The 3rd Annual Susanna Leonard Hill Holiday Writing Contest is here! Being new to writing for kids, this is my first year to enter, so I'm both scared and excited.
The Contest: Write a children's story about a Holiday Mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster. 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 not counting the title.
Here's my entry, at 349 words:
A Merry, Mixed-up Table
Gavin sniffed. Spicy smells floated from the kitchen. A mixer whirred.
“Is the table set?” Mom called. “The guests will be here soon.”
“I’m done,” Gavin said, “except for the place cards.”
Mom came in, wiping her hands. “Good. Okay, where shall we seat everybody, I wonder. Of course, Grandma Sophie goes here because of her wheelchair.”
Gavin set the card marked Grandma Sophie above the end plate.
Mom said, “Put Great Aunt Katherine next, near the fire.”
Dad called from the kitchen. “Remember, don’t put Grandma and Katherine near each other. They aren’t speaking now.”
“I forgot.” Mom sighed. “Okay, put Cousin Max between them. No, don’t do that. He forgets to pass food and makes the old ladies grouchy.”
A timer went off and Mom hurried toward the kitchen. “Hurry, but make sure Aunt Susan doesn’t sit near Uncle Charlie,” she called, “She doesn’t like to hear his false teeth clicking.”
Gavin threw the cards on Grandma Sophie’s plate. How was he ever going to set this table? Had Mom said put Cousin Max by Grandma Sophie? Uncle Charlie by Aunt Susan? His head hurt from trying to remember. Why couldn’t his family get along?
The doorbell rang. Gavin jumped, then raced around the table, setting place cards wherever they landed.
“Come in,” Dad exclaimed, opening the door. “Give me your coats and find places at the table.”
Gavin said hello to the guests and watched them hunt for their spots.
His parents brought in the food and stared at the mixed-up table. Then they glared at Gavin. He hung his head.
A cheery voice made them turn.
“Why, Katherine,” Grandma Sophie said, rolling up to the table, “it’s been weeks since we talked.”
Great Aunt Katherine nodded. “And here’s dear young Max, too,” she said.
Uncle Charlie and Aunt Susan bumped elbows reaching for the potatoes, and everybody laughed. Uncle Charlie’s teeth clicked. Aunt Susan giggled. Cousin Max passed the ham.
“Best Christmas ever,” Grandma Sophie said.
Mom smiled down the table at Gavin.
He grinned back and gave himself a thumbs-up under the red tablecloth.