Sometimes its the small steps we make trying to become better writers, that keeps us moving forward.

Each year the Henderson Writers Group, of which I am a member, has a holiday party. The club provides the main dish and we all bring something to enhance the meal. Its a great time to get to know our fellow writers and their spouses or significant others.

For entertainment, each member is asked to write a short (500 words or less) Christmas story. The stories are read blind, so no one knows who wrote them. The group then votes on its favorite.

I'm happy (hell, I'm thrilled) to announce that my story won this year's competition.

I should point out, the contest does not produce any literary masterpieces, especially since were are given a list of words that must be used in the story. The list this year included: jolly, holly, mistletoe, Blitzen, celebrate, icicles, sleigh bells, kugel, latke, and Henderson Writers Group. Right, I too, had to look up kugel and latke.

Latkeis a Jewish pancake, made with grated potatoes and Kugel is a Jewish dish made of eggs and noodles. Not much of a writing prompt for this Catholic boy.

I decided to write a Rudolph/Santa story where things go awry. My Wife suggested it should rhyme. So, here, with out further adieu, is this year's First Place, prize winning story.


by Joe Van Rhyn

As sleigh bells jingled, the elves mingled, to watch for Santa's return.

The sight of the sled gave reason to dread, for Rudolph was not in the lead.

As tensions rose, they looked for the nose,

but saw Donner and Blitzen instead.

When Santa touched down, with a leap and bound,

he quickly began to extol,

a successful flight, but a stressful plight,

bringing joy to all on Christmas eve night.

Hitting Rain over Spain is what caused the pickle.

As temperatures dropped, it started to freeze,

leaving icicles hanging on wires and trees.

A slippery roof gave further proof, the journey might end in a crash,

when the kit and caboodle, slid down with a splash,

leaving Rudolph as limp as a noodle.

His nose twinkled and blinked, then flickered and sparked.

The water had caused a short.

He tried to re-light, but the circuits were dead.

He sadly chose, with a light-less nose,

to ride back home in the sled.

With the deer in the barn and oats in their bin,

Santa went to check on his friend.

His smile was large when the nose took a charge.

Ol' Rudy was back on the mend.

Santa kicked off his boots and scratched his feet.

He took a seat by the fire.

He said it was dire, he'd surely expire,

if he didn't get something to eat.

The hour was late, he hated to wait,

but had no idea or glimmer,

before choosing a fare, he'd have to decide,

if this would be breakfast or dinner.

After such a long night, he didn't feel right,

to load up on steak and strudel,

but was it too late, to celebrate,

on latke and oodles of kugel

Then Mrs. Claus gave him pause,

she stood beneath the wreath of mistletoe and holly

On tippy-toes, she kissed his nose,

then continued to sashay and dance.

When she opened her top and lifted her skirt,

the jolly old elf couldn't help himself,

he was going to bed, before he got fed,

he couldn't resist her come-hither glance.

Its surly a sign of a desperate mind

to interject some gratuitous sex?

You wonder how low I will go.

I have no shame but who could blame,

if I get the erotica vote.

As I lay down my pen and search for the end,

I wonder if I should try to deny

how much I dream to bask in glory,

for having written a prize-winning story.

I've tried my best to poke and jest,

but now I face the final test.

A definite must, a devilish twist,

to use all the words on the blasted list.

It's quite absurd, a waste of time,

to try and find the words that rhyme

with Henderson Writers Group.

It doesn't fit, it doesn't blend, but wait, I must defend

It should be clear I did adhere,


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