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Winter and The Strange and Magical Christmas

WINTER AND THE STRANGE AND MAGICAL CHRISTMAS

J.P. SHIELDS

COPYRIGHT 2016 BY JANELLE SHIELDS

Chapter 1 – The Toast

Winter stares at the clock in her classroom. For a moment, she’s almost convinced that the clock has stopped, that time is not moving forward at all, and that the jingle bell will never ring.

Their teacher, Miss Emily, is still trying to teach, but teaching a room full of Kidlets four minutes before they are let for Christmas School-Off is a losing battle.

“Please remember to study your carols,” Miss Emily says. “You will have a test on the Bow Beast Ballad and the Tinsel Toss Song your first day back from the break.”

Mia, one of Winter’s best friends, slides a note onto Winter’s desk.

Mission E.W. 1:00. Don’t forget.

Winter nods to Mia. How could she forget? She and her friends have been planning Mission EW for forever. Since last Monday. ‘I’ll be there,’ Winter mouths to Mia.

“And no licking the Candy Canes on Candy Cane. And please, no climbing the antlers on Reindeer Road. And-”

But Miss Emily is interrupted by the loud jingle of the bells. The Kidlets jump up from their desks.

“Have a marshmallowtastic Christmas everyone,” Miss Emily shouts as the kids stream out the door. “And enjoy your first Santa Clausification Ceremony. And stay off that Naughty List,” she calls after them into the hall.

Outside the school, Winter, William and Mia huddle together to go over their plan.

“Winter,” Nick interrupts. “Mom told me to remind you to come home for lunch before you go play.”

Winter grabs Nick’s arm and pulls him away from her friends.

“Nick, you’re embarrassing me. I’m not Child anymore,” Winter whispers. “I’m Kidlet now. You don’t need to be reminding me all the time. And oh my garland. What are you wearing?”

Nick shrugs. “My lederhosen. It’s surprisingly comfortable. And waterproof.”

“It’s ugly.” Winter shakes her head at her older brother. “You’re so weird.”

Nick tilts his head to the side. “Everything on you right now is green.”

True. Winter is wearing her favorite green legging, her favorite green skirt and her favorite green sweater. She’s also wearing her favorite green toque and scarf, and one green mitten (she can’t find the other one).

“I’m very fashion today,” Winter responds. She spent a long time choosing this outfit. Not only did she want to look good for the last day before School-Off, but she needed to look good for Mission E.W.

If Winter and her friends succeed in their mission, they will be the most famous Kidlets in all of North Polington, and everyone knows that famous people are always fashion.

“Whatever,” Nick says. “Let’s go. I have to get home. I’m shoveled.”

“You’re always shoveled,” Winter laughs.

“Yup. Pretty much,” Nick laughs back.

They walk quickly down Candy Cane Lane, where, despite Miss Emily’s warning, Children, Kids and Kidlets are sneaking licks from the giant candy canes on Candy Cane Lane. They take the short cut across Poinsettia Park, where Kidlets have already gathered to slock.

“Winter, wait, I almost forgot,” Camryn says, sprinting towards her. “Give this to your dad?” She thrusts a large red envelope at Winter.

“Camyrn, you’re supposed to put this in the box at the Town Star,” Winter replies, rolling her eyes.

“I know. But I forgot. And it’s only three more sleeps, and I’m worried that if-”

“Fine,” Winter replies, accepting the envelope.

“But no snooping, ok? It’s private.”

Winter nods and then continues on with her brother.

“I asked for slocks for Christmas. Do you think I’ll get them?” Winter asks Nick.

“I don’t know, Winter,” Nick says as they turn onto Christmas Tree Trail. “You just turned Kidlet. Slocks are, well, they can be a little dangerous.”

Winter reaches out her hand to brush her fingertips along the beautifully decorated Christmas trees as they pass.

“But I’ve been brushing my teeth. And doing all my House-Helps without complaining.”

