Story Lovers World Online Library
presents


BARE BONES FOR STORYTELLERS - Volume 3
100 Years of Story Skeletons from Around the World



IN THE SPIRIT OF THE WINTER HOLIDAYS
Folktales, Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends



Christmas Hanukkah Kwanzaa
 

IN THE SPIRIT OF THE WINTER HOLIDAYS

(Scroll down or click on your choice below)

Christmas

Hanukkah
Kwanzaa
Other winter holiday stories

To go to any story, click on the title line.
Some stories are full text; others contain online links for follow-up.

CHRISTMAS


1) Sean Gowan's Most Important Christmas (farmer overhears animals talking about him; reforms)
2) Cobweb Christmas (participation possibilities, repetition and movement; the beginnings of tinsel)
3) The Legend of the Christmas Spider (tolerance, appreciation of diversity; the beginnings of tinsel)
4) Holiday Song Parodies (funny, participation, 5 parodies to popular holiday songs)
5) The Legend of the Christmas Rose (angel helps poor shepherd maiden find loving gift for Christ Child)
6) Gifts of Story for Christmas (The Christmas Truce; The Baker's Dozen at Aaron Shepard's website)
7) The Flower of the Holy Night aka The Legend of the Poinsettia (a plant from tears for the Christ Child)
8) A Christmas Carol (by Charles Dickens; shortened version for kids)
9) The Battle of the Shoe and Stocking (very funny; shoe and stocking battle it out on who's superior)
10) 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Star Trek-style poem)
11) 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (traditional beloved poem by Clement Clarke Moore)
12) The Real Story Behind the Christmas Bell (about the Big Guy and his reindeer)
13) Filling Santa's Shop (Santa and his elves find the true spirit of Christmas)
14) Around the World With Santa Claus (Santa and his helpers leave gifts in many countries)
15) Santa's Noisy Christmas (Santa's trying to sleep, but his house gets noisier and noisier)
16) Santa's Noisy Christmas Puppet Play (Santa, Mrs. Claus, the Christmas Fairy, and all the animals)
17) Five Christmas Cookies (finger play participation story; funny; younger kids)
18) Santa Gets Stuck in the Chimney (a chubby Santa gets stuck; takes cooperation from all to pull him out)
19) This Was the Christmas (by Ruth Sawyer; this Eldrbarry site includes many links to Christmas stories)
20) The Little Match Girl (by Hans Christian Andersen; poor girl sells matchsticks, joins grandmother in Heaven)
21) Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (the famous New York Times response to the age-old question)
22) Christmas Every Day (greedy girl learns what happens when Christmas comes too often)
23) The Legend of the Margil Vine (a child learns the meaning of giving from the heart)
24) The One and Only Christmas Ghost (Christmas ghost appears at the wrong time of year)
25) Just Frog (a frog and a duck discuss the meaning of hurt and pain and Christmas)
26) A Child's Christmas in Wales (by Dylan Thomas; link to full text; classic story of a child's Christmas)
27) Christmas Urban Legend #1 (winner of a national contest)
28) The Christmas Fairy of Strasburg (an angry count utters a forbidden word and loses his love forever)
29) The First Christmas Gift (a shepherd boy gives up his most precious possession to the baby Jesus)
30) Tom Bawcock's Eve (on Christmas Eve, a fisherman saves his village from starvation)
31) Funny Christmas Stories (27 short stories written to bring a smile to your face)
32) Christmas Songs with Music (32 song lyrics and music)
33) Christmas Stories and Poems (35 religious stories and poems)
34) History and Lore of Christmas Bells (the importance of "Jingle Bells" to Christmas and the holiday season)
35) History of the Origin of the Song "Jingle Bells" (could the song have been written in the American South?)
36) The Troll Who Wanted to be Human (a troll learns the most important thing about being human)
37) The Old Woman Who Wanted a Gnome in her Home (by Jeanna Oterdahl; generosity brings rewards)
38) The Shepherd Boy's Flute (by Dan Lindholm; appreciation of a shepherd's gift by the Christ Child
39) Christmas Quotations; Season's Greetings in Different Languages
40) Christmas Stories by Chuck Larkin (Examples include: Ms. Horse, Ms. Mule and Ms. Cow)
41) The Tale of Mad Dog's Christmas (a mean wolf learns the true meaning of friendship and Christmas)
42) When the Pyrenees Were Green (shepherds turn to stone after they refuse food and shelter to a visitor)
43) A St. Nicholas Story and Will the Real St. Nicholas Please Stand Up?—And He Did! (stories and poems)
44) The Bird's Christmas Carol (a generous young girl brings happiness to all around her before she dies)
45) Brer Rabbit's Christmas (Brer Rabbit as Santa Claus tricks Brer Fox and gets his stolen carrots back)
46) A Bed Fit for a King an old Jewish carpenter finally fulfills his dream of making a bed "fit for a king")
47) This Little Light of Mine (angels compete to place the Star of Bethlehem in the sky)
48) The Stolen Baby Jesus (it's best not to jump to conclusions until you know the whole story)
49) Teach the Children (Santa Claus tells how to teach children the true meaning of Christmas)
50) Barrington Bunny (a lonely bunny seeks love and friends and makes the ultimate sacrifice)
51) The Nosy Little Star (a nosy little star brings sparkling joy to children on Christmas Day)
52) Why the Chimes Rang (a small boy and his brother bring the most precious gift to the Christ child)
53) Jesus Ahatonia or 'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime or The Huron Carol (poetic carol about the nativity)
54) A Chaparral Christmas Gift (a revenge-seeking Frio Kid plays Santa Claus and disrupts Christmas festivities)
55) A Christmas Dinner Won in Battle (Christmas on the prairie, a young hero wins his girl's heart)
56) Site Listing 389 Links to Christmas Stories (from classics to contemporary; all ages)
57) Site Listing Hundreds of Links to Christmas Stories, Poems, Activities, Traditions, History (all ages)
58) Christmas in the Holler (excerpt from and link to a delightful tale of a Christmas in Kentucky)
59) A Christmas Surprise (A cut-and-tell story; a little boy learns how to create his own Christmas tree)
60) The Gingerbread Man at the North Pole (preschool; an amusing alternate version of the classic tale)
61) A Gift From Saint Nicholas (a visit from an old, bearded stranger brings untold riches to a struggling family)
62) A Kidnapped Santa Claus (5 jealous daemons kidnap Santa; fairies, knooks & pixies to the rescue!)
63) A Christmas Memory (memories of a boyhood Christmas spent with an eccentric aunt)
64) Santa's Prayer on Christmas Eve (Santa prays for God's blessings to help him carry out his tasks)
65) The Little Blue Dishes (a young girl gets her Christmas wish through separate actions of her brothers)



HANUKKAH / CHANUKAH


1) The Magic Dreidels (by Eric A. Kimmel; magic dreidels, boy, goblin, busybody woman)
2) Shaikey's Hanukkah Candles (a staged reading; Israel's War of Independence)
3)
The Menorah (a German holocaust survivor is reunited with his mother)
4) Pnut Butter and Jelly and Latkes (a stubborn little girl learns a lesson)
5) Remember Rivka (a school project honors a Holocaust victim)
6) Chanukah at Valley Forge (a Jewish soldier encounters George Washington in the Revolutionary War)
7) The Soul of a Menorah (by Eric A. Kimmel; a village battles over a hayfork vs. a menorah)
8) Stubborn Menorah (family cooperation helps free a stubborn menorah)
9) Potato Pancakes All Around (how a peddler makes delicious pancakes from a crust of bread)
10) In the Month of Kislev (rich man asks rabbi to make poor family pay for smelling his food)
11) Hanukkah: A Season of Lights (history and meaning of the season; stories and books available)
12) Song Parody: Children, Go Where I Send Thee (Trad. with Hannukah Lyrics by Sandy Pomerantz)
13) Song Parody: I Am a Latke (“I Am a Pizza” by Peter Alsop, new lyrics by Sandy Pomerantz)
14) Hanukkah (background information and story written by Chuck Larkin)
15) The Story of Chanukah (how Chanukah came about; how and why it is celebrated)
16) The Untouched Oil (Yaakov Cohen's four sons give him gifts that restore his faith)
17) Chanukah Lights Dancing (Chanukah's tiny lights transform fear into hope for a 57-year-old woman)
18) Out of the Closet (a young Jewish woman struggles with her true identity during the winter holidays)
19) Christmas in Brooklyn (a Jewish girl deals with integrating into the dominant culture)
20) The Horse That Wouldn't Eat Latkes (a traveler outwits some ungracious men in an inn)
21) The Night Before Hanukkah—A Visit from Judah Maccabee (words to 'Twas the Night Before Christmas)
22) A Great Miracle Happened Here (a young Jewish boy is accused of being a thief and beaten up)
23) One Little Menorah (
a young boy struggles with his Jewishness during the Christmas season)

KWANZAA

1) Seven Principles of Kwanzaa (and more information about Kwanzaa)
2) Why Men Have to Work (Kwanzaa principle; illustrates the consequences of greed)
3) Kwanzaa Stories (fitting all the principles)
4) The Father, his Sons, and the Bundle of Sticks (Aesop; Kwanzaa principle of Unity)
5) Kwanzaa Song Parodies (to familiar tunes such as Farmer in the Dell and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)
6) Kwanzaa Reading Fun
(list of interesting stories and books about this holiday)

OTHER STORIES IN THE FALL/WINTER HOLIDAY SPIRIT

1) Tom Turkey (Thanksgiving; paper cutouts; rhyming; for younger kids)
2) Bashful Benny (Thanksgiving; family ends up sharing dinner with turkey)
3) New Year's Hats for the Statues (spirit and rewards of giving)
4) The Fairy's Gift (magic books that reflect children's good and bad behavior)
5) The Mail Coach Passengers (joyful tale as the personified 12 months get off mail coach)
6) Queen Violet (a beautiful girl melts the heart of a cold and distant king)
7) The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde (a cruel Giant's heart melts for love of children, one in particular)
8) The Death of Balder (Norse myth involving gods and winter mistletoe, jealousy, murder and retribution)
9) The Twelve Months (a Slavic tale; the twelve months of the year reward goodness and punish evil)
10) The Gifts of Wali Dad (an old man's generosity changes his life and the lives of those around him)
11) Why Evergreen Trees Never Lose Their Leaves (a birch tree protects a wounded bird through the winter)
12) Lady of Guadalupe (the Virgin appears to a poor farmer asking that a church be built in her name)
13) Shingebiss and the Power of Wind (Ojibwe winter story deals with power, danger, courage and triumph)
14) Living Water (delightful, fanciful story of why the evergreen trees never lose their leaves in winter)
15) A Snowflake and a Story (a Native-American tale; a paper-cutting story)

 

CONTRIBUTING STORYTELLERS

Batsy Bybell
Karen Chace
Beverly Comer
Eldrbarry
Marcia Gutierrez
Stephen Hollen
Susanna Holstein (Granny Sue)
Leanne Johnson
Marilyn Kinsella
Ofra Kipnis
Audrey Kopp
Chuck Larkin
Richard Marsh, Dublin
Richard Martin, Germany
Pat Nease
Steve Otto
Rose Owens (Rose the story lady)
Dale Pepin
Sandy Pomerantz
Aaron Shepard

Eliezel Shore
Cathy Jo Smith
Shelby Smith
Linda Spitzer
Fran Stallings
Judith Wynhausen
Yvonne Young


CHRISTMAS
STORIES AND SONGS


1) Sean Gowan's Most Important Christmas
(This is an original, but based on European legends of animals talking at Christmas.)

Story:
Sean was a well-to-do but unsociable farmer. He heard a story of animals getting the gift of speech on Christmas Eve and decided to listen in his barn. Hidden away, he heard the beasts talk; they talked about...him! They said how stingy and mean he was and therefore doomed to a lonely life and death. As the bells rang out, the animals began to sing and Sean fell asleep. He awoke a changed man, joined in community life and never spent another Christmas Eve alone.
•••••
Contributed by
Cathy Jo Smith
http://www.sostoryfest.com/contact.html
Central Ohio area

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2) Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel
[
Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo. Participation possibilities: children as spiders, mother; repeating lines
Movement: making spider webs on the tress with their hands (all audience)
Spiders running away]

Bones:
On Christmas Eve, a long time ago, an old woman was busily preparing her home for the holidays. She had a lot to do—cooking, baking, cleaning. Often she stopped to talk with children who came to her door. Her Christmas tree sat in the corner and she often looked at it and thought, "The Tree! The Tree! I need to decorate the tree!" But she had so much to do!

Late that evening, all the work was done—the cookies were baked, the house was clean, windows sparkled in the candlelight. The old woman thought, "The Tree! The Tree! I need to decorate the tree!" She poured a cup of tea from the kettle steaming by the fireplace, carried her cup to her favorite rocking chair, and sat down to rest—just for a minute. Looking up, she saw one spider's web that she had missed in her cleaning. "I'll get that web with my broom as soon as I finish my tea," she thought. She stared into the fire thinking about how wonderful it would be on Christmas Day with all her grandchildren coming to visit. As she sat and sipped and rocked, she grew sleepier and sleepier. She looked at the tree and thought, "The Tree! The Tree! I need to decorate the tree!" But her eyes drooped, closed...and soon she was fast asleep.

Up in the web, the spiders were curious. Every year the old woman had run them out with her cleaning, but this year they had all hidden in that one web high up in the corner of the ceiling, and she had forgotten about them. "Why did she bring a tree in her house?" asked a little spider. "I'm not sure," answered on older, wiser spider. "Let's go down and see."

The spiders crept out of their hiding place. The swung on their webs down to the tree, and when they landed on its branches, they crawled all over it, leaving bright silver strings of webbing behind them. When they had examined every part of the tree, they still were not sure why the old woman had brought it in, and they returned to their web on the ceiling.

In the morning, when the old woman woke up, she was so surprised! Her tree was covered with spider webs. But as she looked, the sun came through the window and caught the webs in its rays. The spider webs started to sparkle and shine! They had all turned into sparkling, shimmering silver and gold. At that moment, the door burst open and in came her grandchildren. "Grandmother! Your tree is so beautiful! Look how it shines! This is even better than the decorations you usually use!" The old woman smiled, and looked up at the spider web. "I had help from many friends," she said. "I hope they come back every year to decorate my tree."

And every year after that, when the old woman cleaned her house for Christmas, she always made sure to leave one web for the spiders, and they always came to help decorate her tree on Christmas Eve.

According to legend, ever since this happened, people have hung tinsel on their Christmas trees in memory of those spiders. In many places, it is also the custom to include a spider among the decorations on the tree.
•••••
Contributed by
Granny Sue
Susanna Holstein
http://grannysue.blogspot.com/
susannaholstein@yahoo.com

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3) The Legend of the Christmas Spider (see also Cobweb Christmas above)
[Source unknown -- used at church one Christmas Eve. Each child received a spider made from beads by the ladies of the church. Adults came up afterwards to ask if they could have one too. Now a spider always hangs in my Christmas tree.
Books:
The Legend of the Christmas Spider A Wondrous Tale: A Magical Christmas Tale from Finland by Nancy Valois, 2009.
The Legend of The Christmas Spider by Julie Puntch, 1993.
]

Bones:

* long ago in Germany
* mother busily cleaning house for Christmas
* believed that the Christ Child visited the house on Christmas Eve
* not a speck of dust left
* even spiders had been banished from cozy corn

er in ceiling
* spiders fled to farthest corner of attic.

* Christmas Eve at last
* tree was decorated
* waiting for the children to see it
* poor spiders were frantic
* they could not see the tree, nor be present for the Christ Child's visit
* oldest and wisest spider suggested "perhaps peep through crack in the door to see Him."
* silently, crept out of attic, across floor to wait in the crack in the threshold.

* suddenly, door opened a wee bit
* quickly spiders sneaked into the room
* tree towered so high
* couldn't see the ornaments on top
* in fact, eyes were so small, could see only one ornament at a time
* scurried up the trunk
* out along each branch
* filled with a happy wonder at the glittering beauty.

* every place they went, left a trail of dusty, grey web
* when at top, tree was shrouded in a dusty grey of spider webs.

* Christ Child smiled
* thought of the happy spiders seeing His tree
* knew the mother would not feel the same way
* knew she would be broken hearted
* reached out His hand
* touched the webs and blessed them
* webs turned to shimmering, sparkling silver and gold
* tree glistened in greater beauty than ever before.

* ever since we have hung tinsel on the tree
* according to the story, custom now to include a spider among the decorations on the tree.
•••••
Contributed by
Dale W. Pepin
STORY SOCKS
dalejeannine.pepin@sympatico.ca
http://www.storysocks.com

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4) Holiday Song Parodies
[I don't have sources for these, although you may be able to find some, if not all, in one of the Prairie Home Companion books.]

a) Toys, Beautiful Toys (tune Home on the Range)
Oh give me a bike, with a bell that I like
And a dolly that hollers, "Mama!"
A boat that can toot, and an astronaut suit,
An electrical train for Papa.
Refrain:
Toys, beautiful toys!
That turn on and make lots of noise!
That rattle and clang and go bangety-bang,
Oh toys, beautiful toys.

Oh give me a ball I can bounce down the hall,
And a drum that goes boom a boom boom,
A high flying jet and a xylophone set,
And a DVD player for my room.

Repeat refrain.

Oh give me a bat, a mechanical cat,
And a whistle that goes tweedle-dees
A monster that stalks and screeches and squawks,
And please bring a flying trapeze.

Repeat refrain.
•••••

b) Beecham's Pills (Tune: Hark the Herald Angels Sing)
Hark the herald angels sing
Beecham's Pills are just the thing
Peace on earth and mercy mild
Two for adults and one for child.
Joyful all ye nations rise
Medicate when you arise
With angelic hosts proclaim
They are worthy of acclaim.
Hark! The herald angels sing
Beecham's Pills are just the thing.

c) While Shepherds Washed Their Socks by Night (Tune: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night)
While shephers washed their socks by night
All seated 'round the tub,
A bar of Ivory Soap came down
And they began to scrub.
And they began to scrub.

d) We Three Kings (2 parodies)
We three kings of Orient are
Puffing on a big cigar.
It was loaded, it exploded,
Covering us with tar.

We three kings of Orient are
Trying to smoke a rubber cigar
It was loaded and exploded,
Blowing us all afar.

e) I'm Screaming at a White Sheepdog (Tune: I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas)
I'm screaming at a white sheepdog,
Each time he sits upon my chair.
It's a thing I'm dreading,
The way he's shedding,
And coats everything with hair.
I'm screaming at a white sheepdog,
And may he visit you some night.
May his bark be worse than his bite
And may all your furniture be white.
•••••
Contributed by the late
Leanne Johnson, Professional Storyteller

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5) The Legend of the Christmas Rose

Story:
* When the Magi laid their rich offerings of myrrh, frankincense, and gold, by the bed of the sleeping Christ Child, legend says that a shepherd maiden stood outside the door quietly weeping.
* also had sought the Christ Child
* also desired to bring him gifts
* had nothing to offer, for she was very poor indeed.

* in vain she searched the countryside for one little flower to bring Him
* could find neither bloom nor leaf, for the winter had been cold.
* stood weeping
* passing angel saw her sorrow
* stooping, angel brushed aside the snow at her feet.

* there sprang up on the spot a cluster of beautiful winter roses
* waxen white with pink tipped petals.
* "Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold,'' said the angel, "is offering more meet for the Christ Child than these pure Christmas Roses.''

* joyfully shepherd maiden gathered flowers
* made her offering to the Holy Child.
•••••
Contributed by
Dale W. Pepin
STORY SOCKS
dalejeannine.pepin@sympatico.ca
http://www.storysocks.com

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6) Gifts of Story for Christmas
As a reminder, two Gifts of Story for Christmas are offered on my Web site:
http://www.aaronshep.com

GOS #21 ~ The Christmas Truce
by Aaron Shepard

On a Christmas Eve of World War I, British and German soldiers lay down their weapons to celebrate the holiday together.

GENRE: Historical fiction
CULTURE: European (World War I)
THEME: War and peace
AUDIENCE AGES: 10 and up
LENGTH: 12 minutes

GOS #7 ~ The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale
Told by Aaron Shepard

Van Amsterdam, the baker, is as honest as he can be -- but he may have something left to learn.

GENRE: Legends, St. Nicholas tales
CULTURE: American (Dutch colonial)
THEME: Generosity
AUDIENCE AGES: 5 and up
LENGTH: 6 minutes
•••••
Contributed by
Aaron Shepard
http://www.aaronshep.com/

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7) The Flower of the Holy Night* aka The Legend of the Poinsettia
[
The family of plants that the poinsettia comes from has a small tree/bush where the tiny leaves turn white---really beautiful. The plant was named after a U.S. diplomat who "discovered" these plants while living in Mexico.]
 
This story takes place on the last day of Las Posadas (The Inns).  It is a 9-day event where people re-enact the story of María and José as they try to find a place to stay in Bethlehem. For 8 nights, people follow two children dressed as María and José to a house and as the children knock on the door and ask to be let in, the people sing songs.  In small villages, the children and people are finally allowed in and food is served.  On the 9th night, everyone goes to the church with gifts for the baby Jesus.  There is a life-sized Nativity scene in the church with the two children and a baby in it (and sometime live animals, too).

The Flower of the Holy Night*
[Bare Bones version from an original retelling of this Mexican Folktale by Marcia Gutiérrez, Quilted Tales.]
Bones: Juan is an orphan.  His mother died when he was a baby and his father died several years later.  Juan ran away from the orphanage to look for his father and later began to go from village to village looking for work.  Sometimes, when he was hungry, he would steal what he needed.
 
Juan was living in a makeshift tent by a river.  During the day he would go to the village and find work. At night he would lay in his tent and listen to the river's song.  One night while listening to the river he heard other voices, they were singing songs for Las Posadas, a 9 day festival where a boy and girl would dress as Mary and Joseph and knock on a door to be let in.  Juan followed the singing and watched from the shadows as the boy and girl knocked on the door and the villagers sang.  Finally the door opened and the people went inside.  As the last man entered the light from the house fell upon Juan and the man saw him then shut the door.  Juan stood outside and remembered when he and his father use to participate in Las Posadas, but now Juan was a child of the streets.  As he turned to leave, the door opened again and the man offered him a bundle of food.  For the next 7 nights Juan followed the singing and was offered food but never invited in.
 
On the 9th night Juan went to the village and the villagers were going to the church, each one was carrying a gift for the baby Jesus.  Juan had no gift and thought of stealing something but realized that this would be worse then having no gift at all.  He kneeled down upon the ground and folding his hands in prayer looked up to the sky and prayed to Mary, Mother of Jesus.  He closed his eyes and began to cry.  The tears fell to the ground and as they did a plant began to grow.  Juan looked down and saw the most beautiful plant he had ever seen in his life.  It had bright red leaves that surrounded small yellow flowers.  Carefully he dug up the plant and carried it into the church where he presented it to the baby that was laying in a crib in a life sized manger.
 
Juan was offered a seat in the front of the church as the whole village looked upon the beautiful plant in wonder; they knew a miracle had happened.  Later Juan told the story which was carried down from generation to generation and Juan was no longer a child of the streets, he lived out his life there as a member of the village where the first Flower of the Holy Night had been seen.
 
*Flower of the Holy Night or La Flor de la Noche Buena is the name of the poinsettia in Mexico.

 

The Legend of the Poinsettia
Another version of the story above: A charming story is told of Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who had no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked slowly to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy.

"I am sure, Pepita, that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes," said Pedro consolingly.

Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. She fought back a tear as she entered the small village chapel.

As she approached the alter, she remembered Pedro's kind words: "Even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes." She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene.

Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of yellow with leaves of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes.

From that day on, the bright red leaves were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season.

Today, the common name for this plant is the poinsettia!
•••••
Text for "The Flower of the Holy Night" and cultural and botanical information contributed by
Marcia Gutiérrez, Bilingual Storyteller
QuiltedTales@aol.com
http://www.storytelling.org/gutierrez/
•••••
Bones for "The Legend of the Poimsettia" adapted by
Jackie Baldwin
Story Lovers World
http://www.story-lovers.com

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8) The Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens (shortened version for kids)
On my site, I've added a VERY shortened version of the Dickens' story, "A Christmas Carol." I had to write this for German 9-year-olds, so just a touch simplified all round.
It's here:
http://www.tellatale.eu/
•••••
Contributed by
Richard Martin, Germany
info@tellatale.eu
http://www.tellatale.eu/

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9) The Battle of the Shoe and Stocking

Story:
The Stocking was insufferable. He was a very special Christmas stocking, appliquéd with felt cut-outs of toys, covered with sequins, quite glamorous in a flashy kind of way. When the Christmas boxes were pulled down from storage, and everything was unpacked and strewn across the living room floor, he was always one of the first things hung, on a special nail over the fireplace that waited there, all year, just for him. In this family, the stocking was hung as soon as the Christmas tree was decorated, and he stayed up until the tree was taken away. "Other stockings only work a single night," he would tell the other decorations, "but I play the living room all season." He liked to sing, too, and tell jokes which weren't funny, but all the decorations laughed because they were somewhat in awe of him. After all, he was the STOCKING. There was only one of him, and he'd been handed down now through three generations of the family.

Frequently, the girl's shoes stayed in the living room overnight. They were supposed to be put properly under her bed each night, but somehow that seldom happened. Sometimes one would be under the table, and another under the couch - and once, for reasons no one could ever understand, the left shoe was placed in the refrigerator overnight, next to some left-over spaghetti sauce. He never fully recovered, and remained silent the rest of his life. But the right shoe had a fine spirit, because she used it more than the left one, especially in kickball and neighborhood games of soccer. But he dreaded Christmas, because the stocking was so mean to him.

"Tell me I'm wonderful," the stocking would purr. And all the ornaments would obediently tell the stocking how wonderful he was, but he wasn't happy until the shoe said it as well. "You're wonderful, you're wonderful," the shoe would mutter, just to shut the stocking up.
"I'd hate to be a shoe," the stocking would gloat. "I'm displayed elegantly from the mantle, while you cool your heels under - what is it tonight? The end table?"
"You're all flash and glitter," said the shoe. "At least a shoe has a sole."
"And soon I'll be filled with toys and candy, while you get filled with a foot," said the stocking. "Time for you to toe the line around here."
"You certainly are head over heels in love with yourself," said the shoe. And all the ornaments gasped in dismay, at such audacity in talking back to the stocking, who was clearly grander than anyone else.

Now, the night before Christmas eve, everyone began cleaning up the house. Toys which had lived for several days - or, in one case, two months - under the bed, or piled on top of the desk, or riding high up on the top of the bunkbed were put where they belonged. A collection of dolls from foreign countries - France, Spain, even Japan - sat nicely in a row on the shelf next to the bed, and that night both shoes were placed properly under the bed. Unaccustomed to the new arrangement, the shoe looked around, and met the eyes of the French doll. "Your scuff marks are tres jolie, very pretty," she said. "Great soccer game today," he said, embarrassed. "Picked up some new ones."
"I have heard your stocking speak out in the great room," she said. "And I have seen him once. He is very ugly." "Truer words were never spoken," said the shoe.
"We French have a great sense of style," she said. "But in France, the stocking is nothing at Christmas. It is something which is thrown in the wash, with the lingerie." "But what do the children put up for Santa Claus then?" asked the shoe. "Their underwear?" "Mais non," said the French doll, amused. "There are the holes in the underwear for the legs to go through, and everything would fall out. Don't be a stupid shoe." "Then what?" asked the shoe. "They put out their shoes," said the French doll. "And they put out their shoes in Spain too, and in the Netherlands, and in Norway the whole family puts out all their shoes together in a long row, non?, to show that they will try to get along well in the coming year."
"You're kidding," said the shoe. "Non, I am not kidding," said the French doll. "Here they put out the stocking, but then it is a barbaric country in so many ways. The clothes, mon dieu!" "You're sure about this," asked the shoe. "Look at me. I am an antique. I have great experience in the ways of the world, and some day, if you are properly placed under the bed again, I will tell you some of my history. It may shock you but then, so little is shocking anymore these days. But now I am tired," yawned the French doll, "and you too must sleep to be ready for tomorrow's football." "We call it soccer," said the shoe, and both of them slept.

The next night was Christmas eve. The girl was so excited, that although she had promised to be tidier, she left the right shoe out again, right next to the fireplace. The stocking was doing calisthenics, quite ostentatiously, stretching itself out and rolling itself up. "Gotta get in shape," said the stocking. "I'd like a little chatter from the ornaments section. Let's get the team spirit going, guys! I'm about to go on!"

The shoe bided his time. He had a plan, which if it worked, would silence the stocking at least for the rest of the season. Then they heard the patter of hooves on the roof, and a great scuffling inside the chimney, and - with rather a lot of soot spilled and grunting and groaning - Santa emerged from the fireplace. He put the big toys around the tree, and then stuffed the stocking until it almost burst with small dolls and jacks and balls and piles of candy. And then, his finger next to his nose, he disappeared back up the chimney.

"Think you can handle that?" asked the shoe. "Listen," said the stocking, "this is what I do." "Here maybe," said the shoe. "Not in France." The stocking swung over to the shoe in fury. "Not in France?" "They use shoes," said the shoe. "More dependable. Less likely to run." The stocking swung back and forth, thinking. "How about Spain? They use stockings there, of course." "Shoes," said the shoe. "Same in Netherlands. You gotta have sole for Christmas in the old country."

The stocking was swinging wildly now, around and around, and the nail was almost out of the mantel. "Norway!," he shouted. "It's cold in Norway, they have extra stockings, they'd hang them up in Norway!" "They wear 'em to bed, and the whole family puts out all their SHOES in a row for St. Nicholas." said the shoe. The stocking gave a shriek, and with that, the nail fell out, the stocking crashed to the floor, and the best toys - the ones on top - fell into the shoe. The ornaments cheered, being somewhat feeble-minded, and likely to go with whoever seemed in charge.

"Life," said the shoe, "is a contact sport." And with that, he stuck his tongue out at the stocking, closed his shoelace eyelets, and slept the peaceful sleep of the victorious.

•••••
Full text found at:
http://www.dwarfnet.com/christmas/christmasstories/shoeandstockingbattle.shtml

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10) 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Star Trek style)
Poem:
Twas a Star Trek Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas on the Enterprise-D,
On a routine short hop to Starbase 03,
With Data on duty in the command chair,
At Warp 6, the Enterprise soon would be there.

Just for something to do while the other crew slept,
He scanned where historical records were kept --
And with a blink of his eye and a cock of his head,
"Intriguing! Tomorrow is Christmas!" he said.

But no one was stirring, and he sought to find why,
And so he buzzed Geordi, who awoke with a sigh:
"Christmas? It's only an old holiday --
Now just let me get back to sleep, okay?"

"But is to wish Merry Christmas not human to do?"
And so Data wished it -- to the whole ship and crew.
Everyone on the Enterprise awoke from this clatter --
Picard rushed to the bridge to see what was the matter.

"What is the meaning of this noise, Mister Data?"
"Sir, is it not Christmas--?" "We'll discuss it much later!"

Just then Worf said, "Captain -- a Klingon Prey Bird!
Its hull has been damaged -- it's uncloaking, sir."
"On screen," said Picard, as the Klingon ship hailed:
"Federation vessel, our Life Support systems have failed!

A strange ship attacked us, inflicting the worst,
(though naturally, of course, we'd fired on it first)."

The Klingons beamed over, and the senior staff met,
To try and determine the source of the threat.
Said Picard, "Mister Data, an assignment for you:
Give all of these Klingons something to do!
They think it's the Romulans we should look for,
Get them all off the bridge, before there's a war!"

So Data departed, while the rest of the crew
Wondered: Romulans? Ferengi? If not them, then who?

Said Worf, "Sir -- disturbance on Holodeck Three!"
The entire bridge crew ran down there to see.
Roared Picard, "Mister Data, what the devil is this!!"
"Sir, I have taught the Klingons how to celebrate Christmas."

And so there they were -- on holodecks 3, 4 and 5
With synthohol, singing and Rokeg Blood Pie!
Soon the Big E was rocking with holiday cheer
Friend,foe, and family came from both far and near.

The Romulans showed up with some Romulan Ale,
The Ferengi brought goodies for free -- not for sale!
But a strange ship was coming, the captain was told,
With one crew member only, and a huge cargo hold.

Said the Klingons, "It's the strange ship that fought us -- attack!"
Said Picard, "On Christmas? -- Mister Worf, just hold back."
And then as the ship came into view,
Onscreen came its captain -- none other than Q!

He wore a white beard and a suit of deep red...
"Joyeux Noel, mon captain," was what Santa Q said.
"Tell those Klingons next time to not go so berserk.
You need good defense systems in this line of work.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be warping away...
Did you think anyone else could do this job in one day?"

"I'm sensing emotion," said Counselor Troi,
"Peace in the galaxy, Good Will and Joy."
And they stood on the bridge and watched Q take flight,
shouting,
"MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!"
•••••
Source: Scroll down to "A Star Trek Night Before Christmas"
http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/historical/a/twas_the_night.htm

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11) 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (traditional poem)
['Twas the Night Before Christmas (or A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore]
Poem:
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his courses they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

"Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
so up to the house-top the courses they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
•••••
Parodies:

http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bltwas.htm

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12) The Real Story Behind the Christmas Bell
(by Katy Grant © 11/1996)
Story:
It had been a long day, but still needing a few things for Christmas, I stopped by the store after work. The wind whistled, as it whipped around the cars parked in the almost full store lot while, street lights, here and there, were just coming to life. Even my long woolen cloak wasn't enough protection from the bitterly cold night air, as I hurried towards the building. I was just stepping up on the sidewalk when I heard a voice call out, "Psssst, Lady." I stopped and looked around. For a second, I thought I saw a head duck behind the corner of the building. I stood staring at the corner for a few more seconds before I decided it must have been a trick of the wind and shadows in the fading light. I started towards the building again but hadn't taken more then a few steps when I heard the voice again. "PSSST, PSSSSSSST, LADY!" This time I was sure I saw a cherub face with a toboggan on its head duck back out of sight, around the corner of the building. As I rounded the corner, I saw a forlorn looking little child. His head was bent down and his hat was pulled low over his ears and forehead. I placed my hand on his shoulder and squatted down to be on eye level with him as I asked, "Are you all right?" When he lifted his head, I was surprised to see a large smile on his face. At the same moment, I realized he wasn't a child at all, but a pint sized little man. In a conspiratorial whisper he said, "The big guy sent me, lady." My first reaction was to began looking around for one of the godfathers that used to visit our house at Christmas time. I must have looked puzzled because he said, " You know... red suit, beard, reindeer, ho, ho, ho." "Oh that, big guy," I said. [with a bit of a smile on my face] " I have something for ya," he said, as he took hold of my hand. At this remark I stood up. Still holding tight to my hand he looked up at me, and as he did so his toboggan slipped further down over his eyebrows. He impatiently pushed it back, revealing a pair of pointed ears. "It's a story." Now, I was caught!

I never could resist a pair of pointed ears or a story. I squatted back down to hear him better, but in truth, I could no longer hear the whistling of the wind around us. "The big guy is great but, after a couple hundred years his eye sight isn't so good any more. His hearing is great though. With Rudolph to guide the sleigh, it helped. But the other reindeer are always up to tricks and one Christmas Eve the Big Guy was almost late. The reindeer were hiding, playing silly games.

They wouldn't come out until the Big Guy had found the hiding place of every last one of them. He decided right then and there that it wouldn't happen again next year.  He put a few of us to work making reindeer bells. Now you know, all reindeer look alike. To make sure he knew which reindeer was which each bell has a different ring even though they look exactly alike." [Reindeer like to dress exactly the same]

"Everything went right on schedule for the next hundred years or so but, in 1933 the Big Guy noticed a change. Christmas Spirit was real low down here. So, when he came to a house with just a scrawny, little tree with no decorations, he decided to decorate with the reindeer's bells. That house just seemed to light up with Christmas Spirit. The Big Guy kept an eye on that house the next day and, we all watched as people came for miles to celebrate Christmas at that little place. That gave him another great idea. Reindeer are not only silly; they're very vain. Each year we have to make them new bells to wear; they refuse to be seen in a set of old bells. The Big Guy said, 'From now on I'm going to send some of you down there to give out reindeer bells to people who look like they know how to celebrate Christmas. They can share the bells with others and in that way spread the Christmas cheer around. Anybody who truly believes in Christmas and me will be able to hear the difference in the bell's tones.' "

"This sounds like a Chris Van Allsburg story to me," I remarked. "NO WAY, LADY! Ten years ago Van Allsburg was just another guy on the street when I handed him one of the bells. He took the idea for his story from me. And he's just now giving me some credit for it." I began to smile. "So, you really think I'm somebody who knows how to share the Christmas Spirit? That's a lovely compliment. Thank you." "Are you kidding, Lady? I've been standin' out here for hours. My feet are frozen. I want to get back to the North Pole. I'm out-a-here." And within a blink of the eye he was gone.

I was left with the bells, a story and a list that describes the tones of each bell. I've shared the bells with my friends, a few of whom have told me that they can tell which reindeer's bell they have. And now I've shared the story with you, listen closely to all silver bells you see this year and see if you too can hear a difference in their tones. I have included the list of reindeer and a description of their bell's tones to help you.

This is my Christmas present...a story for everyone. MERRY CHRISTMAS!! If you are having trouble telling the sounds apart, your Christmas Spirit needs a little work...

Dasher - one quick ring... sounds like ZING!
                 Goes the street car]
Dancer - first three notes of the Nutcracker
                  pilfered from the original playing of Tchaikovsky
Prancer - ding...dong...ding-on the scale doe, ray, me
                 pilfered from Julie Andrews
Vixen - a single high-c note ring
                donated by Beverly Sills
Comet - one loud bursting ring that slowly fades away
              in memory of Haley's comet
Cupid - light tinkling sound
             caught as an angel got his wings
Donner - one loud bong
                donated by Quasimodo
Blizen - an alarming ding-ding-ding...
              recorded at a firehouse in old Chicago
Rudolph - one dull clunk-
              compliments of snowballs thrown by children at moving carriages
•••••
As of 7/18/10, I have been unable to find current contact information for Katy Grant, who owns the copyright to this particular story. If anyone knows what it is, please contact me. Thanks.
JB - http://www.story-lovers.com

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13) Filling Santa's Shop
[
I've told this story for a couple of years and have since turned it into a puppet play. It's complicated for one person behind a stage, but technically do-able since I've done it.) The story works well as audience participation since the kids have chances to suggest things to fill up Santa's shop.]

