames engulfed the house next-door. Never having seen a fire that close before, he found it scary and exciting at the same time. Mesmerized, Cory stared at the brilliant flames leaping out of the roof.

All of a sudden, he remembered that two little boys lived in that house. The family moved in two months ago. They came from another country, spoke with an accent and kept to themselves. The boys were younger than him, about five and seven.

Maybe the people were still in the house. His tummy did a flip-flop. Just as he heard the wail of fire trucks, he saw two hooded figures run out of the front door. As they reached the sidewalk, he realized two adults covered with blankets, carried a child each. The blankets appeared to be wet when they dropped to the ground. The family stood shivering in their pajamas, staring at their home ablaze.

Cory ran out of his room calling, “Mom! Dad!”

His parents, already up, frantically pulled coats out of the closet.

His dad threw a jacket his way. “Hurry, put this on and go outside. And stay well away from the fire.”

By the time they got outside, the fire department arrived. In no time, long hoses sprayed water onto the flames. Cory’s mom handed out warm coats. He noticed the little boys wearing his parkas from last year and the year before. Even with them on, they shivered.

Heavy smoke filled the air. It smelt weird. Kind of like the time his mom burnt the chicken and the smoke alarm went off. Soon the fire was under control and it started to snow.

“Mom,” said Cory, “maybe we should all go into our house and get warm.”

His mom nodded and motioned everyone to follow her.

She made hot chocolate and put out gingerbread cookies they made the day before. The neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Zafrani, spoke quietly. The boys, Omar and Jamal, didn’t say anything. Their large brown eyes stared at the big Christmas tree covered with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. Beds were made up for everyone, the little boys in his brother’s room and their parents in the spare room. As the boys were about to go to bed for the remainder of the night, they took one more look at the tree and cried.

“There, there,” said their mother as she hugged them. “Don’t cry. At least we are all safe and warm.” She thanked Cory and his parents and they all went to bed.

Cory felt a sick feeling in his stomach. Christmas Eve and their tree and all their gifts probably burnt. They would have no presents to open in the morning. How awful. He tossed and turned in his bed. How would he feel if it happened to him? Now he really couldn’t sleep and no longer looked forward to the morning either. How could he open all those gifts when they had nothing?

Then, he had an idea, jumped out of bed and put on the light. He pulled out some coloured paper, a pair of scissors and Christmas stickers from his desk drawer. Two gift tags made, he wrote Omar on one and Jamal on the other. He stopped for a minute and then made two more. Tiptoeing into the dark living room, he pulled out four of his gifts from under the tree. Without looking at the tags, he replaced them with the new tags. Corey went back to bed and fell asleep with a smile on his face.

The next thing he heard was his mom saying, “Wake up. It’s Christmas morning. Omar and Jamal are up already.”

Cory never slept in on Christmas morning. He ran into the living room. Dad had plugged in the lights on the tree and turned on the fire in the fireplace. The room looked cozy and warm. Jamal and Omar stared at the tree as if they had never seen one before. Cory reached under the tree.

His mom gasped and said, “Maybe we could wait to open the gifts.”

Ignoring her, he handed a gift to each of the spellbound boys.

The oldest boy read out his tag. “To Jamal. From Santa.” His eyes grew wider.

“Open it,” said Cory, hardly able to contain his excitement.

Jamal carefully removed the wrapping from his gift as if he were undressing a baby. His round face beamed when he discovered a PlayStation.

His dad looked at Cory and raised his eyebrows. He turned to Omar holding onto his gift like it would disappear if he loosened his grip. “Don’t you want to see what is in your package?”

The young boy ripped the package open and produced a huge smile as he pulled out a baseball glove. “I love to play baseball!” He slid his left hand in and punched his right fist into the mitt.

Cory’s mom looked over at her son with tears in her eyes. “I think you deserve to open one of your presents, dear.”

Fun and laughter filled the rest of the morning. Cory loved all six of his gifts, but he would never forget the smiles on the faces of those little boys as they discovered gifts under the bright, shiny tree for them.

He learned the real meaning of Christmas that year.

65 Responses to "The Bright Lights of Christmas"

What a delightful holiday story, Darlene!

