Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Some of you may have read this story before. It is included in an anthology of winning stories and poetry from twelve authors who took part in Stevie Turner’s ‘Share Your Short Story’ monthly writing competition, which ran from October 2017 to February 2020 on Stevie’s WordPress blog. All royalties from book sales are donated to Cancer Research.

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.

Check out the book for other winning stories.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52938689-an-anthology-of-short-story-competition-winners

Have you written a Christmas story or post you would like to share? If you have it on your blog, share the link in the comments.

Text and Image copyright © 2020 Darlene Foster  – All Rights Reserved

Here is my story included in the anthology With Love Comes Hope which I wrote about here

Lockdown With Anne by Darlene Foster

It’s day ten of the lockdown and I hate it. At first, I thought it would be great not to have to get up early and go to school. But Mom’s not very good at home-schooling. She loses patience with me and she doesn’t know anything about math. I miss my friends. Sure, we connect on Instagram, but it’s not the same. I missed two birthday parties already. By the time I get to wear my new top, it probably won’t fit anymore. My pajamas are wearing out. I’m tired of Mom’s cooking and wish we could at least get a take-away. This lockdown sucks big time.

I’m bored with TV and I’ve watched all the DVDs we have. I didn’t think I would miss school. Maybe I’ll check out a book my teacher gave me to read the last day of school. She said I would like it.

~~~

Wow! Midnight and I’m still reading. This book is so good. It’s about a girl, Anne, who’s thirteen years old, like me.  She has to hide in a small apartment during World War II in Holland, along with her family. They are actually German so you’d think they’d be OK but they are also Jewish. If the Nazi soldiers find them, they will be sent to a concentration camp and most likely killed like so many other Jewish people.

It isn’t just Anne, her parents and older sister living in this hidden annex, which nobody knows about. They’re sharing the place with another couple, their son and an old man. Anne makes friends with the couple’s son, Peter. But, here’s the thing, they can’t make any noise during the day because there are people working downstairs in the office and warehouse. They can’t even flush the toilet. And, they have to keep all the windows closed and the curtains drawn.

How awful. No fresh air or sunshine. I would go totally crazy.

When Anne turned thirteen, just before they had to go into hiding, she got a diary for her birthday. So, to keep herself busy while in isolation, she writes in it everyday. She actually wants to be a writer one day. She writes things like “I hope I shall be able to confide in you completely, as I have never been able to do in anyone before, and I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me. “ She names her diary Kitty because she has no girlfriends to talk to.

I am so loving this book. There are even pictures of the rooms and the bookcase that hides the stairway to the secret space. It’s called The Diary of a Young Girl and is a true story written by Anne Frank.