Bones:

Quick bones are Santa is feeling down in the dumps - he's getting older, is tired this year, and having a harder time getting up and down the chimneys. He wants someone else to drive the sleigh and take over. He suggests a contest among the elves to see who can come up with the best answer to his riddle of filling his workshop with Christmas cheer, but the usual provisions apply -- has to fill the shop up entirely within one day.

First elf rushes out to bring in the reindeer. Doesn't work and they leave reindeer droppings all over. Next day second elf rushes out to bring in reindeer food (works well with country kids who know how large a bale of hay is). Animals are big, but what they eat is bigger. Doesn't work. Third elf brings in all the presents from the sleigh, but they are for the kids and have to go back outside.

At this point you can have kids contribute ideas and your only problem is to come up with a hitch as to why it won't work.

Some suggestions they've come up with --
Chop down all the trees, which is why there are no trees at the North Pole anymore.
Cookies from all the houses he visits, already been eaten this year.
Snow from outside, which melts into a giant size puddle once it's inside.

Santa is getting more worried since each day that passes brings him one day closer to Christmas. Finally, the youngest elf brings out a paper bag and announces that s/he can fill the shop right away with what's inside the bag. Everyone sneers, but the lights are turned off (if possible, this is a cool touch) and out comes a candle, battery operated, of course. The workshop fills with light and Santa remarks that this is the true spirit of the season. The elf agrees but says that s/he is too young to drive. Santa laughs and says that if the young elf comes along for the ride, he won't feel so old after all.

Sliding down the mountain on a glorious snow falling day! Hooray, winter is finally here!
•••••
Contributed by
Batsy Bybell
cgale@turbonet.com
http://www.storyteller.net/tellers/batsy/


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14) Around the World With Santa Claus by Sandy Pomerantz
[You can use this story as a play or as an audience participation story. Adapt it if you wish. Change or add any toys and their statements as you see fit. e.g. SPONGEBOB (then his nutty laugh?) instead of CABBAGE PATCH DOLLS? When I transferred it from my file, I noticed many of the cast didn't come out in bold, but you can tell which they are because they are in caps. The staging info below is to the best of my recollection, but I last did this production at least 15 years ago so the memory may not be perfect. I'd be honored if someone uses it.]

AS A PLAY:

COSTUMING: This included decorated cartons for the ABC BLOCKS, TEDDY BEAR masks, TICKLE-ME-ELMO masks, purple Barney masks, beard and hat for SANTA, kids hiding in back of a big cardboard SLEIGH with jingle bells, baby bottle in hand and bonnets for the heads of the CABBAGE PATCH DOLLS, REINDEER antlers on a headband modeled on a sample from a Burger King promotion, and assorted related hats or other touches for the WORLD'S CHILDREN.
STAGING: As noted above, I created a big cardboard outline of Santa's sleigh from a huge carton cut open, painted on the side facing the audience and propped up by taping it to a couple of chairs. Santa got off and on the front chair at each stop with a symbolic sack stuffed with newspaper. The REINDEER stood in front of it in pairs with thick brown yarn going from one pair to the next to the sleigh. The TOYS hid in back of the sleigh and popped up as they were mentioned, then did their line and popped back down. You can adapt to what works best for you. I created a blinking red nose for RUDOLPH with a battery and red bulb that worked with a push button and wire. It was so long ago that I've forgotten how I rigged it, but maybe you know someone who can help.
AS A STORY:
Divide the audience into the individuals, pairs, and groups in the tale and give them their lines to say when you mention their character(s). Practice with them for a couple of minutes and then be the NARRATOR, tell the tale and have fun. You might want them to pop up to say their lines and then sit down again. You might give out some jingle bells to a few for the part of the SLEIGH. It's up to you if you want to give them a touch of a costume mask, hat, etc.

Around the World with Santa Claus by Sandy Pomerantz
CAST:
INDIVIDUALS: REINDEER - DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET, CUPID,
DONNER, BLITZEN, and RUDOLPH, SANTA CLAUS and NARRATOR
GROUPS: SLEIGH
TICKLE-ME-ELMO DOLLS
ALPHABET BLOCKS
TEDDY BEARS
CABBAGE PATCH KIDS
BARNEYS
WORLD’S CHILDREN - MEXICO, FRANCE, NIGERIA, CHINA, HAWAII, and U.S. (AUDIENCE)

NARRATOR:
'Twas the night before Christmas and at the North Pole, SANTA CLAUS - Ho! Ho! Ho! - was busy loading up his SLEIGH -Jingle, jingle, jingle! He loaded it with TICKLE-ME ELMO DOLLS - Giggle, giggle, giggle! ALPHABET BLOCKS - (Sing) A B C D E F G! TEDDY BEARS - Grrr, grrr, grrr! - CABBAGE PATCH KIDS - Adopt me! Adopt me! - and BARNEYS - (Sing) I love you, You love me... - and lots of other toys and games for boys and girls around the world. Then SANTA CLAUS - Ho! Ho! Ho! - hitched his REINDEER -(roll call as each REINDEER calls out his/her name in order) DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET, CUPID, DONNER, BLITZEN, and ALL 8 REINDEER doing a sweeping gesture in order like a stadium "wave" toward front of the line). RUDOLPH! RUDOLPH! (says or pushes button to blink lit nose) - Blink, blink! - to the SLEIGH - Jingle, jingle, jingle! - and took off to deliver his presents around the world.

The first country on his list was MEXICO - Feliz Navidad! Feliz Navidad!- (pronounced: Fay leese’ nah vee dod) After delivering lots of presents in MEXICO - Feliz Navidad! Feliz Navidad! - SANTA CLAUS- Ho! Ho! Ho! - got back in his SLEIGH - Jingle, jingle, jingle! - filled with TICKLE-ME ELMO DOLLS - Giggle, giggle, giggle! - ALPHABET BLOCKS - (Sing) A B C D E F G - TEDDY BEARS - Grrr, grrr, grrr! - CABBAGE PATCH KIDS - Adopt me! Adopt me! - and BARNEYS - (Sing) I love you, You love me...And lots of other toys and games for girls and boys around the world. Then SANTA CLAUS started his REINDEER - DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET CUPID, DONNER, BLITZEN, and (ALL) RUDOLPH - Blink, blink! and continued on his journey to deliver presents around the world.

One of the countries he went to was FRANCE - Joyeux Noel! Joyeux Noel! - (pronounced: Joy yuh’ no el) - After he delivered some wonderful gifts in FRANCE - Joyeux Noel! Joyeux Noel! - SANTA CLAUS - Ho! Ho! Ho! - Got back
into his SLEIGH - Jingle, jingle, jingle! - Filled with TICKLE-ME ELMOS - Giggle, giggle, giggle! - ALPHABET BLOCKS - (Sing) A B C D E F G - TEDDY BEARS - Grrr, grrr, grrr! - CABBAGE PATCH KIDS - Adopt me! Adopt me! -
and BARNEYS - (Sing) I love you, You love me... - and lots of other toys and games for boys and girls around the world. Then he started his REINDEER - DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET, CUPID, DONNER, BLITZEN,
and (ALL) RUDOPLH - Blink, blink! and continued on his journey to deliver presents around the world.

The next country he traveled to was NIGERIA - E Ku Odun! E Ku Odun! (pronounced: Ee koo’ oh dun) After he left some marvelous presents in NIGERIA - E Ku Odun! E Ku Odun! - SANTA CLAUS - Ho! Ho! Ho! - Returned to his SLEIGH - Jingle, jingle, jingle! - filled with TICKLE-ME ELMO DOLLS - Giggle, giggle, giggle! - ALPHABET BLOCKS - (Sing) A B C D E F G - TEDDY BEARS - Grrr, grrr, grrr! - CABBAGE PATCH KIDS - Adopt me! Adopt me! -- and BARNEYS - (Sing) I love you, You love me... - and lots of other toys and games for girls and boys around the world. He started his REINDEER -DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET, CUPID, DONNER, BLITZEN, and RUDOLPH - Blink, blink! - and continued on his journey to deliver presents around the world.

One of the next countries he came to was CHINA - Sheng tankuai loh ! Sheng tan kuai loh! (pronounced: sheng tahn kwy’ lo) After he dropped off some terrific stuff in CHINA - Sheng tan kuai loh! Sheng tan kuai loh! SANTA CLAUS - Ho! Ho! Ho! - got back in his SLEIGH - Jingle, jingle, jingle! - filled with TICKLE-ME ELMO DOLLS - Giggle, giggle, giggle! - ALPHABET BLOCKS - (Sing) A B C D E F G - TEDDY BEARS - Grrr, grrr, grrr! - CABBAGE PATCH KIDS - Adopt me! Adopt me! - BARNEYS - (Sing) I love you, You love me... and lots of other toys and games for boys and girls around the world. He started his REINDEER - DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET, CUPID, DONNER, BLITZEN, and RUDOLPH - Blink, blink! - and continued on his way to deliver presents around the world.

He reached the HAWAIIAN ISLANDS - Melikalikimaka! Melikalikimaka! (pronounced: Meh lee’ kah lee’ kee mah’ kah) It was nice and warm there, and he sweated in his suit as he left gifts for the children of the HAWAIIAN ISLANDS - Melikalikimaka! Melikalikimaka! - Then SANTA CLAUS - Ho! Ho! Ho! - got back into his SLEIGH - Jingle, jingle, jingle! - still holding a few TICKLE-ME ELMO DOLLS - Giggle, giggle, giggle! - a few ALPHABET BLOCKS - (Sing) A B C D E F G - a few TEDDY BEARS - Grrr, grrr, grrr! - a few CABBAGE PATCH KIDS - Adopt me! Adopt me! - a few BARNEYS - (Sing) I love you, You love me.. - and some other toys and games for the girls and boys in the rest of the world. He started his REINDEER - DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET,CUPID, DONNER, BLITZEN, and (ALL) RUDOLPH - Blink, blink! - and continued on his way to deliver presents to the remaining children of the world!

At last, SANTA CLAUS - Ho! Ho! Ho! - reached the final stop on his trip, and can you guess what that was? ALL - Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! - Yes, he had reached the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and YOUR STATE and YOUR TOWN and your house; and all of the girls and boys in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and YOUR STATE and YOUR TOWN said --- (cast beckons to the AUDIENCE for response)

CAST and AUDIENCE - Merry christmas! Merry Christmas!

Then SANTA CLAUS - Ho! Ho! Ho !- climbed into his - SLEIGH - Jingle, jingle, jingle! - started his REINDEER - DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET, CUPID, DONNER, BLITZEN, and (ALL) RUDOLPH - Blink, blink! - and before he headed back to the North Pole for another year, he called out -- SANTA CLAUS - Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
THE END
•••••
Contributed by the late
Sandy Pomerantz

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15) Santa's Noisy Christmas
[Adaptation by Marilyn Kinsella of The Noisy House.]

Bones:

Santa is trying to get a nap before his big night out. He hears Mrs. Claus baking cookies clanging the pots and pans (clang-clang-clang) and she is singing "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, Put another penny in the old man's hat." Then he hears the elves ringing the jingle bells (either have jingle bells for the audience to ring or "Jingle-jingle-jingle") They are singing "Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh - hey!") Santa sighs and wishes for some peace and quiet. The Christmas fairy appears and tells him that all he needs to do to get some sleep is to bring in the barnyard animals. So, the chickens  and the cows, and the sheep come into Santa's house. As they come, they sing  “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.  Since we’ve no place to go… Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

* He tries to sleep but now - Mrs. Claus is clanging the pots and pans (clang-clang-clang), the elves are ringing the jingle bells (jingle-jingle-jingle), the chickens are clucking (cluck-cluck-cluck), the cow is mooing (mooooo) and the sheep are bleating (bahhhhh). Please, Christmas Fairy, come back!... (This is repeated with a new sound after each scene)

Christmas fairy comes back and to get peace and quiet, Santa needs to bring in the woodland creatures - the wolf, the fox, the squirrel, the rabbit and they are singing "Over the hills and through the woods to Santa’s house we go.The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the bright and drifting snow.” Santa tries to sleep but...
*(repeat noises)....and the wolf is howling (ow-ow-owwwww)....

Next the fairy tells Santa to bring in Frosty who sings “Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul, With a corncob pipe and button nose and two eyes made out of coal….”. As he comes in and stands by the fire (drip, drip, drip) Santa tries to sleep, but...
*(repeat noises)...and Frosty is melting (drip-drip-drip)

Next the fairy tells Santa to bring in the reindeer. (start to sing..."You know Dasher, and Dancer and Prance and Vixon, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all (then let the others join in with the modern version add-ons).... 

“…Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Has a very shiny nose. (like a light bulb)
And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows. (like a light bulb)
All the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names. (like Pinocchio)
They wouldn’t let poor Rudolph, play any reindeer games. (like Monopoly)
Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say,
‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’
Then how the reindeer loved him.
As they shouted out with glee. (whoopee!)                                                              
Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer,
You’ll go down in history.” (like George Washington) 

Santa tries to sleep but...
*(repeat noises)...and the reindeer are shouting "Whoopee!" Santa yells out, "Christmas Fairy, come back!"
"What is it? Too noisy?"
"Too noisy! I should say NOT. Why, this is Christmas with all my family and friends. This is a joyous noise, the happiest of noises. Come on, Christmas Fairy, join me as we sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas...
and a Happy New Year.
•••••
Contributed by
Marilyn A. Kinsella, Taleypo the Storyteller
Fairview Heights, IL
Storyteller, Writer, Puppeteer, and Workshop Presenter
http://www.marilynkinsella.org

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16) Santa's Noisy Christmas

[A puppet play by Marilyn Kinsella, adapted from the story above]
PUPPETS: Santa, Elf (or person dressed as elf outside the puppet stage), Rudolph and eight reindeer - 2 each on paint sticks that can be slipped into slots on stage (or Velcro them onto stage, Frosty, Christmas Fairy, farmyard animals and woodland animals (paper animals on paint sticks or Velcro pieces to stick to back ledge of stage.)
PROPS: Pots and pans. Velcro strips across front of stage platform. Jingle bells.

*There does not need to be a Mrs. Claus since she is singing off stage.
*There is no need to change scenes as long as everything “freezes” while the fairy advises Santa.

SANTA: Ho, ho ho! Tis the season to be jolly - but, I’m so tired I could fall asleep standing up. You wouldn’t believe the letters I received this year. Lots of new toys out there—even had to reshape Barbie. All that sawing and cutting and sanding and painting to make new toys has made me tired. And that’s not all! What with everybody wanting electronic toys, I had to go to the University of the North Pole and get an engineering degree to figure out how to put the latest video game together. But now everything is in the sleigh and ready to go. Just enough time to catch 40 winks so I’ll be wide awake for the big ride in the sky! Ahh, everything is nice and quiet. I think I’ll just lie down and….
(Santa just nods off when off stage there is the clanging of pots and pans and Mrs. Claus is singing “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a shiny penny in the old man’s hat.”
SANTA (cont'd): That’s my dear wife baking another batch of her delicious Christmas cookies, but I do wish she would be more quiet. There’s just - too much noise.
(Santa just settles again when he hears the jingling of bells and Jingles enters singing “Jingle Bells” everyone joins in)
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh - HEY”
JINGLES: (hyper and jingling bells) It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! I can’t wait! I’m so excited.
SANTA: Yes, Jingles, I know you’re excited, too many sugar cookies no doubt, but I’d really like for it to be quiet so I can get some much needed sleep. There’s just - too much noise. (pots and pans clang and Jingles keeps shaking bells)
Oh, please Christmas fairy, help me!
(Everything freezes while fairy appears. There could be some bells or some other as she enters)
CHRISTMAS FAIRY: (flies around and lands near Santa) Hello, there Big Red. All ready for tonight?
SANTA: Not exactly. I would like to take a nap and there is just too much noise. What can I do to make it more quiet, so I can sleep?
C. FAIRY: That’s easy - just bring all your barnyard animals into your house and you will see what is to be.
SANTA: Barnyard animals? Did you say barnyard animals? Do mean like a cow and a goat, and a chicken and ducks?
C. FAIRY: Exactomundo! See you later, big guy!
(When the fairy leaves all the noise resumes. Santa looks off stage and hollers for the animals to come in)
SANTA: All right! Come on in you guys. Make yourself comfortable by the fire.
ANIMALS: (Animals enter singing - “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. Since we’ve no place to go… Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”
SANTA: What was that Christmas Fairy thinking? Now Mrs. Claus is - clanging the pots and pans, Jingles is - ringing the bells and now the cow is - mooing and the chickens are - squawking. There’s just - too much noise. Christmas fairy - Come back!
(Everything freezes, tinkling bells as fairy appears) How’s it going?
SANTA: How’s it going? Things are worse. I can’t stand it. I need peace and quiet.
C. FAIRY: All righty then. You must ask the woodland creatures to come in.
SANTA: Certainly you can’t mean…
C. FAIRY: Of course, I mean - wolf, fox, bear, squirrel, rabbit - all of them. Only way to peace and quiet that I know of.
SANTA: OK, OK, OK!
C. FAIRY: Later, chief!
SANTA: (Goes to call woodland animals) Yoo-hoo! Wolf, fox , rabbit and squirrel - Come in here for a moment. That’s it just line up against that wall.
(Woodland animals are velcroed to the left side of the stage as they sing
“Over the hills and through the woods to Santa’s house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the bright and drifting snow.”)
(Wolf starts howling)
SANTA: This is even worse. Now Mrs. Claus is - clanging the pots and pans. Jingles is - ringing the jingle bells, the cow is - mooing, the chickens are - squawking, and now the wolf - is howling! There is just - too much noise. Christmas fairy...HELP!
(everything freezes as tiny bells ring as fairy appears.)
C. FAIRY: Let me guess. It’s still too noisy?
SANTA: Yes, and I do need my beauty rest. I’ve got bags under my eyes bigger than the one on my back!
C. FAIRY: Then the next thing is to bring in Frosty.
SANTA: I won’t even ask. Thank you, Christmas Fairy (she exits)
(yells off stage) Frosty! Come here, will you?
(Frosty enters singing
“Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and button nose and two eyes made out of coal….”
FROSTY: Kind of warm in here, Santa. I think I’ll stay by the door. (drip, drip, drip)
SANTA: This is unbelievable! Mrs. Claus is - clanging the pot and pans, Jingles is - ringing bells, the cow is - mooing, the chickens are - squawking, the wolf is - howling, and now Frosty is - drip, drip, dripping. Aggh! There’s just too much noise! Christmas Fairy, this isn’t working. Come back, Christmas Fairy!
(Everything freezes as Fairy enters with sound of bells)
C. FAIRY: Really, Mr. C., I was right in the middle of my favorite TV show - “Have a Charlie Brown Christmas.” Now what’s the matter?
SANTA: What’s the matter? What’s the matter? All this noise is what’s the matter. I need silence, quiet, quietness, quietude, quietus. I want sleep!
C. FAIRY: Oh, I get it. Then for the magic to really happen….
SANTA: Please, don’t tell me. Could it be….reindeer.
C. FAIRY: By George, Santa, methinks you’ve got it. Commercial is over I need to get back. Tootles!
(calls off stage)
(Sings as reindeer are placed in middle of puppet stage with Velcro) Oh Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen. And do you recall the most famous reindeer of all…
(everybody sings as Rudolph appears
“…Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Has a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.
All the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.
They wouldn’t let poor Rudolph, play in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say,
‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’
Then how the reindeer loved him.
As they shouted out with glee.
Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, you’ll go down in history.”
SANTA: Ho, ho ho. Such a merry Christmas Eve. Too bad the Christmas Fairy isn’t here to enjoy it. Mrs. Claus is - clanging the pots and pans, Jingles is - ringing bells, the cow is - mooing, the chickens are - squawking, the wolf is - howling, Frosty is - drip, drip, dripping and now the reindeer are shouting – whoopee!.
(everything freezes, bells sound as Fairy appears)
C. FAIRY: You mean there’s not too much noise?
SANTA: Too much noise? At Christmas? Whatever gave you that silly idea? Why, all my friends and my family are here. What a joyous noise! Let’s all sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
ALL SING:
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
•••••
Marilyn A. Kinsella, Taleypo the Storyteller
Fairview Heights, IL
Storyteller, Writer, Puppeteer, and Workshop Presenter
http://www.marilynkinsella.org

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17) Five Christmas Cookies

[Here's a keeper for preschoolers: 5 Xmas cookies in the bakery shop(hold up 5 fingers.]
Bones:

5 Xmas cookies with the sprinkles on the top.(Can change this to golden latkah's with applesauce on the top)
Along came a Boy/or girl with a dollar to pay,
He/She took one Xmas cookie and ran away (arms behind back).
Leaving.......pause (wait for them to say 4) 4 Xmas cookies in the bakery shop.
Continue until all five fingers are gone.
Leaving....no Xmas cookies in the bakery or grocery shop, no Xmas cookies with the sprinkles on the top, along came a boy with a dollar to pay, but there were no Xmas cookies (say really sad)...So he ran away.
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it
Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.com

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18) Santa Gets Stuck in the Chimney
[This story is an adaptation of The Stubborn Turnip.]
Bones:

Santa is preparing for the holidays eating Christmas cookies, candies, etc. and has put on a few extra pounds. Decides to try out the sleigh, making sure there are no holes in the bag and then practices coming down the chimney at his cottage at the North Pole. Gets stuck. Mrs. Claus...she pulls, and she pulls and she pulls pulls pulls but can't pull Santa out. Then the reindeer, Frosty, the elves and finally the gingerbread man, who is the smallest and weakest of all... and when he hooks on, Santa finally pops out of the chimney. They all celebrate, but Santa has a diet coke and carrot sticks.
•••••
Marilyn A. Kinsella, Taleypo the Storyteller
Fairview Heights, IL
Storyteller, Writer, Puppeteer, and Workshop Presenter
http://www.marilynkinsella.org

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19) Ruth Sawyer's This Was the Christmas - a Serbian Christmas tale by Ruth Sawyer
[from an excellent collection: Joy to the World at
http://www.eldrbarry.net/
]

Synopsis:

A fine Romanian tale of a blind gypsy child who experiences the prejudice of the village, and then a miraculous appearance of the Christ Child.


This site also contains other Christmas stories:
The Locked-Our Fairy
Barney's Tale of the Wee Red Cap
David Goes Seeking the Way to Christmas and Finds the Flagman
The Pathway to Uncle Joab and a New Santa Claus
The locked-Out Fairy Again Leads the Way and David Hears of a Christmas Promise
The Trapper's Tale of the First Birthday
The Christmas That Was Nearly Lose
St. Bridget

Full text at:
http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/sawyer/christmas/christmas.html

More Christmas stories available at
http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/%7Edkbrown/christmas.html

The Last Christmas Tree, an original Christmas story from dads.com
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.
Dulce Domum, the Christmas chapter from The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame.
The Gift of the Magi, by O.Henry.

Selections from "Good Stories for Great Holidays" by Frances Olcott Jenkins (1914) at
http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/OlcGood.html

* Little Piccola, after Celia Thaxter
* The Stranger Child: A Legend, by Count Franz Pocci [Translated]
* The Christmas Rose: An Old Legend, by Lizzie Deas [Adapted]
* The Wooden Shoes of Little Wolff, by François Coppée [Adapted]
* The Pine Tree, by Hans Christian Andersen [Translated]
* The Christmas Cuckoo, by Frances Browne [Adapted]
* The Christmas Fairy of Strasburg: A German Folk-Tale, by J. Stirling Coyne [Adapted]
* The Three Purses: A Legend, by William S. Walsh [Adapted]
* The Thunder Oak: A Scandinavian Legend, Willaim S. Walsh and other sources
* The Christmas Thorn of Glastonbury: A Legend of Ancient Britain, adapted from William of Malmesbury and other sources
* The Three Kings of Cologne: A Legend of the Middle Ages, by John of Hildesheim; modernized by H.S. Morris [Adapted]
* Why the Evergreen Trees Never Lose Their Leaves: An Old Legend, by Florence Holbrook

Other stories available through:
http://www.eldrbarry.net
The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale. A readers' theatre script suggested for grades 3-7. Adapted from the book by Aaron Shepard (Atheneum, New York, 1995).
•••••
Eldrbarry's site is full of wonderful Christmas story links:
http://www.eldrbarry.net/

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20) The Little Match Girl
(by Hans Christian Andersen)
[The perennial favorite.]


Story:

It was very, very cold; it snowed and it grew dark; it was the last evening of the year, New Year's Eve. In the cold and dark a poor little girl, with bare head and bare feet, was walking through the streets. When she left her own house she certainly had had slippers on; but what could they do? They were very big slippers, and her mother had used them till then, so big were they. The little maid lost them as she slipped across the road, where two carriages were rattling by terribly fast. One slipper was not to be found again, and a boy ran away with the other. He said he could use it for a cradle when he had children of his own.

So now the little girl went with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches, and a bundle of them in her hand. No one had bought anything of her all day; no one had given her a copper. Hungry and cold she went, and drew herself together, poor little thing! The snowflakes fell on her long yellow hair, which curled prettily over her neck; but she did not think of that now. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was a glorious smell of roast goose out there in the street; it was no doubt New Year's Eve. Yes, she thought of that!

In a corner formed by two houses, one of which was a little farther from the street than the other, she sat down and crept close. She had drawn up her little feet, but she was still colder, and she did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches, and she had not a single cent; her father would beat her; and besides, it was cold at home, for they had nothing over the them but a roof through which the wind whistled, though straw and rags stopped the largest holes.

Her small hands were quite numb with the cold. Ah! a little match might do her good if she only dared draw one from the bundle, and strike it against the wall, and warm her fingers at it. She drew one out. R-r-atch! how it spluttered and burned! It was a warm bright flame, like a little candle, when she held her hands over it; it was a wonderful little light! It really seemed to the little girl as if she sat before a great polished stove, with bright brass feet and a brass cover. The fire burned so nicely; it warmed her so well, -- the little girl was just putting out her feet to warm these, too, -- when out went the flame; the stove was gone; -- she sat with only the end of the burned match in her hand.

She struck another; it burned; it gave a light; and where it shone on the wall, the wall became thin like a veil, and she could see through it into the room where a table stood, spread with a white cloth, and with china on it; and the roast goose smoked gloriously, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more splendid to behold, the goose hopped down from the dish, and waddled along the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast; straight to the little girl he came. Then the match went out, and only the thick, damp, cold wall was before her.

She lighted another. Then she was sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree; it was greater and finer than the one she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant's. Thousands of candles burned upon the green branches, and colored pictures like those in the shop windows looked down upon them. The little girl stretched forth both hands toward them; then the match went out. The Christmas lights went higher and higher. She saw that now they were stars in the sky: one of them fell and made a long line of fire.

"Now some one is dying," said the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only person who had been good to her, but who was now dead, had said: "When a star falls a soul mounts up to God."

She rubbed another match against the wall; it became bright again, and in the light there stood the old grandmother clear and shining, mild and lovely. "Grandmother!" cried the child. "Oh, take me with you! I know you will go when the match is burned out. You will go away like the warm stove, the nice roast goose, and the great glorious Christmas tree!" And she hastily rubbed the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to hold her grandmother fast. And the matches burned with such a glow that it became brighter than in the middle of the day; grandmother had never been so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl up in her arms, and both flew in the light and the joy so high, so high! and up there was no cold, nor hunger, nor care -- they were with God.

But in the corner by the house sat the little girl, with red cheeks and smiling mouth, frozen to death on the last evening of the Old Year. The New Year's sun rose upon the little body, that sat there with the matches, of which one bundle was burned. She wanted to warm herself, the people said. No one knew what fine things she had seen, and in what glory she had gone in with her grandmother to the New Year's Day.
•••••
Full text and more information available at:
http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/OlcGood.html

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21) Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
[From The People’s Almanac, pp. 1358–9. (Originally published in The New York Sun in 1897.)]

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor—I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
•••••
More information at:
http://beebo.org/smackerels/yes-virginia.html

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22) Christmas Every Day (by William Dean Howells)
[Full text available at:
http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/wdh/xmaseday.html ]

Bones:

A little girl asked her father for her usual Saturday morning story. He was very busy but started to tell the story of a pig. She interrupted him, asking for a Christmas story. So he began to tell her about the little girl who wanted it to be Christmas every day of the year.

On Thanksgiving, the girl began to write to the old Christmas Fairy asking for Christmas every day. Finally, the day before Christmas she received a letter back granting her wish for a year. Then perhaps they would make it even longer.

She had a wonderful Christmas Day. She found candy, oranges, grapes, rubber balls and many other larger and even more wonderful presents, including stationery, dolls, play stoves, hankerchiefs, skates, watercolor paints, and a big Christmas tree.

She ate so much candy she didn't want breakfast, more presents arrived during the afternoon, she visited friends taking presents to give them with her, and then she ate so much turkey, cranberry sauce and plum pudding that she got sick and went to bed.

The little girl slept heavily and was awakened by the other children dancing around her bed shouting "Christmas! Christmas!" She reminded them that yesterday had been Christmas, but was told that it was Christmas again this day.

She remember the Fairy's promise and went into the library and there it was! Books, stationery, dolls, doll houses…all over again! The Christmas tree was lit, the family opening presents, The mother was distressed, wondering what to do with everything, the father was puzzled, and the little girl again ate too much candy before breakfast, spent the day exchanging presents with friends, and ate too much turkey and cranberry sauce. She got sick again, came home with a stomach ache, and went to bed, crying.

Next day, same thing. Everybody got crosser and crosser. By the end of the week, so many people lost their tempers you could find them all over the ground. When people tried to recover them, the tempers got all mixed up.

The little girl got frightened, but kept the secret to herself. She was ashamed to ask the Fairy to take back her gift. Everything went on the same every day through Valentine's Day and Washington's Birthday, the first of April, though the tricks of that day gave a little relief.

Turkeys got scarce, selling for $1,000 a piece. Butchers passed off almost anything for turkeys—even half-grown hummingbirds. Each cranberry was sold for a diamond. All the woods and orchards were cut down for Christmas trees. Finally, people make Christmas trees out of rags. There were lots of rags because people were so poor from buying presents for each other. Everyone had to go to the poorhouse, except for the storekeepers, butchers, booksellers, candy makers, who got so rich it was shameful!

This went on for three or four months, and the little girl would sit down and cry at the sight of those great ugly, lumpy stockings at the fireplace. After six months, she couldn't even cry any longer.

On the Fourth of July, one boy woke up to discover that his firecrackers and toy pistol were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks. Every boy in the United States got made when he discovered that his fireworks had turned into Christmas things. When anyone tried to read the Declaration of Independence, s/he wound up singing "God rest you, merry gentlemen." It was terrible.

By the beginning of October, the little girl hated the sight of dolls and any other present, and by Thanksgiving she slammer her presents across the room. People flung their presents over fences and through windows and started writing "Take this present, you horrid old thing!" as they threw the present against the front door.

People had built barns to hold all their presents, but pretty soon the barns were full and the presents just lay out in the rain and in the gutters. Police threatened arrest if people didn't shovel their presents off the sidewalks.

The little girl had suffered so much from the experience that she had talked about it in her sleep and thus was discovered. Greedy little girl!, everyone thought. On Thanksgiving, she wanted to go to church and then have a turkey dinner, but everyone said that until she stopped the daily Christmases, they had nothing to be grateful for. They demanded that she stop this nonsense.

The day after Thanksgiving, the little girl began to write the Christmas Fairy once again, sending letters and then telegrams one after another. The Fairy didn't respond. She visited the Fairy's house, which was near, but was told "Not at home" or "Engaged." And so it continued until Christsmas Eve…

The little girl fell asleep and when she woke up in the morning…

The father paused.

The little girl listening to this story suggested that it had all been a dream, but her father assured her that it had all happened just as she thought. She found out that it wasn't Christmas at last and wasn't ever going to be anymore. With that, he started to go to breakfast.

She grabbed him around the neck and ordered him to come up with a better ending to the story. She begged him to make Christmas happen only once a year, just like it used to be. Her father agreed, and so he finished the story like this.

Since there would never be another Christmas, everyone in the country rejoiced, kissing and crying for joy. All the candy, raisins and nuts were gathered up and dumped into the river, where the fish got very sick. Bonfires were lit all over the United States, even as far as Alaska, and people burned up their presents. It was a real celebration.

The little girl visited the old Fairy, thanking her for stopping Christmas and asking that it never come again. The Fairy scolded her for being just as greedy as ever, and she'd better look out. The little girl then agreed that she would be willing for Christmas to come once in a thousand years, then she changed that to a hundred, then ten, and finally she got down to one.

The old Fairy said that was the say it had always been, and people had loved it ever since Christmas began. She agreed that everything would go back to normal. The little girl asked the Fairy, "What're your shoes made of?" The Fairy answered, "Leather." The girl responded, "Bargain's done forever," and she skipped of, hippity-hopping all the way home, so very happy.

The father asked if that was a good ending. The little girl agreed, even though she didn't want the story to end. Her mother came to the door and asked when they were coming to breakfast. He explained that he had been telling a tale with a moral. The little girl caught him around the next and said, "You and I know. But don't you tell anyone, Papa. Don't you ever tell anyone else what happened!"
•••••
Bones contributed by
Jackie Baldwin
http://www.story-lovers.com

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23) The Legend of the Margil Vine - a tale of old San Antonio, Texas
[Mark Tezel explains that when Spanish missionaries came to the new world, language barriers were difficult to break down, but the music and pageantry of the Mass and religious celebrations and art were easy for to Native Americans to understand. A medieval morality play such as Los Pastores had universal appeal. Mark recounts The Legend of the Margil Vine, which he learned when he was a U.S. Park Ranger at Mission San José]

Story:

Shavano, a poor young Indian boy who lived at Mission Valero, heard other children talking about the gifts their families would bring to the Christ Child as part of the Christmas Eve Los Pastores pageant. He was embarrassed that his family could not afford a gift, so on that day he climbed a tree on the riverbank to hide. The priest, Father Margil, found Shavano and persuaded him that any gift, if given with a loving heart, is good. Margil picked some browned vines and told Shavano to place them by the manger scene set up in the church. Miraculously, the vines became green and bore red berries. and grew to cover the manger to shade the Baby. The "Margil Vine" or Coral Vine is still found in San Antonio.
•••••
More information found at:
http://www.optimistclubsa.org/Archives/12_11_01.html

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24) The One and Only Christmas Ghost by Penelope Gladwell.
[I found this story in Playmate Magazine, Dec. 1972. Now you might have a hard time locating this magazine so here are the bones of the tale.]


Bones:

Gabriel woke up with a start. Late.
Brushed himself, grabbed chains. Hurried out to join friends.
No one was there.
It was cold—coldest Halloween ever.
Decided to go by himself—solo haunt.
Saw car stop. Watched children in costumes get out.
Ghosts with wings and halos, goblins in funny striped robes carrying funny sticks with hook on the end.
Three children dressed in rich robes, carrying boxes and bottles.
Small ghost in blue sheet carrying doll.
Door is shut behind children. Gabriel looked in window.
Saw green tree, lights, tinsel, stars—most unusual Halloween decorations.
Decided to do some solo haunting.
Tapped and scratched on window to scare children.
"Oooh, do you think it is going to snow?"
"Humph, this isn't as easy as I thought," thinks Gabriel.
Rattled chains.
"Listen to the sleigh bells."
Gabriel went up on roof, rattled chains loudly, stomped.
"Oh, I hear something on the roof. It's him!"
"Yes! It's me," Gabriel muttered. "Now I'll really scare them!"
Down chimney. Soot flew, Gabriel landed with whoosh!
"Boo!"
Children shocked and then surprised!
Gabriel said, "Well, who did you think it was—Santa Claus?"
All stared at sooty, gray ghost.
"Let's bob for apples," Gabriel suggested.
"That's a Halloween game. It's not Halloween. It's Christmas!"
"But you are all wearing costumes."
Children explain costumes, party food, etc.
"Oh no. I slept through my holiday and now I've ruined yours. I've made a terrible mistake."
"You haven't ruined it. You've made it the best Christmas ever."
Invited him to stay for cookies and punch.
"You can be our one and only Christmas ghost."
Gabriel stayed for party.
Now every year Gabriel carefully sets his alarm clock for Halloween. He goes haunting with his friends. But then he wakes up again in late December. Children listen for a rattling like sleigh bells and a stomping on the roof that signals the arrival of the one and only Christmas Ghost.
•••••
Contributed by
Rose Owens
Rose the story lady

Storylady@civprod.com
http://www.civprod.com/storylady/

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25) Just Frog ©
1993 Carol Ann Garretson All Rights Reserved
Story:
"What about the pain?" said the frog, as he hopped on to the rock next to the cypress tree. "Do humans think they are the only ones that experience loss, lack of love, or rejection?"

The duck thought for a moment and then a tear fell from her eye. "I lost my mate last hunting season, as we were trying to soar out of range of the hunters. The humans say that there were too many ducks that season, but frog, have you ever seen a duck make weapons against the humans? It seems we are at their mercy, and my dear husband Harry, is probably stuffed and sitting on someone's bookcase while the human tells the story of spotting us both and deciding on the male, of course. How do you cope frog?"

"I have decided each of us does it differently. Don't you remember how Mrs. Squirrel raised a chipmunk after her own son got trapped, boxed, and shipped away last winter? That chipmunk received so much love and approval, it gained the reputation of the 'daredevil of the forest,' and it has lived up to its name."

"By observation, that is what you are telling me, frog," said the duck.

"Yes, sometimes our hurt or pain seems so real we fail to reach out to someone else. Not everyone is going to be callous and unfeeling. Remember that carelessness has caused a lot of fires, but it has been the humans that ran to the rescue of these very woods. As you can probably observe, all forms of nature experience pain, loss, and the feeling of not belonging sometimes."

There was a long pause and frog looked from his left to his right trying to think of the proper way to respond to duck that had been hurt so deeply.

Then duck continued her conversation by asking frog just one last question. "Frog what should our message be this time of year?"

