Instead of printing off cheesy Christmas jokes for my kids’ lunchboxes this year, I decided to try writing a cheesy Christmas story instead! It’s twelve parts for each of them, and though the stories are each from the perspective of a different kid, they tell about the same events. I completely acknowledge the Hallmark quality of this, but it is Christmas after all, so maybe it can be excused. Bear in mind that Lucy is six, so I had to work hard to make her story something she could read herself. Hopefully. I just sent the first one today. We’ll see how a little Christmas cheese goes over!
1. Once there was a girl named Holly. She was six years old. She lived with her dad because her mom had died. Her dad was fun. He played and told stories and loved Holly. But every year at Christmas, he got so sad. He missed Holly’s mom.
2. Holly’s mom put up a Christmas tree each year, but after she died, Holly and her dad did not have Christmas trees. This year Holly decided to get one to make her dad happy.
3. One day Holly left home to go find a Christmas tree in the woods. She walked and walked. It was cold, but she had warm gloves. She looked for a tree that was small to take home.
4. As Holly walked in the woods, she heard a bark. She looked under a bush. There was a little dog! It was stuck in the bush. Holly got it out. The dog licked her face.
5. Holly put the dog in her coat and zipped it up. It would be warm there. She walked on. She still needed a Christmas tree, but now she had a dog to help her look.
6. Holly and the dog looked for a tree. All the trees were big. No tree was small like Holly’s living room. Holly felt sad. She turned to go home.
7. Holly heard a noise. It was a THUNK, THUNK noise. She went toward the noise. Holly peeked around a tree and saw a boy and a girl. The boy was chopping wood.
8. Holly stepped forward. The boy stopped chopping. “Are you lost?” he said. The dog jumped inside her coat. Holly zipped it down. The dog jumped out. “Merry!” said the boy.
9. The boy’s name was Jack. The girl’s name was Joy. The dog was the boy’s dog. He was happy to find her. The axe was the girl’s axe. They said they could chop a Christmas tree for Holly, but their hands were cold. Holly gave them her gloves.
10. Jack cut a tree for Holly’s house. Joy carried it home. Holly’s dad was so happy to see her and the tree. He asked Jack and Joy to come to dinner on Christmas with their families.
11. Jack and Joy came to dinner. Jack brought his dog, Merry. Joy brought her brothers and sisters. They were a big group. It was fun to eat together.
12. Holly was so happy to have new friends. Her Christmas tree looked so pretty. They sat by the fire and she gave Jack and Joy presents. It was a pair of gloves for each of them. They smiled and said they would wear them next year to find her another Christmas tree. It was a happy Christmas.
1. Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jack. He lived with his parents in a little cabin at the edge of the woods. Jack didn’t have any brothers and sisters, but he did have a little yellow dog named Merry. Merry was Jack’s best friend. He got her for Christmas when he was five, and now that he was nine, he couldn’t even remember life without her.
2. One cold December day, Jack woke up and didn’t see Merry in her usual place next to his bed. His mom said she had let Merry outside early in the morning and had heard her barking at rabbits. Jack went out and called for Merry, but she didn’t answer. He looked all around the house, but she was nowhere in sight. Jack started to be very worried. He kept calling for Merry until he mom said it was time for school. All day in school, Jack thought about Merry. When he got home, she still wasn’t there. He wanted to go look for her right away, but his dad said it was too dark. Jack determined that h would head into the woods the next morning to find Merry, no matter what.
3. Early the next morning, which fortunately was Saturday, Jack packed up a huge ham for Merry and a thermos of hot chocolate for himself and slipped out of the house. He had left a note for his parents, but he didn’t wait to tell them what he was doing in case they wouldn’t let him. He headed off into the woods, calling Merry’s name as he went.
4. Jack walked for a long time. He was getting really cold and was just thinking about stopping to drink that thermos of hot chocolate when he heard a noise. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. “Merry?” Jack called. He hurried toward the sound. Suddenly it stopped. He walked forward more carefully. “Merry?” he asked more softly. Now he could hear a new sound, a choking sort of sound. He ran forward, but instead of seeing his dog, he saw a girl in the clearing before him.
5. The girl was tall, probably a year or two older than Jack, and she had a tight yellow braid down her back. Jack saw an axe next to her in the snow, but she wasn’t using it at the moment. Instead, her head was bowed. The choking noises were coming from her. She was crying. “Are you okay?” Jack asked. The girl lifted her head in surprise and took her hands away from her face. Jack saw that both hands were red and freezing.
6. “I’m Jack,” Jack said, taking his own hand out of his pocket and holding it out to the girl. “My name is Joy,” she said as she shook it. Her hands felt like ice. “Can I help you with something?” he asked. “No, I’m fine,” said the girl, even though it was clearly not true. “Were you trying to cut something down?” Jack asked, pointing at the axe. The girl sniffed. “I was trying to cut some firewood to sell in town. If I could make a little money, I could buy my family’s Christmas dinner. But my hands are too cold. I can’t use the axe right, so it will never work.”