~~~

I finished the book and I’m so sad. In the end, after two years of hiding and being very careful and quiet, someone tells the soldiers about them. They are found and taken away. Anne doesn’t survive. In fact, her dad is the only one who lives. After the war, he comes back to the building, finds her diary and has it published. So her dream of becoming a writer did come true, but she doesn’t live to see this happen.

~~~

It’s day fourteen of our lockdown and Dad says it will be another two weeks at least, probably more. Many people are getting sick and dying. I don’t want to die. I want to grow up and get married and have kids. I want to go to Holland and visit Anne Frank’s house.

I’m doing my homework online and not arguing with my mom as much. Yesterday we made chocolate brownies together and then we all completed a huge jigsaw puzzle. It was fun.

And, we can make noise. I can sing as loud as I want and even go in my front yard and make dance videos. At eight o’clock every evening, we all go on our terraces or balconies and clap in appreciation of the healthcare workers, police, ambulance, firefighters and grocery store staff for keeping us safe and well.

I don’t have to be afraid I’ll be taken away because of my religion. This lockdown sucks but it is so much better than what Anne Frank had to deal with.

I will get through this.

With Love Comes Hope, filled with a variety of fiction and nonfiction stories, would make a great Christmas gift.

This book can be purchased in print or digital format on most Amazon sites.

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com.au

Amazon.es

https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2020/08/30/with-love-comes-hope-stories-and-inspiration-during-the-2020-pandemic/

Text and Image copyright © 2020 Darlene Foster  – All Rights Reserved

Dot is a guest on Ani’s blog today where she talks about the pandemic from a dogs point of view. Enjoy.

The Small Dog

Dear Santa,

I have my friend from Spain over today. We haven’t actually met, but then, she lives a long way away and although the two-legses usually get to gallivant all over the place, they don’t seem to like it if we wander off on our own…

But, this year, even the two-legses have been kept on a short leash, so we’ve had them at home a lot more, which is good for us, even if they’ve not been too happy about it.

They do seem to be getting a bit peaky though. I’m sure mine is starting with kennel cough from not getting out enough. And she is definitely in need of more exercise… I think maybe we should all just ask you for an end to all this staying at home malarkey…

Mind you, I have to wonder about you, Santa. You get out and about plenty… a…

View original post 1,263 more words

This will be my last post until after Christmas so I would like to wish everyone a fabulous holiday season, whether you spend it with family and friends or if you spend it with yourself, some cookies and a good book! I will be spending Christmas in sunny Spain with hubby and Dot but thinking of my family and friends in Canada and all over the world.

I was delighted to be a guest on fellow Canadian author, D.G. Kaye´s blog, where I answer questios like:

Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?

Q and A with D.G. Kaye, Featuring Children’s Author Darlene Foster
December 20, 2019
Welcome to the last of 2019 author interviews. And I’m happy to send off the season with my featured author guest Darlene Foster. Darlene has recently released another book in her Amanda travels series – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. And Darlene is already working on the next book in the series! Let’s find out what she’s up to!

Read the rest here

https://dgkayewriter.com/q-and-a-with-d-g-kaye-featuring-childrens-author-darlene-foster/

However you spend this wonderful tme of the year, may it be full of Joy and Peace! Here is a great version of one of my favourite Christmas songs.

Dot´s letter to Santa Claus is featured on Sue Vincent´s blog today, where she admits she hasn’t always been good. Dot and Sue´s dog, Ani have become blogging friends. Dot is helping Ani out so she doesn’t have to wear the awful reindeer antlers this year. Check it out. Merry Christmas from Dot and everyone at her house. Woof woof!

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Dear Santa,

I’ve been wondering what my two-legs would like for Christmas. I mean, there are loads of things that would be nice for her, but she says there’s not much she needs.

But, today I heard her muttering. And I’ve found something!

She needs fish.

Not just any fish, mind… special ones.

And not to eat (though I am partial to a bit of salmon or tuna…)

You see, we’ve got this fish tank and she looks after it all the time, but one of the fish is a bully. Well, two of them really, but one of them just dashes at everyone when it is feeding time. This one bullies its mate…and she is really not happy about that! I mean the two-legs, but I don’t think the mate is either.

The poor little female fishy is getting battered. And that’s no joke. So, she’s done her research…

View original post 1,475 more words

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.

Susie Lindau is featuring a Blessed Project on her blog and I’ve decided to join in since Christmas is a perfect time to count your blessings! Here is the link if you would like to join in too. https://susielindau.com/2019/11/26/join-the-blessed-project-i-will-feature-yours/

I have been blessed with an amazing family.

The best parents ever! (Yup, that’s from the 90s)
A son who is a super dad, grandfather, and musician
An amazing talented potter daughter
and great brothers
Awesome grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Grandsons to be proud of
Fabulous granddaughters
A happy son with his kids and grandkids.
Blessed to have five generations in our family
A loving husband who keeps me laughing
And the sweetest dog!

I am blessed to be part of a huge German Canadian family with many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins. Here are a few of them, but not all.

My wonderful aunts and uncle

I have also been blessed with many friends, some I have had since childhood, who support me and make me feel loved every day.

Friends since babies

So you can see that I am indeed blessed and I am grateful every day.

May you have a blessed holiday season and new year with the special people in your life!!

Thanks, Susie for this opportunity to be part of the Blessed Project

Sally is having a Christmas Book Fair over at her Cafe and Bookstore and I’m pleased to be featured along with other amazing authors. Check it out, you may get some gift ideas. Everyone should have at least one book in their stocking this year.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

To begin today a wonderful selection of books for children, young adults and those who are young at heart… The featured book is the YA recent release Through the Nethergate…..Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

About the book

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own. In the town of Bungay, a black dog…

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I have so many wonderful memories of my recent time in Canada including special school visits, Christmas with family, visits with good friends, snuggling with grandpets and fun with grandchildren. But the best memory of all is the valuable time I spent with mom. I saw her 17 days in a row, often more than once a day. We had some good laughs and a few tears as we reminisced. I usually sat with her during her meals, attended singalongs and quiz events with her, read to her and we looked at pictures together. We celebrated her 90th birthday by holding a party at the seniors home a couple of days before the actual birthday (which is Christmas day!)  48 friends and family came to wish her a Happy Birthday. She was so pleased, even though it was a bit overwhelming at times. I’d like to share a few mom pictures.

Mom with her siblings and their spouses

with a great-grandson

                                                                     

with her grandson (my son)

with a friend’s daughter

With my dad’s cousins

with longtime friends

with a niece and her family
with flowers from a son and a sister who couldn’t be there
with my brother and his girlfriend

with a great-grandson and a great-great-granddaughter
with a great-granddaughter, her hubby and great-great-granddaughter
with another great-granddaughter who added to the teddy bear collection

You can see she loves her teddy bears and was given quite a few for gifts. Many of them she won at Bingo!

4 generations of women, mom, daughter, great-granddaughter, great-great-granddaughter
with a great-great-granddaughter who loves her to bits

On her actual birthday, on Christmas day, the staff decorated her place in the dining room with balloons and streamers, sang to her and presented her with a cupcake and candle for her to blow out. She was made to feel very special. The staff at Valleyview Seniors Care are incredible. I am so grateful. 

Mom was showered with love. She is wheelchair bound, her hearing is failing, the words don’t always come out right and she is often confused, but she is happy and so well cared for. The more time I spent with her, the more alert she became. Her long term memory is very good. She remembers names of people I have forgotten.

It was time well spent and I am so glad I was able to be there for her 90th birthday!

Dot is featured on Ani’s Advent Calendar today. Read her letter and leave a comment. I will be away until the New Year but will check in from time to time. Dot, Paul and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

DSCN0979 (2)

Dot last year. Not happy as a reindeer.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

We haven’t had any Christmas cards yet. We don’t get many except the ones we get by email, The two-legs says there used to be loads of them when the boys were at home, and she’d have to make a special trip to recycle most of them afterwards.

She says that the email ones are probably better for the forests, but she sighs anyway. It isn’t easy giving up the things you enjoy, even when you know it is for the best. But she loves trees better than cards and they last longer. Except when she keeps them for years and years…

And she does keep some of them. Every year, when she gets the trimmings out for the tree, she takes them out of the box and I watch her. Sometimes she smiles, sometimes there is a stray tear, but she always goes all soft.

She likes letters. Not…

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