Frog looked up and replied, "It should be to go slower and look at what you have around you. Make yourself take time to listen. Do not always be looking for answers while your life turns in circles. In essence, be kind, thoughtful, and ask to be given wisdom. After all, it is Christmas and the celebration is for peace and love of all kingdoms. It was the one known as Christ who loved all creatures, special request. Never forget, love is giving from the heart duck, and you have done so. Sleep well and good night"-------just frog
•••••
These other stories below by Carol may be found at:
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/1510/
The Elf Who Ate Too Much
The Ornament On The Christmas Tree
Holidays In The Forest
Are You Curious?
A Christmas Cloud named Hankie

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26) A Child's Christmas in Wales (by Dylan Thomas; link to full text story)
http://www.bfsmedia.com/MAS/Dylan/Christmas.html

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27) Christmas Urban Legend #1

[The August 9th edition of the Denver Post carried an article with the following headline: "DARWIN AWARDS PAY HOMAGE TO THE MONKEY IN MAN." Columnist Dick Kreck discussed the Darwin Awards, awarded (posthumously) to those whose acts have led to the removal of their genes from the pool.]


THOMPSON, MANITOBA, CANADA. Telephone relay company night watchman Edward Baker, 31, was killed early Christmas morning by excessive microwave radiation exposure. He was apparently attempting to keep warm next to a telecommunications feed-horn. Baker had been suspended on a safety violation once last year, according to Northern Manitoba Signal Relay spokesperson Tanya Cooke. She noted that Baker's earlier infraction was for defeating a safety shutoff switch and entering a restricted maintenance catwalk in order to stand in front of the microwave dish. He had told coworkers that it was the only way he could stay warm during his twelve-hour shift at the station, where winter temperatures often dip to forty below zero. Microwaves can heat water molecules within human tissue in the same way that they heat food in microwave ovens. For his Christmas shift, Baker reportedly brought a twelve pack of beer and a plastic lawn chair, which he positioned directly in line with the strongest microwave beam. Baker had not been told about a tenfold boost in microwave power planned that night to handle the anticipated increase in holiday long-distance calling traffic. Baker's body was discovered by the daytime watchman, John Burns, who was greeted by an odor he mistook for a Christmas roast he thought Baker must have prepared as a surprise. Burns also reported to NMSR company officials that Baker's unfinished beers had exploded.
•••••
More information found at:
http://www.nmsr.org/darwiner.htm

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28)The Christmas Fairy of Strasburg

[This is an adaptation by J. Stirling Coyne from a German folktale (1914).
Internet Sources:
http://www.web-holidays.com/xmas/stories/gerfairy.asp
http://www.kraftmstr.com/christmas/books/gs-christmas_fairy.html

http://www.a-christmas-carol.com/stories/the-christmas-fairy-of-strasburg.html
http://members.tripod.com/~wackyanne/library/xlfairy.htm

Bones:

A young and handsome count, Otto, lived near Strasburg, on the river Rhine. He remained unmarried for so long that people called him "Stone-Heart." He never even looked at maidens. One Christmas Eve, he ordered that a great hunt should take place in the forest surround his castle. Many joined the excitiing chase, which led through thickets and pathless tracts of the forest. Count Otto became separated from the others. He rode on by himself and came to a spring of bubbling water, known to his people as the "Fairy Well." He dismounted and began to wash his hands, discovering that the water was warm in the middle of winter. Delighted, he thrust his hands deep into the water and felt his right hand was grasped by another, soft and small, which gently slipped from his finger the gold ring he always word. And when he pulled his hand out, the ring was gone. Amazed, the count returned to his castle, determined to have his servants empty the Fairy Well the next day. He was unable to sleep, and he tossed about all night.

During the night, he heard the watch-hounds baying, then the creaking of the drawbridge, then the patter of little feet on the stone staircase, and the sound of footsteps in the chamber adjoining his own. He sprang from his couch and suddenly there was the sound of wonderful music. The door of his chamber was flung open. In the next room, he found himself in the midst of countless Fairy beings, clad in gay and sparkling robes. They ignored him and began to dance, laugh, sing, to the mysterious music. A splendid Christmas Tree, the first ever seen in that country, stood in the center of the room. There were no toys or candles but in the tree's lighted boughs were diamond stars, pearl necklaces, bracelets of gold with color jewels, rubies, sapphires, silken belts, and gold daggers studded with jewels. The whole tree swayed, sparkled and glittered in the radiance of its many lights. Count Otto gazed speechless at all the wonder, when suddenly the Fairies stopped dancing and a lady of dazzling beauty slowly approached him. Her raven-black hair sparkled with a gold diadem set with jewels. Her hair flowed down upon a robe of rosy satin and creamy velvet. She held out two small, white hands to the count: "Dear Count Otto. I come to return your Christmas visit. I am Ernestine, the Queen of the Fairies. I bring you something you lost in the Fairy Well." She drew from her bosom a golden casket, set with diamonds, and placed it in his hands. Inside he found his lost gold ring.

Overcome by the experience, Count Otto embraced Fairy Ernestine, drawing her close to his heart. She led him into the magic dance and the mysterious music began again. The Fairies circled and whirled around the couple and gradually dissolved into a mist of many colors, leaving the count and his beautiful guest alone. The bewitched count fell to his knees and begged the Fairy to become his bride. She finally agreed on the condition that the word "death" never be spoken in her presence. They were married the next day in a magnificent ceremony. They lived happily together for many years.

One day they were to hunt in the forest. Everyone was ready, the horses saddled, but Fairy Ernestine stayed in her chamber too long. When she finally appeared, the exasperated count said, "You've kept us waiting so long that you would make a good messenger to send for Death." No sooner had he said the word than the Fairy, with a wild cry, disappeared. Overwhelmed with grief and remorse, Count Otto searched in vain for his Fairy. Years went by; the Fairy never returned. The Count grieved, and every Christmas Eve he set up a lighted tree in the room where he had first met her. He prayed that she would return. Time passed and Count Otto died. The castle fell into ruins. But to this day may be seen above the massive gate, deeply sunk in the stone arch, the impress of a small and delicate hand.

And such, say the good folk of Strasburg, was the origin of the Christmas Tree.
•••••
Bones by Jackie Baldwin
http://www.story-lovers.com

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29) The First Christmas Gift
(Story by Chuck Larkin from his The Old Christmas Stories. Full text available at: http://www.pjtss.net/library/chuck/chuck04.htm )
Bones:

After baby Jesus was born, angels appeared in the sky singing the first Christmas carols. Shepherds, just ordinary people, were herding their sheep in the hills and the angels were singing to them. The shepherds were almost certainly surprised and maybe even scared. The angels told them not to be afraid and then they reported that the baby Jesus, the Christ child, had been born in a barn at the back of a cave in the town of Bethlehem. The barn was built of mud, straw and wood. The angels said that the shephers could visit the Christ child by following the new star up in the sky. The next morning sylvester, the chief shepherd, his 9-year-old son Frederick, and all the aunts and uncles started out for the city and the barn. Frederick was so excited.

Though only nine, Frederick was considered old enough in those long-ago days to help his daddy and uncles tend the sheep, and he had his own staff with a curve on one end to hook sheep to catch them like a cowby ropes a cow with a lasso. You could even whack a hungry wolf with the staff to get his attention. Frederick's daddy, Sylvester, had a shepherd's staff so big that Frederick could barely lift it. It was covered all over with carved pictures and had been in their family for a long, long, long time.

When Frederick was a tiny baby, his Grandma made him a baby lamb doll from sheep's wool, and he kept that lamb doll with him when he slept, ate, and everywhere he went. He loved that baby lamb doll, just like Linus, Charlie Brown's friend, with his blanket. Frederick called his doll "Lauren Leigh." But his friends teased him about that doll, so he started hiding it under his shepherd's clothes. He decided that he was too old to take that doll with him into the city to see the Christ child, so he his her under his bed covers. He strutted out of the cabin door with his daddy and family with his head held high, but after about a hundred yards he said, "Daddy, I forgot something that I need, and I'm going back to the house to get it. I'll catch up with you." Of course, he picked up his baby lamb doll, tucked it under his cloak, and ran to catch up with his mommy and daddy. This time he didn't strut. He just walked along quietly with the grown-ups.

Frederick had never seen so many people as there were in Bethlehem. The barn was filled with people giving gifts and wishing the infant well. There was such a long line of people waiting that Frederick didn't believe they would ever get in. He was broken-hearted. But his father was chief of all the shepherds and people recognized him and let him in first. Once in the barn, Frederick climbed up on a pile of hay so he could see better. And there was baby Jesus, sound asleep in a horse's feeding trough with fresh hay under him for a mattress. He remember his mommy telling him that once he had slept in a box when he was a baby and they were visiting friends.

Suddenly everything got really quiet. Three men who looked like kings walked in with presents for the baby. They sure had fancy clothes on. Frederick was thrilled with all that was happening. He watched the Kings give the baby gold, Myrrh and Frankincense. The gifts didn't make any sense to Frederick. Babies can't do anything with gold, Myrrh was a bitter herb, and Frankincense stunk. He thought the Kings were not very smart to give all that stuff to a baby. But he remembered that grown-ups didn't always have good sense. Then Frederick remembered Lauren Leigh, his baby lamb doll, which would a perfect gift for a newborn baby.

He sure didn't want to give up Lauren Leigh, but he thought about the baby Jasus being born in that old barn where everything was dirty and smelly, where everybody was giving him gifts that he couldn't use. Frederick knew that he would have to be the person to give the baby something useful. He climbed down the pile of hay, squeezed between bit people and reached the manger. He noticed that the feeding box wasn't even well built. Straw was the baby's mattress and here was the son of Heaven, the Christ child, sleeping in this smelly barn. Awful!

Frederick pulled out Lauren Leigh from under his cloak, whispered in her ear how much he loved her and would miss her, and told her that the baby Jesis would love her, too. He gave her a big hug and started to lay her down beside the sleeping baby, who woke up and started giggling, reaching for Lauren Leigh, hugging her tight. He went back to sleep, this time with a big smile on his face.THE FIRST THREE MIRACLES. When baby Jesus saw Lauren Leigh and laughed for the first time, that's when the first three miracles we know about took place. First, Jack the donkey got his sight and was able to see. You should have seen the big grin on his face!

Second, there was an old weed growing all through the Roman Empire, that for the first time, bloomed a pretty red flower that night. Every year after that, the old weed blossomed the same red flower during the Christmas season. People started calling it the "Christmas Flower."

When people moved to the Americas, the flower grew very well in the Caribbean and Mexico. In 1832, our ambassador to Mexico from Charleston, South Carolina, brought the Christmas Flower home and it grew in our country. His name was Ambassador Poinsett and we still call the Christmas Flower by derivative of his name, "Poinsettia."

It was the third miracle I liked the best. That one was the gift of speech given to the animals.

Ms. Cow turned, and looked out the window and spoke to the same flock of birds in the tree that Frederick had been watching earlier. Ms. Cow told the birds how, out of an act of love, the first Christmas gift had been given to the Christ child by Frederick, a young shepherd boy. The birds and Ms. Cow found they could talk to each other and Ms. Cow told the birds everything I've been telling you and the birds told Ms. Cow about hearing the angels singing and watching Frederick get up that morning.

Every year since then on Christmas Eve all the animals again get the gift of speech.

When I was a child, we would go down to our barn and watch the farm animals. First, they bow down on their knees and say a quiet prayer, then they tell these old stories. If you have pets at home, watch them. Just after they bow their heads to say their Christmas prayers, they will have the gift of speech and they love to tell these old stories.

My sister, Barbara Anne, told me her pet fish came to the top of the water once and told a Christmas fish story. I would tell you that story but my sister was real young and forgot the story. This happens on Christmas Eve but not on the 25th of December.

The animals receive the gift of speech on "Old Christmas Eve." In 1752, folks changed the calendar to the one we use now. What used to be the 25th of December on the old calendar, was the 6th of January when I grew up and now has moved to the 7th of January on today's calendar. It was on the 6th of January eve that we called "Old Christmas" when I was a child. That's when the animals get the gift of speech.

It was a wonderful trip for Frederick. In fact, as they were going home, they stopped to look back. There, in the air, hovering above the barn, they could see a great angel and the angel waved to them. Oh what a day!

I'm so glad Ms. Cow and the birds were storytellers to tell people this story. My own dog told me these stories when I was five years old.
•••••
Bones prepared by
Jackie Baldwin
Story Lovers World
http://www.story-lovers.com

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30) Tom Bawcock's Eve
[A Christmas Eve tale from Cornwall, England.]
Mousehole (a fishing village)
A hundred years ago Mousehole was a bustling fishing village, the harbour crowded with fishing boats landing locally caught pilchards. Tradition tells of one winter, long ago, when storms had stopped the fishing boats from putting to sea and the villagers were starving. During a lull in the storm on, December 23rd, Tom Bawcock put to sea and returned with a catch of fish that were then baked into a Stargazy pie.Tom Bawcock’s Eve is still celebrated in the village today. People now travel from miles around to see the spectacular Christmas Lights which decorate the village every December. Tom Bawcock’s Tale (audio)
* The story of Tom Bawcock's, told by Graham the Storyteller (a wonderful audio experience)
http://telematics.ex.ac.uk/realcornwall/foodanddrink/mousehole.htm
•••••
Suggested by
Jackie Baldwin
Story-Lovers
bubbul@vom.com
http://www.story-lovers.com

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31) Funny Christmas Stories

[27 short stories written to bring a smile to your face]

Story 1:

A little boy returned from Sunday School with a new perspective on the Christmas story. He had learned all about the Wise Men from the East who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. He was so excited he just had to tell his parents: "I learned in Sunday School today all about the very first Christmas! There wasn't a Santa Claus way back then, so these three skinny guys on camels had to deliver all the toys!" And Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with his nose so bright wasn't there yet, so they had to have this big spotlight in the sky to find their way around."
Story 2:
Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.
Story 3:
Christmas Letter
Dear Darling Son and That Person You Married,
Merry Christmas to you, and please don't worry. I'm just fine considering I can't breathe or eat. The important thing is that you have a nice holiday, thousands of miles away from your ailing mother. I've sent along my last ten dollars in this card, which I hope you'll spend on my grandchildren. God knows their mother never buys them anything nice. They look so thin in their pictures, poor babies.

Thank you so much for the Christmas flowers, dear boy. I put them in the freezer so they'll stay fresh for my grave. Which reminds me -- we buried Grandma last week. I know she died years ago, but I got to yearning for a good funeral so Aunt Viola and I dug her up and had the services all over again. I would have invited you, but I know that woman you live with would have never let you come. I bet she's never even watched that videotape of my hemorrhoid surgery, has she?

Well son, it's time for me to crawl off to bed now. I lost my cane beating off muggers last week, but don't you worry about me. I'm also getting used to the cold since they turned my heat off and am grateful because the frost on my bed numbs the constant pain. Now don't you even think about sending any more money, because I know you need it for those expensive family vacations you take every year. Give my love to my darling grandbabies and my regards to whatever-her-name-is -- the one with the black roots who stole you screaming from my bosom.
Merry Christmas.
Love, Mom
Story 4:
A woman went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas Cards. "What denomination?" asked the clerk.
"Oh, good heavens! Have we come to this?" said the woman. "Well, give me 30 Catholic, 10 Baptist ones, 20 Lutheran, and 40 Presbyterian."
•••••
These and similar stories may be found at:
http://www.short-funny-stories.com/funny_stories/d-funny-christmas-stories

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32) 32 Christmas Songs with Music
[Song lyrics and melodies included]

Songs:
All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
A Chipmunk Christmas
A Fun Christmas Medley
December the 25th
Elf Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer
Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas
Here Comes Santa Claus
I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas
I Saw Mommy Kissin' Santa Claus
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
It's A Marshmallow World
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells (Dixie Style)
Jingle Bell Rock
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
Kris Kringle March
Linus Christmas Song
Old Toy Trains
Over The River and Through The Woods to Grandmother's House We Go
Must Be Santa
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Pat-A-Pan
Peanuts Christmas Time
Peanuts Skating Song
Reindeer Ragtime
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Suzy Snowflake
Up on The Housetop
•••••
Lyrics and melodies may be found at:
http://www.my.homewithgod.com/heavenlymidis/Christmas/songs.html

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33) 35 Christmas Stories and Poems (with accompanying music)
Poem 1: A Christmas Lesson

"Is there a purpose?  Why are we here?"
A little boy asked as the yuletide drew near. "I really do hope that someday I will know
The reason we have to stand out here in the snow,
Ringing this bell as people walk by,
While thousands of snowflakes fall from the sky." The mother just smiled at her shivering son,
Who would rather be playing and having some fun
He soon would find out before the evening was done
The meaning of Christmas, the very first one. The young boy exclaimed, "Mother where does it go?
All the pennies we collect - every year in the snow."
"They go to help others who can't help themselves,"
She said, "... children and their loved ones who have nothing else."
"But why do we do it?  Why do we care?
We worked for these pennies, why should we share?" "Because once a little baby - so meek and so mild
was born in a manger - so humble the child.
The son of a King - was born in this way,
So the world could have the gift that He brought on that day." "You see the present God gave to the world on that night,
Was the gift of His Son to make everything right."
"Why did he do it?  Why did he care?"
"To teach us of love and how we should share." "The meaning of Christmas, you see my dear son,
Is not about presents or just having fun;
But the gift of a Father - His own Precious Son,
So the world would be saved when His work was all done." Now the little boy smiled, with a tear in his eye,
As snowflakes kept falling from out of the sky -
Rang louder the bell as the people walked by
While down deep in his heart he now knew why.
© 2003 - Tom Krause

Story 1: A Candy Maker's Witness
[This is the TRUE story of how the Candy Cane came about.]
A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane.  He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry and death of Jesus Christ.


He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy.  White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and "hard" to symbolize the Solid Rock ~ the foundation of the Church and the firmness of the promises of God.

The candymaker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior.  It could also represent the staff of the "Good Shepherd" with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs, who like all sheep, have gone astray.

Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes.  He used three small stripes to show the strips of the scourging Jesus received, by which we are healed.  The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross, so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

Unfortunately, the candy has become known as the Candy Cane ~ a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time.  But ... the meaning is still there for those who have "eyes to see and ears to hear."

I pray that this symbol will again be used to witness TO THE WONDER OF JESUS CHRIST AND HIS GREAT LOVE that came down at Christmas and remains the ultimate and dominate force in the universe today!
~ author unknown ~
•••••
These and other religious stories and poems may be found at
http://our.homewithgod.com/mkcathy/MerryChristmas/stories.html

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34) History and Lore of Christmas Bells

[The importance of "Jingle Bells" to Christmas and the holiday season]
Included:
The Story of the Christmas Bells
It's a Wonderful Life
Jingle Bells
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Christmas Bell Cookies
•••••
http://www.angelfire.com/cantina/homemaking/december7.html

More history of "Jingle Bells" as they relate to horses:
Excerpt:
Jingle Bells by Valvert Lucius Fox

"Bells jingled in the winter quiet as the cutter swished over the thick snow. The cutter was old but well maintained and the horse was a high stepper—hard to say whether by inclination or agitation. The bells, or just the bells' own rhythm, were enough to keep a horse high with adrenaline or pride. The horse picked up his feet and put them down with great animation, causing the bells to send out their joyful music."
Whole story may be found at:
http://www.ruralheritage.com/tack_room/jinglebells.htm

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35) History of the origin of the "Jingle Bells Song"
[What's the real truth? Was it written in Massachusetts or Georgia in 1857? The Washington Times examines this question]
Excerpt:
"The 'Jingle Bells' story, according to Medford, MA, and largely accepted elsewhere, goes like this: Around 1850, inspired by the winter sleigh races down snow-filled Salem Street in Medford, Pierpont wrote the song at the Simpson Tavern, a boardinghouse that had the only piano in town..."
•••••
The whole story is available at:
http://washingtontimes.com/national/20031224-122816-2087r.htm

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36) The Troll Who Wanted to be Human by Jeanna Oterdahl
[Bones adapted from the book Christmas Roses: Legends for Advent, English edition distributed by the Anthroposophy Press, Hudson, NY or Botton Bookshop, N. Yorkshire.]

Bones:

A young troll has a strange desire to be like a human being. "Humans were tall and straight. Humans had a ring to their voice and a springiness to their steps. Humans were fearless and bold. They could overcome the wild animals and had managed to make themselves masters over forests and moors." Trolls normally hate humans, so he has to keep his desire secret from the other trolls. The young troll ventures as close as he dares into the human realm. He hides and watches humans in the forest. Sometimes he hears the village church bells ring, and the sound fills his heart with excitement--he's not sure it if it hate or love. A few times he sneaks into the village at evensong and peeks through the church window. One autumn night he is huddling close to the charcoal burner's hut, and hears "Black Matt" talking to his grandson about becoming a "decent human being." He says, "You must learn to think of others more than of yourself. If you do not care about others, you will never become a true human being. Those who cannot learn this will never be anything but a pack of trolls." The young troll decides to do things for others so he can become a human being. He decides to help people in the forest.

One day he watches two young berrypickers, and he fills their berry baskets for them when they aren't looking. He finds other ways to help the people without being seen himself, and the forest begins to get a reputation for being lucky for those who work there. Back home with the trolls, he runs into trouble: they notice that he doesn't look like one of them anymore. They pinch him and push him about. One summer a girl begins coming to the forest, and he loves to help her more than the others. She appreciates his help, although he never lets her see him. When autumn comes, she says "Dear helper, whoever you are. I wish you would show yourself to me and tell me how I might thank you best. No one could have helped me better. . . Even if you do not wish to be seen by human eyes, you could at least speak to me. No one likes to receive so much help without being able to do something in return. Ask me for something. I would like to do whatever I can for you."

The troll whispers to her: "Breathe onto the church window facing the north next Christmas mass. Breathe so that the ice melts." The girl agrees, and leaves her silver cross necklace for him. The troll continues to do good deeds for the animals in the forest, but the other trolls don't like the changes in him, and they chase him away one cold winter night. He runs, cold and bleeding through the forest, and then he hears the church bells in the village below. The bells are calling people to Christmas mass. The troll goes to the village.In the church, the girl is breathing on the window to melt the frost, ignoring her mother's admonishments. Suddenly she sees a face in the window, and she runs out of the church and brings the troll--now a strange, rather wild-looking boy--back in with her. They come to the priest in front of the church. The troll/boy holds the silver cross the girl had given him. They kneel before the priest, the "stranger" trembling in fear. The priest asks who he is, and tells him not to be afraid. The stranger cannot make his voice work, but the priest takes the cross in his hand, and says, "In the name of the cross, which you hold in your hand, who are you?" The stranger cries out with a voice full of grief and longing: "I was born a troll, but I want to be a human; I have been driven away from my kin because of my longing for mankind."The priest lifts him up and says, "If that is so, welcome! Welcome to the world of humans. Here you will meet your own kind. You are like all of us, for the longing to be truly human is what links us all together."
•••••
Contributed by the late
Judith Wynhausen

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37) The Old Woman Who Wanted a Gnome in her Home by Jeanna Oterdahl
[Bones adapted from the book Christmas Roses: Legends for Advent, English edition distributed by the Anthroposophy Press, Hudson, NY or Botton Bookshop, N. Yorkshire.]

Bones:

An old woman tries to entice a gnome to come live with her- a "little chap who could keep her company and help her look after the animals and the garden and the house." She had worked hard all her life, and had saved up enough for a little cottage, with some chickens, a goat, and a cat. She leaves a bowl of delicious porridge out for the gnome, but in the morning the cat has eaten it. Next day she knits a bright hat with a tassel--no gnome could resist that! But in the morning, the wind has blown it up in a tree. Next day she leaves a bright coin in the open window, but next morning she sees a magpie carry it off. The old woman doesn't know how to get a gnome to come live with her. Time passes, and she cares only about herself and her own business, but she feels more and more bitter that no one cares for her, or that no gnome will join her. Things keep going downhill; the goat and chickens do not thrive, the cat leaves for another home, the bees die, the cottage is not as neat and tidy as it was, the roof begins to leak, draughts come in through chinks in the walls, and the old woman just sits on her doorstep and tries to stop passers-by. "I have toiled and worked all my life. The cottage and everything that is in it were earned by my own hard work. But now everything is falling down around me. Dear, sweet people, have compassion on me! Stay here and give me a helping hand!" But people start avoiding her, and say, "Have you ever cared for anybody else? It is your own fault if things are not going well for you, so now you must manage as best as you can."

Winter comes, and one day in a snow storm a little girl comes running along the road. She is in rags and blue with cold, but she dares not knock on the door of the "mean old woman." The old woman sees her, and feels compassion. She goes out and brings the child in. she finds out that the girl has no mother or father, and no home. She wraps her in a warm quilt, and gets the fire going in the stove, and feeds her some warm porridge. The little girl thinks, "Imagine, the mean old woman is so kind after all!" and she falls asleep. The old woman gazes on the child as she sleeps, and wants to ask the child to stay with her. The next morning (and I make this Christmas morning when I tell it) the little girl reaches out her arms for the old woman and says she wants to stay with her, which makes the old woman very happy.

That evening the old woman sees a gnome "slip through the door, tip-toe to the oven, and scrape out the pot. Then he strolled around the whole cottage, as if wondering where he should set to work. And the gnome has stayed with the old woman until this very day."
•••••
Contributed by the late
Judith Wynhausen

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38) The Shepherd Boy's Flute
by Dan Lindholm
[Bones adapted from the book Christmas Roses: Legends for Advent, English edition distributed by the Anthroposophy Press, Hudson, NY or Botton Bookshop, N. Yorkshire.]

Bones:

A shepherd boy is searching for a lost lamb in the hills above Bethlehem, when the skies open up, and singing is heard. An angel appears before him and tells him of the baby born in a stable in Bethlehem. The angel tells him the child is the "Savior of the World." The shepherd doesn't have a gift to offer to the "Savior of the World," and the angel gives him a shimmering flute to play for the child. The shepherd puts it to his lips, and it plays almost by itself with seven clear and pure notes. He starts running down the hill to go to Bethlehem, but he trips and falls, the flute falls from his hands, and he utters some bad words. When he picks up the flute, one tone is missing--there are 6 left. He continues, but a wolf appears in the path. The boy chases off the wolf by throwing the flute at him, but when he picks up the flute, another tone is gone. He comes onto the plain where the shepherds had camped, and finds one sheep running around away from the flock. He runs after it, and again throws the flute when the sheep tries to escape. The flute loses another tone. He can't find the other shepherds, and he thinks they have gone to town to drink and gamble. He doesn't know that the other shepherds have already gone to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child. In his anger at them, he kicks a water jug, and "as if an invisible power knocked the flute out of his hand." Another note is gone. When he gets to Bethlehem, some street urchins try to get hold of the flute, and he fights them off. By the time the night watchman restores order, another tone is gone. He sees the stable with the bright star above it, but as he approaches, a vicious guard dog springs at him, and he fights off the dog with the flute. So, when he steps inside the stable, he only has one tone left of his gift. He feels very ashamed. "In his simple heart he did not know that every man's path to the Savior is like this." Mother Mary beckons him to come near, and he plays the one tone. "Mild and clear it sounded for the child, Mary and Joseph, the ox and the ass, everyone who was in the stable listened and wondered." The Christ child reaches out his hand and touches the flute, and "behold, in the same moment, it became just as it was when it first fell from heaven--full toned, whole and pure."
•••••
Contributed by the late
Judith Wynhausen

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39) Christmas Quotations; Season's Greetings in Different Languages
1) Love is what you hear on Christmas morning, when you stop opening presents and listen.
2) From A Christmas Carol: I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.
3) Christmas is for children of all ages.
(Fred Flintstone, believe it or not)
4) And so, as Tiny Tim observed, "God Bless Us, Every One!" - Charles Dickens
5) Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.--Calvin Coolidge
6) Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.--Washington Irving
7) Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.--Norman Vincent Peale
8) It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.--W. T. Ellis
9) Heap on the wood!-the wind is chill; But let it whistle as it will, We'll keep our Christmas merry still.--Sir Walter Scott
10) Bless us Lord, this Christmas, with quietness of mind; Teach us to be patient and always to be kind. --Helen Steiner Rice
11) May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.--Ada V. Hendricks
12) Christmas is the day that holds all time together.--Alexander Smith
13) At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year. -- Thomas Tusser
14) The Farmer's Daily Diet
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes,
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes,
Let Love, the world's beginning,
End fear and hate and sinning;
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshiped in all climes
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes. -- Ella Wheeler Wilcox
15) A good conscience is a continual Christmas. -- Benjamin Franklin.
16) Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under the tree. Charlotte Carpenter.
17) Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn't the holly, it isn't the snow. It isn't the tree not the firelight's glow. It's the warmth that comes to the hearts of men when the Christmas spirit returns again. -- Anonymous.
18) It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you...yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand. --Mother Teresa
19) Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.
--Anonymous
20) There was a time when I was younger that I didn't believe in Santa Claus and now I know that Santa Claus exists.
21) Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night
from The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore.
22) Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind - Mary Ellen Chase
23) There is always somebody that one is afraid not to give a Christmas present to. -Anonymous
24) It helped her learn that something you create yourself is the best kind of present. - Jackie Kennedy, referring to a Christmas card Caroline made for her daddy, President Kennedy
25) What is bought is cheaper than a gift. - Portuguese proverb
26) Blessed are those who can give without remembering, and take without forgetting. Elizabeth Bibesco
27) A quote from a story about the Innkeeper who explains, I did what I could. This Christmas, will you do the same?

Season's Greetings in various languages:
Afrikander - Een Plesierige Kerfees

Arabic - I'd Miilad Said Oua Sana Saida
Argentine - Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo
Armenian - Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Azeri - Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
Basque - Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
Bohemian - Vesele Vanoce
Brazilian - Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
Breton - Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Bulgarian - Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
Chinese -
(Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
(Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
Cornish - Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
Cree - Mitho Makosi Kesikans
Croatian - Sretan Bozic
Czech - Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Danish - Glædelig Jul
Dutch - Vrolijk Kerstfeest
English - Merry Christmas along with:
Hanukkah & Winter Solstice
Esperanto - Gajan Kristnaskon
Estonian - Ruumsaid juuluphi
Farsi - Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
Finnish - Hyvaa joulua
French - Joyeux Noel
Frisian - Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
German - Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek - Kala Christouyenna!
Hawaiian - Mele Kalikimaka
Hebrew - Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Hindi - Shub Naya Baras
Hungarian - Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
Icelandic - Gledileg Jol
Indonesian - Selamat Hari Natal
Iraqi - Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish Gaelic - Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Iroquois - Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut.
Italian - Buon Natalie
Japanese - Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Korean - Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Latvian - Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu!
Lithuanian - Linksmu Kaledu
Macedonian - Srekna Nova Godina I Sreken Bozik
Manx - Ollick Ghennal Erriu as Blein Feer Die.
Maori - Meri Kirihimete
Navajo - Merry Keshmish
Norse-Danish - Gledlig jul
Norwegian - God Jul
Papua New Guinea - Bikpela hamamas blong
dispela Krismas na Nupela yia igo long yu.
Pennsylvania Dutch - En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!
Polish -Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese - Boas Festas (Feliz Natal)
Rapa-Nui - Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
Romanian - Sarbatori vesele
Russian - Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Sami - Buorrit Juovllat
Samoan - La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Scots Gaelic - Nollaig chridheil huibh
Serbian - Hristos se rodi
Serbo-Croatian - Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina
Singhalese - Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
Slovak - Sretan Bozic (Vesele vianoce)
Slovene - Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto
Spanish - Feliz Navidad
Swedish - God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
Tagalog - Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
Tamil - Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
Thai - Sawadee Pee Mai
Turkish - Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian - Srozhdestvom Kristovym
Urdu - Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
Vietnamese - Chung Mung Giang Sinh
Welsh - Nadolig Llawen
Yugoslavian - Cestitamo Bozic

Chinese Mandarin - Kung /hsi/ shen dan bing cu sing nien kuai le, if you want to say Christmas greetings and a happy new year. Although personally, at home we'd just say Shen dan kuai le, since our 'sing nien' (new year) is different from the Western calender. If you wanted to say Christmas greetings and a happy new year, however, Chu fu shen dan ji sing nien kuai le. I would. I don't guarantee it's the right way to do it, since I'm the most informal wretch at home when I'm writing in Mandarin.

Chinese Cantonese - Gung chuk sing tan, sun lin fai lok.
The version given, I can't make any sense of it, so I'm assuming something was left out because the 'year' part is missing. Again, New Year is generally referred to as the Chinese New Year, but I've heard it being greeted thus when the carollers came to the house. Suk-Yin 'Azusayumi' Lai.
•••••
Compiled by the late Chuck Larkin
http://www.chucklarkin.com/

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40) Christmas Stories by Chuck Larkin
The First Christmas Gift—Fourth Century Tale
And It Came to Pass
The Animals from the Wild Visit and Ms. Cat Stays
The Baby Speaks
The Holly Tree—Fourth Century Tale
The First Christmas Tree
Candles in the Window and Mistletoe
Fergus O’Lorcain, The Irish Lad Who Had No Story
*Ms. Horse, Ms. Mule and Ms. Cow
Old Christmas vs. Epiphany & the Birth of Santa Claus & Etc.
The Birthday Party
A Circus Story at Christmas
•••••
Example of one of Chuck's tales:
*Ms. Horse, Ms. Mule and Ms. Cow
[St. Francis of Assisi built the first manger as part of the Christmas celebration. He was a fine storyteller and was supposed to have told this story about the experiences Mary had with the animals in the barn.]
Story:

Mary sure did have some problems living in that barn. When baby Jesus was born, Joseph needed a crib, so he put some fresh hay in Ms. Horse’s feeding trough. Back in the old days, a horse’s feeding trough or basket was called a manger. Nobody asked Ms. Horse if they could use her food basket, her manger, for a crib. Then her manger was filled with fresh straw and nobody said Ms. Horse wasn’t supposed to eat that fresh straw in her manger. Fact was, just about every time Ms. Horse noticed no one was looking, she would pull some hay out from under baby Jesus for a snack.

Ms. Horse loved to eat hay, especially fresh hay. Well, before long, baby Jesus would be laying on the hard boards of the manger and wake up cranky and yowling, like any little baby. Mary would say, “Now, Ms. Horse, stop eating that hay! You’re upsetting the baby.” Mary would then fetch some more hay for a mattress and baby Jesus would go back to sleep. As soon as everybody had their backs turned, Ms. Horse would sneak over and snack on some more hay and the whole problem would start again. Baby Jesus would wake up wailing. Mary would lecture Ms. Horse, and Ms. Horse would lower her head and look real remorseful, you know, real sad. As soon as no one was looking, Ms. Horse crept over and nibbled on the hay until baby Jesus was laying on those hard boards. Well, it didn’t take long, Mary got a little bit nettled, you know, kind of mad like, just like the rest of us.

Mary said, “Ms. Horse, from now on, you and all your kith and kin and all your children’s children will never get enough to eat. You will have to eat all the time.” Have you ever seen a horse out in the field? They are eating all the time. If you ever own a horse, you will understand. When you own a horse, you are feeding them all the time.

Ms. Mule also was naughty in the barn. First, Ms. Horse was eating up the hay mattress and waking up baby Jesus. Next, every time baby Jesus fell asleep, Ms. Mule would go “Hee haw! Hee haw”! Let me tell you, you have never heard a baby cry until you hear one cry after a mule goes “Hee haw, hee haw.”

Oh my, how Mary would speak to Ms. Mule. I was told that almost every time the barn would get quiet, Ms. Mule would start in, “Hee haw, hee haw”! She’d wake up baby Jesus from his nap and he’d start in crying. Ms. Mule was so loud, even the grown-ups would jump.

Mary got so aggravated, she said, “Ms. Mule, you are not fit to be a parent! From now on, you and all your kith and kin will never become parents”! Do you know, to this day, a mule has never had a baby.

Now Ms. Cow, she was different. Ms. Cow was something else. Yep, she sure was. Ms. Cow was a big help to Mary in that barn. For example, Ms. Cow would stand with her back next to the manger and wave her tail back and forth over baby Jesus, to keep the flies off him. There were lots of flies in that old barn. Ms. Cow gave fresh milk, to both Mary and Joseph, and to some of the other visitors to the barn.

She and Jack, the Donkey, would take turns baby sitting whenever Mary and Joseph had to run an errand. Ms. Cow also told Jack what a lot of the things were called he was seeing for the first time, since the miracle of the “First Christmas Gift” when Jack got his sight. They were the best of friends.

Later, when Mary was packing up to go down to Egypt, she said, “Ms. Cow, you have been such a helpmate to me and baby Jesus, I want to thank you. From now on, you and all your kith and kin and your children’s children, whenever you finish eating your lunch on a warm summer day, you can go lay down in the shade of a tree and continue to enjoy your lunch with a chew of grass.”

The next time you see cows out in a pasture after lunch laying in the shade, you will see them chewing away like they had a big wad of chewing gum. The farmers say the cows are chewing their cud. Yep, that’s why horses always eat, mules don’t ever get to be parents, and cows get to chew their cud after dinner.
•••••
Written by the late Chuck Larkin
http://www.chucklarkin.com/

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41) The Tale of Mad Dog's Christmas
Bones:

Christmas Eve came to the Big Dark Forest. Everything was peaceful; everyone felt the Christmas spirit.

Mad Dog, the wolf, sat alone in his tiny dingy den, which was overfilled with furniture. Mad Dog was singing Christmas carols from a book he had stolen the day before from Racum Raccoon. He felt very sorry for himself because he had no friends to care about or any friends who would care for him. He fell asleep singing carols.

In another part of the forest, Racum Raccoon and his family were putting presents under their Christmas tree. Racum remembered that he had one more gift, which he had hidden in his room under his bed. He pulled out a gift wrapped in shiny red foil paper with a big gold bow. The tag was addressed "To Mad Dog."

Racum knew that Mad Dog was always alone on Christmas Day because he had no family and no friends. His family had deserted him when he was a pup ecause he was too big, too bad, too mean. He always beat his brother up for no reason, used to pull his little sister's hair. One day, when he returned home from fishing, he discovered that his family had left him behind.

Racum's family thought it was nice of him to think about lonesome Mad Dog. Racum believe that if people were kind to Mad Dog, he wouldn't be so mean to everyone. Racum's mother suggested asking Mad Dog to spend Christmas with them as there was plenty of room and lots of food.

