Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mission: Secret Santa

         by Valerie L. Egar
When Jason and Dawn walked to the bus stop on a frosty December morning, they saw their neighbor, Mrs. Brewster, struggling to carry logs from the woodpile into the house. Mrs. Brewster was older than their Grandma and lifted one small log at a time, walked it to the porch, and then walked back to the woodpile for another. She looked cold and getting enough wood for the day was going to take a long time.
Jason whispered in Dawn’s ear and her eyes lit up. “Yes,” she said. “That sounds like fun!”
            That evening, just before dark, Jason and Dawn piled all the logs neatly on the porch, just outside Mrs. Brewster’s door. They worked quietly and quickly because they wanted it to be a surprise. When they finished, all the wood Mrs. Brewster needed for the winter was right outside her door. They couldn’t wait to see what happened the next morning when she saw what they’d done.
            Jason and Dawn timed their walk to the bus stop just right.  As they passed Mrs. Brewster’s house, her door opened. She stepped out, looking glum, then noticed the perfectly stacked wood on the porch. “Oh!” she cried. “How wonderful!” Her smile warmed Jason and Dawn all the way to school.
          “Let’s think of some other things we can do,” said Dawn.
       When Mrs. Brewster drove to the store on Saturday, Jason and Dawn were ready. They had a good supply of Christmas decorations their family no longer used. They wrapped a garland around Mrs. Brewster’s porch rails and hung a bright wreath on the front door.  They trimmed the fir tree in the front yard with shiny Christmas ornaments, a suet bell for the birds and a popcorn garland they’d made.
            They waited for Mrs. Brewster to come home. Her eyes widened as she stepped from her car. Slowly, she walked to the little tree and touched its branches. Her face beamed when she saw her porch.
            Soon the phone rang and Jason ran to get it.  “Did you see who decorated my porch and yard?” Mrs. Brewster asked. 
“Santa?” said Jason.
Mrs. Brewster laughed. “Well, if you see him, tell him thank you.”
The next morning, Dawn baked chocolate chip cookies. Mrs. Brewster came home from church to a big plate of warm cookies at her front door.
   When it snowed later in the week, Mrs. Brewster walked outside to find the snow swept off her car’s roof and windshield.
  A beautiful home-made potholder mysteriously appeared, tied to her door knob.  The next day, she found a catnip mouse for her kitten, Binky. A few days later, a few pieces of chocolate candy and a bag of kitty treats.
      On Christmas Eve, Jason and Dawn crept to Mrs. Brewster’s house to leave their last secret Santa surprise, a small pine tree they’d dug in the woods and potted. They’d decorated it with cut snowflakes and silver tinsel. The tree leaned a little to the left and they worried it wasn’t as pretty as other trees, but it was the best they could do.
            When they got to the door, they saw a big envelope that said, “To: Secret Santa.”
            The children left the little tree by the front door, took the envelope, rang the doorbell, and ran.
            When Mrs. Brewster opened the door, she found a Christmas tree that was just the right size for Binky and her.  She put it on the table in front of the window in her living room and smiled.
            The children opened the envelope as soon as they got home.  It said, “ Thank you so much Santa, for sharing the gift of love. Merry Christmas.”

Copyright 2016 by Valerie L. Egar. May no be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.   Like the story? Like my author's page, Valerie L. Egar, visit my website,, share the story with your friends on FACEBOOK. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Christmas Mouse