“Then maybe,” Nick shrugs.

“I hope you didn’t ask for anything,” Winter says.

“Why not?” Nick asks

Winter turns and walks backwards, facing Nick as she says: “You’re so on the Naughty List.”

“Winter, that’s not nice. And not true,” Nick sighs.

“With permanent ink,” Winter teases. “Your name’s on that list with permanent ink.”

“You better stop, or I’m going to Snow Angel you,” Nick threatens, but he smiles while he says it.

“Adventuring here. Adventuring there,” Winter continues.

“I’m warning you!”

“Late for toboganning practice.”

“Start running….”

“They should just call it Nick’s List!”

“That’s it,” Nick says

He reaches out to grab Winter but she turns and runs. Nick chases her all the way onto Sweet Street.

“Ok. Ok,” Winter says, out of breath. She puts her hands up. “I’ll stop. Go ahead, make a wish list. Just make sure you put a Shovel on it-”

Winter turns to run again, but this time she trips and face plants into the snow.

“Ahhhh,” she whines, rolling over. “I think I broke my face. Help me up, Nick.”

Nick looks down at his sister, who is spitting out snow and rubbing her cheek.

“Get up, you little non-symmetrical ornament,” Nick says, holding out his hand to her.

They walk into the house together where Joy, their mom, and Holly, their older sister are already setting the table for lunch.

“Hey you two,” Joy smiles. “Not too loud, Ok? Freeze is finally down for a nap.”

“What’s for lunch?” Nick asks.

“Candy canes?” Winter asks, hopeful.

“Winter, I have told you a hundred times,” Joy sighs. “You cannot have candy canes for breakfast. You cannot have candy canes for lunch. And you cannot have candy canes for supper. So no. It’s not candy canes. It’s garland toast.”

Winter stares at the plate of garland toast. She doesn’t get it. Why can’t she have candy canes for lunch? Like, a candy cane sandwhich? Or candy cane macaroni and cheese? Or better, just a bowlful of candy canes?

“How was the last day before School-Off?” Holly asks, pulling up a chair. Holly goes to a different school because she’s older. She’s In-Betweener. And she’s very, very fashion. She even has dangly earrings.

“Marshmallowtastic,” Winter replies. “We finally got to eat our gingerbread houses from the contest. And Miss Emily gave us barely any homework. Just Bow Beast Ballad and Tinsel Toss Song.”

“Ugh,” Nick says, with his mouth full of food. “I hate the Tinsel Toss Song.”

“Excuse me,” Joy interrupts. “I wrote that song.”

“You wrote all the songs, Mom,” Nick replies, spraying food all over the table.

“Best Song Writer in North Polington,” Winter says.

“The only Song Writer in North Polington,” Holly adds.

“And Head Judge at the Carol-off. And Keeper of the Carols,” Joy adds. Nick looks at her. “Just saying,” she shrugs.

“Three more sleeps,” a voice booms from the front door.

“And here comes your father,” Joy laughs.

“Three more sleeps,” the voice sings down the hallway.

“Daddy,” Winter giggles.

“Three more sleeps till present time!” Santa jumps into the kitchen, waving his hands in the air and wiggling his hips back and forth.

“Hey honey,” Joy says, as Santa takes a seat at the table. “How was work this morning?”

“Busy, as usual. The Elves had a crisis this morning, and Dancer’s still not fully healed from her hip-hop injury, and I need to know if she’ll be ready to fly in two more nights, but the reindeer caregivers won’t give me any answers and…” he looks to his family. “Sorry, I’m rambling. Work was fine. Just fine. How is everyone else?”

Winter opens her mouth to tell her dad all about her morning, but Nick jumps in first and starts talking boring talk about sled speeds or toboganning times or something. Holly and Joy start talking about Snowbuck Doublers and the new hot apple cider store that just opened at Mistletoe mall.

