Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

It’s almost Christmas Eve and time to sit back, relax and embrace the joy of the season. I have always loved this time of the year and have many happy memories from over the years. Although there are those we will miss this year, we also take comfort in their memory. I wish all my wonderful followers a joyous time, no matter how you celebrate the season.

One of the many things I love about living in Spain is that you can take a drive into the country and come upon a Nativity on the side of a mountain. I will leave you with these pictures of our discovery.

May the joy of the season be with you all year long!

It’s Christmas!!! You can sure tell around here. Mom is busy decorating, baking, buying gifts, sending out cards and singing Christmas songs. Dad has gone mad with his outdoor lights. Mom says that you can see our yard from space. In fact, Mom is so busy she asked us to write the Christmas blog post. She gave us some pictures to include and said, get to work. Lia isn’t much help as she just runs around and knocks things over so it is mostly me, Dot, who is writing this. It’s tough being the big sister.

Some of Dad’s outside lights. He does a great job.

Mom’s inside job. She even hung up our stockings. I hope there’ll be lots of treats in them on Christmas morning. As long as Lia behaves and doesn’t get us into trouble.

We were surprised to see the esplanade at our favourite beach decorated this year.

Mom wanted Dad to take our picture but we wanted to run and play. Isn’t that what beaches are for?

Look how beautiful it is at night. We aren’t allowed to run around on the beach at night.

The mall is very pretty with all the decorations.

Even a Santa playing the piano

And a cow. We barked at it but it wouldn’t move.

And a huge tree!

When mom was visiting Prince Edward Island, without us, she saw Christmas trees made of lobster traps and buoys.

Photo by Jamie MacKay of Murray Harbour, PEI

Then a friend sent her this picture with the tree all lit up and reflected in the water. The friend explained that there are a number of them in and around the Atlantic provinces, they are pretty but also significant to ocean communities as the buoys commemorate fishermen lost at sea. That’s very nice, don’t you think.

We have to go now, Mom is doing more baking and we need to do a taste-test! Wishing all Mom’s readers a very Merry Christmas or Feliz Navidad as we say here in Spain! Be good and we hope you get lots of treats and love for Christmas!

PS Mom said to be sure and buy books for Christmas gifts because a book is a gift you can open over and over.

I’m over at Sally Cronin’s blog today, sharing a Christmas memory. Hop over and say Hello. I hope all your Holiday preparations are going well.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1200 Posts from Your Archiveswhere bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience…

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

This series is along the same lines and is a celebration of Christmas and New Year.

I do appreciate that this is not a religious festival for everyone but it is a time of year when families and friends come together and our thoughts turn to our hopes and wishes for the coming year. At the end of the post you can find out how to participate in this festive series.

Today children’s author Darlene Fostershares a delightful true Christmas story….do you believe in Santa?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The Year I…

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I have been honoured to take part in Ari Meghlen’s Advent Calendar Story Train. What is the story train about? Basically, a set of authors have been given the prompt ‘The Gift’ and have one thousand words to write a story. Each day of advent, one story is released. When Christmas 2022 arrives, there will be twenty-four flash fiction stories of different genres and different styles that represent the phrase ‘The Gift.’ Links to all of the stores can be found here (some have not been released at the time of posting!). Today is my turn and here is my contribution to the Advent Calendar Story Train.

The Gift by Darlene Foster

Cory Henderson dropped to his knees and studied the pile of parcels under the tree.


“Just a few more minutes, please Mom,” he begged. Like most nine-year-olds on Christmas Eve,
he didn’t want to go to bed.


He counted the packages. One from Uncle Bob; usually something to do with sports. Two from
Grandma and Grandpa; always the best because they knew exactly what he wanted. One from Mom and
one from Dad. If they paid attention to his hints, a PlayStation was sure to be in one of those packages.
Something from his older brother, away studying in China. 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 on Christmas morning.


