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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: It’s Christmas Day (in the present or living memory) (11/27/08)

TITLE: Still Cold
By Noreen Ophoff


The sleigh bells were fading away in the sky, just after Santa arranged the presents and handmade felt stockings beneath the Christmas tree. The decorated sugar cookies had been eaten and the carrot had been given to Rudolph, who munched it happily. The wind whistled its coldness around the little blue house, where the children, Erin and Katie, were awake, and creeping quietly down the stairs. Erin was sure she had heard the sleigh bells, and the rustling of packages in the living room.

With their big brown eyes twinkling with excitement, the girls, ages 7 and 4, tiptoed into the front room. There, before their eyes, were packages in red, green and gold print paper, piled around the Christmas tree. The lights on the tree were plugged in, and the little blue twirly ornaments were spinning above the heat of the big bulbs.

The girls were allowed to take their stockings back upstairs and open the little presents inside, but they were NOT to awaken Mommy and Daddy until after 6:00 A.M. They did each run their hands over some of the presents, that were still cold. The sisters knew they had heard Santa, and he must have just left because the packages held the chill from the sleigh ride.

Upstairs in Erin's room, under the eaves, each little girl opened her red stocking. The outside of each had a Christmas tree, hand cut by their Grandma, with multi-colored sequins sewn on. Inside there were treasures. Erin dumped hers out in a pile on her bed, but Katie put her hand in to draw out another and another, opening each one as she went. There was always a huge candy cane stick, almost as big around as Katie's young wrist. Each little gem had a tiny doll with a little dog, ponytail holders, and bubblegum. Erin had a jump rope and a yo yo. Katie had a little teddy bear, brown and soft. She had a book about a puppy, and a little squeaky horse. Erin, old beyond her years, had a paperback book about a lost girl; a set of paints, colored pencils and paper to draw with. In the toe of each stocking was a great big orange.

Erin helped Katie rip the cellophane from her candy cane so her little sister could start licking it. Erin saved hers until later. She was more interested in the gum, and trying out the colored pencils. Katie stroked the little teddy bear, and squeezed the horse until it wheezed forth its little sound. Then they began the waiting game; waiting for the clock in the living room to strike “6:00” so they could wake up Mommy and Daddy.

Erin popped over to her closet and brought out Chutes and Ladders, one of Katie's favorite games. It would help them pass the time until they could really be up. “You stay here,” said Erin, “I'm going down to get us a snack.”

Katie lay with her little head peering down the staircase, her red-gold curls falling over her face, as her big sister slipped down to the kitchen. “Here we go,” Erin said as she handed a bag of molasses cookies and peanut butter crinkles to her little sister. “I got us each a cup of cider too.”

They made a picnic of the treats, on the end of Erin's bed. Each examined the gifts in the other's stockings, with love, munched their goodies and patiently waited for the other things in those packages waiting underneath the Christmas tree.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marlene Austin12/06/08
Nice descriptive writing. Could feel the girls' anticipation. :)
Deborah Porter 12/12/08
Noreen, I just wanted to let you know that you did very well in the Challenge this week. Even though you didn't quite make it into the winners' circle, you made it into the highest rankings for Level 2, placing 9th for the level.

If you would like to check the highest rankings for yourself, you can see them here:


With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)