2nd Annual Christmas Story Competition

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The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story beginning with any version of “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind].”  For example, “Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart” or “Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe” or “Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon…”  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet,  religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words. There’s still time to enter until the evening of Dec 19th, check out this post on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

The Tree

Sliding through the snow

in Granddad’s beat-up truck,

Looking for a tree.

  Not having any luck.


Evergreens galore.

The Spruce and Firs abound

Nothing fits our search –

too dense, too big, too round.


Finally I spy

the perfect Christmas tree.

Granddad swings his axe,

“Ready. One, two, three!”


“Granddad, stop!” I shout,

“I see a mouse nose there.

Don’t you see that nest?

And isn’t that a hare?”


Thoughts swirl round my head.

I tell Granddad my plan.

He wags his graying beard,

then shakes my mittened hand.



Singing as we drive,

we race back to the farm.

I raid the kitchen store,

while Granddad raids the barn.


Night begins to fall.

We truck back through the snow –

find our lonely tree,

lit up in starry glow.


Stringing beans and hay,

instead of paper chains.

Nuts and seeds in fat,

we cover all in grains.


Then we sit and wait.

and slowly they appear.

The bestest gift and tree

from any Christmas year.


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52 Responses to 2nd Annual Christmas Story Competition

  1. Yay for the animals! I love this, Joanna! What a sweet story. I admit that I prefer a real tree, but the chances of replanting it and having it survive are slim (although one we planted in the in-laws yard is still going strong). So we make do with a fake tree. 🙂

    • Joanna says:

      Renée, I so love real trees, too. I go and celebrate with friends in Canada and we go out and cut the tree ourselves, which is great fun – but not very eco-friendly.

  2. This is WONDERFUL, Joanna! What a great idea. Now I want a tree like that!

  3. Joanna, This is such a lovely story! When I saw that you had posted, I figured you would weave your love of nature & animals into the story somehow. I am blown away by the beauty of the images and the sweetness of the message that you share. Thank you!

  4. I LOVE this, Joanna! So clever and creative – fun and kid-friendly! And I’m laughing because the first story I wrote as a sample and then decided not to use was very similar to this (although it didn’t rhyme and there were birds, not animals, and no decorating with animal-friendly food products) – so apparently great minds think alike 🙂 Yours is much better than the one I scrapped! I’m so glad you entered!!! Great job! 🙂

  5. I am just starting to catch up with reading the contest entries. Your story is my first one, since I had easy access when I found it on FB this morning. I think maybe I should submit mine before reading any more, as reading your story, which is so good, has put me in self-judgment mode. I truly enjoyed reading this story it has nature, a child, a grandpa, Christmas, fun and kindness all wrapped up in 350 words or less. What’s not to love? Thanks for sharing, Joanna.

  6. Linda Boyden says:

    Oh, Joanna, love this! Love that they thought outside the box and didn’t chop down the tree!

  7. Laura Renauld says:

    Ooo! It’s reminds me of Night Tree by Eve Bunting. I love how you kept the perfect rhyme and meter of the song while creating a fresh take on the tree-cutting tradition. Bravo!

  8. Joanna says:

    Laura, I don’t know NIGHT TREE, so I shall be on the look out for it now. Thank you.

  9. I loved how you combined finding the perfect tree with honoring a child’s wish not to harm the habitat of those critters that live there during the winter. Sound’s like a book to me. Beautiful rhyme and meter!

  10. Lauri Meyers says:

    Wonderful Joanna! A beautiful story, in rhyme and under 350 words? Amazing!

  11. Your story is adorable – I can picture the scenes well, and love the bit of suspense!

  12. Love it! Nice ending! 🙂 I thought that they were going to dig up the tree and plant it at their home. 🙂

  13. Everyone should have a tree like yours Joanna. One that adds beauty and special treats to our furry friends in nature. Wonderful story Joanna. Just wonderful.

  14. Joanna says:

    Pamela, thanks for your warm support. I’d like to imagine trees like this all over the country!

  15. Carrie F says:

    I love this story, Joanna! Great job.

  16. Great rhyme, Joanna…and I love the story. Stringing beans and hay…sounds delightful and so down-home country…you will start a new Martha Stewart craze in holiday crafting. 🙂 🙂

  17. Candilynn says:

    Loved this, Joanna! I found myself humming the tune while I read it. 🙂

  18. Joanna says:

    Thank you, Candilynn.

  19. Maria says:

    Love this story, and the fact that it is in rhyme is just icing on the cake. How wonderful! There’s a great opportunity for illustration here, too, with the decorated tree standing out in the snow.

  20. Joanna, this is WONDERFUL! This kinda reminds me of my family at this time of year. The rhyme is fantastical. (Wishing I could rhyme better) I truly loved reading your entry and still have a smile on my face. 🙂

  21. Joanna says:

    Robyn, glad this reminds you of your family. 🙂

  22. What a lovely story! I loved the description and your rhyme was right on.

  23. Joanna says:

    Thank you, Jennifer!

  24. Darshana says:

    Wonderful job. I love the idea of decorating the tree with food for the animals, that being the joy of Xmas.

  25. clarbojahn says:

    This is great, Joanna! Love your real tree and the live animals. I think and agree that this is the bestest gift tree ever. 🙂

  26. Cathy Mealey says:

    Oh Grandpa – how sweet are you for abandoning tradition and honoring your grandchild’s Christmas wish! Bravo Joanna!

  27. Awww, how adorable. I love this. It’s a unique and heartwarming Christmas story, and the rhyming is wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

  28. Anna says:

    Joanna, your rhyming flows so naturally! I’m glad the animals get to experience a version of Christmas too. Beautiful.

  29. Joanna says:

    Thanks, Anna, I guess the Christmas spirit extends to all, huh? 🙂

  30. Hannah Holt says:

    Fantastic idea. I think we’ll have to hang some ornaments like this on the pine tree in our backyard.

  31. Joanna says:

    Yay, do it, Hanna!

  32. What a fun Christmas with the animals! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

  33. Iza Trapani says:

    What a lovely story, Joanna! And thanks for saving the animals!
    Merry Christmas!

  34. Joanna,
    I love this! I have read it several times, but am just commenting today. (It’s been an unusual two weeks to say the least!) Anyway, I can just picture the creatures looking out from the tree. Wonderful job! Congrats on the finals 🙂

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