In the Woods

It’s Christmas Eve. I’m outside in the woods with a flashlight, covered with red cellophane. Rudolph has landed behind our house. Santa is in the neighborhood.

My wife and my daughter are at the slider door, watching as I slowly move around, turn my head, and bend toward the ground as if to nibble on something tasty.

I move a little quickly, raising the flashlight higher and higher over my head in mock takeoff. It’s time for Rudolph, the reindeer, and Santa to move on.

And it’s time for me to go back inside to hear about what I missed.

Angel of Midtown

By: Laura K.

Final approach! I cue up my Discman.  

A cold and wet December day, when we touched the ground at JFK…

Despite the jetlag I bounce to the tambourine. Passport control takes eternity.  

New York, like a Christmas tree

He’s not home yet.  I shower, disappointed. Shaving my legs I hear him singing, sounding bemused, annoyed. I redo my makeup.

Showtime. We pretend we don’t care about each other. I crash on the couch. 

Morning brings Advil, coffee, another flight, my parents, The Holidays.  I know he’s doing the same, but I can’t picture it.

Jesus Christ I miss you. 

Home for the Holidays

By: Laura K.

The sky is marginally lighter than the slush walling the streets. The air stings my nostrils. It’s a relief after yesterday, too many people and stories squeezed into that house; nineties Christmas albums; cookies and champagne at noon, wrapping paper and packaging everywhere. 

He’s divorced, now, no kids.  I made it here okay, not even skidding around Dead Man’s Curve, to his East Side walkup with a young lawyer couple below. 

It’s better than after-Christmas sale shopping would have been. 

Afterwards, we’ll attempt small talk. I’ll blast The Cure on the way home, just like before our lives stopped intersecting.


By Ed Dzitko

Imagine, every December, the pain the holiday season brings.

In the windows of 20 houses, 20 where kids lived, a single candle burns. It’s been eight years, but the hurt remains. Moms and Dads are older, aged twice that, at least, and siblings are grown, but their grief has not subsided.

Their pain is as fresh as the newly-cut trees they decorate with bright and shiny orbs, strings of garland, popcorn and berries, and flashing lights.

Will Christmas ever be the same for any of them? Unlikely. There’s nothing worse than an innocent child, in school, shot by a psycho.

The Letter

By Ed Dzitko

It was on page 11 of the News-Tribune in the “Letters to Santa” section. Timmy now understood why his schoolmates were asking about the Vikings pajamas he had asked for for Christmas.

“I dropped that in the mailbox,” he said to nobody. “I addressed it to the North Pole. How’d it get into the newspaper?”

He sat a few of minutes, thinking, and using deduction skills he learned in the Hardy Boys adventures. He grabbed paper and pen.

Dear Santa,

Sorry to tell you this. There’s a leak at the North Pole.

Be careful with all those letters.



Do You Still Believe?

By Ed Dzitko

Fourth-grade Bobby stared hard at the question on the board.

“Do you still believe in Santa Claus?” The question went along with a story in the class reading book. His group hadn’t been in the teacher’s circle yet.

What does that mean, Bobby wondered. Aren’t I supposed to still believe? I’m supposed to be stopping? Why would I? Do I not know something everybody else does?

Bobby tapped Kim on the shoulder. He pointed to the question, smiled, and said, “Yes!” Kim didn’t smile back. She just turned away.

“Group 4,” teacher called.

Bobby sighed. Time to face the truth.

Holiday Greetings

By: Lauren Spagnoletti

“Stand in front of the tree. Both of you. Get closer together. Stop touching your brother. Put your hand down. Not in front of your face! Stand still. Don’t touch the dog. Don’t look at the dog. Can you look at the camera please? BOTH OF YOU. Smile. Smile! Just STOP MOVING and SMILE! Wait, pull your shirt down—it’s up on the side. No, the other side. No come back here we’re not done yet. Stop. Stand still. Both of you look at me for one minute please. Smile! SMILE!”

 Happy Holidays from Our Family to Yours!

Mission Accomplished.

The 3 Magi

By: Megan Cramer

Three wise people had swiftly followed the lights down the road for almost a mile. It was worth the shortness of breath and sore legs. They arrived at the park, awed with the twinkling and glowing orbs surrounding them and the wisest amongst them led the trio to the grand finale, where they traipsed the suspension bridge into the trees. Thousands of lights hung from the sky, and colors and spots popped and dropped and surrounded and spun and moved all around them while Flight of the Bumblebee and John Williams classics blared in their ears. O Holy Night, indeed. 

No Kiss Tonight

By Ed Dzitko 

“She’s there, near the mistletoe,” Billy said. “Wow.”

“So… go over there,” said Al. 

“I can’t. Nobody takes mistletoe seriously. I’ve never seen a single mistletoe kiss.”

“So what? Billy, now’s your chance.”

“I don’t know. What if she walks away, Al, doesn’t step closer? People’ll see. I’ll be embarrassed the rest of the night.”

“Just go. Put an arm around her and lead her a step forward. Then give her a peck.”

“I don’t know,” said Billy, anxious now, sweat forming on his brow.

‘Bill, just go. Now.”

“Whew. I’ll go. Right out the front door. See ya, Al.”

Winter Spirits

By: Ed Dzitko

He peaked out from the doorway. Not a soul on the street, and too few cars moving far too slowly for any kidnapping and quick get away.

Strange, he thought. Did he imagine those screams? Possibly. But they were so real, so loud, so right outside the window. He looked down. No footprints, either. The snowflakes floated lazily onto the thick blanket already covering the sidewalk.

Again he wondered how something he thought so real could not have happened at all.

He shivered, turned, and headed in. Another brandy was waiting on the end table. Hm. “Did I pour that?”

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