7. Jack thought uncomfortably of the ham in his bag. He really needed it to find Merry. She would come from any distance once she smelled the ham. But if this girl’s family didn’t have any Christmas dinner… Jack thought of a solution. “I can help you cut the firewood!” he said. “Put your hands in your pockets to warm them up while I chop. Then when my hands get cold, I’ll put them in my pockets while you take a turn.” “You would do that for me?” Joy said. Instead of answering, Jack picked up the axe and went to work.
8. Jack chopped for a long time, but he only made a small stack of wood before his hands were too cold to hold the axe anymore. He started to think this was a terrible idea. It was taking so long, he would never have time to find Merry. Maybe he should just give Joy the ham and then look for his dog without it. He was about to say as much when he heard the crack of a branch breaking and looked up to see a little girl come out from behind a tree.
9. The little girl stared at Jack and his axe with wide eyes. She looked scared. “Are you lost?” Jack asked her. “I can’t find my Christmas tree,” the little girl said. That made no sense to Jack. Maybe she meant she couldn’t find her house? That must be where her Christmas tree was. He was about to ask her when he heard a squeal from under the little girl’s thick coat. She unzipped it a bit, and a tiny brown head poked out. It was Merry! Merry wriggled in joy and jumped out into the snow to race toward Jack.
10. Once Jack had hugged Merry and let her lick his face at least twelve times, he began to question the little girl. Her name was Holly. She had come into the woods to look for a Christmas tree to cheer up her father, and she had found Merry tangled in some bushes. She set Merry free and brought her along to search for the tree, but even with the dog’s help, she hadn’t been able to find a tree small enough for her to carry home. “How were you planning to cut down the tree?” Jack asked. The little girl’s face fell. “I don’t know,” she whispered. He felt sorry for her, but what had she been thinking? A six-year-old girl should not be trying to find a Christmas tree in the woods alone. “It’s a good thing you found us, then,” said Joy, stepping forward with a smile, “because we have an axe.”
11. Everything went from freezing and worried and hungry to happiness in the space of ten minutes. Before anything else, Jack took out the thermos of hot chocolate, and all three of them shared it. Little Holly had a warm pair of gloves, and when Jack put them on, it took no time at all to cut the top off of a tree in just the right size for Holly’s house. Now that he had Merry back, he offered the ham to Joy for her family, and she was happy to accept. It was good that Joy was there because not only did she have the axe, but she was the only one big enough to drag the tree back to Holly’s house. The three of them tramped through the snow with Merry tagging along at their heels. Jack couldn’t believe how much happier he was than he had been when he left home that morning.
12. Back at Holly’s house, they found her father frantic with worry over his missing daughter. When he saw them, and they explained about the tree, though, his eyes filled with tears. He was so happy that they had brought his daughter back safely that he invited them and their families to Christmas dinner. It was the best Christmas celebration Jack had ever had. Not only did he have Merry back and have a big meal with his two new friends, but Joy had five brothers and sisters, including a brother just his age! It was the huge family Christmas Jack had always wanted. Later that night, they sat by a fire and Holly brought out two Christmas presents. Jack and Joy opened them up and found the warmest gloves ever. They laughed and agreed that they would wear them next year when they helped Holly find her Christmas tree in the woods.
1. Once, long ago, there was a girl named Joy. Her father was a doctor and her mother was a baker, and she had three little brothers and two little sisters, and since she was the oldest of them all, she often had to watch over them while her mother baked bread to sell to the neighbors. Joy sometimes wished she could be alone, but she didn’t mind the work too much because at the end of every day, there was always fresh baked bread and her father coming home with a twinkle in his eyes and a hug for his oldest daughter.
2. One cold November day, Joy’s father came home after a long day, and the usual twinkle was not in his eye. He still had a hug for his daughter, but she could feel his arms trembling as they squeezed her. He could not eat his dinner, and when he went to bed he was flushed with fever. Joy’s father was very sick. For weeks he lay in his bed and couldn’t work. Joy’s mother assured them all that he would get better, but Joy saw how worried she was. Finally one night, Joy asked her mother for the truth. “He really will get better,” her mother said, “but right now we have no money because he isn’t working. I can barely buy enough flour to make bread every day, and we certainly won’t have enough for Christmas dinner.”
3. Joy hugged her mom and told her they didn’t need anything special for Christmas dinner, but that night she lay in bed and thought about what she could do. She knew it would be a long and sad Christmas without their usual feast. She thought about the problem for hours and finally remembered that old man Jenkins in the town would pay kids money if they brought him firewood, since he was too old to get it for himself. She knew her father had an old axe somewhere. She could go into the woods and chop some wood. The money probably wouldn’t be enough to buy a Christmas ham, but at least it could get them a little sugar for cookies.