So Racum walked to Mad Dog's den and knocked on the door. He gave his Christmas gift to Mad Dog, who began to sob, and then confessed that no one had ever given him a gift before. Racum explained that everyone thought Mad Dog was too mean to care about Christmas and gifts, and he suggested that if Mad Dog would stop being so mean, everyone would be nice to him too.

Mad Dog promised to try to be nicer. Then he opened his present and found a bright orange lunch box with his name printed in big black letters. Racum told him that he wouldn't have to steal other lunch boxes anymore. Inside the lunch box, Mad Dog discovered a pen, pencil, eraser and a box of crayons.

Mad Dog thanked Racum and gave his Christmas carol book back. He apologized for stealing it. Racum was so pleased at Mad Dog's first attempts at being nice, and he invited Mad Dog to spend Christmas with his family. Mad Dog was overjoyed. The two walked hand in hand through the Big Dark Forest to the Racoon family's house. They sang Christmas carols all the way there.

Mad Dog never stole from anyone ever again. He earned the respect of all the forest dwellers as time went on. Trust and respect grew among all of them. Soon he had close friends in the forest, he moved to a bigger den, and was happy forever after.
•••••
Other gentle stories (mostly for younger children) that appear on this website include:
Jesus's Birth According to Luke
The Nutcracker (with music!)
Santa's Bots
Twas the Night Before Christmas
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus
Olive, the Orphan Reindeer
Olive's Secret Journey
How Claus Made the First Toy
The Snow Image
Mother Frost
The Snowdrop
A Kidnapped Santa Claus
The Snow Queen
The Gift of the Magi
A Christmas Carol
The Little Match Girl

Here are some fun personalized stories (fill in the blanks):
The Magical Christmas Tree
A Very Special Christmas
My Adventure with Rudolph
Santa's Workshop
A Special Holiday Letter for my GrandparentsHere are more stories from other sites on the web:
What's Inside? (a book for our youngest visitors)
Who Stole the Christmas Cookies? (Bed Tyme Tales)
Racum Almost Missed Christmas (Bed Tyme Tales)
The Tale of Mad Dog's Christmas (Bed Tyme Tales)
Frisky (Bed Tyme Tales)
A Blue Christmas (Bed Tyme Tales)
Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney (Bed Tyme Tales)
Christmas Poems (Santa's Winter Wonderland)
James and the Christmas Wagon
Sally Saves Christmas
Koala Trouble - The Big Christmas Party
Christmas Stories - nearly 100 traditional and non-traditional stories
Red Boots for Christmas
Santa and the Mouse - click to hear the tale, and move your mouse and click on the picture above to play. Uses Quicktime

Christmas plays:
The Christmas Seal Play - learn how Christmas Seals came to be
The Dream (a Christmas play)
•••••
http://www.kidsdomain.com/holiday/xmas/stories.html

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42) When the Pyrenees Were Green
(From Cataluña in northeast Spain. Bones of the chapter in my in-progress collecction of Spanish and Basque legends.)

Bones:

Long ago, the Pyrenees were soft and green. This is how they came to be covered with rocks and snow. Cold, wet night, shepherds huddled in hut, stranger knocks on the door, asks to be let in out of the cold. Refused. Stranger protests that he's come a long way and he's tired and hungry. "You'll have to go back where you came from" (laugh). Stranger's clothes turn white, halo forms around him, he begins to rise and rise until he disappears into the sky. Storm, thunder, lightning. Shepherds afraid in hut. Huge thunderclap. Sheep and shepherds turned to stone. Snow and ice cover the Pyrenees ever after.

[The stranger is not named in the story. Most would take him to be Jesus, who in Spanish stories frequently walks the earth to test the merit of human hearts and souls. But he could be Hercules. The Pyrenees were erected by him as a tomb and monument to the memory of the water goddess of that region, Pyrene, whom he had taken under his protection.]
•••••
Contributed by
Richard Marsh, Dublin
http://www.richardmarsh.ie/
http://www.legendarytours.com/tours.html

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Alternate Version:
I would lose the halo altogether and say the shephards heard an angry rumbling after denying the soft-spoken stranger and mocking him. The powers of the sky and wind angrily screamed their displeasure at the cruel selfishness of the people in the hut. The sky opened, dull moon grew and illuminated the ground and wind and cloud surrounded the solitary man who was once illuminated by the power of the storm and in the next moment disappeared into the storm's rages, the likes of which the earth had never seen before, or, thank heavens, since. A storm so terrible that the men watching were mesmerized, petrifed by the horror and cold; some say into great stones standing in the darkness that was cut by the swords of light and gleaming sheets of snow smashing the earth with the strenth of a wind that howled and assaulted the planet. A storm so intense its mark can still be seen on the earth today as the snow covered Pyrneese mountains.

•••••
Contributed by
Loretta
dragonstory@hotmail.com

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43) A St. Nicholas Story
[By Margaret Meyerkort, Wynstones School, Whaddon, Gloucester, UK. Permission pending.]
Once upon a time there lived far away in the East a pious man, the Bishop Nicholas. One day he heard that far in the West was a big town. In this town all the people had to suffer hunger, the children also. Then Bishop Nicholas called his servants who loved him and said to them 'Bring me the fruits of your gardens and the fruits of your fields that we can still the hunger of the children in that town.' The servants brought baskets full of apples and nuts, and on top lay honey cakes which the women had baked. And the men brought sacks of wheat. Bishop Nicholas had all these things taken onto a ship. It was a beautiful ship, quite white and the sails of the ship were as blue as the sky and as blue as the mantle of the Bishop Nicholas. The wind blew into the sails and sped the ship along, And when the wind grew tired the servants took to the oars and rowed the ship westward. They had to sail for a longtime; for seven days and seven nights.

When they arrived in front of the big town it was evening. The roads were empty, but in the houses there burnt lights. Bishop Nicholas knocked at a window. The mother in the house thought a late wanderer had come and she asked her child to open the door. Nobody was outside. The child ran to the window. There was nobody outside the window either. But instead, there stood a basket filled with apples and nuts, red and yellow, and a honey cake lay on top. By the basket stood a sack which was bursting with golden wheat grains. All the people ate the gifts and once again became healthy and happy.

Today St. Nicholas is in the heavens. Every year on his birthday he starts on his journey down to the earth. He asks for his white horse and journeys from star to star. There he meets Mother Mary, who gathers silver and golden threads for the shift of the Christ Child. Mother Mary says to him: "Dear St. Nicholas please go again to the children and bring them your gifts. Tell them, 'Christmas is nigh and soon the Christ Child will come.'"

The earth is wide and great. There, where St. Nicholas cannot go himself, he asks a good and pious person to go to the children and take them apples and nuts and tell the children of the coming of the Christ Child.
•••••
Will The Real St. Nicholas Please Stand Up?—And Indeed He Did
[By Ogden Nash, Holiday, December 1963, p. 94. Copyright © Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt A Tribute to the Poet, Ogden Nash (1902–1971) Permission pending.]

Poem:

Once there was a saint called St. Nicholas of Myra,
And his reputation for veracity was better
than that of Ananias and Sapphira,
So when he recently called upon me with his complaint,
Well, I knew I was listening to a truthful saint.
He was also an angry saint,
he was spoiling for a rhubarb or a scrimmage;
He was indignant over the vulgarization of his public image.
He said he hardly dared step out of Heaven for very shame
Because some obese buffoon known as Santa Claus
had mis-appropriated his good name.
He said wherever he might go
He was confronted by this Santa Claus
or one of a thousand facsimiles bellowing Ho! Ho! Ho!
None of whom had any decency or pride
Because they wore their red flannels outside.
He said if people wanted a Santa Claus
that was all right with him,
He just didn't want them to confuse Santa Claus with St. Nicholas,
which was like confusing Walt Disney with the Brothers Grimm,
Because he believed in spare the rod and spoil the child,
and let reward be contingent on good conduct previous,
Whereas Santa Claus was of the permissive school
and showered his gifts indiscriminately,
even upon the most unregenerately mischievious.
Anybody misled by the similarity of the two names
was not a homo sapiens but a most insapiens homo,
Just as likely to confuse Lindbergh with Strindberg or
Pericles with Perry Como,
Yes, they would find a hundred ways to be vague in,
Mixing up Yankee-doodle with Der Dudelsackpfeiffer and
Eugene O'Neill with Eugene Onegin.
He said this was a humiliation he had been forced to endure
Mostly thanks to one Clement Clarke Moore.
He said he had no recourse, that he was like a lion
toothless or a porcupine prickleless,
Although the so-called hero of the Moore poem was really
Santa Claus masquerading as St. Nicholas.
He said this was obvious because, if he did say so himself,
He was an authentic saint and nobody's jolly old elf,
And if further proof were needed that the identity was a
transposed one,
Why, he had never seen a reindeer in his life, much less
was he, as had been whispered lately, dependent
on the good will and sagacity of a red-nosed one.
He said Mr. Moore had compiled the first Hebrew and
Greek lexicon published in the U.S.,
and had written a biography of Scanderbeg, too,
So he was perfectly capable, before
composing his monstrous poetical tarradiddle,
of checking his facts in any hagiological Who's Who.
By this time his indignation was such that he had lost the
ability to reason well or think well;
I believe he must have confused me with Clement Clarke Moore,
because he picked me up and dipped me in the inkwell.
He thereupon departed with his mitre cocked jauntily and quaintly.
I cannot help feeling that, St. Nicholas or Santa Claus,
his behavior was only faintly saintly.
THE END
•••••
The above and these other Christmas stories and poems are available at:
http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=300
http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=170
A St. Nicholas Story
     Why St. Nicholas comes each year by M. Meyerkort
St. Nicholas, the Generous Bishop
     An echo story by Page Zyromski
The Golden Cup
     Written and illustrated by Marllylou Reifsnyder
The Real Santa
     A simple story by Carol Myers
The Legend of St. Nicolas
     Traditional French Story
Stories and Legends of St. Nicholas
     Basic accounts of twelve St. Nicholas stories
Another Christmas Carol
     A modern story of the spirit of St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas
     A children's story from 1875, from St. Nicholas: an Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks
Three Daughters: A St. Nicholas Story
     retold by John Coakley
Three Scholars: Another Nicholas Story
     A version with a refreshing twist retold by John Coakley
Six St. Nicholas Stories for the days before St. Nicholas Day, December 6
     Gentle stories in the Waldorf tradition by Christine Natale
St. Nicholas and the Children
     A tale from Canada, retold by Eva Martin
The Life of Saint Nicholas
     Fifteen illustrated, best-known Nicholas stories, retold by Verena Smith
How St. Nicholas Chooses the Most Worthy for Gifts
     A tale of selflessness, retold by Michael Roman
POEMS
St. Nicholas Day Poem
     The story of St. Nicholas
Find Us Quickly If You Can
     Traditional Dutch
St. Nicholas Verse
     Traditional German
Saint Nicholas
     A poem from Belgium by Ade Bethune
A Rhyme for Nicholas
     Saint of Children, Saint of Sailors by Eleanor Farjeon
Will The Real St. Nicholas Please Stand Up?—And Indeed He Did
     A poem by Ogden Nash
•••••
Much, much more available from the wonderful St Nicholas Center Collection:
http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=155

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44) The Birds' Christmas Carol
[Here is Kate Douglas Wiggin's children's story, The Birds' Christmas Carol, published in 1887.]
Bones:
A girl is born on Christmas day to a family named Bird. She is given the name Carol, because, shortly after her birth, her mother hears a beautiful Christmas carol drifting through the bedroom window from the church next door. Carol is a lovely, perfect child. "Her cheeks and lips were as red as holly berries," Wiggins writes, "her hair was...the color of a Christmas candle-flame; her eyes were bright as stars...and her tiny hands forever outstretched in giving."

At five years of age Carol's health begins to mysteriously decline and by age 10, she is an invalid. Her wealthy parents give her everything: a beautiful room with large windows, illuminated pictures, clothes, toys, games, plants and books. A poverty stricken family of nine children, named Ruggles, lives in a small house across the back alley and Carol decides she wants to give the Ruggles children a "grand Christmas dinner" in her room, followed by lots of presents. This celebration takes place on Carol's 10th birthday and is a huge success. After the party, Carol's Uncle Jack takes the children home and secretly vows, "If anything happens to Carol, I will take the Ruggleses under my wing." Carol, through her angelic nature, has made all those around her better human beings; it is time for her to depart this earth. The notes of the same Christmas carol that her mother heard at her birth waft through the air again, bringing tears to many eyes, but not to Carol's for her heart has ceased to beat.

[This is a highly sentimental story, filled with elements of pathos and coming to a predictable conclusion. The fact that it is set during the festive holiday season adds power and poignancy to the narrative. Klass suggests that "the very lavishness of the holiday season, as celebrated in 19th century fiction, demanded certain elements of pathos for contrast, for poignancy, for moral justification. In a season marked by the indulgence and gratification of children, poor children, as objects of charity could... allow themselves to be helped and thereby [allow] their wealthy benefactors to enjoy holiday excess with a free conscience. Ill children, suffering bravely, could remind readers of their own good fortune. And dying children, the ultimate angels, could bless the holiday season" as they transition into a higher state of being in a place of everlasting peace.]
•••••
More information available at:
http://www.qesnrecit.qc.ca/cc/special/xmaswww.htm
http://www.recess.ufl.edu/transcripts/2003/1224.shtml

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45) Brer Rabbit's Christmas
[Traditional American tale adapted by Diane Goode in American Christmas; Scholastic; 1990. ISBN: 0-590-45446-3.]
Bones:
One winter morning, when he knew Brer Rabbit wasn't home, Brer Fox stole into Brer Rabbit's garden. He helped himself to every last one of Brer Rabbit's carrots and left with his bag so full it was bursting at the seams.

When Brer Rabbit got home and saw his garden with nothing much left to admire, he was mighty angry. He sped off directly to Brer Fox's house. The door was bolted and the shutters were closed tight. Brer Rabbit couldn't hear anything except the sound of his own stomach grumbling. But all around was the sweet smell of soup cooking. Brer Rabbit knocked on the door. Bam Bam Bam. No answer. "I know you're there, Brer Fox," called Brer Rabbit. "Now you open this door." No answer. He knocked harder. Bam Bamity Bam. "I know those are my carrots in your soup," said Brer Rabbit, "and I want them back. Now open this door!"

Finally there was an answer from inside. "Too bad," said Brer Fox. "I ain't opening this door. I'm making enough soup in here to keep me till spring comes." Brer Rabbit tried knocking the door in. He kicked at it and hammered on it, but that door didn't budge. Finally he gave up. He was hoppin mad.

Now you know that Brer Rabbit was the best at trickety tricking, and when he was mad, watch out. But he could never stay mad long. And the next thing you know Brer Rabbit was chuckling. It hadn't taken him long to think of a plan to get his carrots back and make Brer Fox mad too.

On Christmas Eve, Brer Rabbit heaved a sackful of stones on his shoulder and climbed up on Brer Fox's roof. He clattered around making plenty of noise. "Who's that up there?" called Brer Fox. "It's Santa Claus," said Brer Rabbit in a gruff voice he hoped sounded like Santa Claus. "And I got a sackful of presents for you." "Oh, you got presents for me?" said Brer Fox. "Well, you're most welcome here, Santa Claus. But ain't you supposed to come down the chimney?" "Sure am," said Brer Rabbit in his Santa Claus voice. "But I can't. I'm stuck in the chimney. You want to see?"

Brer Fox unbolted the door and peered outside. "Well, don't come down then," he hollered up at the roof. "Just drop the presents down the chimney and I'll catch them." "Can't," answered Brer Rabbit. "The sack is stuck too. But if you do what I say, I'd be mighty grateful. Climb up into the chimney. Then catch hold of this piece of string and pull the sack down yourself." Brer Fox was only too happy to help. "That's easy," he said. "Here I come up the chimney."

He started clawing his way up. Like lightning, Brer Rabbit leaped off that roof and into the doorway. There were his carrots in a pile, and on the stove was a big old pot of soup, all fragrant and bubbling, and on the table were some biscuits and mince pie, and there in the middle was the biggest, fattest Christmas pudding he'd ever seen. Brer Rabbit's mouth began to water at the sight of all that food. But he didn't waste much time. He grabbed as much as he could, stuffed it into his sack and took off running.

Meantime, Brer Fox was struggling to get up the chimney. He couldn't see any string, but he felt it hanging down. So he gave a pull. The sack opened and out tumbled all the stones right on Brer Fox's head. My goodness, he went down that chimney fast. That rascally Brer Rabbit laughed at how he'd taken care of Brer Fox. But he kept out of Brer Fox's way all that Christmas day and for some time afterward.

•••••
Available in your library in various Uncle Remus collections by Joel Chandler Harris.

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46) A Bed Fit For a King
[By Marilyn Kinsella.]

Story:

Benjamin was a young orphan who lived on the dirt roads of his village. He never had much but somehow he always had just enough. You see, even as a young boy, he discovered that he had a special talent. He could carve. He could take any piece of plain wood and carve it into something other needed or wanted. “Benjamin, can you carve me a bowl for my mother?” “Benjamin, can you carve me a boat so I can play?” Benjamin could carve beautifully. So, the people would give him just enough silver. With the money he bought some food or clothes, but always kept enough to buy more wood.

Well, as Benjamin grew, so did his talent. As a young man he started to build furniture. Most people in his village could only afford a table or a chair. But whatever his job, he always did his best. The people were very happy and paid Benjamin well for his work. Word spread and soon he had orders for his carved furniture from many different towns.

Yes, it’s true. Benjamin did well in his business, but he never seemed to have enough money to set aside for his dream. And his dream was this. He wanted to carve a bed, a bed fit for a king. He wanted to order the finest mahogany wood and inlay it with ebony and ivory. Such a beautiful bed! He could see that bed in his mind’s eye. But everytime he put some money aside something always happened to take it away. 

Benjamin was what nowadays we call…an easy touch. Whenever anyone needed anything they came to Benjamin. “Oh Benjamin, did you hear? There was a terrible fire and the family across town lost their home. Can you help?” Oh Benjamin, my child is so ill. She needs special medicine, can you help?” And if Benjamin saw children homeless and cold, he gave them enough money to buy some food. Benjamin was so generous he never had any money left over.

And so it went for many, many years. Benjamin working…but never saving any money for his dream. Years passed and Benjamin was becoming an old man. He was beginning to believe that his dream would never come true. Then, one year, miracles upon miracles, Benjamin did have enough money to purchase everything he needed. Unfortunately, Benjamin did not live by the sea. It would be a 3-day journey by foot to the nearest seaport. But, now Benjamin, more than ever, wanted to fulfill his dream. So, he prepared for his journey. He got himself a donkey and built a fine, strong cart. He would need that cart so he’d have a place to put the precious wood he bought. He put his silver pieces in a bag hidden under his cloak and headed out towards the sea.

Benjamin walked on and on. It was even longer than he thought because the cart and donkey slowed him down. He was almost to the gates of the seaport village when some Roman soldiers stopped him. “Where are you going?” they demanded.“Well, I’m on my way to the seaport to buy some wood,” said Benjamin.
“Where are you from and where was your family from?” they asked.Benjamin thought these questions were rather odd, but he knew he should answer their questions or they would probably throw him in prison.

“Well, now I live in a little town 30 miles to the east. But I was orphaned at an early age. My father was originally from Bethlehem.”
“Then you must go to Bethlehem immediately!”
“Why, why do you say that I must go to Bethlehem?”
“Because the emperor has declared that there be a census taken. Every Jew must return to the home of his ancestors.”
“But I have come such a long way. Bethlehem is in a totally different direction. Couldn’t you please let me settle my business here and then I will go.”

But the soldiers would hear none of it. “Oh, you people are all alike. Always coming up with some kind of excuse. You must go and you must go now!” 

Benjamin knew there was no use in arguing. Besides he’d heard terrible stories about men being thrown in prison and never being heard from again.  So, he turned himself and his cart in the direction of Bethlehem and continued his journey.

As he walked along he noticed many others were also traveling to the homes of their fathers. It seemed, at times, that the whole world was traveling. He knew that his hardship was nothing compared to others.

Once he met a small family. They were traveling with nothing to eat and no money. So, he dug out a few of his silver coins and purchased some food for them. Then someone needed to buy medicine more silver coins. He even gave away his donkey and cart to a woman who could no longer walk. Bit by bit his silver pieces dwindled and his dream of building that bed became dimmer and dimmer.

Finally, he arrived at Bethlehem. He had just a couple pieces of silver left. He wasn’t worried, because he brought his tools with him. And if necessary, he would work for food and a place to stay. He went to an inn to see if there was any room. The innkeeper said, “All the rooms are filled. I have a closet where you could put down a pallet, but that is all.” He said he could stay, but he would have to do some odd jobs to earn his keep. “The animals out in the back are all over the place. The goats are with the cows and cows are scaring the sheep. I need someone to build stalls and feeding troughs for them. Can you do this?” Benjamin readily agreed.

Benjamin began his work with his usual vigor. He even talked to the animals while he worked. “Yes, this new stall is for you. Now, you can leave those poor sheep alone.” “Look, what I made for you. This is much better than eating off the ground.”

Finally he was down to his last pieces of wood and decided to do something extra special. He put the pieces together and even carved little animals on it. “I hope you appreciate all the work I do for you,” Benjamin laughed. 

He was just putting away his tools when the innkeeper appeared at the stable door followed by a man and a young woman. “Benjamin, let me introduce you to Joseph and his wife Mary. I had no room at the inn, but I told them they could stay here, if they liked. At least it should be warm enough with all these animals.”

Benjamin nodded his head and said, “I see you too have come a great way. I hope you are comfortable here.” Joseph looked around at Benjamin’s handiwork. “Benjamin, I see that you too are a carpenter. You have the hands of a carpenter and it shows in your work. I think Mary and I will be quite comfortable. Thank you.”

But, when Benjamin helped Mary down from her donkey, he noticed she was great with child and that they didn’t have any blankets with them. He quickly excused himself and made his way to the plaza on the other side of town where he found a woman selling blankets. She was in no mood to bargain and made him pay his last silver piece. It was dark now, but strangely enough he had no trouble seeing for there was a strange star overhead. It lit his way as he made his way back across town to the inn.

By the time he got back to the stable, he noticed that there were some shady looking men lurking about. He was sure they were going to hurt the young couple. But when he got close, he saw that they were shepherds and that were standing in awe and on bended knee. Then he saw what they saw – a beautiful baby boy was lying in the manger that he had just finished. He was wrapped only in swaddling clothes. He went over and placed the blanket on top of the child.

As he did Joseph placed his hand on Benjamin’s shoulder and said, “Benjamin, you have truly made…a bed fit for a king.”
•••••
Contributed by
Marilyn A. Kinsella, Taleypo the Storyteller
Fairview Heights, IL
Storyteller, Writer, Puppeteer, and Workshop Presenter
http://www.marilynkinsella.org

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47) This Little Light of Mine
                                     
[by
Marilyn Kinsella (November 2003).]

Story:

Everyone in heaven was busy. The Prince of Peace was soon to be born. The angels, every one of them, had jobs to do. The Cherubim and Seraphim were busy decorating the heavenly throne with holly and ivy. The archangels were passing messages back and forth from heaven to the people on the Earth. And the other angels, the Principalities, Virtues and the Dominions, were arranging and rearranging the stars. The only thing left to do was to place the Star of Bethlehem in the night sky on the holiest of nights. – the star that would lead the shepherds and the wise men to the Baby Jesus. But whom would the Heavenly Father pick? Everyone had worked so hard. It was not going to be an easy decision.

Finally, the Heavenly Father had an idea. He came out with a proclamation: “Whoever can fill the stable in Bethlehem where my son is soon to be born, will be the one to light the Star of Bethlehem.”

Angels tried and tried to figure out the answer for they wanted to be the one to light the star. One angel thought straw could fill the stable. So he prepared for his journey. As he headed down to the stable, a little baby star appeared way up high in the night sky. “Take me, Take me!” (done as participation) 

“Oh, I’m much too busy,” said the angel and he kept flying down to the stable. He gathered haystacks and bales of straw. But no matter how much straw he put in the stable, it wasn’t enough.

Another angel – a beautiful angel, thought she knew the answer - feathers!. She prepared for her journey, but when she started on her journey, the baby star cried out once again, “Take me, Take me!”

But the angel just shrugged her shoulders and said, “Sorry, no time, and you are too far away.” She flew down to the stable and gathered sacks and sacks filled with feathers – goose feather, duck feathers – feathers from every bird imaginable, but, no matter how many feathers she put in the stable, it was never full.

One angel after another went down to the stable. All the angels thought they had the best idea. Each time that baby star cried out “Take me, take me!”  But no one would stop for such a small, insignificant star.

Finally, a very little angel decided he wanted to go to the stable and fill it. The other angels just looked at one another and shook their heads. I mean, what could this angel think of that hadn’t been tried before.

And, if truth be known, the little angel had absolutely no idea of how to fill the stable. But, he did want to see where the Baby Jesus was to be born. So he prepared for his flight. And, like all the other angels the little star asked him, “Take me, take me!.” 

The little angel looked and saw the teeny-tiny light barely twinkling in a sky filled with bright stars. “Sure, you can come with me. We can keep each other company.”  He flew up and plucked the star out of the blue velvet sky and they traveled down, down, down to the earth.

They found the stable where the Baby Jesus was to be born, but it was so dark! How would Mary and Joseph see anything? The little angel came inside and hung the baby star from the rafters. And now the stable was no longer dark, for the light from that teeny-tiny star filled the whole inside of that stable.

When Mary and Joseph came that night they could see perfectly fine with that teeny-tiny light . The angles came and their voices filled the stable with a heavenly sound. And, later that night, when the Baby Jesus was born, he held out his arms to the world filling that stable with love.

The little angel smiled and said, “The stable below is filled with light and music, but most of all it is filled with love.”

When the little angel returned to the heavens, he hung the baby star high up in the sky. Then he went to see the Heavenly Father. He smiled when he saw what the little had done. “Little Angel, you filled the stable with light. And now that same light will shine down from the heavens. Look and see the star you hung in the heavens.” When the little angel looked he couldn’t believe his eyes for now the baby star had grown and grown to a great light – the Star of Bethlehem. The shepherds and the wise men could find their way to a stable filled with love.. 

Even to this day, if you take one little candle into a dark room, you too can fill it with light. All it takes is one little light, a little light that we all hold in our hearts.
•••••
Contributed by
Marilyn A. Kinsella, Taleypo the Storyteller
Fairview Heights, IL
Storyteller, Writer, Puppeteer, and Workshop Presenter
http://www.marilynkinsella.org

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48) The Stolen Baby Jesus
Bones:

There is a story about the minister who, preparing for service Christmas Day, was checking the church for programs, papers, and so forth that might have been left behind at midnight service the night before. As he strolled along, checking under pews and along the aisle, he came to the Nativity Scene. They were lovely figures, carved years ago by one of the parishioners. His eyes fell on the sheep, the shepherds, the wise men, Joseph, and Mary. Then he looked at the manger. He froze. The manger was empty. The baby Jesus was gone.

The minister looked all around: under, over, behind. But no baby Jesus.

When the service began, he was rather distraught. He mentioned the missing figure in his service and asked that whomever might know something please see that it was returned. There was no response except puzzlement from his flock.

Later that morning, the minister was walking in the neighborhood, wishing Merry Christmas to friends and neighbors. He noticed a little boy ahead of him on the sidewalk, pulling a shiny new red wagon. It was Danny Beals, a child with whom the minister was somewhat acquainted. The minister was glad to see that Danny had received such a nice Christmas gift. He knew the family through the church as was aware they were having a tough time financially.

The minister caught up with the little boy and began to praise the shiny new wagon. Then he looked at what the boy was hauling. Pulling aside a tattered blanket he uncovered the figure of baby Jesus. The minister began to berate the boy, telling him that it was wrong to take things, that that was called stealing, and Jesus would not be pleased. He went on in this manner for some time, bringing tears to Danny's eyes.

Finally, the boy spoke up. "But I didn't steal him! I didn't! I prayed and prayed that I'd get me this wagon, and I told Baby Jesus that, if I did, He'd get the first ride."
•••••
Contributed by
Pat Nease
http://www.patnease.com/

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49) Teach the Children
[anthor unknown]


Story:

Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired, but content, into my easy chair. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with its decorations, I couldn't help feeling that something important was missing. It wasn't long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep. I don't know how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn't alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus, himself, standing next to my Christmas tree.

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the "jolly old elf" of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed. And there were tears in his eyes.

"Santa, what's wrong?" I asked, "Why are you crying?"
"It's the children," Santa replied sadly.
"But Santa, the children love you," I said.

"Oh, I know they love me, and they love the gifts I bring them," Santa said, "but the children of today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It's not their fault. It's just that the adults, many of them not having been taught themselves, have forgotten to teach the children."

"Teach them what?" I asked.

Santa's kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. "Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that the part of Christmas we can see, hear, and touch is much more than meets the eye. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas which we now observe. Teach them what it is they truly represent."

Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle.

"Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind's thoughts should turn heavenward as well."

Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. "The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men still seek Him."

"Red," said Santa, "is the first color of Christmas."

He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. “Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God's greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave his life and shed his blood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful gift."

Santa found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. "Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep."

Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its one tiny flame brightened the room.

"The glow of the candle represents how people can show their thanks for the gift of God's son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ's footsteps...to go about doing good. Teach them to let their light shine before people that all may see it and glorify God. This is what's symbolized when the twinkle lights shine on the tree like hundreds of bright shining lights, each of them representing one of God's precious children's light shining for all to see."

Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. "The candy cane is a stick of hard white candy. White to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the church, and the firmness of God's promises. The candy cane forms a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth. It also represents the Good Shepherd's crook, which He uses to reach down into all ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The original candy cane had three small red stripes, which are the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and a large red stripe that represents the shed blood of Jesus, so that we can have the promise of eternal life. Teach these things to the children."

Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery tied with a bright red bow. "The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of good will towards all and its color reminds us of Christ's sacrifice. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ's love. It is a circle, without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children."

I asked, "But where does that leave you Santa?"

The tears gone now from his eyes, a smile broke over Santa's face.

"Why bless you, my dear," he laughed, "I'm only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I'll ever be forgotten."

"I think I'm beginning to understand."

"That's why I came," said Santa. "You're an adult. If you don't teach the children these things, then who will?"
•••••
Contributed by
Dale W. Pepin
STORY SOCKS
dalejeannine.pepin@sympatico.ca
http://www.storysocks.com

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50) Barrington Bunny
[Source: Bell, Martin, Way of the Wolf, 1968., pp. 11-19.]
Bones:

Barrington, a brown bunny with one lop-ear is only bunny in the forest. Very furry and warm. Can hop and make tracks in the snow. Doesn’t want to be home alone on Christmas Eve. All other animals with their families. Hops in clearing, admires designs he makes Tells himself bunnies can hop and are furry and warm.

Starts home when snow begins. Hears squirrels. Asks if they are having party. Can he come? Squirrels welcome him if he can climb up and join them. Barrington looks up at them, shakes his head, then wishes them Merry Christmas from below. Hears beavers. Asks to come to their party. Beaver asks if he can swim. No, but furry and warm. Sorry, can't come if you can't swim. Barrington goes on. Hears field mice. Asks to come to their party. Wind howling. They don't hear him.

Barrington sits in snow. Cries till no more tears, then sits chewing little bunny foot. Silver Wolf appears. Asks Barrington why he’s sitting in snow. "It's Christmas Eve, I'm all alone, and bunnies are no good for anything."

Wolf tells Barrington bunnies are furry and warm, and they can hop.Those are free gifts with no strings attached. But no one is given a gift without a reason. Someday you’ll know why you have this gift. Barrington again says he has no family. Wolf tells Barrington that all the animals in the forest are his family. Wolf disappears.

Barrington decides to take gifts to his family. Digs under snow by squirrels’ tree. Leaves pile of leaves and grass to make squirrels' nest warmer; attaches note: “A gift. A free gift from a member of your family.” Finds best stick he can, leaves it for the beavers with note. “ Here’s a stick for your house. A gift, no strings attached. From a member of your family.”

Blizzard going on now. Barrington hurries toward home. Hears baby field mouse crying in snow. Wraps himself around baby mouse. All night he tells himself, "Bunnies are very furry and warm. That is a gift. No one is given a gift without a reason." And, "All the animals of the forest are my family."

Field mice find their lost baby alive and well under the carcass of dead brown bunny in the morning. No one sees the great Silver Wolf come and stand vigil next to Barrington's brown, lop-eared carcass. But the Wolf did come. It kept vigil all Christmas day before disappearing into the forest.
•••••
Contributed by:
Yvonne Young, Eugene, OR
Teller of Truth Tales
yey@efn.org

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51) The Nosy Little Star
[by Daddy John (Fussner; Mary Garrett's dad)

Story:

Once upon a long, long time ago, there was a bright little star. He lived way, way up in the sky, high above the church steeple. Little Star was notonly bright, he was also a nosy little star, and whenever he noticed anything at all that was strange, he just had to get closer to have a look.

One night he almost bumped into the moon trying to get a better look at the mountains. Boy oh boy, did the man in the moon tell him off! A few nights later, Little Star wanted to see what was in the Big Dipper and almost fell in. Soon after that, he got lost in the Milky Way and was a week getting out. No, he wasn’t a mean little star; he was just a nosy little star.

One night, long about the middle of winter, he noticed something different about the earth. Wondering what it was, Little Star moved closer and closer, until at last he was sitting on a telephone pole up at the corner. He looked up and down both streets and saw lots and lots of pretty lights on the houses, on the trees in the yards, and, believe it or not, he saw trees inside the houses. All of the outside trees were pretty and covered with colored lights, but the ones inside the houses were prettier than all the rest.

Little Star sat there on the telephone pole, looking and looking. Suddenly he heard something way up in the sky. Looking up, he saw a fat little man dressed in a red suit, riding in a sled pulled by eight little reindeer with bells on their harnesses. Who do you think it was? The sled came closer and closer, and lower and lower until it stopped on the roof of a house not too far from where Little Star was sitting. The little man, whom we call Santa, got out of his sled and put his pack on his back. “Zoom!” down the chimney he went.

Little Star could tell something was going on around the pretty little tree inside the house. He was much too far away to see what, so he moved closer; first to a tree out front, then to the porch, a short hop to the window sill, and there he was.

Santa was very busy putting gifts around the Christmas tree, toys for the children, and pretty packages for all. Suddenly he noticed the light from the star. Looking up, he saw the little star. Santa quickly opened the door, went out, picked up Little Star, and looked him over. Going back inside, he put Little Star under the Christmas tree. He had already put a nice little angel on the top. “Now,” said Santa, “you look really nice sitting there, and you will be really close, so you can see everything that happens in the morning. You be sure and watch the little ones. Tomorrow is their day.”

With that, Santa turned to leave, saying as he did so, “You would look much prettier if you would turn around and around while sitting there.” Zoom, he was gone.

One thing Little Star didn’t know, which way was he to turn, clockwise or counter-clockwise? Oh well, he was a star with eight points; so he made four go one way and four go the other way.

All of you know about the happy children he will see on Christmas morning. Who knows? Maybe he will be under your tree.
•••••
Contributed by
Mary Garrett
http://www.storytellermary.com/Garrett/Welcome.html

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52) Why the Chimes Rang or Why The Bells Chimed
by Raymond MacDonald Alden 1906
[Collected by Sandy Pomerantz. Full text at:
http://members.tripod.com/~wackyanne/library/xlwhybel.htm
or
http://209.10.143.157/holidays/xmas/7.htm ]

Bones:

In a far away county there was a magnificent church. There was a great gray tower at one corner of the building wherein there was a chime of Christmas bells that had hung there since the church had been built. Anyone who had ever heard them agreed that they were the sweetest in the world.

It was the custom for all the people to bring offerings to the Christ child on Christmas Eve. Supposedly, when folks brought the greatest and best offerings, those chimes would sound far up in the tower. Some said the wind rang them and others said it was angels ringing them. However, no one had heard them ring in years. Every Christmas Eve the rich people still crowded to the altar, each one trying to bring some gift better than any other, without giving anything that he wanted for himself, hoping that the chimes would ring out again. The service was splended and the offerings plenty, but only the roar of the wind was heard far up in the tower.

In a nearby village lived a boy named Pedro and his little brother. They had heard of the Christmas Eve church service but little of the chimes and decided to go see the beautiful celebration. The day before Christmas was bitterly cold and snowing. The two boys slipped quietly away early in the afternoon and by nightfall they had trudged as far as the city gates in the surrounding wall when they saw something dark in the snow near their path and stopped to investigate it.

It was a poor woman who had fallen, too sick and tired to get in to shelter. Soon she would sleep forever. Pedro saw this immediately and tried to rouse her and rubbed her face with snow He told Little Brother that he’d have to go on alone. He would stay and rub her to keep her from freezing until his brother could get to the church and see the service for them both, then bring back some help. He also asked Little Brother to slip up to the altar and lay down his little piece of silver as an offering when no one was looking. As his brother hurried off, Pedro winked back the tears of disappointment at missing the celebration he had been planning to see for so long.

The service was beautiful and at its close, rich and great men laid their gifts to the Christ child on the altar. Some brought jewels, some baskets of gold. A great writer laid down a book he had been making for years. Lastly, the king of the country laid down his royal crown set with precious stones, causing a murmur to go through the church. All were sure they would hear the bells now, but they only heard the cold cold wind, and many doubted if the chimes had ever rung at all.

Suddenly the organist stopped playing as he saw the minister who was standing by the altar, holding up his hand for silence. As everyone strained to listen, there came softly, but distinctly, the sound of the chimes in the tower, sweeter than anything they had ever heard before. Everyone stood up and stared at the altar to see what gift had awakened the long-silent bells.

But all they saw was the childish figure of Little Brother who had crept to the altar when no one was looking, and had laid Pedro’s little piece of silver there.
•••••
Contributed by the late
Sandy Pomerantz

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53) Jesus Ahatonia or 'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime or The Huron Carol

[This carol was written about 1643 by Father Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary, to explain the story of the nativity to the native people of Central Ontario. (If you look at a map of the Great Lakes you'll see Georgian Bay on the east side of Lake Huron. The area is on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay.) It was translated into English in 1926 by a man named J. Edgar Middleton.]