Winter turns back to her Garland toast. Stupid garland toast. But then she looks again, because she thinks she sees something strange happening.

She rubs her eyes and looks around the room. Everyone else is busy. She looks back to her toast. Yup. It’s happening all right. Something that definitely should not be happening to toast.

Right in the middle of her toast, a small, striped stick is growing. Winter leans in closer. The stick continues to grow, straight up. Winter watches it, amazed. The top slowly starts to uncurl.

Winter knows what it is.

It’s a candy cane.

She grabs it.

She has to hide it. If her mom or dad sees it, they will take it away. She slides it under the table and tries to look like she isn’t hiding a strange and magical toast candy cane under the table.

“Nothing to see here,” Winter’s head voice says. Her head voice is a voice that only she can hear because it’s in her head.

“And what about you, Winter?”

Everyone is looking at her. What about what? Do they know? Did they see?

“You were listening, right?” Joy asks. “You’ll be home for dinner?”

Winter nods quickly. Listening? Yeah right. Her toast just grew a candy cane. Of course she wasn’t listening.

“Great,” Holly says. “I’ll help you pick out something for the Santa Clausification Ceremony, Winter. Good fashion takes planning. You know Nick, I could help you, too.”

“For your information, my lederhosen is very comfortable, and water proof and now I must go,” Nick responds, getting up from the table.

“Straight to tobogggining practice,” Joy calls after Nick as he darts out of the kitchen. “And don’t forget your helmet.”

The front door slams shut.

“Isn’t he shoveled this week?” Santa asks Joy.

“Right!” Joy exclaims. “I forgot. That boy is shoveled so often I lose track. I’ll make him shovel before dinner.”

Winter’s hand is getting pretty sticky from candy cane goo.

“This candy cane should be in your mouth, not in your hand,” Winter’s Head Voice says. Winter agrees. If she lowers her head very slowly, she could probably pop the candy cane into her mouth without anyone seeing. She slumps down in her chair.

“I have to run, too,” Holly says. “Enjoy your lunch, Winter,” Holly says, squeezing Winter’s shoulder as she passes.

Freeze starts shouting from his bedroom. “Freeze awake, Mommmmmy.” Freeze is only Youngster. He doesn’t go to school and he still takes naps. Joy leaves to go get him.

“So,” Santa says, after Joy has left the kitchen, “what does my Winter Bear have planned for today?”

“Dad, I’m not a bear,” Winter sighs, rolling her eyes.

“No, but you are a Winter,” he winks. “First day of School-Off! You must have something super special planned. Tell me! I want to hear all about it!”

Winter does have something super special planned! Mission E.W. But she absolutely cannot tell her dad about it. She made a promise to her friends. The most important type of promise. The spitty handshake promise. ‘I promise, on this spitty hand, not to tell anyone what we have planned.’

“Nothing,” Winter mumbles to her dad.

“Nothing?” he asks. “You have nothing planned for today?”

“Nope,” she replies, avoiding eye contact. Her dad leans in closer, and for a moment, it looks like he knows. Like somehow, he knows.

Which is impossible, right? He’s a present-deliverer, not a mind reader.

Right?

“Ok, well, have a marshmallowtastic morning,” Santa smiles.

Winter stands up, hiding the candy cane in her sleeve.

“Winter Bear?” her dad calls after her as she heads to the front door. “If you want to stay off the Naughty List?”

Winter rolls her eyes. “Be kind, be caring, be helpful, be honest.”

“That’s my Winter,” he exclaims.

Winter quickly pulls on her boots, wishing she was pulling on slocks instead of boots, grabs her scarf, her jacket and her mitten, (she still can’t find the other one), and hurries out the door.

She takes the shortbread shortcut and heads straight for the Elves’ Workshop.

Chapter 2 – The Snowball

Winter munches her candy while she hurries down Christmas Tree Trail. It’s quite tasty, as tasty as a candy cane that wasn’t grown in toast.