4. Early the next morning, Joy put on her coat and took the axe from its place in the shed. It was cold as she trudged out into the woods, but Joy kept her hands in her pockets. Normally her mother knitted them all gloves each fall, but this year she had been too busy nursing their father. Joy’s old gloves were much too small, but she refused to feel sorry for herself. At least she still had this warm coat that used to be her mothers. The pockets would do just fine. A little ways into the woods, Joy found a big fallen log, perfect for chopping into firewood. Joy had never used the axe before, but she was determined, so she set to work.
5. Chopping wood was hard work. Really hard work. Joy’s shoulders ached and her back hurt and her arms felt like jelly after only five minutes. She could have ignored all of that, though. The thing she hadn’t counted on was the cold. Of course, she couldn’t keep her hands in her pockets while chopping wood, and the metal handle of the axe was like ice under her fingers. Before long she couldn’t even feel her fingers. She was forced to stop and drop the axe into the snow. Joy felt defeated. She would never be able to do this. She refused to cry, but for just a minute, she dropped her head into her hands and let her frustration take over.
6. “Are you okay?” a voice asked. Joy looked up to see a boy just a little bit younger than her standing under the trees watching her. She sniffed back the tears that had started to come in spite of her. “I’m fine,” she said. She could tell he didn’t believe her. The boy introduced himself as Jack. He was so friendly that she found herself shaking his hand and telling him all about what she was doing there. A funny look came over his face but instead of laughing at her, he dropped his backpack and offered to help chop the wood. He said they could take turns chopping and warming their hands in their pockets. Joy couldn’t believe he was nice enough to help her, especially when he told her while he worked that he had come out here to look for his little dog who was lost. She hoped the dog wasn’t hurt and waiting for him while he took the time to help her. She decided that when they were done, she’d help him in his search before she went into town.
7. It felt so good to have her hands in her warm pockets again, but Joy could see that after only a few minutes Jack’s hands were also red and frozen. She was just about to suggest that he stop and warm them (she thought maybe she could take a turn again now) when she heard a noise under the trees. Joy turned just in time to see a little girl step out from behind a tree. She was small and looked lost. Jack, who was apparently always friendly, asked her right away if she needed help. She said she couldn’t find her Christmas tree, which Joy thought was strange, but before she could say anything else, the girl unzipped her coat and a small dog leapt out into the snow. From the look on Jack’s face and the excited yipping of the dog, Joy could tell it was his lost puppy.
8. After Jack had greeted his dog, he opened up his backpack and took out a big package wrapped in brown paper. He looked embarrassed as he held it out to Joy. “It’s a ham,” he said. “I brought it to help me find Merry, but now I have her. I want it to be for you. For your family.” Joy couldn’t believe he was just giving her the whole big ham. “Now we don’t have to chop wood,” Jack said. “Now we can just cut down a Christmas tree for Holly.” Joy smiled. They went to work right away finding the perfect one.
9. Jack did most of the work cutting down the Christmas tree. It was easy once Holly gave him the warm pair of gloves she had been wearing. They must have been her father’s because they fit Jack perfectly. Joy was the only one big enough to carry the tree back to Holly’s house. She was so happy to be able to help these new little friends who had helped her, too. She thought of how happy her family would be to see that ham, and she was glad she had decided to come into the woods that day.
10. When they got to Holly’s house, her father was so happy to see them. He had been terribly worried when he couldn’t find his daughter, and he was grateful to Jack and Joy for finding her and bringing her home that he invited them and all their families back for Christmas dinner. He explained that he and Holly would be all alone otherwise, because he wife had died when Holly was little. That was why Holly had wanted a tree, because her mother had always put one up when she was alive. Joy was happy to say her family would come to dinner. “Now you can have ham for Christmas breakfast instead!” Jack said. Joy just smiled in return.
11. Christmas dinner at Holly’s house was wonderful. Her father had bought a huge feast, a turkey with all the trimmings. Jack was there with his parent and his dog, Merry. He made friends with Joy’s little brothers right away. They all talked and laughed all afternoon, and even Joy’s father, who was propped up on the couch, wrapped in blankets, looked better than he had in a long time. Joy couldn’t remember ever being so happy.
12. Later that night when they were all sitting by the fire telling stories, Holly came up to Jack and Joy and handed them each a present. They opened them up and found nice warm gloves! Joy had to laugh, thinking of that miserable afternoon trying to chop wood without them. She and Jack promised they would wear their new gloves next year when they all went to the woods to find Holly a Christmas tree. Joy would bring the axe, and Jack would bring Merry to keep them company. It made Joy happy to think of how these last dark weeks had brought them all together, and how it had given them a new Christmas tradition.