’Twas in the moon of wintertime,
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wondering hunters heard the hymn:RefrainJesus your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapped His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high:RefrainThe earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on
The helpless Infant there.
The chiefs from far before Him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.RefrainO children of the forest free,
O seed of Manitou,
The holy Child of earth and Heav’n
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy,
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.Refrain
•••••
Contributed by
Dale W. Pepin
STORY SOCKS
dalejeannine.pepin@sympatico.ca
http://www.storysocks.com

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54) A Chaparral Christmas Gift
[by O Henry]

Excerpt:

The original cause of the trouble was about twenty years in growing.

At the end of that time it was worth it.Had you lived anywhere within fifty miles of Sun- down Ranch you would have heard of it. It possessed a quantity of jet-black hair, a pair of extremely frank, deep-brown eyes and a laugh that rippled across the prairie like the sound of a hidden brook. The name of it was Rosita McMullen; and she was the daughter of old man McMullen of the Sundown Sheep Ranch.There came riding on red roan steeds -- or, to be more explicit, on a paint and a flea-bitten sorrel -- two wooers. One was Madison Lane, and the other was the Frio Kid, But at that time they did not call him the Frio Kid, for he had not earned the honours of special nomenclature- His name was simply Johnny McRoy.It must not be supposed that these two were the sum of the agreeable Rosita's admirers. The bronchos of a dozen others champed their bits at the long hitching rack of the Sundown Ranch. Many were the sheeps'- eves that were cast in those savannas that did not belong. to the flocks of Dan McMullen. But of all the cavaliers, Madison Lane and Johnny MeRoy galloped far ahead, wherefore they are to be chronicled.Madison Lane, a young cattleman from the Nueces country, won the race. He and Rosita were married one Christmas day. Armed, hilarious, vociferous, mag- nanimous, the cowmen and the sheepmen, laying aside their hereditary hatred, joined forces to celebrate the occasion.Sundown Ranch was sonorous with the cracking of jokes and sixshooters, the shine of buckles and bright eyes, the outspoken congratulations of the herders of kine.But while the wedding feast was at its liveliest there descended upon it Johnny MeRoy, bitten by jealousy, like one possessed."I'll give you a Christmas present," he yelled, shrilly, at the door, with his .45 in his hand. Even then he had some reputation as an offhand shot....
•••••
The rest of the story may be found at:
http://www.classicreader.com/read.php/sid.6/bookid.1277/

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55) A Christmas Dinner Won in Battle
[
by Stephen Crane, 1895]
Excerpt:
Tom had set up a plumbing shop in the prairie town of Levelville as soon as the people learned to care more about sanitary conditions than they did about the brand of tobacco smoked by the inhabitants of Mars. Nevertheless he was a wise young man for he was only one week ahead of the surveyors. A railroad, like a magic wand, was going to touch Levelville and change it to a great city. In an incredibly short time, the town had a hotel, a mayor, a board of aldermen, and more than a hundred real estate agents, besides a blue print of the plans for a street railway three miles long. When the cowboys rode in with their customary noise to celebrate the fact that they had been paid, their efforts were discouraged by new policemen in uniform. Levelville had become a dignified city. As the town expanded in marvelous circles out over the prairies, Tom bestrode the froth of the wave of progress. He was soon one of the first citizens. These waves carry men to fortune with sudden sweeping movements, and Tom had the courage, the temerity and the assurance to hold his seat like a knight errant. In the democratic and genial atmosphere of this primary boom, he became an intimate acquaintance of Colonel Fortman, the president of the railroad, and with more courage, temerity and assurance, had already fallen violently in love with his daughter, the incomparable Mildred. He carried his intimacy with the colonel so far as to once save his life from the flying might of the 5:30 express. It seems that the colonel had ordered the engineer of the 5:30 to make his time under all circumstances; to make his time if he had to run through fire, flood and earthquake. The engineer decided that the usual rule relating to the speed of trains when passing through freight yards could not concern an express that was ordered to slow down for nothing but the wrath of heaven and in consequence, at the time of this incident, the 5:30 was shrieking through the Levelville freight yard at fifty miles an hour, roaring over the switches and screaming along the lines of box cars. The colonel and Tom were coming from the shops. They had just rounded the corner of a car and stepped out upon the main track when this whirring, boiling, howling demon of an express came down upon them. Tom had an instant in which to drag his companion off the rails; the train whistled past them like an enormous projectile. "Damn that fellow--he's making his time," panted the old colonel gazing after the long speeding shadow with its two green lights. Later he said very soberly: "I'm much obliged to you for that, Tom old boy." When Tom went to him a year later, however, to ask for the hand of Mildred, the colonel replied: "My dear man, I think you are insane. Mildred will have over a million dollars at my death, and while I don't mean to push the money part of it too far forward, yet Mildred with her beauty, her family name and her wealth, can marry the finest in the land. There isn't anyone too great for her. So you see, my dear man, it is impossible that she could consider you for a moment." Whereupon Tom lost his temper. He had the indignation of a good, sound-minded, fearless-eyed young fellow who is assured of his love and assured almost of the love of the girl. Moreover, it filled him with unspeakable rage to be called "My dear man." They then accused each other of motives of which neither was guilty, and Tom went away. It was a serious quarrel. The colonel told Tom never to dare to cross his threshold. They passed each other on the street without a wink of an eye to disclose the fact that one knew that the other existed. As time went on the colonel became more massively aristocratic and more impenetrably stern. Levelville had developed about five grades of society, and the Fortmans mingled warily with the dozen families that formed the highest and iciest grades. Once when the colonel and Mildred were driving through town, the girl bowed to a young man who passed them. "Who the deuce was that?" said the colonel airily. "Seems to me I ought to know that fellow." "That's the man that saved your life from the 5:30," replied Mildred. "See here, young lady," cried the colonel angrily, "don't you take his part against me." About a year later...
•••••
The rest of the story may be found at
http://members.tripod.com/~wackyanne/library/xlbattle.htm

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56) 389 Links to Christmas Stories
[This is an extensive index of links to Christmas stories on the web. You can also use the Christmas Story & Poem Search box at the top of every page to search by title or author.]

Partial Index:

A Birthday Affair
by Edward J. Igoe [ find more from this author ]
* A Blue Christmas
by Debbie Williamson [ find more from this author ]
* A Chaparral Christmas Gift
by O Henry [ find more from this author ]
* A Child's Christmas in Wales
by Dylan Thomas [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Collage
by Kathryn Hern [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Dinner Won in Battle
by Stephen Crane [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Gift for Kathryn
by Chip Ciammaichella [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Miracle
by Joan Woodcock [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Miracle
by Bernard Howe [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Past Comes Home
by Alison Dubois [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Sermon
by Robert Louis Stevenson [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Sight
by Kimberly Ripley [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Story
by Peter McFadden [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Tree
by Charles Dickens [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas Tree for Santa
by Chip Ciammaichella [ find more from this author ]
* A Christmas When Life Overshadowed Death
by Theresa M. Danna [ find more from this author ]
* A Cop's Christmas
by Chip Ciammaichella [ find more from this author ]
* A Different Kind of Christmas
by Lael J. Littke [ find more from this author ]
* A Difficult Christmas
by Kenneth L. Pierpont [ find more from this author ]
A Gift for Santa
by Sharyn Ekbergh [ find more from this author ]
* A Gift from a Two Year-Old
by Patricia Bhatia [ find more from this author ]
* A Halfway-Decent Thank You Note
by Tom Panarese [ find more from this author ]
* A Kidnapped Santa Claus
by L Frank Baum [ find more from this author ]
* A Letter From Santa Claus
by Mark Twain [ find more from this author ]
* A Little Women Christmas
by Louisa May Alcott [ find more from this author ]
* A Load Of Coal
by H.N. Cook [ find more from this author ]
* A Long Christmas Night
by Grant Walker [ find more from this author ]
* A Merry Prankster
by BTMS/BMI [ find more from this author ]
* A Military Family's First Christmas
by Gina Toro [ find more from this author ]
* A Rustic Cabin in the Woods
by Norma Liles [ find more from this author ]
* A String of Blue Beads
by Fulton Oursler [ find more from this author ]
* A Touch of Realism
by H. H. (Saki) Munro [ find more from this author ]
* A Whale of a Christmas
by BMTS/BMI [ find more from this author ]
* Absulum the Reindeer Elf
by Duncan Wells [ find more from this author ]
* Alex's Special Christmas Angel
by Marion Smith [ find more from this author ]
* All I Want for Christmas
by Roger Kiser, Sr. [ find more from this author ]
* Amanda
by Hollee Chadwick [ find more from this author ]
* An Elf's Thoughts
by Robert Whitsitt [ find more from this author ]
* An Expression of Christmas
by Dee Ann Ludwig [ find more from this author ]
•••••
Full-text stories available at:
http://www.christmas-stories.com/christmas-stories.php?BRSR=0

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57) Hundreds of Links to Christmas Stories, Poems , Activities, Traditions, History
http://www.virtualquincy.com/quincy/holiday/xmas.html

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58) Tall Tales & Mountain Musings

[Beloved, KY
Stories, musings, meanderings and outright inventions of the imagination will be found nestled up to warm and sometimes bittersweet memories of eastern Kentucky, the Appalachian mountains and the wonderful, amazing folks who live there. Stop on in and visit with award winning poet, writer and storyteller, Stephen Hollen]

Christmas in the Holler
[This is a revisit and expansion of one of may favorite stories about Uncle Billy Gilbert. Uncle Billy is one of my favorite characters to write about and the flavor of this piece is much like the hills and hollers I love.]
Excerpt:
Christmas Eve Service was always wonderful at the Booger Holler Holiness Church. Sister Hazel Budder, the wife of Pastor Budder was in charge of the choir and they had practiced since summer on the songs they sang on Christmas Eve. The Church was decorated just right and aromatic cedar trees were trimmed and lighted to get everyone in the mood. Sister Hazel was still floatin’ on Cloud Nine after the 13th Annual Watermelon Chorus. That there is a community event that happened accidental like when sister Hazel planned for a community choir to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” for all the folks of Beloved, Kentucky. Back then she had recruited 81 folks to sing with the 19 men an’ women in the community who could really read music. Since she was in a hurry to recruit them, Sister Hazel had told them they didn’t need to learn the words, only mouth the word “watermelon” over an’ over as the real singers sang. After all, they was just to fill out the choir loft. Problem was that all 19 of the “real singers” got the flu passed around at the last practice before the community event. Only the singers who mouthed the word “watermelon” showed up an’ when the music started they decided to give it their best. The sang “Watermelon” over an’ over in four part harmony as the piano player an’ organist played on. Sister Hazel was mortified that night, but folks in Beloved didn’t know any better an’ gave her a standin’ oration! Since there was so much talk about the Watermelon Chorus all the next year, Sister Hazel Budder swallowed her pride an’ taught all the folks how to sing the word “watermelon” to the tune of the “Hallelujah Chorus”. It has become an institution in the hills of eastern Kentucky with folks comin’ from as far as one hundred miles away to see it performed...
(rest of story continued at the link below)
•••••
The rest of the story is available at:
http://mountainstories.easyjournal.com/

Contributed by
Stephen Hollen
http://www.stephenhollen.com/

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59) A Christmas Surprise — a cut and tell story
[I finally had a chance to look for the source of this Christmas story. My version is a good bit different from the original story, but for the sake of accuracy here's the source: Paper-Cutting Stories for Holidays and Special Events by Valerie Marsh, Alleyside Press, 1994.
ISBN 0-917846-42-7.]

Bones:

Take a piece of green paper, and fold it in half lengthwise. On the inside of one half, draw half of a Christmas tree. Decorate both halves of the tree--you can guess about where the second half is---with glued-on sequins, etc. Re-fold the paper so the tree and decorations are inside. When you draw the tree, press hard enough so you can see the outline of the tree on the outside of the paper.

Story:

A little boy wanted to get a gift for his family, but didn't have any money. The family went out and he went for a walk. (Make a cut for the tree's trunk, cutting through both halves of the folded paper.) He walked into the woods (make a cut for the bottom branch of the tree) and there he saw it--the perfect Christmas tree! That would be his gift to his family! He ran back home (make the cut back towards the "trunk" of the tree) and got an axe. Then ran back to the tree (cut for next branch). Then thought I could dig it up and then we could replant it. Ran back home for a shovel. (Cut back to trunk). Got the shovel, ran back to tree (another branch cut). Realized he needed a wheelbarrow to haul the tree, so ran back home (cut back to trunk). Got the wheelbarrow, ran back. (another branch cut). Dug up the tree and hauled it home. (back to trunk). When he got home he carried the tree right to the center of the living room and set it up. (Make the last cut to make the tip of the tree). He decorated it and waited for his family. And when they walked in he cried out "Surprise" and there was the beautiful tree, all decorated. (Open the paper to show the tree).
•••••
Contributed by
Contributed by
Granny Sue
Susanna Holstein
http://grannysue.blogspot.com/
susannaholstein@yahoo.com

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60) The Gingerbread Man at the North Pole

[Here's a fun, quickie preschool story to learn. Children love this take off on a favorite and, of course, love the
repetition.]

Bones:

Santa and Mrs Claus are lonely for some company other than the elves and reindeer - so Mrs Claus cooks up a Gingerbread Man (can have the children pretend as they put in ingredients in bowl, mix , cut out & bake). Gingerbread Man run out the door... "Run, run as fast as you can...you can't catch me, I am the Gingerbread Man. (refrain) He passes the elves at the workshop while they are outside on their coffee break and of course they are tired and hungry. They shout ..."Stop Gingerbread Man, Stop". Gingerbread Man says..."I've run away from an old woman and a jolly old man...I can run away from you, yes I can.- sing refrain. Adding on as you go....Gingerbread Man passes barn with all the reindeer and a polar bear. He circles back and jumps on a sleigh and ends us with Santa as he delivers gifts to children around the world. At one stop he's in the bag and sneak into someones home where he's "safe" and hides behind some gifts under the tree. In the morning he is discovered by the family.
[You can end by them eating him or saving him to keep as a decoration on the mantel each year or adopting him as you like.]

•••••
Contributed by
Beverly Comer
storygarden@columbus.rr.com

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61) A Gift from Saint Nicholas
[Retold by S. E. Schlosser]
Excerpt:
Claas Schlaschenschlinger was a wealthy cobbler living on New Street in New Amsterdam. He was a contented bachelor who could afford eight - eight mind you! - pairs of breeches and he had a little side business selling geese. He cut quite a figure in New Amsterdam society, and was happy being single, until he met the fair Anitje! She was as pretty as a picture, and Claas fell head over heels for her. He was not her only suitor, by any means. The local burgomaster was also courting the fair Anitje. But the burgomaster was a stingy, hard man, and in the end, Anitje gave her heart and hand to Claas.

At first, Claas and Anitje were very happy and prosperous, raising geese and children. But the burgomaster was a vengeful sort of fellow, who began a series of "improvements" to the local neighborhood, charging highly for each one, until all their money was gone. The arrival of a blacksmith who repaired shoes with hob nails, so that the shoes lasted a year or more, left Claas, Anitje and their six children as poor as church mice.

Christmas Eve found the Schlaschenschlinger family down to their last, cold meal of bread and cheese. Claas was wondering what he had left to sell, in order to feed his family. Then he remembered a fine pipe that he had found in one of his stockings on a long ago Christmas morning in Holland. It was a fine pipe, too good for a mere cobbler.
Claas knew even then that such a gift could only be from Saint Nicholas himself.

Claas leapt up and went to dig through an old chest until he found the pipe. As he unearthed it from under a pile of clothes, a draft of cold air came from the open front door. Claas scolded his children for playing with the door and went to close it, but found the doorway filled by the merry, round figure of a stranger...
•••••
[Story continues at the link below...]
http://www.americanfolklore.net/folktales/ny2.html
More information about Saint Nicholas:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas
http://frpat.com/nicholas.htm
http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/newsletter/christmas/nick.html
http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=23
http://www.christmas.com/pe/1375

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62) A Kidnapped Santa Claus
by L. Frank Baum
Excerpt:
Santa Claus lives in the Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies, live with him, and every one is as busy as can be from one year's end to another.

It is called the Laughing Valley because everything there is happy and gay. The brook chuckles to itself as it leaps rollicking between its green banks; the wind whistles merrily in the trees; the sunbeams dance lightly over the soft grass, and the violets and wild flowers look smilingly up from their green nests. To laugh one needs to be happy; to be happy one needs to be content. And throughout the Laughing Valley of Santa Claus contentment reigns supreme.

On one side is the mighty Forest of Burzee. At the other side stands the huge mountain that contains the Caves of the Daemons. And between them the Valley lies smiling and peaceful.

One would think that our good old Santa Claus, who devotes his days to making children happy, would have no enemies on all the earth; and, as a matter of fact, for a long period of time he encountered nothing but love wherever he might go.

But the Daemons who live in the mountain caves grew to hate Santa Claus very much, and all for the simple reason that he made children happy.

The Caves of the Daemons are five in number. A broad pathway leads up to the first cave, which is a finely arched cavern at the foot of the mountain, the entrance being beautifully carved and decorated. In it resides the Daemon of Selfishness. Back of this is another cavern inhabited by the Daemon of Envy. The cave of the Daemon of Hatred is next in order, and through this one passes to the home of the Daemon of Malice--situated in a dark and fearful cave in the very heart of the mountain. I do not know what lies beyond this. Some say there are terrible pitfalls leading to death and destruction, and this may very well be true. However, from each one of the four caves mentioned there is a small, narrow tunnel leading to the fifth cave--a cozy little room occupied by the Daemon of Repentance. And as the rocky floors of these passages are well worn by the track of passing feet, I judge that many wanderers in the Caves of the Daemons have escaped through the tunnels to the abode of the Daemon of Repentance, who is said to be a pleasant sort of fellow who gladly opens for one a little door admitting you into fresh air and sunshine again. Well, these Daemons of the Caves, thinking they had great cause to dislike old Santa Claus, held a meeting one day to discuss the matter. "I'm really getting lonesome," said the Daemon of Selfishness. "For Santa Claus distributes so many pretty Christmas gifts to all the children that they become happy and generous, through his example, and keep away from my cave." "I'm having the same trouble," rejoined the Daemon of Envy. "The little ones seem quite content with Santa Claus, and there are few, indeed, that I can coax to become envious." "And that makes it bad for me!" declared the Daemon of Hatred. "For if no children pass through the Caves of Selfishness and Envy, none can get to MY cavern." "Or to mine," added the Daemon of Malice. "For my part," said the Daemon of Repentance, "it is easily seen that if children do not visit your caves they have no need to visit mine; so that I am quite as neglected as you are." "And all because of this person they call Santa Claus!" exclaimed the Daemon of Envy. "He is simply ruining our business, and something must be done at once." To this they readily agreed; but what to do was another and more difficult matter to settle. They knew that Santa Claus worked all through the year at his castle in the Laughing Valley, preparing the gifts he was to distribute on Christmas Eve; and at first they resolved to try to tempt him into their caves, that they might lead him on to the terrible pitfalls that ended in destruction...
•••••
The rest of the story may be found at
http://www.kidsdomain.com/holiday/xmas/stories/kidnappedsanta.html

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63) A Christmas Memory

[by Truman Capote]

Excerpt:

Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago. Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable—not unlike Lincoln's, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. "Oh my," she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, "it's fruitcake weather!"The person to whom she is speaking is myself. I am seven; she is sixty-something, We are cousins, very distant ones, and we have lived together—well, as long as I can remember. Other people inhabit the house, relatives; and though they have power over us, and frequently make us cry, we are not, on the whole, too much aware of them. We are each other's best friend. She calls me Buddy, in memory of a boy who was formerly her best friend. The other Buddy died in the 1880's, when she was still a child. She is still a child."I knew it before I got out of bed," she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes. "The courthouse bell sounded so cold and clear. And there were no birds singing; they've gone to warmer country, yes indeed. Oh, Buddy, stop stuffing biscuit and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We've thirty cakes to bake."It's always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: "It's fruitcake weather! Fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat."The hat is found, a straw cartwheel corsaged with velvet roses out-of-doors has faded: it once belonged to a more fashionable relative. Together, we guide our buggy, a dilapidated baby carriage, out to the garden and into a grove of pecan trees. The buggy is mine; that is, it was bought for me when I was born. It is made of wicker, rather unraveled, and the wheels wobble like a drunkard's legs. But it is a faithful object; springtimes, we take it to the woods and fill it with flowers, herbs, wild fern for our porch pots; in the summer, we pile it with picnic paraphernalia and sugar-cane fishing poles and roll it down to the edge of a creek; it has its winter uses, too: as a truck for hauling firewood from the yard to the kitchen, as a warm bed for Queenie, our tough little orange and white rat terrier who has survived distemper and two rattlesnake bites. Queenie is trotting beside it now...
•••••
[The rest of the story may be found at:
http://www.geocities.com/cyber_explorer99/capotechristmas.html

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64) Santa's Prayer on Christmas Eve
Poem
The sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed,
But Santa still knelt by the side of the bed."Dear Father," he prayed "Be with me tonight.
There's much work to do and my schedule is tight.I must jump in my sleigh and streak through the sky,
Knowing full well that a reindeer can't fly.I will visit each household before the first light,
I'll cover the world and all in one night.With sleigh bells a-ringing, I'll land on each roof,
Amid the soft clatter of each little hoof.To get in the house is the difficult part,
So I'll slide down the chimney of each child's heart.My sack will hold toys to grant all their wishes.
The supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.I will fill all the stockings and not leave a track.
I'll eat every cookie that is left for my snack.I can do all these things Lord, only through You,
I just need your blessing, then it's easy to do.All this is to honor the birth of the One,
That was sent to redeem us, Your most Holy Son.So to all of my friends, least Your glory I rob,
Please Lord, remind them who gave me this job."
By Warren D. Jennings
•••••
Contributed by
Steve Otto
i-tell@juno.com
http://www.storynet.org/tellers/SteveOtto.htm

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65) The Little Blue Dishes
- a traditional German folktale
Once upon a time there was a poor woodcutter who lived with his wife and three children in a forest in Germany.  There was a big boy called Hans and a little boy named Peterkin and a little sister named Gretchen, just five years old.  When Christmas was getting near, the children went to the toy shop to look at all of the toys.

"Gretchen," said Peterkin, "what do you like best?"  "Oh!  That little box of blue dishes," said Gretchen.  "That is the very best of all."

On Christmas Eve the children hung up their stockings, although their mother had said that they were so poor they could not have much this Christmas.  Hans ran out after supper to play with the big boys.  Gretchen and Peterkin sat talking before the fire about the Christmas toys and especially about the box of blue dishes.

By and by Gretchen ran off to bed and was soon asleep.  Peterkin ran to look in his bank.  There was only one penny but he took it and ran quickly to the toy shop.

"What have you for a penny?" he said to the toy man.
"Only a small candy heart," said the man.
"But I want that set of blue dishes," said Peterkin.
"Oh, they cost ten cents," said the man.  So Peterkin bought the candy heart and put it in Gretchen's stocking, and then he ran off to bed.

Pretty soon Hans came home.  He was cold and hungry.  When he saw Gretchen's stocking, he peeked in, then put his hand in and drew out the candy heart.  "Oh," said Hans, "how good this smells," and before you could say a word he had eaten the candy heart.

"Oh, dear," he said, "that was for Gretchen for Christmas.  I'll run and buy something else  for her."  So he ran to his bank and he had ten pennies.  Quickly he ran to the toy store.

"What have you got for ten pennies?" he asked the storekeeper. 
"Well, "I'm almost sold out," said the  toy man, "but here in this little box is a set of blue dishes." 
"I will take them," said Hans, and home he ran and dropped the  dishes into Gretchen's stocking.  Then he went to bed.

Early in the morning the children came running downstairs.  "Oh!" said Gretchen.  "Look at my stocking!"  And when she saw the blue dishes, she was as happy as could be.

But Peterkin could never understand how his candy heart  had changed into a box of blue dishes!
•••••
http://www.grandmalyn.com/BlueDishes.html

 

HANUKKAH / CHANUKAH

1) The Magic Dreidels by Eric A. Kimmel
[For permission to tell, contact http://www.ericakimmel.com/]
[Book available: The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah Story]

Story:

Hanukkah was coming. Everyone in Jacob’s family was working hard to get ready. Except for Jacob, who sat playing with his new brass dreidel. Jacob's mother sent him to the well to fetch water. Jacob took the new dreidel with him. After filling the water bucket, Jacob gave the dreidel a spin. It spun and then plopped into the well. Jacob cried. Thinking he might get his dreidel back, he began dropping rocks into the water.

A peaceful goblin lived at the bottom of the well. But when rocks began falling on his head, he rushed to the surface. He confronted Jacob who told him everything that had happened. The goblin dove to the bottom of the well to find the dreidel. He came up with a magic wooden dreidel, which he gave to Jacob in place of the brass one. This new dreidel spun out latkes. Jacob ran home to show everyone his new dreidel.

Along the way he passed the house of Yenta Pesha, the neighborhood busybody. He showed her his new dreidel, spun it and out came latkes with applesauce and sour cream. Pretending to clean the dreidel, Yenta Pesha took it into her house and brought back an ordinary wooden dreidel in its place. Jacob took this dreidel home, and, of course, it did nothing. And to his mother's disappointment, he had forgotten to bring water.

Jacob explained everything. His mother didn't believe him and told him to go back to the well and get water. Jacob returned to the well. He told the goblin what had happened and that the dreidel didn't work. This time the goblin gave him a silver dreidel that spun out Hanukkah gelt. Jacob ran for home with his new dreidel.

Once again, he passed Yenta Pesha's house and he showed her how the dreidel spun out silver coins. Once again she pretended to clean the dreidel, but she secretly substituted another dreidel in its place. Jacob ran home to show everyone...and again the dreidel wouldn't work. Jacob's mother sent him to his room to punish him for wasting time and being so foolish. Jacob climbed out his window and ran to the well.

Jacob told the goblin that the dreidel wouldn't work and he wanted his brass dreidel back. The goblin realized that Yenta Pesha was stealing the dreidels. He dove once more and came up with an iron dreidel. He told Jacob that when he spun this dreidel for her, she would give back the others that she had stolen.

On his way home, Jacob gave Yenta Pesha to spin. Out came fleas...thousands of fleas. They hopped on Yenta Pesha and began to bite. She scratched and itched. She gave back the other dreidels and the fleas stopped their torture. Jacob ran back to the well and gave the iron dreidel back to the goblin, but he kept the other two.

At home, Jacob kept the magic dreidels hidden until the Hanukkah candles were lit. Then he took them out and spun them one after another.The first dreidel spun out potato latkes with applesauce and sour cream. Jacob and his family ate them all.

The second dreidel spun out Hanukkah gelt. The family stuffed their pockets with silver coins and invited all the neighbors to share. Everyone had a happy Hanukkah that night. Even Yenta Pesha, who didn't itch anymore.
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it
Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.comBack to top


2) Shaikey’s Hanukkah Candles
— a staged reading
[As retold by Barbara Rush and adapted by Linda Spitzer © 1997. Grades 6-7.]
Story:
Narrator 1:The year was 1948 and the new country of Israel was fighting all seven of the surrounding Arab nations.
Narrator: Among the soldiers who were ordered to guard an important road to Jerusalem, was Shaikey.
Shaikey: I am a good soldier. I am told I have courage and spirit, ruach. My parents died, al av a shalom, in the gas chambers of a German concentration camp. but miraculously I survived.
Narrator: What was it like for you during the Holocaust?
Shaikey: I’ll never forget what those beasts of men put us through.
Narrator: Do you ever forget?
Shaikey: I’m haunted day and night by the images of the horror that I saw with my own eyes. Nothing will erase from my memory the writing that I saw on the wall of the synagogue in which I was hiding in the city of Kobel. That’s in Poland if you didn’t know.
Narrator: Can you tell us about it?
Shaikey: It was a farewell letter from a young Jewish woman. Before being taken out and killed she wrote:
Girl student: (steps forward) I am a daughter of Israel and have had twenty years of life. Oh how beautiful is the world around me! Why are they destroying us at the moment when everything within me yearns for life? Have the last moments of my life really come to an end? Revenge! Let anyone who reads my last request avenge me.”
Narrator: The hardships which Shaikey endured in the camps never damaged his proud spirit. He carried himself with his head held high. Even with all the Germans had done to him, he was still young and handsome, and his eyes burned with the fire of youth. His soul was rich and pure and loyal.
Narrator: He was filled with confidence and hope!
Narrator: At the time of our story, it is not only the Jewish Sabbath but also Hanukkah.
Arab: We are shooting at those Jews, right down there on the hills opposite Beit Machsir. Those Jews with their new country think they’re so smart. They can’t build the road to capture the city of Jerusalem because we keep shooting at them and they can’t see us up here.. We’ve got them cornered.
Arab 2: We are shooting so they can’t build and they are trying to find out where we are shooting from.But we are really hidden behind all these tall bushes and rocks. They can’t possible see that.
Commander: We can’t see where they are. If we could only locate that nest of snipers we could finish this road to Jerusalem and capture the city. Then we could win this war of Independence.
Shaikey: Sir. I see you are worried and at a loss for a solution because we can’t find those arab snipers. Stop pacing back and forth like that so I can tell you my idea. You know it is the first night of Chanukah and I brought some candles with me to light. I think I have a good plan and sneaky too.
Commander: Go ahead. Let me hear it.
Shaikey: With your permission commander, before nightfall I’ll hurry over to that abandoned village, Beit Machsir, and I’ll light the Hannukah candles inside that two story building over there. The snipers are sure to be overjoyed by a target right in the middle of the village. They’ll fire on it, and we’ll be able to see where the shots are coming from and where they’re hiding.
Commander: What a good idea. That way we could force the enemy to reveal themselves. But Shaikey, all the paths to that village are dangerous. There’s landmines strewn all over the place. You better think twice about this. It’s very dangerous. You could lose your own life.
Shaikey: Don’t worry. I’ve discovered a way between the rocks. It’s safe and no one will be able to see me.
Commander: OK. I give you permission to go. But please, be careful.
Narrator: Shaikey took a loaded rifle, Hannukah candles, and matches and crept to the far side of Beit Machsir, keeping himself concealed behind mounds, rocks and bushes and trees.
Soldier: I can barely see him. It’s almost dark. He sure has courage. I would be scared to death to attempt to crawl in there.
Shaikey: I made it. Oh my God. Look at that-------a trip wire.
Narrator: Being the alert soldier that he was, he noticed through a crack at the top of the door a steel wire that stretched from the door to the pin of a hand grenade hanging from a hook on the ceiling. Opening the door would have set off a powerful explosion and killed him.
Shaikey: Baruch atah adonai (mumble)
Narrator: Shaikey remembered to say the blessing of the “gomel” the benefactor who saves someone from danger.
Shaikey: Now all I have to do is climb up the wall instead of going in that door. I can probably climb in through an open window. The sun has almost gone down. I’d better hurry.
Narrator: Shaikey made it into the room on the second floor and struck the match and melted the wax at the bottom so he could stick the candles on a suitcase that was sitting in the room. He placed the improvised menorah near a window.
Shaikey: I am going to place this make-shift menorah facing the direction of those snipers. So far so good. Now I’ll just say the blessing and head back.
Narrator: He sang the blessing to himself and just as he reached the Jewish watchpost he hummed to himself Rock of Ages, Ma’oz Tsur Yeshuati.
Narrator: As it got dark, the candles began to glow from the window of the house, and those blinking candles could be seen throughout the region.
Narrator: Shots rang out. The enemy snipers, delighted by the obvious target, had fired and revealed their hideout. That same night, a division of soldiers who were known as Palmach, cleared the nearby hills of all the snipers.
Commander: Shaikey, a job well done. You will be remembered for your courage and your bravery and---your quick thinking.
Shaikey: Well I’m just glad my idea worked. We got the snipers and we were able to continue building this important road into Jerusalem to win our war of Independence.
Narrator: This is a true story told by an anonymous soldier who fought in the War of Independence in Israel.
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it
Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.com

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3) The Menorah

[Source unknown.]
Story:
Young Private Winneger was with the U.S. Army as it marched through Europe at the end of World War II. His unit was assigned to a European village with the orders to secure the town, search for any hiding Nazis and to help the villagers in any way they could.

Winneger was on patrol one night when he saw a figure running through a field just outside the village. He shouted, "Halt or I'll shoot!" The figure ducked behind a tree. Winneger waited and eventually the figure came out and figuring that Winneger was no longer nearby, went to a spot near a large tree and started to dig. Winneger waited until the figure had finished digging and was once more on the move before he stepped out and again shouted, "Halt or I'll shoot!" The figure ran.

Winneger decided not to shoot but to try to catch the furtive figure. He shortly caught up with the figure and tackled it to the ground. To his surprise he found he had captured a young boy. An ornate menorah had fallen from the boy's hands in the scuffle. Winneger picked up the menorah. The boy tried to grab it back shouting, "Give it to me. It's mine!" Winneger assured the boy that he was among friends. Furthermore, he himself was Jewish. The boy who had just survived several years of the Holocaust and had been in a concentration camp was mistrustful of all men in uniforms. He had been forced
to watch the shooting of his father. He had no idea what had become of his mother.

In the weeks that followed, Winneger took the young boy, whose name was David, under his wing. As they became closer and closer, Winneger's heart went out to the boy. He offered David the opportunity to come back to New York City with him. David accepted and Winneger went through all the necessary paperwork and officially adopted David.

Winneger was active in the New York Jewish community. An acquaintance of his, a curator of the Jewish Museum in Manhattan, saw the menorah. He told David it was a very valuable historic, European Menorah and should be shared with the entire Jewish Community. He offered David $50,000 for the menorah. But David refused the generous offer saying the menorah had been in his family for over 200 years and that no amount of money could ever make him sell it.

When Chanukah came, David and Winneger lit the menorah in the window of their home in New York City. David went upstairs to his room to study and Winneger stayed downstairs in the room with the menorah. There was a knock on the door and Winneger went to answer. He found a woman with a strong German accent who said that she was walking down the street when she saw the menorah in the window. She said that she had once had one just like it in her family and had never seen any other like it. Could she come and take a closer look?

Winneger invited her in and said that the menorah belonged to his son who could perhaps tell her more about it. Winneger went upstairs and called David down to talk to the woman. That is how David was reunited with his mother.
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it

Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.com

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4) Pnut Butter and Jelly and Latkes

[Bones taken from the book by Sol Scharfstein, KTav Pub, 1977. This book is out of print.]
Story:

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Janet. She was pretty and sweet and clean and neat. She studied her lessons and helped Mother clean house. When she went to Temple she sat still as a mouse. This little girls was a very good little girl--except for one thing. She would not eat one single bite of any kind of food at all--except one thing. Pnut Butter and grape jelly sandwiches.

She ate them for breakfast on white bread.
She ate them for lunch on rye bread.
She ate them for supper on pumpernickel.
Oh this little girl didn’t eat Pnut butter and grape jelly sandwiches EVERY DAY!
My goodness no. Only on Mondays.
On Tuesdays she ate Pnut Butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches.
On Wednesday she ate Pnut Butter and Gooseberry jelly sandwiches.
On Thursday she ate Pnut Butter and Plum jelly sandwiches.
On Friday she ate Pnut butter and raspberry jelly sandwiches.
On Saturday she ate Pnut Butter and orange jelly sandwiches.
And on Saturday she ate pnut butter and Apple jelly sandwiches.
(Cherry, Blueberry, Blackberry)The little girl’s mother was so worried. She didn’t know what to do. One day she made some delicious chocolate pudding. That night when the family sat down to the supper table, Mother said to the little girl, “I have a wonderful surprise for you.” Then she set before her a dish heaped high with chocolate pudding and on top of it was a big mound of whipped cream.

The little girl shut her mouth tight and shook her head.
“I want Pnut butter and jelly sandwiches on a roll”
"Ah, you see," said her father with a pleasant smile. At last she is eating something different. Now she is eating a roll.”
Mother sighed and shook her head sadly.

Then one fine day the little girl’s brother Alan had an idea. “I know something you will like better than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” he said. He took his little sister to an ice cream parlor. When the waiter came, the little girl’s brother said, “Bring my sister a beautiful big butterscotch sundae with 3 scoops of ice cream and a cherry on top." But when the waiter brought the delicious sundae, the little girl just sat and looked at it with her mouth closed tight. She shook her head back and forth so hard that her golden curls bobbed up and down like corks in a pond. “I want a Pnut butter and jelly sandwich," she said.

Then on the 3rd day of Chanukah, a miracle happened. The little girl’s brother came bursting into the house at suppertime. “Look what Daddy bought for me,” he shouted. The little girl came running to see. Her brother held a beautiful shiny new dreidel in his hand. “Watch it go," he cried. He gave the dreidel a twist. It went spinning across the floor, twirling and flashing. Mother came in from the kitchen to see what the excitement was all about. In her hand was a plateful of latkes which she had made for the holiday supper. She saw the dreidel spinning. She saw the little boy laughing. She saw the little girls eyes shining with delight.
“Oh," cried Janet, watching the spinning top.
"Oh," she cried again opening her mouth wide.
"Oh, Oh Oh," said Mother, "Ho Ho Ho."

Quick as a wink, she popped a latke into the little girls open mouth. The little girl was s surprised she sat for a moment as if turned to stone. Then slowly she began to chew. The more she chewed the better the latke tasted. The little girl ate every bit of it.
“Yummy,” she said. “What was THAT?”
“A latke,” said her mother leading the way to the supper table.

From that day on the little girl ate all different kinds of food. She ate vegetables, fruits, cereals, meats, eggs, cakes, pies and puddings. She ate just about every kind of food there is in the world, except one thing—Pnut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I wonder why.
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it
Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.com

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5) Remember Rivka
[Bones taken from Linda Spitzer's retelling of a story by Barbara Goldin, Diamond, 1995. Stories like this show how we as Jews continue to do as the Maccabees did— cleaning and restoring holy objects and finding meaning in the process of rededication.]
Story:

Hello, I’m Leah. In three months I’ll be a Bat Mitzvah. In my class we have to do a mitzvah project, a good deed. It could be something like visiting the sick, collecting food for the needy or honoring your parents. My parents keep suggesting that cleaning up my room is honoring your parents. I get the point, Dad.

