Monday, December 9, 2013

The Dark Night Before Christmas

I am throwing my stocking cap into the ring and entering a writing contest sponsored by the great, Susanna Leonard Hill.

The  The 3rd Annual Holiday Contest!!! asks us to "write a children's story about a Holiday Mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster" - all in 350 words or less.

I hope that you will enjoy this quiet, sentimental story of a Christmas Eve that is a bit different than usual, inspired by my own family traditions and memories of this special night.

By Cindy Williams Schrauben            
Hannah's heart is flip-flopping.
She can hardly wait!

It's Christmas Eve... the best night of the whole year
and she doesn't want it to change... ever!

At 8:00 sharp, they will plug in the tree and oooh-aaaah at the beautiful colors.

Her sister, Sammy, is making cocoa,

Momma is baking cookies

and Daddy is starting a fire.

Hannah dreams about the grand finale when she will dance and spin in the twinkly lights.

When she thinks her heart might burst with joy, the party countdown begins.

But, everything goes dark before they get to zero.

No power!

Everyone is busy now, because nothing's the same.

Hannah curls up on the floor, because her heart hurts.

Then, she hear it...

"Merry Christmas," they all yell.

Just like every other year,

they open the Christmas Eve box, first.

Everyone is excited, even though they know what's inside....

Christmas music and books,

a new ornament

and cozy new jammies.

Everyone puts them on, because it's the party's required attire.

They hang their stockings,

adorn the tree with special memories,

and place the angel, carefully, on the top.

This year, they drink cold cocoa with hard marshmallows
and eat gooey half-baked cookies.

The girls smile, because they taste pretty good that way.

But, the tree isn't sparkling and there's no music for dancing.

Just in time, Daddy shines a million flashlights on the tree and Momma starts to sing.

This performance will be different, because there are stage lights and live music.

Hannah and Sammy plié and whirl, pirouette and twirl, until they collapse to the floor, because they can't move another inch.

The lights come back on, freezing everyone in their places.

Hannah turns the lights off quickly, because this dark night before Christmas is perfect.

As they snuggle up by the fire for a story, she says, "don't forget to call the power company and schedule a black-out for next year!"

And, every heart feels warm.


  1. Christmas traditions are so comforting, aren't they? No wonder poor Hannah is all upset. I would be too!

  2. Thanks goodness cookie dough is yummy! Love the required attire, too. Good luck, Cindy.

  3. Good luck, Cindy! What a great story! :)

  4. Oh, I really like this, Cindy. It's a beautiful story. Well done!

  5. I like this, Cindy! Dealing with the unexpected is a great theme.

  6. I love the ending! I'm glad they love their new "blackout" tradition!

    My dad worked for the power company, so I was not a fan of power outages. They meant Daddy could be gone for days!

  7. A new tradition to add to an old tradition. Gotta love it, and I do! Happy Holidays, Cindy.- Donna Sadd :0)

  8. Sometimes the best things come about because there was a "mishap" to start it all!!

  9. We always got new jammies on Christmas Eve!

  10. Thanks for the comments, everyone. It is a very quiet, sentimental story, but I wanted something a little different. :)

  11. Oh wow...this is beautiful, Cindy. You had my attention for the entire fact, when the lights came on, I felt I had to shield my eyes because I felt I was there...I'm glad they decided to opt for the quiet and intimate and dark. :)

  12. What a lovely story of a family sharing this special time together.

  13. Your story spotlights my favorite part of Christmas-- just being together. Well done!

  14. Sometimes the best times are surprises.

    Merry Christmas, Cindy! :)

  15. Oh what a lovely, sweet story, filled with such wonderful family traditions! We all have our own, don't we? And they are such a big part of what makes Christmas special. But as Hannah discovered, sometimes different can be wonderful too, as long as you're still with the ones you love :) Thanks for a heart-warming story, Cindy - I'm so glad you joined in the holiday fun!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Susanna. Your hard work in putting together this event is greatly appreciated.

  16. This is very special! I love that they turned the lights back time is the best gift for sure!

  17. So heartwarming! We lose power pretty frequently here and when we lost our power for a few day, my kids wanted to continue without lights and tv for days. It was so much fun doing things by flashlight and candlelight, and reading books instead of watching tv.

  18. Cindy, this sounds like a family tradition of yours. How wonderful to have memories of special times like these! Thanks for sharing!

  19. I so get the little one's pain; I was attached to my family traditions too! Love how you turned it into a stage-lit dance party.

  20. Your story sold me on a dark Christmas...even down to the cold cocoa! Cute entry, Cindy.

  21. Such a wonderful, heartwarming story, Cindy! Great job! :)

  22. We get PJs for Christmas Eve (my B-Day!!! :D ) and wear them to sleep. :) Traditions are great, just like your story! :D

  23. Great story, Cindy! I love stories like these that warm our hearts. And traditions keep us all grounded. What a precious read. We have lots of traditions too. The early morning Christmas ride on the horses is my favorite. Thanks for posting this!

  24. I should have read this earlier! I was baking today and we are having an ice storm and I was worried that the power would go out. This story reminds me to lighten up.

  25. change is hard for anyone but you have shown how a disappointment can become something wonderful. well done

  26. I love the Christmas Eve Box idea. What a great story about making the best of a bad situation.

  27. Love the way Hannah's family comes together in the black-out, and make a magical night.