A bright light in his window woke him up from a dream of opening hundreds of presents. At
first, he thought it was the light from Santa’s sleigh. Then, he thought perhaps a spaceship had landed
nearby. He got out of bed and tiptoed to the window where he could see it was not Santa’s sleigh or a
spaceship causing the brilliant light. Mesmerized, Cory stared at the flames leaping out of the roof of the
house next door.


He suddenly remembered that two boys lived in that house. The family moved in two months
ago from another country. They spoke with an accent and kept to themselves. The boys were younger
than him, about five and seven. He felt a knot in his stomach


What if the people were still in the house?


Just as he heard the wail of fire trucks, two hooded figures ran out of the front door. Each adult,
covered with a blanket, carried a child. 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.”


The fire department arrived. In no time, long hoses sprayed water into the flames. Cory’s mom
handed out warm coats. He noticed that even wearing his parkas from last year and the year before, the
boys still 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. The fire was under control just as it started to snow. All that was left was a
burnt-out shell.


Corey’s mom motioned everyone to follow her back to their place.


She served hot chocolate and homemade gingerbread cookies. The neighbours, Mr. and Mrs.
Zafrani, spoke quietly. The boys, Omar and Jamal, didn’t say anything. Their large brown eyes starred at
the Christmas tree covered with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. Beds were made up, the little
boys in his brother’s room and their parents in the spare room. As the boys were about to go to bed, they
started to cry.


“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 sick. It was Christmas Eve and they had lost everything. They would have no presents
to open in the morning. How would he feel if it happened to him? He tossed and turned and no longer
looked forward to the morning. How could he open all those gifts when they had nothing?


He had an idea, jumped out of bed and put on the light. He pulled out coloured paper, a pair of
scissors and some 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. He replaced the tags with new ones. 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.”


Corey never slept in on Christmas morning.


He raced into the cosy living room where his dad had started a fire in the fireplace. 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 should wait to open the gifts.”


Corey ignored her and handed a gift to each of the spellbound boys.


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


“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 Corey with raised 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’s in your package?”


The young boy ripped the package open and smiled with glee 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 the look on the
faces of those boys as they discovered gifts under the tree for them was the best gift of all.

Welcome to the Advent Calendar Story Train, where you can read through 24 stories under the theme The Gift. Thank you for reading today’s story. The next one will be available to read on December 9th, titled “The Annual Giving“.  The link will be active tomorrow when the post goes live.

If you missed yesterday’s you can go and read it here.

I am being featured today on Bernadette’s New Classic Recipe blog where I share a Christmas dinner disaster story and a favourite recipe. Enjoy! If you wish to share a Christmas dinner disaster in the comments below, that would be fun.

Wishing all my followers a wonderful Holiday Season. Here is a little Christmas story for you.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The Year I Discovered Santa Claus by Darlene Foster

Most children dream of seeing Santa Claus. I stayed up as late as possible every Christmas Eve but always fell asleep, only to wake up in the morning to see the jolly fellow had visited and left gifts.

***

It was to be our last Christmas on the farm. Mom and Dad had purchased a house in the city and planned to move in the next spring.  The whole family was gathering at the farm one last time to spend the holiday with them.

We lived in Calgary at the time, a three-hour drive away. The morning of the 24th, Hubby was busy loading luggage as I pulled gifts out from under the tree to take with us. We had a couple of stops to make before arriving at the farm. It was important that the gifts that were to be dropped off first, went into the trunk last. Crawling under the tree to retrieve the carefully wrapped packages at the very back, a searing pain shot up my spine. I couldn’t move forward, backward or sideways. Paul came in for another load only to find me under the tree on all fours and in tears.

“I’ve put my back out and I can’t move,” I croaked.

He managed to lift me out from under the tree and lay me on the couch. From there I gave him instructions as to where to place each gift.

My ten-year-old daughter panicked when she saw me. “Does this mean we can’t go?”