My dad is always saying I get big ideas and I don’t follow through. Could I help it if the first dog, that fox terrier, I walked in my dog walking business, bit me and chewed up everything. I can’t help it if things don’t always work out. Give me a break.

Today is Hebrew School .Mrs. Friedman, our teacher, says we’re going to have a guest speaker today. I have to give her credit. She tries to make Hebrew school more interesting. The guest today is Mrs. Oberdorfer, a Holocaust survivor. I hope that jerk David doesn’t make his weird noises in class today and look at Sarah chewing that big wad of gum. This class, what a joke. I feel sorry for the speaker.

Yes, Mrs. Friedman, I’ll get the door. You think it’s our guest speaker. I’ve never heard a survivor speak.

Hello. My name is Mrs. Oberdorfer. I’m a Holocaust survivor, but I wasn’t in a concentration camp. I came from the city called Lublin. I went to a public school, had lots of friends, a wonderful family. My best friend in the world was Rivka and we did everything together. Rivka was the one with all the ideas. She loved to joke around and play little tricks. I was usually the one who would get caught and get in trouble. What kind of trouble you ask? Well, one time we were supposed to be studying for our exams—it was the end of the year—and Rivka talked me into sneaking off to see the little travelling circus. My parents found us. It wasn’t hard. Rivka was dancing with the circus bear in the middle of a big crowd of people, all clapping and laughing. That time we both got caught.

But all this changed when the Nazi soldiers came. That’s why Mrs. Friedman asked me to come today, to tell you this part of my story. They rounded up all the Jews, the Nazis did, and forced us to live in a small section of the city called a ghetto. We had very little food to eat and people were taken away one by one—we didn’t know where. You can’t imagine how we felt. Terrified—because we didn’t know anything.

Well, Rivka couldn’t stand it. You know Rivka. She had to do something. She got forged papers, that’s when you have fake identity papers with your picture on it. She got one for me too, from a friend who smuggled things into the ghetto and then we escaped through the sewers. (Shake head, look down) Please forgive me, I’ve never talked about this to a whole group before.

Anyway, we got out and onto a train. We didn’t know where we were going. Just away. But at one of the stops, when the Nazi soldiers got on the train, and asked to see our papers—Rivka didn’t have hers. Somewhere, in the running, she had lost them. They took her away and after that I...never saw her again. But I was lucky. When I got off the train I found my way into a forest where other Jews were hiding. And that’s how I survived the war. In that forest.

Oh, wait, before I finish I wanted to tell you about some pictures. Maybe you have seen this one before. It’s Jews being led at gunpoint away from the Warsaw Ghetto that is burning, their hands up in the air. And look, I pass this around, shelves and shelves of Torah scrolls in a warehouse. You know why they’re all lined up one after the other and each one has a label and a tag with a number?

The Nazis put those tags on the Torahs. They were going to make them part of an exhibit in their museum of extinct races. I decided to show you these pictures to remind us that there is no museum as the Nazis planned and that we are still here.

Thank you for listening to my story. Now, Leah, please with my arthritis so bad, open the door for me. Mrs. Friedman says we have to come up with a class mitzvah project to benefit the community. Some classes before us wrote a play and performed at a nursing home. Another year they collected canned food outside a supermarket for the homeless shelter.

For days I couldn’t get out of my mind the picture of the torah scrolls on the shelves. I had never seen Torahs treated like that. In our synagogue the Torahs are dressed in velvet and silver and carried respectfully around the temple during services so everyone can reach out with prayer shawls or prayer books and touch them lovingly as they went by. Torahs should never be lined up on shelves with tags. Maybe, just maybe, we could save one of those Torahs.

What do you think Mrs. Friedman. Look, all those torah scrolls in that picture Mrs. Oberdorfer showed us, maybe we could bring one here. You know, save at least one. It’s probably a crazy idea, but if we could find out where to get one and bring it here, we could rip the tag off and read from it when we lead the service. Then we could put it in the Ark with the other Torahs. That’s where it belongs, not on a shelf. See, no ones laughing. They think it’s a good idea too. David says he’s been thinking about it too.He says why don’t we get one of the Torahs and dedicate it to Rivka, maybe embroider her name on the velvet mantle and say, In memory of Rivka. We could tell her story to the congregation. That way she would never be forgotten. Wait, don’t everyone talk at once.

Look Mrs. Friedman, everyone is excited and suggesting ideas of how to raise the money to bring the Torah over here. And we could dedicate it in Rivka’s memory and invite Mrs. Oberdorfer and have the dedication in time for Hanukkah, the holiday for rededication. Well, I thought of the idea and everyone liked it. In fact, Bet Breira has a Torah that was rescued and it came from the Memorial Scrolls Trust in London England, Just like Judah Maccabee cleaned and rededicated the Temple, my class voted as a mitzvah project to raise money and to rescue a Torah and rededicate it in Rivka’s memory.
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it
Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.com

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6) Chanukah at Valley Forge

[Taken from a retelling of a folktale found in Time for My Soul, Annette and Eugene Labovitz.. Jason Aronson, Publisher, Northvale, NJ, 1987.]

Background:

At the time of the American Revolution there were about 2500 Jews in the American colonies out of a total population of 2.5 million. The Jews were a tiny minority. But the Jews saw their chance to participate in a fight for freedom as free citizens in the building of a new nation. Jews liked to compare their struggle against tyranny to the ancient struggle of the Israelites as well as the fact that they had been driven from so many places and denied every human and legal right. The Liberty Bell, which was cast 25 years before the Revolution, bears an inscription from Leviticus: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." (Leviticus 25:10)

Story:

My name is Jacob Lipinsky. I joined the Continental Army to fight in the American Revolution, because like my ancestors I hated tyranny. And this was my chance to fight for freedom. My father had often told me about his personal struggle against tyranny. He had to flee Germany because of religious persecution and he migrated to the American colonies. He hoped to build a new life in the new world. When I joined the Army it was two years ago this winter. My father gave me a Chanukah menorah and candles and said, “Jacob, these candles are a symbol of man’s struggle against tyranny. Remember to light them each Chanukah and they will direct you toward the path of freedom.” I promised I would, and I carried this menorah and candles in my knapsack wherever I went.

It was the first night of Chanukah. I remember that freezing cold winter well. It was December 1777 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania . The food was in short supply, there weren’t enough blankets to go around, there was much illness and untold suffering and tremendous hardships were suffered by all. In the winter quarters at Valley Forge, the troops sat and waited and wondered whether General Washington would be able to force a British retreat. Morale was very low.

I never doubted the outcome of the war, for men have always struggled against tyranny in the cause of justice. I remembered the words of my father and I took the Chanukah menorah out of my knapsack. Because there were no other Jews in my group, I walked away from where the other soldiers were sitting. I wanted to be alone when I lit the menorah anyway. I made a little mound of snow, banked it up on the sides like a little table, and stuck the menorah on the snow mound. I put one candle in the menorah and then lit the shammash, the candle we use to light the other candles, with my flint. I recited the Chanukah blessings. Tears welled up in my eyes as I imagined my family lighting their menorah that same night and putting it in the front window that faced the street of our apartment in New York.

I was sitting down in the snow, watching the flickering candlelight. From time to time I had to cup my hands around the flames so the wind wouldn’t blow them out. Suddenly I felt like someone was looking at me. You know how you just know someone is there? I turned around quickly and there was someone there. A man was standing over me. I looked up and (gasp) it was General George Washington. I was so stunned I couldn’t speak. He spoke softly. “ Soldier, are you in trouble or hurt? Why have you wandered so far away from the other soldiers? I noticed the flickering lights of your candles and walked over to see what was wrong. Why did you light two candles so far from the campsite?” I jumped to my feet. “Uhhhhhh, General Washington. I am a Jew. Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, our festival of freedom. Chanukah celebrates the victory of my ancestors, the Maccabees over the Greek tyranny which happened almost 2000 years ago. When I joined the Continental army, my father gave me this menorah. He told me to light the candles, that they would help me remember the cause of freedom. Just as my people won a battle long ago, General Washington, I just know that we will also win our freedom and we will build a new land together.”

It looked like General Washington was smiling. I could see his face with the little bit of candlelight. He stood with me for a few minutes watching the glow as the candles were burning. When the flames died out, he shook my hand and walked away. I collected my things and walked back to the campsite. When the Revolutionary War ended, General George Washington was chosen to be the first president of the United States. He sent a letter to every synagogue in the country, there were only six at the time, expressing his pledge to Jews in the new land that “all men are created equal and there would be no religious persecution.” Freedom of religion was written into the Declaration of Independence you know.

I never forgot that incident of the Chanukah lights at Valley Forge. It was imprinted in my memory forever. I tell my friends and family about it every year at this time. I’m sure President Washington has long forgotten it ever happened. The years passed; I now live in a house in New York and just like my father before me, each year at Chanukah I place my menorah on the front window sill so the glow of the candles can be seen by everyone passing by.

I had just lit the candles and put them in the window when suddenly there was a knock on the door and I wasn’t expecting anyone. I opened the door and there was President Washington....standing right there. For the second time I could hardly speak. President Washington did not wait, he spoke right up. "It’s you! It’s really you! When I was riding by I saw the Chanukah lights in the window and I remembered the Chanukah lights at Valley Forge. I never forgot your inspiring words. So I took a chance this might be your house and knocked on the door. I have been searching for you all these years. I’m glad that I finally found you, for I have carried this Medal of Honor with me. Please accept it as a symbol of my thanks.”

I put out my hand and accepted the box with the special Medal of Honor. Inside the box lay a large engraved medal attached to a red white and blue ribbon. The medal was engraved with these words,” Thank you for the light of your candles.
"Chanukah oh Chanukah, come light the menorah
Let’s have a party, we’ll all dance the hora
Gather round the table we’ll give you a treat
Dreidels to play with and latkes to eat
And while we are playing, the candles are burning low
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago.

["Sveevon sov sov sov Chanukah hu chag tov, Chaukah hu Chag tov, sveevon sov sov sov.”]
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it
Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.com

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7) The Soul of a Menorah

[By Eric A. Kimmel, found in The Jar of Fools, eight Hanukkah stories from Chelm, Scholastic Inc, NY 2001.
Eric Kimmel always gives permission to retell his stories.
[For permission to tell, contact http://www.ericakimmel.com/

Story:

Many years ago a farmer drove his wagon through Chelm. He had a hayfork and some tools in the back. The wagon hit a bump, and the hayfork fell out. It lay in the road for some time until Berel Dunce stumbled over it.
"What is this?" he asked his friend Feivel Bonehead.
"It looks like a hayfork." said Feivel.
"I don't think so. Look again." Berel said. "It has nine branches. Eight of the branches are the same size, but the ninth is longer than the others. Only one thing in the world fits that description."
"A Hanukkah menorah!" Feivel exclaimed.
"This must be a Hanukkah menorah," Berel continued. "But who would throw a Hanukkah menorah in the street, especially when everyone in Chelm is celebrating Hanukkah?"
"Maybe this menorah doesn't come from Chelm. Maybe God threw it down from heaven. Maybe it's a gift from God to us."
"And we leave it lying in the street? Quick, Feivel! Let's clean this menorah up and take it to the synagogue."

Berel and Feivel carried the hayfork home. They scraped off the dirt and polished it until it shone like silver. They oiled the wooden handle until it gleamed. Now the hayfork truly looked splendid. Berel and Feivel carried it to the synagogue.
"Are you both crazy? Why are you bringing a hayfork in here?" Bunam Ox shouted as Berel and Feivel come through the door. "I just finished cleaning the floor. Take that thing back to the stable where it belongs."

Bunam took care of the synagogue building. He fixed the roof, swept the floor, lit the stove, shovelled the snow, and woke everyone up in the morning to come to prayers.
"Look again, Bunam," Feivel and Berel exclaimed. "When did you ever see a hayfork like this? It has nine branches-- count them! One is taller than the rest. Only one object looks like that."
"A menorah!" Bunam gasped. "How did it get to Chelm?"
"We found it in the street. Feivel thinks God threw it down from heaven." Berel said.
"How else could it have gotten here?" Feivel asked.
"How it got here doesn't matter," said Bunam. "What's important now is what we do with it. We have to get this menorah ready. It will be getting dark soon. People will be coming to light the Hanukkah candles."Bunam stuck the hayfork in a bucket of sand. He piled more sand around the handle to make sure it wouldn't fall over. Then, since it was the fourth night of Hanukkah, he took five thick candles and stuck them on the hayfork's first five tines. The candle on the longer tine would serve as the shammes, to light the others.When the men of Chelm gathered in the synagogue for evening prayers, they were surprised to see a hayfork standing in a bucket.
"Why is that hayfork here? Why are those candles stuck on it?" they asked.
"What hayfork?" said Bunam. "Open your eyes! Can't you tell a menorah when you see one?"
"We found it in the street. God threw it down from heaven," Feivel and Berel added.Word of the miraculous menorah spread through Chelm like fire through dry leaves. People from the surrounding countryside came streaming into town to see it. Among them was a farmer who had been searching everywhere for a missing hayfork.
"That's my hayfork!" he shouted as soon as he saw the menorah.
The people of Chelm were outraged. "Idiot! Since when does a hayfork shine like silver? And have you ever seen a hayfork lit with Hanukkah candles?" they shouted at him.
"It's my hayfork, I tell you! I broke the handle once. The blacksmith fixed it with a metal collar and two screws. Look! There they are!"
It was true. There was indeed a metal collar with two screws holding the wooden handle together. Was the farmer correct? What was this strange object?
"It's a hayfork," the farmer insisted.
"It's a menorah," Berel, Feivel, and Bunam replied just as firmly.

Everyone turned to the rabbi. "What is it?" they asked him. The rabbi was the only person in town wise enough to solve the problem.
"I don't know, " the rabbi said. "It certainly does look like a hayfork, but it could also be a menorah. It is going to take greater wisdom than mine to answer this question. We will have to bring the menorah --or the hayfork-- to the Seer."

Rabbi Jacob Isaac, the Seer of Lublin, was the holiest man of his time. He was called "the Seer" because he could look into people's souls, solve unsolvable mysteries, and discover hidden meanings. If anyone could determine whether the menorah was really a hayfork, or the hayfork was really a menorah, it would be the Seer.

At dawn the next morning Feivel, Berel, Bunam, the rabbi, and the farmer piled into a wagon and set out for Lublin. They took the hayfork with them. The entire population of Chelm came along, too. Fortunately, Lublin was not far away. They arrived before noon and went at once to visit the Seer. The Seer welcomed his visitors from Chelm. After serving some cake and wine, he asked how he could help them.
"Tell us what this object is," the rabbi asked.
"What do you think it is?" the Seer asked him.
"It's a menorah!" said the people of Chelm.
"It's a hayfork!" the farmer insisted.

The Seer stroked his beard. "This is not an easy question to answer." he began. "The object has nine branches. Eight are the same height, but one is taller than the others, so it could be a menorah. On the other hand, it does indeed look like a hayfork. There is only one way that I know of to solve this problem. Our Master, the great rabbi and teacher Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, taught us not to be deceived by an object's outer appearance. We must always look inward to discover its hidden nature. Sparks of holiness can be found in the most common, ordinary things. A blind beggar singing in the marketplace might be an angel. An old boot may hold the key to a cosmic riddle. We must constantly search for these hidden sparks so that we can uncover their true holiness. I believe that is what happened in this case. The people of Chelm discovered the holy sparks hidden in a hayfork. They lifted them up by transforming the hayfork into a holy object, a menorah."

"That's right!" said Beryl, Frivol, and Bunkum.

The Seer continued. "Once holy sparks have been lifted, they cannot be lowered. This object might have been a hayfork in an earlier existence, but now it is a menorah. It must remain a menorah. It cannot be used as a hayfork again. That would be a sin."
"This is true," said the rabbi.
"But what about me?" cried the farmer. "I still need a hayfork."
"And you will have one," said the Seer. He turned to the people of Chelm.
"The farmer has come here in good faith. He needs a hayfork to do his work. Here is my decision. The people of Chelm may keep their menorah, but they must also pay the farmer eighteen rubles as compensation."
"What!" cried the people of Chelm. "Eighteen rubles for a hayfork!"
"Hayfork? What are you talking about?" said the farmer. "Can't you see a menorah when you see one?"

That is how the famous menorah came to the Grand Synagogue of Chelm. Don't be fooled. It may look like a hayfork, but it has the soul of a menorah. And that is what counts.
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it
Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.com

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8) Stubborn Menorah
for Chanakuh telling by Linda Spitzer © 2004
[Adapted from The Stubborn Turnip. You can fill in all the people and the pulled, and pulled and have the listeners actually doing the pulling with you.]
Bones:

Rachel's brother David lived in Israel. Every year at Chanukah Uncle David sent the most wonderful gift for the family. One year it was an unusual driedel, one year it was a plate to serve Latkah's and applesauce (potato pancakes). Her husband Herschel and her two children Aviva and Micah looked forward to getting something exciting from Uncle David.

Sure enough, the doorbell rang one day before Chanukah. It was the UPS guy. And he delivered a really big package. He said it weighed a ton. Rachel signed for the package and called the family to come and look. Herschel tapped on the box."That's funny, it's not paper, it's not wood,---you know what? This box is made out of metal.

They pulled off the wrapping and took off the top. Inside was a giant menorah, Maybe it was one that you put out in the yard. It was huge, metal and brightly painted in reds, and teal, and blues and yellows. It was very colorful.

"Let's get it out so we can use it tonight,"said Rachel. Herschel tried to pull the menorah out of the box. He pulled and he pulled and he pulled, but the menorah wouldn’t come out. The box was metal so he couldn’t cut down the sides, no that would have been too easy.

Rachel, hold on to me and help me pull
Then Aviva, hold onto mother and help us pull
Then Micah, hold onto Aviva who is holding on to mother who is holding on to me and help us pull. And they pulled etc.
Just then the door bell rang. It was their next door neighbor. It was Adam.He was only 4 but he loved to come over and play with Aviva and Micah.
Hey come on in Adam. You’re just in time to help us get this menorah out of the box. It’s from Uncle David in Israel.
Adam got in back of Micah and held him around the waist, Micah was pulling on
Aviva who pulled Rachel who pulled Herschel and they all pulled and pulled and pulled.

Out came the menorah. They loved it. What a nice gift and we can put it out in the yard for everyone to see. And that’s what they did. Every year after that, the family lit that menorah from Uncle David in Israel. And Micah and Aviva found partners and got married when they grew up. And they told their children the story about the stubborn menorah. Now their children know the story, and so do you. Chag Sameach, Happy Chanukah.
•••••
Contributed by
Linda Spitzer
Storyteller in Lake Worth, Florida
Just for the Tell of it
Floridastorygal@aol.com
http://storyqueen.com

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9) Potato Pancakes All Around – A Hanukkah Tale
[Story adapted and retold by Marilyn Hirsh 1976 from standard sources.
Basically a takeoff on Stone Soup.]

Bones:

Peddler comes to town. Welcomed into a house. Grandmothers argue about who has best recipe for potato pancakes. Peddler says he can make pancakes from a crust of bread. Grates crust into bowl. Needs water, salt and pepper. Chicken looks into window. Eggs! Onions! What else? Potatoes which had already been grated so shouldn't go to waste. What will you fry them in, ask grandmothers. A frying pan! Takes it out of his sack. Goose grease, chicken fat argue the grandmothers. Both, says peddler. Best pancakes ever. Eat, sing, dance, play games. Family begs peddler to stay whole eight days. He leaves ...now that they can make potato pancakes from a crust of bread.
•••••
Contributed by
Audrey Kopp
Storyteller, teacher
http://www.storyteller.net/tellers/akopp

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10) In the Month of Kislev
– A Story for Hanukkah
[Story adapted and retold by Nina Jaffe 1992 from standard souces. Basically a takeoff on the story of people being asked to pay for inhaling a smell of bread or some other food.]

Bones:
Poor family in Poland. Rich family father (Feivel) in same town never gives charity. Poor family walking home from synagogue on first night of holiday. Children smell golden latkes, just out of the pan. It was as if they had eaten a whole plateful! Don't have any of their own. Play with dreidel using pebbles. Go to bed happy. Parents don't understand since they know children should be hungry.
On each of first seven nights children go by window of rich man's house, inhale smell, and go to bed smiling.
On eighth night cook looks out window: Master, come quickly. Beggar children are smelling our latkes. Feivel: It's like they're eating for nothing. Next day Feivel's family hauls poor family to rabbi for judgment.
Rabbi Yonah listens. Feivel talks. RY: What do you want done? F: They should pay a fine. RY: How much? F: One ruble per night = 8 rubles. Poor father (Mendel): I hardly have a kopeck. RY thinks. Sees large crowd outside awaiting decision. Goes to them and asks who has Hanukkah gelt? They pull out their copper coins and the rabbi drops them into a little bag with a string.
Shakes the bag. No one knows why. Then silence. RY: You have asked for fair payment. We have paid for the smell of your H latkes with the sound of H gelt! Feivel turns and walks home. Neighbors comment on how wise rabbi is.
Since then, any beggar who comes to Feivel's house gets a good meal and a warm blanket. Charity box in synagogue always full, thanks to him.
And every year, Feivel, wife and children and Mendel, wife and children light the menorah, play dreidel, and eat lots of latkes. Together.
•••••
Contributed by
Audrey Kopp
Storyteller, teacher
audreystory@verizon.net
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11) Hanukkah: A Season of Lights
[History and meaning of the season; Hanukkah stories and books available]

Hanukkah is a holiday about how unshakable faith triumphed in the struggle for personal and religious freedom, as it has so many times throughout Jewish history. Hanukkah is also a holiday of many miracles. It is called the festival of lights because of one of these miracle stories. Legend has it that the candles in the most holy Temple were kept burning for eight nights with just one small vat of oil. According to another tradition, Judah Maccabee and his brothers were fierce warriors. They wanted religious freedom and so they fought their oppressors, the mighty Greek army --- and won!Hanukkah is not "Jewish Christmas," though the celebration in America has become more similar to Christmas, probably due to the fact that they fall around the same time. The most important ritual for Hanukkah revolves around creating light --- lighting the menorah. Books are a great way to "en-lighten" yourself and immerse yourself in tradition. Books also make wonderful gifts for Hanukkah. Kidsreads has gathered together some of the finest, both about the season and about Jewish traditions and history.

Books available:

Zigazak!: A Magical Hanukkah Night
by Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrated by Jon Goodell
Ages 4-8
Easily the least schmaltzy Hanukkah book this year, ZIGAZAK! tells the story of two mischievous devils out to have a little fun in a small town called Brisk one chilly night during Hanukkah. With the help of the magic word "Zigazak!" the two troublemakers cast magic spells on all the latkes, dreidels and menorahs in town. Their antics may scare the villagers, but the town Rabbi is too smart to be sacred off by a couple of dancing dreidels --- a wise and holy man, he knows that "sparks of goodness exist in all things, even in devils' tricks." An imaginative and amusing holiday read!

On Hanukkah
by Cathy Goldberg Fishman
illustrated by Melanie W. Hall
Ages 4-8
From the story of Judah Maccabee to why latkes are eaten during Hanukkah, the history and traditions of the Festival of Lights are explained through the voice of a young girl in this thoughtfully written, sweetly illustrated book. The perfect book to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah!

Hanukkah, Festival of Lights: Celebrate With Songs, Decorations, Food, Games, Prayers, and Traditions
by Jeff O'Hare
Ages 5-12
This jam-packed book is filled with wonderful ideas for celebrating Hanukkah. From prayers to recipes to crafts, this is a super way to learn more about this holiday and start some new traditions in your family.

The Jar of Fools: Eight Hanukkah Stories from Chelm
by Eric A. Kimmel
Ages 9-12
This collection of folktales, some well-known, some original, shine the spotlight on the foolish people of Chelm (a Polish town that serves as home to an endearing but not-too-bright population; oft-mentioned in Jewish folklore).

Moishe's Miracle: A Hanukkah Story
by Laura Kress Melmed
Ages 4-8
One winter Moishe the milkman receives a very special gift --- a magic frying pan that is capable of frying up an endless supply of latkes, but only when Moishe uses it and says the magic words. Unfortunately, Moishe's wife Baila isn't satisfied, even when she has more than enough latkes to eat. When she tries to get more from the gift, her plan backfires. Humorous details and nifty illustrations that bring the Old World setting to life make this a fun holiday read.

When Mindy Saved Hanukkah (Scholastic Bookshelf)
by Eric A. Kimmel
illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Ages 4-8
The Klein family (mice, not people) live in the walls of a synagogue on New York City's Lower East Side. As Hanukkah approaches, the Kleins are in a tizzy over not having a menorah. Will Mindy save the day---and sneak by a cat?

How I Saved Hanukkah
by Amy Goldman Koss
illustrated by Diane deGroat
Ages 9-12
All of Marla's Christian friends decorate and celebrate at Christmas time, but Marla's family doesn't do much to make Hanukkah exciting. No fair! But thanks to Marla's hard work and research, this year Marla and her family will enjoy a Hanukkah to remember.

While the Candles Burn

by Barbara Diamond Goldin
Ages 4-8
Eight stories, original and traditional, that reflect the significance of the Festival of Lights. Author Diamond Goldin also weaves in contemporary issues such as the role of women in Judaism and peace between Arabs and Israelis. Celebrate this season with this lovely stories, meant to be shared.
•••••
More information at:
http://www.kidsreads.com/features/011128-hanukkah.asp

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12) Song Parody:
CHILDREN, GO WHERE I SEND THEE
[Trad. with Hannuka Lyrics by Sandy Pomerantz]
Lyrics:

Children, go where I send thee;
How shall I send thee?
I’m gonna send thee one by one,
One for the jar of holy oil.
That burned, burned
In Jerusalem.

Children, go where I send thee;
How shall I send thee?
I’m gonna send thee two by two
Two for the Shabbos candles so true.
One for the jar of holy oil
That burned, burned
In Jerusalem.

Three for the years we fought to be free.
Four for the sides of the dreidel.
Five for the Maccabees who helped us survive.
Six for the stuff in the latke mix.
Seven for Hannah’s sons in heaven.
Eight for the days we celebrate.
Nine for the candles that look so fine.
Ten for the ten commandments.
•••••
Contributed by the late
Sandy Pomerantz

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13) Song Parody:
I AM A LATKE
[From the song “I Am a Pizza” by Peter Alsop, new lyrics by Sandy Pomerantz.]
Lyrics:

I am a latke (I am a latke)
Golden brown (Golden brown)
From potatoes (From potatoes)
I am ground (I am ground)
Put in an onion (Put in an onion)
A little bit salt (A little bit salt)
Not so much pepper
(Ah-chew!)
Oy gevalt!

I am a latke. (I am a latke.)
Beat in eggs, add some flour. (Beat in eggs, add some flour.)
Soon I’ll be ready. (Soon I’ll be ready.)
For folks to devour. (For folks to devour.)
I am a latke, (I am a latke,)
From latke batter. (From latke batter.)
I am a latke,
I’ll make you fatter.

Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum! (Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!)
Slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp! (Slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp!)
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum! (Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!)
Burp, burp, burp, burp! (Burp, burp, burp, burp!)
I am a latke. (I am a latke.)
Fried in oil. (Fried in oil.)
I am a latke.
I’m worth the toil.

I am a latke. (I am a latke.)
Nice and hot. (Nice and hot.)
With applesauce or sour cream. (With applesauce or sour cream.)
Pile on a lot. (Pile on a lot.)
Fill up the platter. (Fill up the platter.)
Is there room for one more? (Is there room for one more?)
Ooops!
I am a latke,
Dropped on the floor.

I was a latke. (I was a latke.)
Tasty to nosh. (Tasty to nosh)
I was a latke,
I’m a mish-mosh!
•••••
Contributed by the late
Sandy Pomerantz

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14) Hanukkah - written by Chuck Larkin
[This information was collected and adapted for telling by Bluegrass Storyteller, Chuck Larkin.]

Hanukkah
The following is quoted from Encyclopedia Britannica. “...Following the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided between his Generals and a constant period of warfare ensued. Jerusalem was part of the Syrian Empire and the Syrian King in order to solidify his power attempted to establish a State religion in his Empire and began converting all temples including the Temple in Jerusalem into a Greek Temple to worship Zeus. Judas Maccabees {Hammer}, son of Mattathias and his four brothers led the armed rebellion as both a civil war and a war of religious independence after their Temple in Jerusalem was dedicated to Zeus.

Hanukkah is a Jewish observance commemorating the rededication (165 BC) of the Second Temple of Jerusalem after its desecration three years earlier by Antiochus IV Epiphanes; the Syrian king was thus frustrated in his attempt to extirpate the Jewish faith. Though modern Israel tends to emphasize the military victory of Judas Maccabeus, the distinctive rite of lighting the menorah (q.v.) also recalls the Talmud story of how the small supply of non desecrated oil—enough for one day—miraculously burned in the Temple for eight full days until new oil could be obtained.

Beginning on Kislev 25 (in December), Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days; during this time, in addition to the lighting of the ceremonial candles, gifts are exchanged and children play holiday games.

Maccabees
The Books of the Maccabees also spelled MACHABEES, four books, none of which is in the Hebrew Bible but all of which appear in some manuscripts of the Septuagint. The fi rst two books only are part of canonical scripture in the Septuagint and the Vulgate (hence are canonical to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) and are included in the Protestant Apocrypha.

The First Book of the Maccabees
I Maccabees presents a historical account of political, military, and diplomatic events from the time of Judaea’s relationship with Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria (reigned 175-164/163 BC) to the death (135/134 BCE) of Simon Maccabeus, high priest in Jerusalem. It describes the refusal of Mattathias to perform pagan religious rites, the ensuing Jewish revolt against Syrian hegemony, the political machinations whereby Demetrius II of Syria granted Judaea its independence, and the election of Simon as both high priest and secular ruler of the Judaean Jews. I Maccabees is the only contemporary source for the civil wars in Judaea, and the only surviving one for Judaean-Syrian relations after the reign of Antiochus IV. The historical integrity of the book, which was compiled from official written sources, oral tradition, and eyewitness reporting, is attested to by the absence of almost all of the conventions of the Hellenistic rhetorical school of historiography and by its uncritical use by the later Jewish historian Josephus.

The author of I Maccabees, likely the Hasmonean court historian, wrote his history during the high priesthood (135/134-104 BC) of John Hyrcanus I, son and successor of Simon.

The Second Book of the Maccabees
II Maccabees focuses on the Jews’ revolt against Antiochus and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the work. In general, its chronology coheres with that of I Maccabees. An unknown editor, the “Epitomist,” used the factual notes of a historian, Jason of Cyrene, to write this historical polemic. Its vocabulary and style indicate a Greek original...”

General George Washington as a student of the first two books in the Protestant Apocrypha applied the successful guerilla battle techniques of the Maccabees in the American Revolution and Mick Collins applied the Maccabees battle techniques in the creation of Ireland and the Viet Cong applied the guerilla tactics against the USA.

Dreidel
Dreidel also dreidl n [Yiddish dreydl, fr. dreyen to turn, fr. MHG draejen, fr. OHG draen—more at throw] (1926).
1: a four-sided toy marked with Hebrew letters and spun like a top in a game of chance.
2: a children’s “Put and Take” game of chance played especially at Hanukkah with a dreidel.
• Nun (A Great) = Zero (pass)
• Gimel (Miracle) = Take all
• Hay (Happened) = Take half
• Shin (There) = Put in one.

The Menorah And The Candles For Hanukkah
Hanukkah uses 44 candles: 8 are servant {Shammas} candles and 36 are Hanukkah celebration candles.. One burns for the fi rst night, two for the second night, three for the third night, until eight for the eighth night. Each candle burns until it goes out on it’s own.

A Menorah holds the eight Hanukkah candles with the Shammus, the Servant candle, in the center above the Hanukkah candles. The Shammus represents the leader of the people like the head of government. A Mayor, A Governor or a President or a King or Queen. Even the chairperson of a committee. While they are above the people as a leader they are also servants to the people they lead.

The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol by Eric Kimmel
The following is an outline of the story:
Hershel, a former soldier, on his way home arrives in a neighboring village thinking about eating potato pancakes called “Latkes.”

At dusk on the first night of Hanukkah and the village is dark? Rabbi explains evil Goblins have moved into old abandon Synagogue up on hill top and they hate candles especially Hanukkah candles. In order to get rid of the Goblins some one must burn a Hanukkah candle each night even when the Goblins try to stop the candles from being lighted and on the Eighth night they have to trick the King of the Goblins into lighting all the candles in order to take away his power and drive all of the Goblins out of the old Synagogue and the Village.

Hershel volunteers to try. People give him hard boiled eggs and a big jar of Pickles for his food and he goes up to the old Synagogue with 44 candles and a Menorah. He puts the menorah on the window sill, lights the Servant candle then the fi rst night Hanukkah candle.

Soon a little goblin fl ies in through the empty window. Who is stronger? Hershal takes out a hard boiled egg in the darkness says it is a rock and crushes it.

Second night bigger Goblin—Hershal eating supper gives goblin a pickle Goblin likes it and wants more—sticks had in pickle jar—grabs pickles in fi st and can’t get loose of pickle jar.

Third night bigger Goblin waddles in. Play Dreidel but by Hershal’s rules and Hershal takes all of goblin’s gold.

Fourth, Fifth and Sixth nights different ugly goblins. Different tricks.

Seventh night—lights seven candles with the servant candle then Hershal hears the mighty voice of the king of the Goblins “Enjoy your Seventh night of Hanukkah I’m too far away to arrive tonight but I’ll be there tomorrow night.”

Eighth night Hershal places the Menorah filled with the eight Hanukkah candles and the Servant candle by the door and sits quietly in the dark.
King Goblin “I’m here!”
Hershal, “Boys from the village trying to tease me again. Whip you good. You boys go on home and stop teasing me.”
King Goblin angry. “Well whoever you are I can’t see you. Make us some light there’s matches and candles there by the door.” King Goblin lights all the candles, loses power and has to depart.
•••••
Compiled and written by the late Chuck Larkin
http://www.chucklarkin.com/

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15) The Story of Chanukah
[Every year between the end of November and the end of December, Jewish people around the world celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. Chanukah begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, but the starting date on the western calendar varies from year to year. The holiday celebrates the events which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel.]

Story
:

Long ago in the land of Judea there was a Syrian king, Antiochus. The king ordered the Jewish people to reject their God, their religion, their customs and their beliefs and to worship the Greek gods. There were some who did as they were told, but many refused. One who refused was Judah Maccabee.

Judah and his four brothers formed an army and chose as their name the word "Maccabee", which means hammer. After three years of fighting, the Maccabees were finally successful in driving the Syrians out of Israel and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees wanted to clean the building and to remove the hated Greek symbols and statues. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the job was finished and the temple was rededicated.

When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N'er Tamid, which is present in every Jewish house of worship. Once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished.

Only a tiny jug of oil was found with only enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days.

Jews celebrate Chanukah to mark the victory over the Syrians and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. The Festival of the Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil. The word Chanukah means "rededication."

In America, families celebrate Chanukah at home. They give and receive gifts, decorate the house, entertain friends and family, eat special foods, and light the holiday menorah.
•••••
This story and more information on Chanukah may be found at:
http://www.holidays.net/chanukah/story.html

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16) The Untouched Oil by Eliezer Shore 
[This story first appeared in Bas Ayin. It was reprinted in Chosen Tales: Stories Told by Jewish Storytellers, edited by Peninnah Schram. Published by J. Aronson Inc.]

Story:

To say that life was hard for the residents of the Lower East Side was to do them an injustice. The streets of New York were not paved with gold, as they had been led to believe. The streets' cobblestones were cold and hard. No work, no money, no opportunity. Grown men ate portions of food too small for children, and children ate much less. For every one job that opened up, fifty new immigrants streamed off Ellis Island. Life was indeed hard, but hardest of all for those Jews who still clung to the religion of their forefathers. Monday morning out on the streets looking for work—take what you can get—then on Friday afternoon came the inevitable question, "Are you coming in tomorrow?" "No." "Then don't come in next Monday." This is how it went, week after week. Not many held on, not even the pious.