She makes a right onto Sugar Cookie crossing but then wishes she hadn’t because Sugar Cookie Crossing is not a main road, it’s a shortcut, and it’s not very shoveled. This always happens this time of year, everyone is trying to stay off the Naughty List, so no one’s being bad which means no one is getting shovelled. Except Nick.

Why did her toast grow a candy cane, she wonders as she walks. But she doesn’t wonder for long, because she lives in North Polington, and strange and magical things happen from time to time in The NP. Like the time the Central snowman started doing math, or the time the hot chocolate fountain flooded. And then there was the time the sleds started racing on their own.

North Polington is a busy little town

Where the Christmas trees are never taken down

And people eat candy canes all year round

In North Polington.

 

And the kids go to school to learn Christmas songs

To learn naughty from nice and right from wrong

And the importance of giving and getting along

In North Polington.

 

And the adults have jobs, but their jobs are fun

And they never complain about anyone.

They just work till the working’s done

In North Polington!

 

And there’s Mistletoe Mall where the people go shopping.

And Jingle Bell Hall where the town goes a rockin’.

And everyone has an extra large stocking

In North Polington!

 

And of course there are elves in silly green clothes.

But where they come from? Well, nobody knows.

They just hop on their train and choo-choo off it goes

Away from North Polington.

 

And yes there are reindeer, reindeer that fly!

One night a year they kick off to the sky!

But no one knows how and no one knows why

In North Polington.

 

This town is full of mystery.

How did everything come to be?

Everyone has a different story

In North Polington.

 

Some stories are true, and some of them aren’t.

Some start in the middle or end at the start.

And it’s hard to tell them all apart

In North Polington.

 

Because secrets swirl like blowing snow,

Like little twirling tornados

Picking up momemtum as they go

Around North Polington.

 

So who is it then that we can trust?

Who will tell the truth to us?

And who knows all the other stuff

That happens in North Polington?

 

There really only is one man

Who knows everything about this land

And he can tell us, yes he can

Every single secret!

 

This man’s name is Santa Claus

And he knows every secret because

Before him there never was

A North Polington.

William and Mia are already at the Workshop.

“I’m coming,” Winter hollers, trying to run through the deep snow.

“We will be patient,” William hollers back. But Mia is not patient, she runs out to meet Winter.

“Did your dad get my wishlist?” Mia asks. “Did he? Because I’m”

“Mia,” Winter interrupts. “We’ve been over this. The Wishlists go to the Workshop, not my house.”

“What did you ask for?” William asks, joining them.

“Slocks,” Winter replies. “And I’ll probably get them. I’ve been good. I’ve been brushing my teeth.”

“I heard the slock shop was out of slock stock,” Mia replies.

“Doesn’t matter,” Winter shrugs. “My slocks are coming from there,” She points to the workshop.

“I asked for slocks, too,” William says. “And I’ve been good. Really good. When my mom says: just do it, William. I do it.”

“Do what?” Mia and Winter as at the same time. Then they punch each other on the arm and say ‘Gingerbread.’ Winter says it first, so she wins. Mia owes her a cookie. She can give it to her later, when she has one.

“Do you think there’s enough slocks in there for everyone?” William asks. The three kidlets tilt their heads and look up, way up, at the Elves’ Workshop. It’s such a big building, the biggest in all of North Polington. In fact, it’s so big, it’s ginormous.

“How many toys do you think are in there?” Mia asks.

“Like, a hundred sixty thousand,” Winter reponds.

“But there aren’t that many kids in North Polington,” William reasons.

“No. But there’s that other place. Santa goes there, too,” Mia says. “What’s it called again?”

“The Whole Wide World,” winter tells them.

“Right, the Whole Wide World,” William repeats. “Do you think there’s a lot of kidlets there?”

“Don’t know,” Winter shrugs. “Probably.”

They stand in a silence for a moment, then William asks:

“Do you think our Mission will work?”