Aw – heart warming, Darlene.

Lovely story Darlene! Merry Christmas to you and all your family!

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Irene!

What a wonderful story, Darlene. The real meaning of Christmas shines through.

Thanks, Jennie. If you want to read it to the class, that´s OK with me. It may spark an interesting conversation.

I may do that! Thanks, Darlene.

Thanks for submitting your story, Darlene.

You are welcome. Thanks for running the competition and motivating me to write a Christmas story. xo

Thank you for this wonderful story, Darlene. There are plenty of other children like Cory who have compassion for those less fortunate.

So true, Pete. My two grandsons are great examples of young boys with compassion.

Oh wow! That was a beautiful story Darlene. So heartfelt and such a lovely thing that Corey did for those two boys. Have a great Christmas Darlene.

Not all children are selfish, in fact most aren´t. So pleased you liked the story, Diane. Have a wonderful Christmas!!

What a heart-warming story! It reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you for sharing it with us. Merry Christmas!

Thanks, Laurie. I am so pleased you liked the story. Have a great Christmas!

So much fun to experiment with fiction!

Heartwarming, Darlene, perfect for the season.
Good luck with the competition.

Thanks, Cath. It was a good excuse to write a Christmas story.

A very sweet story, Darlene. Thanks for sharing this with us. Merry Christmas! #senisal

So pleased you enjoyed it, Natalie. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

A wonderful heartwarming story Darlene ❤ Happy holidays! xx 🙂

Thanks, Debby! Glad you liked the story. Merry Christmas to you and your husband as well. xo

What Christmas is all about (or should be). Wonderful story. ❤

Thanks, Pam. Happy that you enjoyed the story. Hugs.

A lovely story, DArlene. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks, Robbie. Nice to get a Christmas story out there.

That”s a sweet story, Darlene. The true meaning of Christmas.

Thanks. I’m pleased you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful Christmas!!

This is wonderful, Darlene! So heartwarming, and perfect for the season.

Thanks, Teri. Have a fabulous Christmas!

Darlene, this is wonderful and I’m tear-eyed as I read it! Bless Cory and his kind heart … he learnt one of the biggest lessons of his life that day! The real meaning of Christmas is so often missed in today’s world … you bring it right back to us with your story here!

Thanks, Anika for the positive feedback. I’m glad it had that effect on you. I think children may enjoy it too. Have a lovely holiday season!!

Darlene, children would LOVE this story! Xx

I wonder if I should think about making it into a picture book. I haven’t done one before so I will need to do some research. Thanks!

I’ve just followed the #SeniSal link here, only to realise I hit the like button when you first posted this. Still, it was fun to read again! Have a lovely Christmas.

Thanks so much, Clive. For you to be happy to read my story twice is a huge compliment. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Love your story Darlene ❤️

Sent from my iPad

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Thanks so much, Bonnie. Sending much love to you, Art and your family this Christmas.

[…] The true meaning of Christmas via The Bright Lights of Christmas […]

Such a beautiful story, Darlene…. Sharing the love! ❤

Thanks, Bette. So pleased you liked it. xo

A worthy winner. A heartwarming story, thannk you, Darlene

Thank you so much, Frank.

What a beautiful story. Corey definitely learned a valuable lesson that he can carry on through the rest of his life. This is what it’s all about. Thanks so much for posting and congratulations!

Thank you so much for dropping in and enjoying my story!!

[…] am thrilled to announce that my story, The Bright Lights of Christmas, won the Stevie Turner Christmas short story award. What a wonderful Christmas gift! Pop over and […]

Such a wonderful Christmas story with a great message to all for sure ….thanks for the read. Happy Christmas to one and all.

Thank you Jayne. Happy Christmas to you and your family as well. So pleased you liked the story.

The true spirit of giving at Christmas! I loved your story!

I´m so pleased you loved my story about how a child gets the meaning of Christmas.

Darlene, Cory is such a beautiful character. With such a heartwarming story and a perfect Christmas message I can see how you won first prize in Steve Turner’s Christmas story. Congratulations! ❤

Thanks, Carol. I´m pleased the story captured your heart. xo

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