Yaakov Cohen was one of these faithful. A descendent of a long line of distinguished rabbis, he could recite his family tree with ease. Furthermore, he was a Cohen, a Priest, another unending source of pride. He often dreamt of the day when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem would be rebuilt, and how he and his children would serve there. In his small town in Poland he was a prominent figure. His small grocery provided a modest living for his wife and four sons, but his real life centered around the community. He was the gabbai of the shul, ran a soup kitchen for the needy, gave classes to young married men, and every Friday afternoon, lit the golden candelabra in the synagogue, to welcome the oncoming Shabbos. He was a good Jew, and no one could question his faith.But America was different. There were many Yaakov Cohens here, many other pious, but they had fallen before the onslaughts of hunger, sickness, and cold winter nights. Yaakov, like the others, had come with the dream of building a better life, and like so many others, he found his dream difficult to fulfill. His problem was accentuated by his appearance; his beard and peyos clearly labeled him a Shomer Shabbos, (Sabbath observer) and employers would hardly look at him. What could poor Yaakov do? Compromise crept in slowly. The peyos eventually went. The beard was trimmed, shorter and shorter, until it too was gone. But as for the holy Shabbos—that he would not touch, not even a hair.However, the hunger of winter was the hardest of all, and Yaakov could find no work. Nothing. He walked the streets, peered into store windows, eavesdropped on the conversations of well-fed businessmen on street corners. Maybe, maybe. . . . Then one day he spied a little notice besides a drugstore telephone: "Bookkeeper wanted. Inquire 11-15 Delancey St. Second floor." Yaakov pulled the note down and stuffed it into his pocket. Moments later, he was ushered into a small office. A fat man with a foul smelling cigar showed him his job. "Here are the books. These are the entries. Here is what you write. This is what you add. It's a lot of work, and it must be done on time." Yaakov nodded, acceptingly. "And one more thing," the fat man added, "of course you work Saturdays." Yaakov looked down. He rubbed his dry, cracking hands, he stared at his worn, peeling shoes. He nodded, acceptingly.Life changed after that, for better and for worse. Yes, there was food for Yaakov's family, but now, he hardly saw them. Off to work early in the morning, back late at night, and how many nights did he sleep at his desk? He found that if he worked very hard, he could silence the small nagging voice within him. Meanwhile, his sons were growing up. Without a strong father figure to guide them, their own commitment to Torah was becoming lax, and New York offered many distractions for these strong, young men. Only Yaakov's youngest son, Ephraim, maintained his childish faith. Still only nine years old, he enjoyed saying Tehilim, or studying Torah in the back rows of the corner shteible. Ephraim was very young when his family came to America. He did not remember Poland, and his memories of his father before his transformation were poignant, but fleeting. Still, he read the Chumash, and the Midrashim, and dreamt of a golden Temple in a Holy land where Priests served the living God. One day, he and his family would be there.Time passed. Yaakov the Cohen became thin. Leaning over his books, his eyes became weak. He did not observe much of anything these days, and he would not remember the past.It was a cold afternoon in late November. Ephraim Cohen was searching through his parents' bedroom closet, as children often do. Perhaps he was looking for a hidden treasure, or, since Chanukah was less than a week away, he may have been searching for a little flask of pure untouched olive oil. He found something just as good.Among some old papers, an expired passport, a birth certificate, and some tattered greeting cards, he found an old black and white photo of a young boy wearing a pair of Tefillin. The boy's face shone with strength and intelligence, and he stood with a pride undimmed in the faded print. On the back was written the date 1901.Ephraim brought the photo to his mother. "Mother, who is this?" he asked. His mother stared at it long, she turned it over, then over again. "I believe this is your father on his Bar-Mitzvah day," she sighed. "Is this father? Is this really father?" he said in disbelief. Ephraim ran down to the street where his oldest brother was unloading a wagon. "Shimi," he said, "who is this?" He examined the photo, and recognized something of that same look in his own little brother's eyes. "This is father," he said softly.That night, the brothers sat around the kitchen table and sighed, passing the photo back and forth. "This is father. What has happened to him? What has happened to us? We must try to help."Suddenly, Shimon the oldest spoke up. "I have an idea," he said. He ran to the hall closet and began shifting through the old newspapers, the yellowing tablecloths. After a moment he pulled out a faded blue cloth bag his father's Tefillin. Long unused, they had sat there patiently waiting. He ran back to his brothers, holding up his prize.That night, a Wednesday, as Yaakov slept at his accounting desk, his oldest son quietly entered the office and placed the Tefillin on the table before him. When Yaakov awoke in the morning, he could not believe his eyes. It was as though a dream of the past had floated down into reality. He gently picked up the bag and smiled as he examined the gold and silver embroidery on the blue velvet. He put his hand inside and felt the smooth leather straps. What is written in Tefillin? "Hear, O' Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." "And what is written in God's Tefillin?" the Talmud asks. "Who is like Your people Israel, a one nation on earth." Yaakov returned to his accounting, but throughout the day, as he wrote with his right hand, his left hand rested comfortably on the Tefillin bag before him.That night Yaakov again fell asleep at his accounting table and in the still darkness, his second son, Nachum, slipped into the room and quietly laid his father's Tallis in front of him. When Yaakov awoke that next morning, a Friday, he blinked in disbelief. "What is going on here?" he thought. "Where did this come from? Is this real?" He rubbed the yellowing wool, he fingered the fraying tzitzis. It was real. He spread out the Tallis. It was worn and moth-eaten, a little like Yaakov himself. Still, there was a certain dignity to it. He remembered the High Holidays services, and how, even as a child, he would stand at the front of the synagogue, Tallis over his head and arms, and bless the people: "May God bless you and protect you. May God shine His face upon you and be gracious to you. May God lift His face to you, and bestow upon you peace." He had always meant it, as well."It's cold in here," he told himself, "Maybe this will keep me warm." He wrapped himself in the old Tallis and strangely, it did keep him warm. He bent over his work and continued, the ragged Tallis around his shoulders, his left hand resting upon the Tefillin.Sometime towards dusk, Yaakov laid his head upon his arm and fell asleep. When he awoke it was already night. He looked up and saw what appeared to be two flaming angels hovering in the darkness before him. He blinked, rubbed his eyes, and beheld two Shabbos candles burning brightly on his desk. While he had slept, his third son had placed them there, made the blessing over the Shabbos, and left. Yaakov gave a great shudder. A flood of memories overwhelmed him. "Shabbos," he whispered to himself, "Shabbos, Shabbos."Yaakov stared into those lights. He sat unmoving for hours as they slowly burned down. In those holy Shabbos lights he saw many things. He saw his own wife lighting Shabbos candles back in their home in Poland. He saw his mother, too, as she would pray for her family before the Shabbos lights, and his ruddy cheeked grandmother kindling, as well. Yaakov saw the oil lamps of the Beis HaMedrash, where scholars studied the holy Torah deep into the night. And he saw the Shabbos lights of his own shul, that he, himself, once lit.His vision went back. He saw the lights that Jews had lit for thousands of years—a million Chanukiot in a million homes. He saw the Cohen Godol tending the lights of the holy Menorah in the Sanctuary. The wars of the Chashmonaim, as they fought to reclaim their religion. He saw the countless Jews whose lives had ended in flames because they had refused to abandon their Torah. And, at the very end, before the candles died out, as they flickered their last, dull, orange and blue flame, he saw the destruction of Jerusalem, the burning of the Beis HaMikdash, and the beginning of the long, dark exile. Yaakov did not return home that night, nor Shabbos by day, nor Motzoi Shabbos, nor Sunday. And Sunday night was the first night of Chanukah.In their small apartment, his four sons sat anxiously looking out the window. In their hands was a small candle that would serve as an impoverished Menorah. They watched the darkening horizon, waiting for the proper moment in which to light, but silently, their eyes scanned the streets, searching for something else. Darkness fell, the stars would soon appear."We may as well begin," Shimon, the oldest, finally said. At that moment, from down below on the street, they heard a call. "Shimon, Nachum, Tzvi, Ephraim. Come down!" It was their father! Like sparks from a bonfire they flew out the door and down the steps.Standing in front of the house was Yaakov. Beside the door, in a small glass case, was a beautiful gold tinted Menorah. "My boys, my dear boys," he said, "you saved me. You did. You were the angels that brought about my deliverance. I've made many mistakes, I'll admit them, but from now on things will be different." His eyes were wet with tears. "Now, come, who will help me light the Menorah? We have only one candle tonight."Shimon, the oldest, spoke up first. "Me, Father, because I brought you your Tefillin, it was really my idea." "You're right, my son, and it was a beautiful idea. It's what woke me up from my sleep." Nachum stepped forward. "Father, I brought you your Tallis." "Yes, my son, that too was important. It warmed my very soul." "Father," said Tzvi, "I lit the Shabbos candles." "Tzvi, that was most precious gift of all." He turned to Ephraim, the youngest. "What about you, Ephraim? What did you do?" "Nothing, father. Only I . . . I found an old photo of you in the closet, and I went around asking everyone, 'Is this father? Is this father?'"His father paused. "Then to you, Ephraim, I owe the most. Because you cared enough to ask about me, and a man is never completely lost as long as someone cares for him. Your words woke up every one of us." He took Ephraim's hand. "Come boys, let us light the Menorah with your little brother, Ephraim." The brothers gathered around as Yaakov bent forward to light the Menorah, and there was joy in their hearts, because they knew their father had returned.
•••••
Text may be found at:
http://www.shemayisrael.com/chanukah/story.htm
Contributed by
Eliezel Shore
emshore@hotmail.com

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17) Chanukah Lights Dancing

[by Dr. Jackie Yaris. Chanukah's tiny lights brazenly face the night's bitter challenge, transforming the harsh edge of fear into a soft caress of hope.]

Excerpt:

There is perhaps nothing as cold and terrifying as a midwinter night. Even the moon, usually low and welcoming, takes its retreat. It and its minion of stars glare angrily in the distance, the white light offering no respite. I think it is because of the intensity of the darkness that I have always found the candles of Chanukah so intriguing. Their tiny lights brazenly face the night's bitter challenge, and victorious, transform the harsh edge of fear into a soft caress of hope. Bathed in the candles' magical hue of triumph, the eight nights of Chanukah have always been a special time for me.

Oddly enough, none was more special than the one I spent as an intern on the oncology ward. It was December, six months into my internship, and I was bleary with exhaustion and staggering toward January -- my much awaited vacation. I remember thinking how apropos it was that during the darkest month of the year, I would be seeing patients dealing with probably the bleakest time of their lives. To alleviate some of the inherent gravity of the ward, the staff had attempted to infuse it with holiday cheer -- but the fluorescent lights had jaundiced even the brightest Xmas tree and Chanukah menorah, and all appeared sickly greenish.

After a few weeks of seeing so many tragic cases, and so much suffering, and now completely convinced that everyone I knew had an as-of-yet undiagnosed cancer lurking within them, my outlook became morose and depressed.

Until I met Claire.

A 57-year-old woman, she had been admitted for a two week course of chemo. Cancer has a nasty habit of revisiting its previous victims -- often with a far more lethal type, and two months earlier Claire had been diagnosed with a rare, aggressive blood cancer, just eight years after successful treatment for bone cancer.These stark facts defined her medically, but they did not at all describe the whirlwind that was Claire.

When I walked in to her room, I was heartily greeted by a bright-eyed woman, wearing an orange turban, gigantic hoop earrings, and a huge smile.

"Hello! My new doctor!" she exclaimed and proceeded to fill me in on all the medical details she knew I would be asking. Clearly, she had been through this before.

"But now, tell me about you," she smiled.

I was surprised. Understandably, patients in similar situations are typically reeling, and by necessity focus inward. But not Claire; she radiated outward with such genuine interest that I started talking. As I did, I noticed the myriad of photos that had already begun to fill her walls -- of old people, young people but always with Claire, grinning widely, lighting up the center. Somehow, in such a short time, she had managed to transform the drab, antiseptic hospital room to a place of color and warmth…
•••••
[The rest of the story may be found at:

http://www.aish.com/chanukahstories/chanukahstoriesdefault/Chanukah_Lights_Dancing.asp

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18) Out of the Closet

[by Debbie Hirschmann]
Excerpt:

My mother, a Holocaust survivor, always said, "You can be a Jew on the inside, but not on the outside." It was too risky to be a Jew on the outside.

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a closet Jew.

You'd probably never know that I'm Jewish. I have blond hair and green eyes. I don't wear a Star of David -- never would -- that's what they had to wear in Nazi Germany. I really don't talk about Judaism to people outside of my community. I really don't make it public that I'm a Jew -- and particularly don't disclose that I'm a religious Jew. So I live in the closet as a Jew. And until recently, I preferred it that way.

There are many reasons for my secrecy -- but I realize now, they're mostly because of the Holocaust.

My mother and her sister are Holocaust survivors, and their parents were murdered in the gas chambers in Auschwitz. When my mom speaks of her parents, she still always cries, heartbroken, as if it had just happened yesterday. As if she were still that teenager that had her parents ripped out of her life, forever.

I always had very mixed feelings about the Holocaust. On one hand, I was powerfully drawn to it and wanted to know more information about it. On the other hand, it caused Judaism to have such a horrible stigma. As a result, everything related to being Jewish had negative associations that I didn't want to have anything to do with it. I didn't want to be associated with being a persecuted Jew. So I pushed both the Holocaust, and Judaism, away.

To add to all this, I was hardly raised Jewish at all. My mother married a Catholic, and so I was raised with really no religion of which to speak. My mother always said, "Hitler was our matchmaker." In other words, had her family been alive, she never would have married a non-Jew. My parents agreed not to push either of their religions on my sister or me, and they kept with that agreement.

HIGH HOLIDAY PAIN

In my WASPy public high school in suburban San Francisco, I never admitted to anyone why I missed school on the Jewish New Year. I certainly wasn't bat mitzvahed; it never crossed my mind. We went to temple just 2 days a year, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. In temple I recall my mother and her sister crying, or sitting with pained looks on their faces. No spiritual meaning for me, just more negativity. Every year, on schedule, I sat watching my mother and aunt who had suffered so much already, suffer yet again.

We celebrated both Christmas and Chanukah, but I always felt that Chanukah was a poor imitation/substitute for the Christmas that we celebrated with joy and beauty. I always felt sorry for my cousins who only celebrated Chanukah, with its dismal decorations. In our home, next to a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, pathetically sat a tarnished, copper menorah with unattractive wax candles. To "celebrate" Chanukah, my mother always cried and sang a song in Hebrew that her father sang when he was alive…
•••••
[The rest of the story may be found at:
http://www.aish.com/chanukahstories/chanukahstoriesdefault/Out_of_the_Closet_.asp

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19) Christmas in Brooklyn

[by Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller]
Excerpt:

My parents had no clue as to why they lit the electric menorah on Chanukah.In truth, the mystique of Christmas had no real competition.

When I was a child, I had no idea that I lived in a Jewish ghetto. The fact that almost everyone that was part of my life was a fellow "Member of the Tribe" was emotionally censored by the humdrum vigor of America of the late 50's. We all pretended that our ancestors had come on the Mayflower.

In fourth grade, one of our least creative arts and crafts projects of the year was making "holiday trees" out of construction paper. Incontrovertibly, the results were meant to enhance "The Season To Be Jolly." Never mind that the teacher, Mrs. Tobin (real name) and at least 90 percent of the class were Jewish.

I was enchanted by the store window displays, the music, the TV shows. I felt that my being Jewish was a definite social faux pas. I had dark curly hair and olive skin. I envied the blonde WASP models that beamed down from every billboard.

I could not discuss my feelings with my parents. They were even more Jewish than I was. They had friends named Irving, Goldie and Shirley. While none of my friends were named Dick, Jane or Sally -- which would have been ideal -- Diane, Steven and Robin were a definite move forward in my subconscious search for genuine integration into the dominant culture.

Diane was one of my closest friends. Her door faced mine in our apartment complex. Her unspoken dream of being part of the world portrayed in "Leave it to Beaver" was far more passionate than mine was. She wanted a tree.

YEARNING FOR A TREE


Diane knew that she couldn't have a TV father who came home from the insurance office every day smiling in a three-piece suit, or a Mom who had a 23-inch waist and cleaned her spotless kitchen in three-inch heels. Her father worked in a restaurant, and her mother's roots showed. A tree was a tangible link to a world that was not hers.

Her parents bought Diane what was advertised as a "Chanukah Bush." It was about three-feet tall, made of some sort of silvery synthetic material and could be trimmed with tinsel and lights. I hated it. It was a cop-out. It was a concession to the world of Shirley and Mel. It wasn't green or pine. Worst of all it wasn't normal. I had what I considered to be a better alternative -- I had nothing.

Neither of my parents had a clue as to why they lit the electric menorah on Chanukah in accompaniment to my grandmother's unforgettable potato latkes other than that is what Jews do. We had all heard of Judah the Macabee and his war against the Greeks -- which had no apparent connection to either the menorah or the latkes, or any aspect of our lives.

In truth, the mystique of Christmas had no real competition...
•••••
[The rest of this story may be found at:
http://www.aish.com/chanukahstories/chanukahstoriesdefault/Christmas_in_Brooklyn_.asp

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20) The Horse That Wouldn't Eat Latkes
[Jewish Children International - Tzivos Hashem. This story is from The Storyteller. Copyright (c) Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, Brooklyn, NY. You do have permission to use these stories for PERSONAL USE ONLY.]

Story:

One wintry Chanukah night, a weary traveler stopped at an inn by the roadside. He was cold and hungry, and he was thinking of a warm fireplace and steaming latkes. From this you gather that the traveler was a Jew, and the innkeeper was likewise, a Jew.

When the traveler came in, the fireside was fully occupied by lazy-looking people, chatting idly. They took no notice of the newcomer, and nobody offered him a place by the fireside.

The traveler took out a little prayer book and recited the evening prayers. Then he brought out a Chanukah lamp and a bottle of pure olive oil. He filled the lamp with oil, prepared fresh wicks and lit the Chanukah lamp, after reciting the blessings in a clear and joyous voice.

Still nobody in the room took any notice of him. Presently the innkeeper's servant came in, and asked him if he wished to order anything to eat.

"The horse must be taken care of first," replied the traveler.

Then, to the servant's amazement, he ordered a bowl of latkes for the horse. The servant stood there, not knowing what to make of it and the traveler repeated the order in a loud voice, adding: "Be sure that the latkes are steaming hot and well fried, and have a bowl of heavy sour cream with it. But make haste, my horse is hungry!"

The people sitting around the fireplace, raised their heads and became quite interested. They had never heard of a horse that eats steaming hot latkes, with sour cream at that! One by one they got up and went into the stable to watch the strange sight.

No sooner were they gone than the traveler made himself comfortable at the fireplace. He smiled happily, but when he heard footsteps, he pretended to be serious.

The embarrassed servant came in with the steaming hot latkes and sour cream, followed by the crowd of curious people.

"These men are my witnesses that the horse did not even touch the latkes," the servant stated apologetically. "He just would have none of them, with or without the sour cream. It's the honest truth!"

"Is that so?" the traveler exclaimed. "Well, never mind, the poor horse must have forgotten it's Chanukah night. If he knows no better, then he deserves nothing better than oats. Give him his oats, then. And by the way, I'll have the latkes. I'm hungry, too. Place them right here by the fireside." Turning to the others, he said jovially: "Good Chanukah, gentlemen. Does anybody care to join me?"
•••••
Full-text story may be found at:
http://www.tzivos-hashem.org/storytime/storyteller/st1508.htm

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21) The Night Before Hanukkah — A Visit From Judah Maccabee
[by Melinda Bell, based on the classic poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. Excerpt from The Night Before Hanukkah: Holiday Crafts & Activity Center.]


'Twas the first night of Hannukah and all through the house
Pleasure was spreading, as quick as a mouse.
The children played dreidel and ate with such glee,
Oh latkes, and donuts, a pleasure to see!The menorah was placed by the window with care
So all who came by could see it from there.
We sang lots of songs, and told lots of stories,
About the Maccabees and all of their glories.When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutter and threw up the sash.When what to my wondering eye should appear,
But a vision of Judah the Maccabee there!
As he walked from the hill, he was so proud to say
That the war had been won, we were all free to stay!The Greeks were defeated and so it was sure
The Israelites could stay in their homeland so pure.
He wanted to go to the temple to pray,
But I needed to warn of a hitch on the way.The temple was ruined by some in the war,
It was dark, and I worried we'd be lost for sure.
As we travelled to Jerusalem on some mighty trail,
Judah assured me that we would not fail.The night was dark,as I feared it would be,
Hey we were travelling through the 2nd Century B.C.E.
But far, far above us, we saw a bright light
Coming from the window of the temple that night.Those that had gathered there were quick to say
There was just enough oil to last only one day.
They worried as news of the victory spread,
Others would be lost, or left asleep in their bed.Those that came after would not get to see
The lamp which told of our victory.
The faithful were sure that all would be right
And that one cruse of oil would last us eight nights.As the eight nights befell us, it soon became clear
The lamp would stay lit -- darkness was nothing to fear.
So now to this day, each year we celebrate
The Festival of Lights for eight nights on this date.And so as you enjoy the great gift of light,
Happy Hannukah to all, and to all a good night.
•••••
Source:
http://www.onenorthpole.com/Hannukah/h_poem.html

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22) A Great Miracle Happened Here
[Jewish Children International - Tzivos Hashem]

Excerpt:

This happened on the eve of Chanukah, and almost spoiled Moishele's Chanukah spirit. This was not just any Chanukah, it was his Bar Mitzvah Chanukah, for he was lucky enough to be born on Shabbos Chanukah.Moishele was hurrying home not to miss the lighting of the Chanukah lights. He, together with all the yeshivah students, was allowed to leave earlier that day, but instead of going straight home, Moishele dashed about looking to buy a dreidel. He had not expected it to be so difficult, but wherever he went, the stores told him they were `'sold out" of dreidels.Finally he was lucky enough to find a store that still had one solitary dreidel and he was so excited and relieved, he forgot to haggle about the price.Now off he went, smiling happily, with one hand in his pocket caressing the dreidel, and the other hand swinging smartly like a soldier marching, and with a Chanukah song on his lips.Yes, Moishele felt happy and carefree as he hurried homewards, looking forward to his father lighting the Chanukah lights, with Leah, his little sister, and him joining their father singing Haneirot Halalu. Then he would extend a closed fist to his sister and ask her: "Guess what I have in my hand?" And she would try to guess - "An apple? A banana?""An apple! Yes, I really should buy a few apples and bananas to share with my sister," thought Moishele. "We can enjoy the fruit while we play dreidel."He had just reached the corner where there was an old fruiterer with a fruit stand, his head in a newspaper. Moishele quickly picked up an apple and a banana and asked the fruiterer how much, paid for the fruit and ran off.In his hurry Moishele did not see a group of boys throw themselves at the fruitstand, grab some fruit and run off quickly and quietly. It happened so quickly that, when Moishele heard the fruiterer yelling at the top of his voice: "Stop thief!! Catch the thief!" he did not realize what had happened. Almost at the same moment, he felt a hand come down heavily on his shoulder. He looked up and saw an angry-looking police man scowling at him."Let me go," yelled Moishele. "I paid him for the fruit. I'm no thief! I go to a Yeshivah and know the commandment, `Do not steal.'""Is that so? Then who stole fruit from the poor old fruiterer? And if you paid, how come the fruit is not in a bag but in your hand?""I was in a hurry to get home," said poor Moishele."I bet you were," said the policeman sarcastically. "You can tell that to the Judge." Saying which, he gave Moishele a push which almost knocked him over. "Now you get a move on, and I'll take you to a place made for such mean rascals as you, who take advantage of poor, old, helpless people like the fruiterer."They soon came to a big house which had a huge sign bearing the words, CHILDREN'S COURT.They entered and the policeman handed over Moishele to another policeman with the words: "A thief." The second policeman led Moishele to a room, unlocked the door, pushed him inside, locked the door again, and left.Moishele looked around the room which already had quite a number of boys who looked about the same age as Moishele. They certainly looked a mean, rough lot. He moved to a corner, as far away as possible from the other boys, and sat down on a bench. "He's obviously a greenhorn" - they called out. They came up to him and studied him with interest."This is your first offense as a thief, right? Don't worry. You will soon learn how to do better," they said to him."I am no thief," said Moishele. Hearing this, they all burst out laughing. "Don't tell us fairy tales. Would you like to be a member of our gang? We would teach you how to succeed.""I am no thief. Just leave me alone!" said Moishele."Is that so? Then we will teach you a lesson you will not forget in a hurry," they said, and threw themselves on poor Moishele, striking him from all sides….
•••••
The rest of the story may be found at:
http://www.tzivos-hashem.org/storytime/storyteller/st1504.htm

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23) One Little Menorah
[by Zalman Velvel]

Excerpt:

David threw open the front door and then slammed it shut, making the house shudder down to its foundation. His father and mother, Michael and Becky, who had been quietly watching television, were completely startled.

"Being Jewish sucks!" David shouted as he stomped up the stairs. He kicked his bedroom door closed for punctuation.
Becky clicked off the tv, and stared at her husband.
"I think this is your department, Michael."
He nodded and headed for the stairs. Michael knocked twice. Receiving no answer, he opened the door and entered The Pig Sty of Long Island - Massapequa Branch. A quick scan revealed the following : a bag containing a sweaty gym uniform that came home at the start of winter recess but had yet to find its way to the wash, two weeks worth of dirty clothes spilling out of the laundry basket in the corner of the closet, homework papers and school books in various stages of procrastination, and one brown-haired, twelve-year-old boy lying on his bed, his face buried under two pillows, ostrich style. "What's wrong, David?"
"Nothing."
Michael removed the top pillow. David put a death grip on the one remaining.
"I believe you whispered something about being Jewish, and how it sucks, as you tiptoed quietly into the house."
"Leave me alone, Dad." "David, I'm warning you. I was a tickle-a-holic before I married your mother. I've been on the wagon for 13 years. I mention this because your ticklish sides are exposed, and my fingers are beginning to twitch. I'm not sure how much longer I can resist if ...."
When David shot his arms down to protect his sides, Michael sneaked away the last pillow.
"Thank you, David. Now that I can see some of your smiling face, I have the strength to resist. Whew, that was close."
Michael waited for David to begin. When he didn't, Michael asked, seriously, "Come on, tell me what's wrong?"
"I don't want to be Jewish anymore."
"What brought this about?"
"It sucks. I hate it."
"Is this sucking pure coincidence, or is it related to the fact tonight is Christmas Eve?"
"Yeah, maybe." David got up from the bed and turned on his computer. "David, if you touch the mouse on that computer, instead of telling me what's bothering you, I promise, I'm going to tickle you within an inch of your life…"
•••••
The rest of the story may be found at:
http://www.sssrealty.com/story/chanukah.htm

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KWANZAA


1) Seven Principles of Kwanzaa
1) Umoja (oo-MOH-jah) or unity—to strive for unity in family, community, nations and race.
2) Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah) or self-determination—to speak for ourselves and create our own destinies. To be responsible for ourselves.
3) Ujima (oo-JEE-mah) or collective work and responsibility—to build and maintain our community together.
4) Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH) or collective economics—to build and maintain our own stores and businesses.
5) Nia (NEE-ah) or purpose—to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6) Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) or creativity—to use our imagination and creativity to make our community better than when we inherited it.
7) Imani (ee-MAH-nee) or faith—to believe in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness of our struggle.

More information about Kwanzaa:
http://www.holidays.net/kwanzaa/
http://www.moonchildren.com/holidays/kwanzaa/

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2) Why Men Have to Work

[This can fit with many of the Kwanzaa principles.
Story from Black Folktales by Julius Lester Grove Press 1969, taken from an African tale traditionally known as Why the Sky is Far Away from African Creation Myths by Ulli Beier (London: Heinemann, 1966).
Also found as a folktale from Nigeria retold elaborately by Mary-Joan Gerson HBJ 1974
She sets it in the Benin kingdom, and says Bini people originated the story.]

Bones: Sky used to be very close to the ground. People could reach up, break off a piece and eat it. So no one had to work. But sometimes people would break off more than they could eat and then just throw away the leftover. What did it matter? It mattered to the sky, seeing itself like half-eaten garbage lying on the ground. So sky warned people not to do that anymore. People promised to do right, but started to forget. A man broke off a piece large enough to feed many people, ate a bit, threw the rest away. Sky roared and lifted itself as high as it could. People began pleading with sky to come back. Promised they wouldn't do it again. But sky stayed where he was. People then had to go to work to feed themselves.
•••••
Contributed by
Audrey Kopp
Storyteller, teacher
audreystory@verizon.net

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3) For Kwanzaa stories
(fitting all the principles)
http://www.folktales.net/Kwanza1.html

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4) The Father, his Sons, and the Bundle of Sticks
(Aesop)
[Kwanzaa principle of Unity.]

Story:

An Old Man had many Sons, who were always falling out with one another. He had often vainly exhorted them to live together in harmony. One day he called them round him, and producing a bundle of sticks, bade them each in turn to break it across. Each put forth all his strength, but the bundle resisted all their efforts. Then cutting the cord which bound the sticks together, he told his Sons to break them separately. This was done with the greatest ease. "See, my Sons," exclaimed he, "the power of unity! Bound together by brotherly love, you may defy almost every mortal ill; divided, you will fall a prey to your enemies."
Principle: Unity gives strength.
•••••
Suggested by
Audrey Kopp
Storyteller, teacher
audreystory@verizon.net

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5) Celebrating Kwanzaa
- a reflective feast
[Contains background information and songs set to familiar melodies]

Songs:
Kwanzaa Time - Tune: The Farmer in the Dell
Candle Candle - Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Very Soon It Will Be Kwanzaa - Tune: Did You Ever See a Lassie?
Kwanzaa's Here - Tune: Three Blind Mice
Soon It Will Be Kwanzaa - Tune: Down By the Station
The Seven Days of Kwanzaa - Tune: The Twelve Days of Christmas
•••••
Lyrics and other information may be found at:
http://www.umkc.edu/imc/kwanzaa.htm

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6) Kwanzaa Reading Fun
[
Kwanzaa was established in 1966 as an African-American holiday by educator Dr. Maulana Karenga. Since then, it has increased in popularity every year as more African-American families celebrate the holiday, and more children learn about Kwanzaa and its seven principles in school. Here are some Kwanzaa books for children. Since the values highlighted during Kwanzaa stress many of the traits taught in character education, many teachers share Kwanzaa stories with their students. Books always add to holiday fun - be sure to check your local library for suggestions.]

BABY & PRESCHOOL
A Blue's Clues Holiday by Angela C. Santomero, Yo-Lynn Hagood (Illustrator).
Help Blue make Christmas decorations and cookies, then go with her to visit her neighbors who are celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Children will need help with the craft projects they're invited to try.

AGES 4-8
It's Kwanzaa Time!
b
y Linda Goss, Clay Goss (Contributor), Ashley Bryan (Illustrator).
Excellent reading skills are needed for what initially looks like a picturebook. Floyd Cooper, The Dillons, and a host of other artists paired with Kwanzaa stories give a strong presentation for all ages.
This book has it all: history, stories, crafts, games, recipes, and songs. The stories, one for each day and principle of Kwanzaa, include illustrations by award-winning artists, including Ashley Bryan, Leo and Diane Dillon, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, and Jerry Pinkney. The stories range from folktales to true stories. (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1995. ISBN: 0399239561)

K Is for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford Ken Wilson-Max (Illustrator).
Celebrate Kwanzaa by introducing related words from A to Z, including "Africa," "bendera," "dashiki," and "yams."

A Kwanzaa Celebration Pop-up Book by Nancy Williams Robert Sabuda (Illustrator)
This fun, colorful, book presents an outline of Kwanzaa, its seven days, and its symbols and concepts.

Messy Bessey's Holidays (Rookie Readers) by Pat McKissack, Dana Regan (Illustrator), Patricia McKissack, Fredrick L. McKissack.
Learn about Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah through the cookies Bessey bakes for all her friends and family.

My First Kwanzaa Book by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate, Cal Massey (Illustrator).
Kwanzaa is a time to dress up in African clothes and gather together with relatives from all over the country. Grandma brings special things to eat, Grandpa lights the candles, and everyone in the family celebrates their heritage.
The story, the striking artwork, and the clever way both are used to illustrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa make "Seven Spools of Thread" an exceptional piece of children's literature. The author is Angela Shelf Medearis, the popular author of numerous children's books. Daniel Minter's linoleum block prints complement the story, yet stand alone as dramatic pieces of art. (Albert Whitman & Company, 2000. ISBN: 0807573159)AGES 9-12
Celebrating Kwanzaa by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith, Lawrence Migdale (Photographer).
Each day is given its own double-page spread. The principles and symbols for each day are explained, along with the origin and application and celebration of the Seven Principles of the holiday.

Have a Happy-- by Mildred Pitts Walter.
Chris celebrates his birthday on the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa.

The Kwanzaa Contest by Miriam Moore Penny Taylor (Illustrator) Laura Spencer (Illustrator).
Can a Kwanzaa contest give Ronald a taste of the attention his older sister always seems to get, or will it do more for his heart?

A Kwanzaa Fable by Eric V. Copage.
A modern-day fable that teaches the principles of Kwanzaa through a tragedy that strikes a small family. Jordan, 13 years old is now at a crossroads: It's his time to become an honorable man like his father, but will he choose that path?

Kwanzaa and Me : A Teacher's Story by Vivian Gussin Paley.
Here are the voices of black teachers and minority parents, immigrant families, a Native American educator, and the children themselves, whose stories mingle with the author's to create a true picture of the successes and failures of the integrated classroom.

Seven Spools of Thread : A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis, Daniel Minter (Illustrator).
Striking woodcuts and a resonant original folktale are the warp and weft of this understated, effective approach to Kwanzaa.
The story, the striking artwork, and the clever way both are used to illustrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa make "Seven Spools of Thread" an exceptional piece of children's literature. The author is Angela Shelf Medearis, the popular author of numerous children's books. Daniel Minter's linoleum block prints complement the story, yet stand alone as dramatic pieces of art. (Albert Whitman & Company, 2000. ISBN: 0807573159)

Western Star by Bonnie Bryant.
Stevie, Carole, and Lisa head west to the Bar None Ranch for winter break from school. During their stay there, an almost miraculous series of events touches each of them and reminds them that holidays mean more than presents and time off from their studies.

The Gifts of Kwanzaa
Synthia Saint James' artwork in bold colors and simple shapes will immediately engage your attention. A young girl's family prepares for, and enjoys, Kwanzaa. Along with an explanation of the family's activities, the author provides examples of what the principles of Kwanzaa mean that even quite young children should be able to understand. (Albert Whitman & Co., 1994. ISBN: 0807529079)PARENT HELPS
The Complete Kwanzaa : Celebrating Our Cultural Harvest by Dorothy Winbush Riley.
A compilation of first-person narratives, poetry, folktales, quotations, and proverbs. The section on Kujichaguila (self-determination), for example, includes poems from Riley, Nikki Giovanni, and Serena Gordon, and excerpts from Booker T. Washington's Up from Slavery and Michael Jordan's Rare Air.

How to Plan a Kwanzaa Celebration: Ideas For Family, Community and Public Events by Ida Gamble-Gumbs, Ida R. Gumbs, Bob Gumbs.
A guide to planning small and large Kwanzaa celebrations. Contains information on: the origin of Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles), the symbols of Kwanzaa, celebrating Kwanzaa, Planning a celebration, sample Kwanzaa celebration program, Kwanzaa holiday recipes, and African Fashion ideas.

Kwanzaa Crafts : Gifts & Decorations for a Meaningful & Festive Celebration by Marcia Odle McNair.
Restores and reinforces principles of the true holiday season, defines each day with the principle, its candle color, symbol, a descriptive story of poem, and a bunch of make-it-now crafts. Recipes are easy, from banana bread as a gift to rice and black-eyed peas eaten on New Year's Day for good luck.

A Kwanzaa Keepsake : Celebrating the Holiday With New Traditions and Feasts by Jessica Harris.
More than 50 recipes are included in menus that provide themes reflecting the principles of each day of the celebration; and for each day, ceremonies are discussed. This cookbook is indeed a keepsake, for space is provided to record family history, memories, and recipes for sharing old traditions and creating new ones.

Crafts for Kwanzaa
This book provides directions for 20 Kwanzaa crafts. Sharon Lane Holm's colorful sketches and Kathy Ross' clear directions make it a joy to use. Included at the beginning of the book is an overview of the holiday. Throughout the book, Ross introduces Swahili words and describes the relationship of the crafts to the celebration of Kwanzaa. (Millbrook Press, Inc., 1994. ISBN: 1562944126
•••••
More information about Kwanzaa:
http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/holidays/tp/kwanzaa.htm
http://www.kidsdomain.com/holiday/kwanzaa/books.html
http://webtech.kennesaw.edu/jcheek3/holidays.htm#kwanzaa

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OTHER STORIES IN THE FALL/WINTER HOLIDAY SPIRIT


1) Tom Turkey
[I don’t have a source for this story. I have been telling it for over 40 years.]

Bones:

Foolish Tom Turkey goes for walk - meets various animals who laugh at him.
"Ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, hee.
You're the funniest (whatever color he happens to be) turkey I ever did see."
Tom asks "Why am I a funny turkey?"
Because every one knows that the prettiest color is ___ just like me."
So Foolish Tom Turkey went home and died himself ____.

Tom meets:
Blue bird - blue
White rabbit - white
Snake or frog - green
Duck with orange bill - orange
Kitten with purple bow - purple
Chick - yellow
Woodpecker with red head or robin with red breast - red

Meets boy and girl - they say "ha, ha....."
Tom cries - can't please anyone.
Boy and girl takes him home. Their mother will know what to do.

Ending one - mother makes him a nice Thanksgiving brown and he gets eaten.
Ending two - mother gives him a bath and he is a nice brown again and gets Thanksgiving scraps. (hint of colors in tail remind him to just be himself.

(Can use turkey cutouts of different colors when telling story.)
•••••
Contributed by
Rose Owens
Rose the story lady

Storylady@civprod.com
http://www.civprod.com/storylady/

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2) Bashful Benny bones
[
Bones taken from a story by
Helen Habada, printed in Child Life Magazine, Nov. 1969.]

Preparation
– Print and color Benny. Mount him on cardboard. Cut an oval the size of his body circle, trim off top edge and glue or tape to the back of Benny. This is his feather pocket. Cut enough colored paper feathers so each child can end up with one. Adapt story so each child gets to take a feather.

Bones:

Benny – kind, good, generous, thoughtful AND most bashful turkey on turkey farm.
Beautiful tail, could strut and gobble and fan tail with best of them—well, . . . if he wanted to.
Mostly Benny would run and hide if anyone looked at him or spoke to him or looked like they might notice him.
Other turkeys made fun of him, bullied him, pushed him.
Benny ate leftovers but he didn’t min.
Tom – biggest and vainest turkey – caught tail in fence, lost 2 feathers – asked Benny for feathers (didn’t say please)
Benny blushed, ducked head, scratched ground and said, “Sure. Help yourself.”
Tom took 3 feathers (Have 3 children take a feather)
Farmer Brown’s wife needed feather for hat.
Suzie needed feather for turkey centerpiece
Johnny needed feather for Indian costume
Benny kept giving feathers away.
Leaves turned all colors, got cold – Benny’s feathers were all gone.
People came to farm to look at turkeys. Tom was first to go. Farmer Brown put something in his pocket.
Pumpkins turned orange, fewer turkeys.
Benny wished he were braver – wanted to go beyond the fence.
Finally all turkeys gone except Benny. Brown family came out with huge plate of scraps.
Farmer Brown “Benny, you are a smart turkey and kind too.
Mrs. Brown “No one wanted a featherless turkey.”
Suzie and Johnny “So instead of being someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner you get to share ours.”
Benny blushed, scratched ground, started to eat his Thanksgiving dinner. Stopped. Looked up. Looked straight at Brown family and said “Thank you,” in a very clear, very confident gobble-gobble voice.