“Don’t know,” Winter shurgs again. “But if it does, we’ll be famous.”

“Just imagine. The first kids EVER to sneak inside the workshop.”

“The elves will be so mad!” William giggles.

“I know, right?”

Now every Kid and Kidlet in North Pilington has tried, at one time or another, to sneak into the Elves’ Workshop. But the Elves have a very strict rule.

“No kids allowed in the workshop!

That’s what all the elves say.

“No kids allowed in the workshop!

Kids in the workshop? No way!”

 

So the kids try to peek in the window

But the elves shake their fingers and say:

“No kids allowed in the workshop!

Kids in the workshop? No way!”

 

“But we want to play with the toys,”

The kids stomp their feet and say.

But kids aren’t allowed in the workshop.

“Kids in the workshop? No way!”

 

“Ok, let’s do this!” Winter says, clapping her hands together.

First they have to make sure their coast is clear, so Mia, William and Winter carefully approach the building. But the window is too high up for them to peek. William tries to jump up, but he can’t see anything. Mia presses her body against the building and grabs at the wall, but nope. She can’t climb it. So William offers Winter a boost.

“I see something,” Winter whispers. “I see, a piece of wall.”

“Ooohhhh,” Mia says.

“A piece of wall,” William says.

“And an elf! Yes. Yes. There’s an elf. There are elves in this room!”

William puts down Winter so they can proceed with the second part of their plan. They huddle together, and check over their shoulders to make sure their coast is still clear. They review their plan.

They will throw snowballs at the window.

The snowballs will go thump.

The Elves will hear the thump.

The Elves will say: “What is that thumping?”

The Elves will run to the window to look.

When the Elves are distracted, Winter, William and Mia will sneak through the front door.

They will get inside and be famous. Yes! It’s genius. They high-five each other.

Mia and Winter start making snowballs, but William stays behind.

“Ummmm. I just thought of something. What if the door is locked?” William asks. “We don’t have a key. Maybe we need more thinking.”

But Mia and Winter are already throwing snowballs. Mia actually hits the window and it goes thump, just like they planned. It’s working!

Winter winds up to throw. She reaches back as far as she can and then launches it into the air. But then, suddenly, something strange and magical happens.

Half-way through the air, the snowball changes color. One second it’s white, like a clean snowball should be. But the next? It’s bright red.

Winter’s mouth drops open. What just happened? How did that happen. And what –

The snowball is headed right for William’s head. She tries to holler ‘in-coming’, but she’s too late. It hits William on the forhead and bounces off.

“Ow,” William whines, rubbing his head. “Winter, that hurt. Why are you throwing ornaments at my head? You’re supposed to be throwing snowballs at the window.”

“I, I didn’t,” Winter stammers. “I threw a snowball. It, it changed.”

William picks up the ornament and approaches Winter. “This is not a snowball, Winter. This is an ornament. You could have broke my head.”

Winter looks at the ornament in William’s hand.

What, in Dasher’s name, just happened?

“I swear, William,” Winter says. “I swear on Vixen’s antlers. I threw a snowball but it changed. Something strange and magical just happened.”

Mia looks from the ornament to Winter. “It’s not funny, Winter. He’s right. You could have broke his head.”

Winter doesn’t know what to do. “Tell them about your toast,” her Head Voice says. “Tell them about the candy cane.”

“Ok, look,” Winter whispers, checking to make sure that no one else is around. “I have to tell you something.” William and Mia lean in. “This is not the first strange and magical thing that happened today.” Winter says very slowly. “This afternoon, at lunch, my garland toast grew a candy cane.” She puts her hands and her hips and nods.

***

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Winter and The Strange and Magical Christmas

  • ISBN: 9780991768042
  • Author: J.P. Shields
  • Published: 2016-12-14 20:20:10
  • Words: 19597
Winter and The Strange and Magical Christmas Winter and The Strange and Magical Christmas