“Are you sure you can manage the drive?” Paul asked.

I assured both of them I would be OK. I was not missing the last Christmas on the farm. So I took medication and hobbled to the car. I managed fine on the three-hour drive. Paul dropped off the gifts we needed to deliver on the way, while I stayed in the car. Once at the farm, getting out of the car proved difficult, but my dad and brothers were soon there, giving me a hand. Dad put me in his comfy chair and immediately put a heating pad behind my back. My brothers helped remove my boots and Mom made me a cup of tea. I was feeling the love, and happy to be home.

The kids of all ages, bundled up and went for a sleigh ride, a tradition in our family. Instead of using horses as he did in the past, Dad used a tractor to pull the open sleigh over the snow. I wished I could have gone along as it wouldn’t happen again, but didn´t want to risk it. I stayed back with Mom who prepared food for the evening meal and the big feast the next day. She wouldn´t let me help with the cooking preparations either.

I took more medication and by dinner, I felt better. We had a great meal as always and played a rousing game of marbles. We are a competitive family, so there was shouting and grabbing and perhaps a bit of cheating. All good fun and no one got hurt. Once the children were put to bed, Mom and I kept everyone out of the living room while we filled the stockings and arranged them around the tree. After a midnight drink, we all turned in. The beds at my parents´ house were comfy but old. The one we were given to sleep on had a very soft mattress and I kept rolling into the middle. Every time I did, the pain in my back worsened.

In spite of the extra dose of medication, I wasn´t getting much sleep. I finally grabbed a quilt, took my pillow and moved into the living room to sleep on the nice firm couch. Mom always left the tree lights on all night on Christmas Eve, which I found comforting. I felt like a kid again and soon fell fast asleep.

All of a sudden, I was woken up by someone switching on the bright overhead light. My brother, bare-chested and wearing a pair of beige jogging pants, popped things into everyone´s stocking. He obviously didn´t see me as he went about playing Santa. Then he left the room, switching off the light behind him. I smiled and fell back to sleep with no problem.

The next morning as we stuffed ourselves with pancakes, Dad asked me, “Did you sleep all right, dear?” 

I replied, “I moved to the living room and slept just fine. And I saw Santa. He came into the room while I was sleeping and filled the stockings. And – he was stark naked!”

My brother turned red and shouted, “I was not. I had my jogging pants on.” 

That was the one and only time I saw Santa Claus.

Enjoy the season, and if you’re lucky, you just might see Santa!

Hi everyone. Dot here. This is my sixth Christmas in my forever home and I’m looking forward to it. At least Mom hasn’t tried to put those silly reindeer antlers on me again. Mom decorated the tree and put up stockings for me and the little terror, I mean Lia. I’m trying hard to be good so that Santa brings me something nice. I hope he remembers I don’t like squeaky toys. I like bones to chew but sometimes Lia takes them away from me. (Even though she has one of her own) That’s crazy little sisters for you.

Dad put sparkly lights outside. We like Dad. He takes us along for coffee and if it’s cold we wear our coats.

This is Lia. I’ve never written a Christmas letter before. They tell me to be good because if I am, some guy named Santa will come and bring presents. I don’t know anything about this Christmas they keep talking about. Dad brought a tree into the house and Mom hung shiny things on it. I didn’t think trees belonged in a house, but this one doesn’t smell like the trees in the forest. I like living in a house. It’s cosy and warm and there are three blankets on the bed for me to cuddle up in. I guess one is supposed to be for Dot. The bowl is full of yummy food and I get to run on the beach with Dot. I’ve made other friends too when we go for walks. I used to bark at them until I realized they weren’t going to hurt me even if they are much bigger than me. I hope there will be treats for Christmas, whatever that is. Dad gives all of us treats if we are good. Maybe he is like this Santa Claus they keep talking about. I’m trying very hard to be good. Honest.

Dad giving out treats to everyone.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope you get many treats and lots of cuddles!