       By Valerie L. Egar

          On Christmas Eve, just before Daniel and Sara went to bed, they put three oatmeal cookies and a glass of milk on the dining room table for Santa. They’d made the cookies earlier that day, mixing plump raisins and cinnamon into the oatmeal batter.  They knew Santa needed a snack as he worked all night delivering toys.
“What about the reindeer?” Daniel said. “They must need something to eat too, don’t they?”
Sarah agreed. But what might a reindeer eat? They looked in the refrigerator and decided that two carrots and an apple would be tasty treats for Santa’s team. They put them on a plate next to the cookies.
After midnight, when everyone was asleep, a little mouse crept from under the cellar door into the house. He was grey with a tiny white blaze on his chest and long whiskers that made him look wise.
The family had no idea the mouse slipped into the house every night to look for scraps of food. Though the family was much neater than the mouse would have liked, he could usually find a few good things to eat— a corner of toast the vacuum missed, a stray cracker in the cupboard.
As the mouse slipped into the dining room, his pointed nose sniffed something delicious. The scent grew stronger as he neared the table. Sugar? Raisins? He shimmied up a table leg and thrilled to the sight of three fat oatmeal cookies.
He nibbled the edge of the first cookie, delighting at the hint of cinnamon. Then, he tasted the second cookie. Maybe it would taste different. He bit into a raisin. “Mmmm!” Raisins were delicious. He thought he’d try the third cookie and took a big bite of oats. He was still chewing when he heard a swoosh near the fireplace.
The mouse stood perfectly still as he watched a jolly man in a red suit emerge from the fireplace, carrying a sack. Santa carefully arranged presents under the tree and the mouse realized, too late, that the cookies he nibbled were meant for Santa. How he wished he hadn’t tasted all three! He glanced at the carrots and apple. Maybe he should have nibbled them instead. The reindeer probably wouldn’t have minded, but he understood people never ate what a little mouse touched.
The mouse quivered by the cookies, too afraid to run, just as frightened to stay. Slowly Santa approached the table. What would he say when he saw his cookies were ruined?   
Gentle eyes looked at the tiny mouse. “Hello little friend,” Santa said. “I see you’ve been enjoying some cookies.”
The mouse looked sorrowful as Santa sipped the milk. “Those look delicious. Are they?”
The mouse nodded.
“Good,” Santa said. “Make sure you finish them.” He rubbed his belly. “Mrs. Claus put me on a strict diet and this apple will be a perfect snack. The reindeer will enjoy the carrots.”
Three whole cookies? The little mouse could hardly believe it!  He stood up and looked at Santa.
“Well, I know you’ve been a good mouse,” said Santa, “and it is Christmas.” Santa reached into his pocket and took out a few almonds. “Here, you might like these, too.” With that, Santa disappeared up the chimney and the little mouse spent the rest of the night eating the cookies and almonds, making sure wasn’t a crumb left  when Daniel and Sara awoke in the morning.
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Copyright 2016 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Phoenix Takes a Walk

Phoenix, fast asleep, after his long walk.

       By Valerie L. Egar
         Every Sunday afternoon, Emily’s beautiful Siberian husky, Phoenix, took her for a walk through Bloomfield. Phoenix knew the town very well and pulled Emily all the places he wanted to go.
       The town’s restaurant, Honeycomb, was Phoenix’s favorite stop and that’s where he went first. Emily had to run to keep up. Phoenix stood outside and smelled the delicious aroma of steak sandwiches and cheeseburgers. What was that scent he couldn’t quite recognize? Ah, pancakes with maple syrup from the morning. Mmmm.
       Phoenix wished that once, just once, Emily would open the door and allow him to go inside, but he contented himself with looking in the windows as he passed by. People pointed at him and smiled. He knew they were admiring him.
Sometimes, people came out of the restaurant carrying bags of leftovers. The bags were called “doggie bags,” so why didn’t they give them to him? Phoenix was always disappointed. Although people said hello and pat his head, no one shared their doggie bag with him.
         After they passed the restaurant, Phoenix visited Tracey’s Gift Shop. Tracey painted beautiful scenes on Christmas ornaments and sat at a table working  when
she wasn’t helping customers.  Phoenix knew if he stared in the window long enough, she would notice him and come outside. Sure enough, Tracey spotted Phoenix.
          “Aren’t you a beautiful boy?” she said. She rubbed him behind his ears and he wagged his tail.
          Next stop was the park in the center of town. Phoenix liked inspecting the trees and walking in the cool grass.  Usually his friend Roger was in the park on Saturday afternoon with his two dogs, Faith and Willow. Phoenix was always excited to see them. He looked around. They weren’t by the water fountain.  Not next to the park bench behind the oak tree. Not in the park at all.  Too bad.
          Phoenix pulled Emily up the hill to the fire station.  On Sunday afternoon, crew members washed the trucks and one of the men usually carried a dog biscuit in his back pocket for Phoenix. Today, though, the trucks sat in the driveway shiny and clean with a troop of boy scouts inspecting them. The Fire Chief was explaining the parts of the truck and how they worked.
          “Look, a husky!” one of the scouts yelled.  Soon the whole troop surrounded Phoenix to pet him.
         “May I take some pictures?” the Scout Master asked Emily.  Each boy wanted a picture with Phoenix.
        When they finished, Emily said, “Are we done? I’m getting tired!” but Phoenix had one more place he liked to go.
          Phoenix pulled Emily up the hill to the Franklin’s house. Mr. and Mrs. Franklin were sitting on the porch. Mr. Franklin was reading the newspaper and Mrs. Franklin was peeling apples to make a pie.
  “Why, if it isn’t Phoenix!” Mrs. Franklin said. “I’ve been saving something for you.” She put down the apple she was peeling and went inside the house. Soon she came out with a small bag.  “We went out to eat last night and we brought the leftovers home for Phoenix.”
Emily politely said, “Thank you,” and Phoenix wagged his tail and jumped high in the air he was so happy. Finally, a doggie bag!  It smelled delicious. He couldn’t wait to see what was inside.
When he got home, he ate the leftover steak the Franklins gave him and fell asleep, content with his perfect Sunday walk.
Like the story? Feel free to share it on Facebook. Copyright 2016 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.  Published December 4, 2016 in The Sunday Journal Tribune.