[Remind children that now they each have one of Benny’s feathers. Take it home to remind them to be kind, polite, say nice words, care about others, etc.]
•••••

Contributed by
Rose Owens
Rose the story lady
Storylady@civprod.com
http://www.civprod.com/storylady/

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3) New Year's Hats for the Statues

[Bones taken from Sea of Gold by Yoshiko Uchida, C. Scribner and Sons 1965.]
Bones: Old, poor couple. He makes living by weaving reed hats for farmers. Winter time. Wife: New Year's Day approaching, but we have nothing to eat. Husband: I will make some hats, sell them in village, and buy fish, rice, bean cakes for New Year's Feast.
Day before New Year's, old man takes 5 hats to village. Very cold weather, snow. Tries to sell hats, but everyone is preparing for new year and they ignore him.
He wishes for even a small piece of fish to take home. Heads for home. Comes upon six stone statures of Jizo, guardian god of children, standing by roadside covered with snow on tops of head and shoulders.
He has an idea, and carefully ties a hat on each of the Jizo statues after brushing them off. Realizes he is one hat short, and uses his own hat for last statue.
"Happy New Year," he calls.
Wife greets him upon his arrival home. He explains what he did with the hats. She agrees that it was a kind thing to do. Makes tea.
They go to bed early for there is no more charcoal. More wind, snow. They try to keep warm under their quilts. We are fortunate to have a roof over our heads, they agree.
About daybreak they hear voices outside. Sounds like a group of men pulling a very heavy load.
What is it?????
They look out window and see the six stone statues lumbering toward their house, still wearing the reed hats and each pulling a heavy sack. Couple are amazed!
Statues leave sacks by the door, and leave. Couple open door and sacks tumble inside: rice and wheat, fish and beans, wine and bean cakes, etc, etc.
Feasts for the whole year!
"Ojizo Sama, thank you," they shout. But six statues disappear into whiteness of falling snow, leaving only their footprints to show they had been there.
•••••
Contributed by
Audrey Kopp
Storyteller, teacher
audreystory@verizon.net

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4) The Fairy's Gift
[adapted from Emilie Poullsson (source unknown)]

Bones:

* 2 little boys at play one day
* Fairy suddenly appeared before them
* said, "I have been sent to give you New Year presents."

* handed to each child a package
* in an instant was gone.

* boys opened the packages
* found in them two beautiful books
* pages as pure and white as he snow when it first falls.

* Many months passed
* Fairy came again to the boys
* "I have brought you each another book."
* "I will take the first ones back to Father Time who sent them to you."

* one boy "May I not keep mine a little longer?"
* "I have hardly thought about it lately. I'd like to paint something on the last leaf that lies open."

* "No," said the Fairy. "I must take it just as it is."

* "I wish that I could look through mine just once," said other boy.
* "I have only seen one page at a time, for when the leaf turns over it sticks fast, and I can never open the book at more than one place each day."

* "You shall each look at your book," said the Fairy.
* fairy lit for them two little silver lamps, by the light of which they saw the pages as she turned them.

* boys looked in wonder
* could it be that these were the same fair books she had given them a year ago?
* where were the clean, white pages, as pure and beautiful as the snow when it first falls?
* now some pages with ugly, black spots and scratches upon it; while the very next page showed a lovely little picture.
* some pages were decorated with gold and silver and gorgeous colours, others with beautiful flowers, and still others witha rainbow of softest, most delicate brightness.
* yet even on the most beautiful of the pages there were ugly blots and scratches.

* boys looked up at the Fairy at last.

* "Who did this?"
* "Every page was white and fair as we opened to it; yet now there is not a single blank place in the whole book!:

* Let me explain some of the pictures to you?" said the Fairy, smiling at the two little boys.

* "See the spray of roses blossomed on this page when you let the baby have your playthings; and this pretty bird, that looks as if it were singing with all its might, would never have been on this page if you had not tried to be kind and pleasant the other day, instead of quarreling."

* "But what makes this blot?"

"That," said the Fairy sadly, "that came when you told an untruth one day, and this when you did not mind your mamma. All these blots and scratches that look so ugly, both in your book and in Carl's, were made when you were naughty. Each pretty thing in your books came on its page when you were good."

* "Oh, if we could only have the books again!" said boys

"That cannot be," said the Fairy. "See! They are dated for this year, and they must now go back into Father Time's bookcase, but I have brought you each a new one. Perhaps you can make these more beautiful than the others."

* so saying, she vanished
* boys were left alone
* each held in his hand a new book open at the first page.

* on the back of this book was written in letters of gold, “For the New Year.''
•••••
Contributed by
Dale W. Pepin
STORY SOCKS
dalejeannine.pepin@sympatico.ca
http://www.storysocks.com

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5) The Mail Coach Passengers
[by Hans Christian Andersen]
Bones:

* bitterly cold
* sky glittered with stars
* not a breeze stirred
* "Bump,'' -- an old pot was thrown at a neighbor's door;
* "Bang! Bang!'' went the guns
* greeting the New Year
* was New Year's Eve, and the church clock was striking twelve.

* "Tan-ta-ra-ra, tan-ta-ra-ra!'' sounded the horn
* mail-coach came lumbering up
* clumsy vehicle stopped at the gate of the town
* all places taken, for there were twelve passengers in the coach.

* "Hurrah! Hurrah!'' cried the people in the town
* in every house the New Year was being welcomed
* as clock struck, they stood up, the full glasses in their hands, to drink success to the newcomer.

* "A happy New Year," was the cry; "a pretty wife, plenty of money, and no sorrow or care!"
* wish passed round
* glasses clashed together till they rang again
* before town-gate the mail-coach stopped with the twelve strangers
* who were these strangers?
* each had his passport and his luggage
* Who were they?
* What did they want?
* What did they bring with them?

* "Good-morning!'' they cried to the sentry at the town-gate.
* "Good-morning,'' replied sentry
* "Your name and profession?'' asked the sentry
* "See for yourself in the passport,'' first replied. "I am myself!"
* arrayed in bearskin and fur boots
* "Come to me tomorrow, and I will give you a New Year's present. I throw shillings and pence among the people. I give balls every night, no less than thirty-one; indeed, that is the highest number I can spare for balls. My ships are often frozen in, but in my offices it is warm and comfortable. MY NAME IS JANUARY. I am a merchant, and I generally bring my accounts with me.''

* second alighted
* seemed merry fellow
* director of a theater, a manager of masked balls, and a leader of all the amusements we can imagine
* luggage consisted of a great cask
* "We'll dance the bung out of the cask at carnival-time,'' said he. "I'll prepare a merry tune for you and for myself, too. Unfortunately I have not long to live, -- the shortest time, in fact, of my whole family, -- only twenty-eight days. Sometimes they pop me in a day extra; but I trouble myself very little about that. Hurrah!'' "You must not shout so,'' said the sentry. "Certainly I may shout,'' retorted the man. "I'm Prince Carnival, traveling under THE NAME OF FEBRUARY.''

* third got out
* looked the personification of fasting
* carried his nose very high, for he was a weather prophet
* in buttonhole wore a little bunch of violets, but they were very small
* "MARCH, MARCH!'' the fourth passenger called after him, slapping him on the shoulder, "don't you smell something good? Make haste into the guard-room, they are feasting in there. I can smell it already! FORWARD, MASTER MARCH!''

* But was not true
* speaker only wanted to make an APRIL FOOL of him, for with that fun the fourth stranger generally began his career
* looked very jovial
* did little work
* "If the world were only more settled!'' said he; "but sometimes I'm obliged to be in a good humor, and sometimes a bad one. I can laugh or cry according to circumstances. I have my summer wardrobe in this box here, but it would be very foolish to put it on now!''

* After him a lady stepped out of the coach
* called herself MISS MAY
* wore a summer dress and overshoes
* dress was light green
* anemones in her hair
* so scented with wild thyme that it made the sentry sneeze
* "Your health, and God bless you!'' was her greeting
* How pretty she was
* such a singer
* not a theater singer nor a ballad-singer; no, but a singer of the woods
* wandered through the gay, green forest, and had a concert there for her own amusement.

* "Now comes the young lady,'' said those in the coach
* out stepped a young dame, delicate, proud, and pretty
* was MISTRESS JUNE
* in her service people become lazy and fond of sleeping for hours
* gives a feast on the longest day of the year, that there may be time for her guests to partake of the numerous dishes at her table. * keeps her own carriage, but still travels by the mail-coach with the rest because she wishes to show that she is not proud
* not without a protector
* her younger brother, JULY, was with her.

* July a plump, young fellow
* clad in summer garments
* wearing a straw hat
* had very little luggage because it was so cumbersome in the great heat
* had swimming suit with him, which is nothing to carry.

* Then came the mother
* MADAME AUGUST
* wholesale dealer in fruit
* proprietress of a large number of fish-ponds, and a land-cultivator
* was fat and warm
* could use her hands well
* would herself carry out food to the laborers in the field
* after work, came the recreations, dancing and playing in the greenwood, and the "harvest home.'' She was a thorough housewife.

* man stepped out of the coach
* is a painter, a master of colors
* named SEPTEMBER
* on his arrival forest has to change its colors
* how beautiful are those he chooses
* woods glow with red, and gold, and brown

* this great master painter can whistle like a blackbird
* there he stood with his color-pot in his hand
* that was the whole of his luggage

* landowner followed, who in the month for sowing seed attends to his ploughing and is fond of field sports.
* SQUIRE OCTOBER brought his dog and gun with him
* had nuts in his game-bag
* "Crack! Crack!"
* had a great deal of luggage, even a plough
* spoke of farming
* what he said could scarcely be heard for the coughing and sneezing of his neighbor.

* was NOVEMBER
* coughed violently as he got out
* had a cold, but he said he thought it would leave him when he went out woodcutting
* he had to supply wood to the whole parish
* spent his evenings making skates, for he knew, he said, that in a few weeks they would be needed.

* at length the last passenger made her appearance
* OLD MOTHER DECEMBER
* dame was very aged
* her eyes glistened like two stars
* carried on her arm a flower-pot in which a little fir tree was growing
* "This tree I shall guard and cherish that it may grow large by Christmas Eve, and reach from the floor to the ceiling, to be adorned with lighted candles, golden apples, and toys. I shall sit by the fireplace, and bring a story-book out of my pocket, and read aloud to all the little children. Then the toys on the tree will become alive, and the little waxen Angel at the top will spread out his wings of gold leaf, and fly down from his green perch. He will kiss every child in the room, yes, and all the little children who stand out in the street singing a carol about the `Star of Bethlehem.'"

* "Well, now the coach may drive away," said the sentry; "we will keep all the twelve months here with us."

"First let the twelve come to me,'' said the Captain on duty, "one after another. The passports I will keep here, each of them for one month. When that has passed, I shall write the behavior of each stranger on his passport. MR. JANUARY, have the goodness to come here."
* MR. JANUARY stepped forward.

* "when a year has passed, I think I shall be able to tell you what the twelve passengers have brought to you, to me, and to all of us. Just now I do not know, and probably even they do not know themselves, for we live in strange times."
•••••
Contributed by
Dale W. Pepin
STORY SOCKS
dalejeannine.pepin@sympatico.ca
http://www.storysocks.com

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6) Queen Violet — an English tale

[Bones taken from a folktale adapted by Amy Friedman and illustrated by Jillian Gilliland.
Full text found at:
http://www.uexpress.com/tellmeastory/?uc_full_date=20040516
.]

Bones:

King lived on a mountain in forbidding palace where fierce winds blew and snow and ice blanketed the land. People huddled in their homes. King was strict and unforgiving; his subjects were terrified of him and his anger. They dared not ask for what they needed to keep warm. King was cold and desolate, as was the land around him.

For many years, things remained as they were. But as the king aged, he got restless and lonely and realized no one loved him, no one ever dropped by just to talk with him. He longed for a companion, a wife who would love him and keep him company. He could think of little else.
He imagined meeting such a woman and how he could win her heart so that he would never be lonely again. Sometimes this imaginary woman seemed almost real to him. But no one ever appeared. All the people feared him and called him a tyrant. They believed no one could ever love him because of his strictness and harshness. The king heard these rumors and feared he would never find someone who could love him, someone he could love in return.

He sent his servants out into the world to find a woman who would melt his heart, someone kind, generous and good, beautiful and sweet. But most of all someone warm. Servants traveled everywhere, meeting beautiful maidens, good and kind, but no one seemed right. Finally, they found a shy young girl named Violet. Her smile was so wide and warm, her eyes lighted up like lamps, and the world felt suddenly warm. The servants knew this was the girl the king could love.

When they urged her to return with them to their land, shy Violet blushed and confessed she felt unworthy for a king. She finally agreed to travel to the king's land, believing that he would send her away. Servants reassured her, so she left with them to meet the king.

King fell instantly in love with Violet. Just as the servants had predicted, her smile melted his frozen heart and the stern, cold king turned kind. Violet loved this now generous and gentle man. So they got married.

As much as Violet loved the king, the bitterly cold weather made her unhappy. King wanted to bring her some joy, so he called all his people into his palace courtyard. When they were all assembled, king proclaimed that he and his queen were tired of harsh days and nights and henceforth half of each year would be warm and filled with sunshine. The people cheered not only because of the proclamation but also for Queen Violet who had brought warmth to their land.

Violet missed her old home and family. She begged the king to allow her to spend the first springtime with them. He could not resist her request, but he feared that someone else might steal her love. He agreed she could visit her family in the springtime of each year, but she would have to visit them in the form of a flower. When winter came, she had to return to him as Queen Violet.

Violet agreed to his terms, so each spring, disguised as a flower, she returned home. Surrounded by thousands of flowers who took her name to honor the queen, she bloomed in the company of her family. And each winter, while all the others slept, she returned to her beloved, kind and generous king.
•••••
Suggested by
Karen Chace, East Freetown, MA
Storyteller/Arts Web Researcher
storybug@aol.com
http://www.storybug.net
Bones by Jackie Baldwin
http://www.story-lovers.com

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7) The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
[Full text found at:
http://www.planetmonk.com/wilde/happyprince/selfishgiant.html]

Story:

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant's garden.

It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. "How happy we are here!" they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden.

"What are you doing here?" he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

"My own garden is my own garden," said the Giant; "any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself." So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.

TRESPASSERS
WILL BE
PROSECUTED

He was a very selfish Giant.

The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. "How happy we were there," they said to each other.

Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. "Spring has forgotten this garden," they cried, "so we will live here all the year round." The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. "This is a delightful spot," he said, "we must ask the Hail on a visit." So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

"I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming," said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden; "I hope there will be a change in the weather."

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant's garden she gave none. "He is too selfish," she said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King's musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. "I believe the Spring has come at last," said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out.

What did he see?

He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children's heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still quite covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. "Climb up! little boy," said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too tiny.

And the Giant's heart melted as he looked out. "How selfish I have been!" he said; "now I know why the Spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children's playground for ever and ever." He was really very sorry for what he had done.

So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant's neck, and kissed him. And the other children, when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the Spring. "It is your garden now, little children," said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were going to market at twelve o'clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.

All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye.

"But where is your little companion?" he said: "the boy I put into the tree." The Giant loved him the best because he had kissed him.

"We don't know," answered the children; "he has gone away."

"You must tell him to be sure and come here tomorrow," said the Giant. But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.

Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend, and often spoke of him. "How I would like to see him!" he used to say.

Years went over, and the Giant grew very old and feeble. He could not play about any more, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched the children at their games, and admired his garden. "I have many beautiful flowers," he said; "but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all."

One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, "Who hath dared to wound thee?" For on the palms of the child's hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.

"Who hath dared to wound thee?" cried the Giant; "tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him."
"Nay!" answered the child; "but these are the wounds of Love."
"Who art thou?" said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, "You let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise."

And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.
•••••
Find this and many other inspirational and Christmas tales at Elderbarry's website:
http://www.eldrbarry.net/mous/saint/eldrxmas.htm

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8)
The Death of Balder (Norse myth involving gods and winter mistletoe)
Balder was the most glorious god alive, handsome and pure in spirit, the son of Odin and Frigga. Every living creature loved him. Yet Odin knew his son was doomed to an early death. To protect him Frigga traveled far and wide, exacting promises from all objects and beings not to harm him. Believing she had done everything possible, Frigga neglected the lowly mistletoe. The gods rejoiced to know that Balder was invulnerable and invented a game in which everyone threw things at him.

Loki was intensely jealous of Balder and resolved to destroy him. While all the gods hurled things at Balder, Balder's blind brother Hoder sat by himself, unable to join the fun. Loki, having learned the secret of the mistletoe and having obtained a sprig, offered to guide the blind Hoder's hand. The mistletoe was thrown and it pierced Balder's heart, killing him. The gods grieved, but Odin and Frigga sent another son as an envoy to the underworld, Niflheim, to see if Balder could be ransomed. In the meantime Balder's funeral ship was prepared, set fire to, and sent out to sea.

The goddess Hel agreed to release Balder from her kingdom of death only if the whole creation and everything in it wept for the slain god. Messengers were sent everywhere, and all things cried over Balder's death until one messenger came upon a Giantess who refused to weep. This of course was Loki in disguise. So Balder was condemned to remain in the netherworld. But the gods revenged themselves on Loki by binding him in a deep cave and causing a poisonous serpent to drip venom in his face, causing the wicked being intolerable pain. Loki's wife caught much of this venom in a cup, but whenever she emptied the cup Loki writhed in agony, creating earthquakes.

This was the beginning of the end, for Loki then allied himself with the Giants and demons, who would bring ruin on the Aesir.
•••••
Text from:
http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-83,pageNum-104.html

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9) The Twelve Months – A Slavic Tale
[Bones taken from Marushka and the Month Brothers – A folktale retold by Philemon Sturges and Anna Vojtech, North-South Books Inc., New York. ISBN 1-55858-628-8]

Once there was a kind, gentle, sweet girl named Marushka, beautiful inside and out. She lived in a cottage with her stepmother and stepsister. Marushka’s father was long dead and her stepmother favored Holena, her own daughter. Although Holena was not unattractive, her ungrateful, selfish and rude disposition shriveled her beauty.

The stepmother feared that Holena would never marry, for every young man who came to call was immediately charmed by Marushka. She vowed to make Marushka ugly with hard work, harsh words. She gave her the worst, most thankless chores, while her own daughter, Holena, lazed about. Yet, no matter what her stepmother heaped upon her, Marushka remained beautiful. The stepmother’s fury and envy grew.

One bitter cold winter day the stepmother decided to send Marushka in search of the impossible—violets in winter. Marushka cried out, "But it’s winter. There are no violets in winter." The stepmother told her not to return until she had found them; thrust her out into the frozen snow.

Marushka traveled through fields of deep drifting snow, into the dark forest. Half frozen, she followed a light that glowed between the trees. She came upon twelve men sitting in a circle on seats of stone. She gently asked if she could warm herself by the fire. The eldest of the men agreed. "Do you know who we are?" he asked.

"You must be the Twelve Month Brothers," Marushka answered. Indeed, the oldest was January, the first month of the year. He asked why she was out in such harsh weather.

"My sister wants violets, violets in winter. I can't go home without them."

January stood up and gave his staff to Brother March. March waved the staff, the snows melted away and violets bloomed. They told her to hurry and gather them. She filled her apron, thanked them and returned home. When she returned, her stepmother was shocked. She demanded to see the violets. Her stepsister reached out and grabbed every one of them, saving none for Marushka.

The next day Holena demanded to have strawberries with her dinner. Once again, the stepmother pushed Marushka out the door, warning, "Don't come back without them!" Marushka stumbled out into the snow and came upon the Twelve Month Brothers again. She told them she had to find strawberries for her sister.

January rose, handed the staff to Brother June. Instantly, the snow melted, flowers bloomed and strawberries grew red and sweet. They cautioned her to hurry. She picked them as fast as she could, thanked them and left for home. Once again, the stepmother and Holena took them all and left none for Marushka. The next day the sister demanded apples, and Marushka was sent out into the snow.

When she arrived at the place of the Twelve Month Brothers, January cautioned her that he could only help her once more. Marushka asked for apples and Brother January handed his staff to Brother September. The snow melted, leaves grew and blossoms turned into green apples. Brother September told her to shake the tree, one apple fell. She shook it again, a second one fell. She picked them up, thanked each one of the Month Brothers and left for home.

When she returned she held out the two apples in her hands. Holena demanded to know why she hadn’t brought more. Marushka explained that she could take only two. They called her a liar, took the apples from her and didn't share a bite. Holena's greed overtook her. She threw on her cloak and set out into the fierce cold for more apples. Her mother called out that the snow was too deep, it was too cold, there were wolves about...but Holena paid her no mind. Holena saw the same light, followed it and came upon the Twelve Month Brothers. She did not ask if she could warm herself, she went right up to the fire without asking permission. When they asked who she was, she scolded, "It is none of your business!" and after she had warmed herself, she made her way into the forest in search of apples.

Brother January was enraged, he raised his mighty staff and a great storm blew. Back at the cottage, Holena's mother saw the storm. She grabbed her coat and went in search of her daughter. The storm raged for days. Marushka stayed home tending to the animals, keeping the food warm and the chores done, waiting for their return. But they never came back; they froze to death in the forest.

Marushka inherited the small farm and animals. In time she married an equally kind and caring farmer and they lived happily together for the rest of their days.
•••••
Web Sources:
http://tinyurl.com/2arx93f
http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/diamondstoads/stories/12months.html
http://pages.zdnet.com/storysocks/library/id27.html

•••••
Contributed by:
Karen Chace, East Freetown, MA
Storyteller/Arts Web Researcher
storybug@aol.com
http://www.storybug.net

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10) The Gifts of Wali Dad
[Bones taken from the following sources: "Story of Wali Dad the Simple-Hearted" from The Brown Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1904.
The Story of Wali Dad, retold by Kristina Rodanas. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1988.
The Gifts of Wali Dad: A Tale of India and Pakistan, retold by Aaron Shepard. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1995.
This story is on Aaron’s website at:
http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/RTE07.html
.]

Bones:

Wali Dad lived in a mud hut far from home. He made his living cutting grass and selling it as fodder. He made a little money every day, spent a little on food, but saved most of it in a sack/large pot. One evening he counted the money he had saved; there was more than he expected – too much! He had an idea. He went into town next day and purchased a gold bracelet.

Wali Dad took bracelet to his merchant friend. Asked merchant to give bracelet to most beautiful/virtuous woman he knew. Merchant said this was Princess of Khaistan. Merchant presented bracelet to Princess. Princess delighted with gift, gave merchant gift of a camel loaded with silks for Wali Dad.

Merchant took camel and silks back to Wali Dad. Wali Dad didn’t want gift. Asked merchant to give silks to most noble/ honorable man he knew. Merchant said this was the Prince of Nekabad. Merchant presented silks to Prince. Prince honored/ grateful, gave merchant gift of 12 horses for Wali Dad.

Merchant took horses back to Wali Dad. Wali Dad didn’t want gift. Asked merchant to keep a couple horses for himself, take the rest to Princess of Khaistan. Merchant presented horses to Princess. Princess perplexed, asked advice (from King or Prime Minister), which was to send gift so splendid that Wali Dad could not possibly repay. Princess gave merchant gift of mules loaded with silver.

Merchant took mules back to Wali Dad. Wali Dad didn’t want gift. Asked merchant to keep a couple mules for himself, give the rest to Prince of Nekabad. Merchant presented mules to Prince. Prince embarrassed/perplexed, gave merchant a gift of 20 horses, 20 camels, and 20 elephants, all decked out with gold, silver, jewels, silks, etc.

Merchant took caravan back to Wali Dad. Wali Dad didn’t want gift, asked merchant to keep some for himself, take the rest to the Princess of Khaistan. Merchant presented caravan to Princess. Princess amazed/stunned/impressed by gift. Princess decided that Wali Dad wanted to marry her. A caravan was arranged to travel back with her to meet Wali Dad. Merchant tried unsuccessfully to talk her out of it.

When caravan camped out night before reaching Wali Dad, merchant went to find his friend, warned him of impending arrival of Princess. Wali Dad felt ashamed, ran away. Along the way he met Peris from Paradise (Persian fairies). They transformed him into rich man, turned his mud hut into palace.

Princess of Khaistan came to meet Wali Dad. Soon after, Prince of Nekabad also arrived in caravan to meet Wali Dad. Prince and Princess met, fell in love at first sight, decided to marry, lived happily ever after. Wali Dad was pleased that he had brought them together.

Wali Dad lived happily in his palace, did good deeds with his money for rest of his life.

[Alternate ending: Wali Dad found Peris from Paradise, asked to have his mud hut and quiet life back. They granted his wish, and he lived happily and simply ever after.]
•••••
Contributed by the late
Leanne Johnson, Professional Storyteller

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11) Why Evergreen Trees Never Loses Their Leaves by Florence Holbrook
[This is a winter story, not really Christmas. But I like it for Christmas programs. I believe it's public domain as I found it on the UVA site that has online text of public domain material.]

Bones:

WINTER was coming, and the birds had flown far to the south, where the air was warm and they could find berries to eat. One little bird had broken its wing and could not fly with the others. It was alone in the cold world of frost and snow. The forest looked warm, and it made its way to the trees as well as it could, to ask for help. First it came to a birch tree.

"Beautiful birch tree," it said, "my wing is broken, and my friends have flown away. May I live among your branches till they come back to me?"


"No, indeed," answered the birch tree, drawing her fair green leaves away. "We of the great forest have our own birds to help. I can do nothing for you."

"The birch is not very strong," said the little bird to itself, "and it might be that she could not hold me easily. I will ask the oak."

So the bird said: "Great oak tree, you are so strong, will you not let me live on your boughs till my friends come back in the springtime?"

"In the springtime!" cried the oak. "That is a long way off. How do I know what you might do in all that time? Birds are always looking for something to eat, and you might even eat up some of my acorns."

"It may be that the willow will be kind to me," thought the bird, and it said: "Gentle willow, my wing is broken, and I could not fly to the south with the other birds. May I live on your branches till the springtime?"

The willow did not look gentle then, for she drew herself up proudly and said: "Indeed, I do not know you, and we willows never talk to people whom we do not know. Very likely there are trees somewhere that will take in strange birds. Leave me at once."

The poor little bird did not know what to do. Its wing was not yet strong, but it began to fly away as well as it could.

Before it had gone far a voice was heard. "Little bird," it said, "where are you going?"

"Indeed, I do not know," answered the bird sadly. "I am very cold."

"Come right here, then," said the friendly spruce tree, for it was her voice that had called. "You shall live on my warmest branch all winter if you choose." "Will you really let me?" asked the little bird eagerly.

"Indeed, I will," answered the kind-hearted spruce tree. "If your friends have flown away, it is time for the trees to help you. Here is the branch where my leaves are thickest and softest."

"My branches are not very thick," said the friendly pine tree, "but I am big and strong, and I can keep the North Wind from you and the spruce."

"I can help, too," said a little juniper tree. "I can give you berries all winter long, and every bird knows that juniper berries are good."

So the spruce gave the lonely little bird a home; the pine kept the cold North Wind away from it; and the juniper gave it berries to eat.

The other trees looked on and talked together wisely.

"I would not have strange birds on my boughs," said the birch.
"I shall not give my acorns away for any one," said the oak.
"I never have anything to do with strangers," said the willow.

The three trees drew their leaves closely about them. In the morning all those shining, green leaves lay on the ground, for a cold North Wind had come in the night, and every leaf that it touched fell from the tree.

"May I touch every leaf in the forest?" asked the wind in its frolic.

"No," said the Frost King. "The trees that have been kind to the little bird with the broken wing may keep their leaves."

This is why the leaves of the spruce, the pine, and the juniper are always green.
•••••
The website for the story of "Why Evergreen Trees Never Lose Their Leaves" is at
http://kraftmstr.com/christmas/books/gs-evergreen_trees.html

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12) Lady of Guadalupe
[Hispanic Catholics celebrate La Virgin de Gualdalupe on December 16. It's almost more important than Christmas and indeed, she glows with light. This is a story of light and there are several different versions. This is just one.]

Bones:
In 1531, on December 12, Juan Diego, a poor farmer, was walking toward a village church, when heard beautiful singing and saw a soft golden glow on the mountain where the temple of the Aztec Sun God used to be. The Spaniards had destroyed it when they came to this country.

Juan Diego thought perhaps an old remnant group had come to sing and pray, and ask the Sun to return and end the dark days of winter. When he reached the crest of the hill, Juan Diego found only a young dark-skinned maiden, surrounded by rays of light. She wore a blue cloak covered with stars. They knew immediately that the young woman was coming to him from the God of the Sun, whose rays were flaming behind Her. . Even her physical appearance announced the newness of this world, for her face looked neither like the Spanish nor the Indian. Her lovely features are the pleasant mixture of both - she is a Mestizo, the first Mexican. She asked the timid man to go directly to the bishop and ask him to build a church for Her on the mountain.

To soothe the frightened man, the girl spoke to him gently and familiarly in Nahual, the language of the day, saying, "Why are you afraid? Would I be here if I were not your mother? Am I not your health? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."

During the next three days, the Virgin appeared again to Juan Diego, and each time he faithfully went to the Bishop's palace where he was refused admittance. In their last meeting, the Lady provided the sign he needed to convince the Bishop's guards of his mission. Juan Diego gathered the blooming Castillian roses, the first seen in Mexico, from the frosty mountain. The Virgin arranged the flowers into the man's cloak so he could take them to the Bishop. When the roses fell to the floor, the Bishop saw the image of the Virgin on Juan Diego's tilma (cloak). Because She wore a shawl in the blue-green color worn only by the kings'
ambassadors. Within a year, the first small church had been built on the mountain, and millions of indigenous Mexicans had been baptized into the Catholic faith, under the leadership of this new Virgin.
•••••
Notes:
The Mysteries and Research of the Image
1. The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe remains one of the great mysteries of the world asks as many questions as are answered. The first mystery is that this rough homespun garment has lasted over 460 years in perfect condition. The normal life span for hand-spun and woven fabric made from agave fibers would normally be 10 to 20 years, yet this tilma first survived 166 years of unprotected display and reverent touching, then the explosion of a bomb that severely damaged much of the surrounding altar area, and even nitric acid spilled over two thirds of the surface in the 1800's by silversmiths repairing the frame. And now it’s been 430 years.

2. Over the centuries scientists and experts from around the world have inspected and tested the fabric. American scientists using infrared rays to viewing the tilma were surprised they could detect no ink or paint of any type on the fabric or fibers, yet the colors have maintained their luminosity and brilliance. Richard Kuhn, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, has studied the image and found no trace of natural, animal, or mineral colors. Since synthetic colors did not exist in at that time, he determined the image inexplicable.

3. A microscope identified the highlight in the Virgin's downcast right eye as a perfect profile image of Juan Diego. By magnifying the iris of the eyes 2500 times, using computer digitalization, mathematical and optical procedures, he reported his identification of the many images imprinted in each of the Virgin's eyes. It apparently even reflects in her eyes what was in front of her in 1531!

4. Today scientists show us that the stars on her cloak perfectly form the constellations of the Northern and Southern hemispheres as they appeared in the sky at the time of the winter solstice at 10:30 a.m. on December 12, 1531.

Mexicans and other Hispanic people throughout the Americas consider her message to be the ultimate message of love and compassion, and her universal promise of help and protection to all mankind.

Each December, the entire country pauses to remember and to honor Her with personal altars, processions with children dressed as Juan Diego, and with series of masses and fiestas. They light candles and make offerings to thank Her for the successes of the past and to remind Her of the hopes for the future.

In times of joy, Mexicans turn first to light a candle of thanksgiving in front of the Lady of Guadalupe, in the church or in their home. In the darkest despair, her candles light their way.
•••••
Contributed by
Shelby Smith
Shelby's Stories
http://www.shelbysstories.com/pages/About/about.html

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13) Shingebiss and the North Wind

Adapted and retold by Fran Stallings.
From a 19th century literary tale attributed to Chippewa sources.
"Shingebiss and the North Wind" is a soothing story which seems to work with all ages. Shingebiss helps us distinguish precaution from paranoia. She makes practical preparations against real physical dangers but refuses to be intimidated.
http://www.healingstory.org/treasure/shingebiss/shingebiss_and_the_north_wind.html

Another version by Nancy VanLaan

Shingebiss, a little merganser duck, can always find plenty to eat. In all seasons, the Great Lake is full of fish. But one cold year the lake freezes over, and Shingebiss has to find a way to fish through the thick ice. To do that, he must face the fierce Winter Maker. Gracefully told and illustrated with vigorous woodcuts, this ancient Ojibwe story captures all the power of winter and all the courage of a small being who refuses to see winter as his enemy. This sacred story shows that those who follow the ways of Shingebiss will always have plenty to eat, no matter how hard the great wind of Winter Maker blows.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0316896276/002-7349320-6965613?v=glance
•••••
First version contributed by
Fran Stallings
fran@franstallings.com
http://www.franstallings.com/

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14) Living Water
[A Tofalar tale]

Story:

This happened a long, long time ago, when the cedar, the fir, and the pine still had needles that yellowed and dropped in the fall instead of staying green all winter Once in those olden times a Tofalar went out into the woods to hunt. He walked and walked, and he came farther than any hunter had ever dared to go. He saw a bog so vast that no beast could have crossed it, no bird could have flown across.And the Tofalar said to himself: If our animals can't run across this bog, and our birds cannot fly across it, what kinds of animals and birds live on the other side?

The more he thought about it, the more curious he became.
"I must find out," he said to himself. "Whatever happens, I must get there."

And so he took a good running start, and leaped right clear across the bog. He looked around: the same earth, the same grass, the same trees. "Silly!" he said. "There was no need to jump." Suddenly his mouth dropped open with wonder. In a little clearing stood seven harnessed rabbits. They stood quietly, waiting. Then seven people came out of seven burrows in the earth, exactly like all people, only tiny. When the rabbits flattened their ears, the people were taller than the rabbits. When the rabbits' ears stood up, the people were smaller than the rabbits.

"Who are you?" asked the Tofalar.
"We are immortal people," said the tiny men. "We wash ourselves in living water, and we never die. And who are you? "
"I am a hunter."

The little men clapped their hands with joy.
"Oh, good! Oh, good!" they cried in chorus
And one of them, the eldest, with white hair and a long white beard, came forward and said:
"A terrible, huge beast has come into our land. We don't know where it came from. The other day it caught one of our people and killed him. We are immortal, we never die ourselves, but this beast killed one of us. You are a hunter---can you help us in this trouble? Can you hunt down the beast? "Why not?" answered the Tofalar, but to himself he wondered: "Will I be able to kill such a frightful beast?"

However, he went out to track the beast. He looked and he looked, but could find nothing except rabbits' footprints. Suddenly, among the rabbit prints he noticed the track of a sable.

"Oh, that's too fine a quarry to miss" he said. "First I will get the sable, and then I'll go on looking for the terrible, huge beast."He found the sable and killed it. Then he skinned it and went on with his search. He walked the length and breadth of the little people's land, but could not find any trace of the beast. So he came back to the little people and said to them: "I could not find your terrible, huge beast. All I have found was this sable." And he showed them the little sable skin."That's it, that's it! "they cried. "Oo-h, what a huge skin, what thick paws, what terrible, sharp claws" And the eldest of the little men said to the Tofalar: "You have saved us and our people! And we shall pay for your kindness with kindness. Wait for us. We'll come to visit you and bring you living water. You'll wash in it and will become immortal too." The Tofalar jumped back across the bog and went back to his valley and told his people about the little men. And the Tofalars began to wait for their guests, the immortal little men.They waited one day, two days, three days, many, many days. But the guests did not come, and the Tofalars forgot about them and their promise.

Winter came. Everything around was frozen. And the bog was covered with a coat of ice.

One day the village women went to the woods to gather firewood. Suddenly they saw a little herd of rabbits galloping their way. They looked again, and saw that every rabbit was saddled, and in every saddle sat a tiny man with a little pitcher in his hands. The women burst out laughing at the sight

"Look, look!" they cried to one another.
"They are riding on rabbits!"
"And look at the little men, how funny!
"Oh, what a joke!"
"Oh, I'll die laughing!"

Now, the immortal people were a proud race. They took offense at this reception. The one in front, with white hair and a long beard, shouted something to the others, and all of them spilled out the contents of their pitchers onto the ground. Then the rabbits turned and hopped away so fast that you could only see their white tails flicker.

And so the Tofalars never got the living water. It went instead to the pine, the cedar, and the fir. And this is why they are fresh and green all through the year. Their needles never die.
•••••
Contributed by
Ofra Kipnis, Israel
Storyteller
kipnis@maaganm.co.il

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15) A Story and a Snowflake
by Margie Clary (printed here with her kind permission)
[This is a story both children and adults love. I have also used it as a craft activities with the younger ones, as long as there are parents to help with the cutting.
I have embellished the story a bit when I tell it, adding a bit more here and there as others will I am sure. I also change the phrase "Indian chief" to "Native American."

Instructions:

With winter drawing near, let the children in your classroom create snowflakes from paper while you tell a story.  Before beginning give each child a pre-cut circle and pair of scissors. (For younger children, use large circles.) Then fold and cut your own circle as you tell this story.]

Story:

There was once an Indian chief who lived in the forest.  As winter drew near, he needed a new teepee to shelter his family from the cold winds of the North.  He took the largest pieces of skins he could find and made them into a circle. (Hold up the paper circle and have the children do likewise.)

He folded the circle in half. (Fold the circle in half.)  It was too big.  So he folded the circle into fourths. (Fold the circle in fourths.)  It was too wide. So he folded the circle in eighths. (Fold the circle into eighths.)  It was just right.  (Hold the folded circle upright like a teepee.)

Right in the middle, he cut a door.  So he and his family could go in and out. (Cut a triangle.)  Next, he cut a smaller door so his cats could go in and out. (Cut another triangle on the right side of the first triangle.)

He remembered his dog, so he cut another door for his dog. (Cut a third triangle to the left of the first triangle.)

His wife went side to take a look at the new teepee.  "Oh no" she said, "We must have a window on the left and a window on the right. (Cut triangles for windows, one on the left and another on the right.)

When he finished, the chief went inside to build a fire.  He had forgotten to make a chimney.  He went outside and cut the top off the teepee to let the smoke out. (Cut off the top of the folded circle, using an upside down triangle.)

The chief was tired after building his teepee and went to bed early.  (As you tell this part of the story, begin unfolding the cut circle.)  The next morning when the chief looked outside, he knew he had finished his new home just in time.  It was snowing.  There were snowflakes everywhere and each was different.  (Toss the paper circle up into the air and have the children do the same.
•••••
Suggested by
Karen Chace, East Freetown, MA
Storyteller-Teaching Artist-Web Researcher

storybug@aol.com
http://www.storybug.net

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Created 2002; last update 7/18/10