Here is something from all of us. Well, Lia wouldn’t sit still long enough to be in the video.
https://www.jibjab.com/view/make/feliz_navidad/478d81d8-b35e-4789-b9ca-1714d6aed07e

Love, Dot and Lia

Today I am featured on Bernadette’s New Classic Recipe blog where I tell the story of how I got the family trifle recipe and share my version of it. Enjoy!

Our tree is decorated and we are gearing up for Christmas, so I want to share a wonderful story by a writer friend of mine. Whatever your beliefs are, it’s a story that never grows old. I love her realistic take on this age-old story.

Christmas Story by Sue Champion

Mary stepped into the night with trepidation. She felt chilled in the evening air. The donkey ride had not exactly been comfortable in her condition but was grateful she did not have to walk.

Horrified when Joseph told her they had to go to Bethlehem to register for the census. She would have given anything to have stayed at home with her mother to have the baby. It was only when Joseph read the scriptures to her, which foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, that she understood it was God’s plan, and she must go with him.

Nevertheless, it was scary being in a strange town with nowhere to stay, knowing her baby was due very soon. Joseph had many relatives in Bethlehem, and he was confident one of them would have a room for them. Most greeted Joseph warmly, but when they saw Mary, they seemed embarrassed and turned the couple away. Of course, they knew Joseph had been betrothed for some time. They had all been to the engagement party, but they also knew that no wedding had taken place.

At last, one cousin had compassion on them and took them in, but was very sorry all his upper rooms in the house were full, as with this census, many travellers wanted accommodation. However, he offered them the lower part of the house where the animals were kept. By this time the couple were grateful for anything and thanking him, they agreed. There were bundles of hay to be used as a bed, and he lent them a couple of thin blankets.

That night the baby came. There was no midwife, only Joseph. No clean towels or hot water, and only one of the animal’s feeding troughs to use as a cot. Yet, when Joseph eventually placed the child on her breast, she felt an astonishing sense of joy and love. The couple looked at each other in helpless wonder, the baby was crying, messy, covered in straw, not unlike a newborn lamb might be. Could this really be the Son of God?

Joseph went outside for some fresh air, looked up, and was amazed to see an unusually bright star right above the house. He then saw some shepherds approaching, and wondered where they had come from. They came right to the door of the room. One of them told Joseph that they had been in the field minding their sheep when an angel of the Lord appeared to them and told them to go worship the child, whom they would find by following the star above. The star now shining above this very house.

Joseph let them in. Mary had used one of the blankets to wrap the child and had laid him in a manger. Joseph gazed at the scene and imagined he saw an angel kneeling next to them. He thought he heard him say, “Fear Not”.

Susan Champion, December 2021

Bio:

Sue Champion spent most of her childhood and a considerable amount of her adult life in Africa. This is reflected in many of her poems, for as anyone who has lived in Africa knows, the continent steals a part of your soul. She only began writing after retiring to Spain, where she joined a writers group and discovered a love of writing, especially poetry.

Sue has written a heartfelt book of poetry called Prayer, Praise and Poetry which can be found on Amazon.uk.com

Amazon.com

and other Amazon sites.

This book is for anyone aged nine to ninety plus. Dip into it at any time of day. Read it quietly or out loud. Let it uplift you. It would also make a great gift.

Here is my review:

A wonderful collection of contemporary poems, written from the heart. Each poem holds its own story and addresses many topical issues. It is a perfect book to pick up and open at random. Every time I do, the page speaks to me. Like when I read, “Storms Never Last.”

The book is divided into sections such as Praise, Our Planet, On a Lighter Note, War, Kids, and Bereavement. It ends with a moving poem, “Tribute to Nelson Mandela” and a lovely piece, “Wild Swans” in honour of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on her 90th birthday. And finally, “Why Write?” which will ring true to most writers or those who wish to be.

This feel-good book of poems should be on everyone´s night table.

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


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