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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)

TITLE: Sweet Blessings
By Celeste Ammirata


Cassie looked at the flour covering the floor. “Sara, could you please be more careful. I just slipped and banged my side against the counter.”

When the nine year old looked up, her glasses were at the tip of her nose. She pushed them back. “I’m sorry, Aunt Cassie. I’ll be more careful.” She returned her attention to the task at hand. She doesn’t look sorry. Her blue eyes squinted in determination as she pushed the rolling pin across the hunk of dough in front of her. She knelt on a chair, in front of Cassie’s cherry wood table, as she helped prepare the cookies for baking. To be honest, Cassie was the one doing the helping. Sara had the routine down pat. Have to give the girl that.

Cassie glanced around the room. Flour dusted the table, all the chairs, and, with her throbbing side as proof, the floor. Tacky silver garland hung in loops around her buffet table. Obnoxious colored blinking lights and garish ornaments covered her real tree. Real tree? How did I let her talk me into that? Here I am, a VP at one of the top advertising firms on the east coast, and I let a nine year old manipulate me into these hideous decorations.

Last Christmas, the garland looked like real evergreen. She decorated everything in an understated, natural theme. Clear, non-blinking lights, white ornaments, and for color, a few strategically place red and white poinsettias. She glanced at Sara. Her heart swelled. God, she’s been through so much, and yet she insists on seeing the good in life. Help me to see Christmas through her eyes.

“Come on, Aunt Cassie, it’s time to cut out the cookies.”

Do I have to? She headed for the table. Okay…here goes. As they cut out Christmas trees, Santas, angels, snowmen, and reindeer, Sara insisted that they sing along with the carols ringing out from the Bose sound system. Her enthusiasm was contagious and before long, Cassie had challenged her niece to a contest; who can sing the loudest? The louder they sang, or shouted, the more off-key their voices became. Soon, they were laughing more than singing.

The doorbell rang and Sara jumped up. “I bet its Jack.” She ran to the door. Swung it open, and yelled out. “I was right. I bet it was you.” She threw her arms around Jack’s waist. “Come help us. We’re just about to color the cookies.”

“You color cookies? With crayons?”

Sara beamed up at him. “No silly, we use food coloring.” She grabbed Jack’s hand. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

Jack’s head nodded up and down as Sara explained the proper application of food coloring. Thank you, God. He’s been such a blessing.

After all the cookies were cut, colored, and baked, and they had cleaned up the place, they ate the pizza Jack brought. Of course, for dessert, they ate cookies.

The sweet aroma of sugar cookies, blended with evergreen, hung in the air. After Sara had kissed Cassie and Jack goodnight, they settled into their favorite plush, oversized love seat, sipping on creamy eggnog. A snowman plate, full of cookies, sat on the coffee table.

“Thank you, Jack.”

“For what?”

“For everything. You’ve been so amazing over the last six months. I thought you would have high tailed it out of here a long time ago.”

He looked surprised. “Why would you think that? I love you. And Sara’s a sweet kid. I bought her that DVD she talked about the other day.” Cassie smiled as Jack put his arm around her shoulder and drew her closer. “You must be doing something right, she’s transforming into a happy little girl.” He squeezed her shoulder. “How are you doing, honey? Christmas sure is different this year, isn’t it?”

She chuckled. “It sure is. But, I’m doing okay, thanks to lots and lots of talks with God. And you, of course. I don’t even mind the um…colorful… decorations.” She sighed and leaned against him. “I miss my sister…and Jeff. But I think they’d be happy with how well Sara’s doing.”

“I’ll say. Six months after the accident, she’s baking cookies and shouting out Christmas carols.”

“You know,” Cassie said, “having her here has been such a blessing. She helps me to let go and enjoy life. I had such a great time today.”

Jack handed her a reindeer cookie. She reached for it…stopped…and smiled. A diamond ring hung from its antler…And the blessings just keep coming.

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This article has been read 653 times
Member Comments
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Shelley Ledfors 10/23/08
Wonderful entry! I LOVE the introduction of Sara, with her glasses down on the end of her nose. Makes me instantly fond of her! And Jack's tease to her of coloring the cookies with crayons made me giggle. Loved the surprise at the end, too! Very sweet, heartwarming piece!
Laura Anne Harrison10/23/08
What a delightful, heartwarming story! Your characterizations of Nine-year-old Sara, Aunt Cassie and Jack are delightful!
LauraLee Shaw10/25/08
This is excellent writing, great on topic. I could picture the characters, and I LOVE the ending! ;)
Sharlyn Guthrie10/27/08
Awww, I'm a sucker for romance. Love the ending!
T. F. Chezum10/27/08
Creative, heartwarming and well written. I like the interaction between the characters. Great job.
Kristen Hester10/27/08
I ditto all the above comments. This is wonderful and charming and all of the above! My only critique (and it's late at night and I'm tired, so this could just be me) is I had a little trouble at times knowing if you were talking about Sarah or Cassie. Perhaps new paragraphs each time a thought or action changes characters?? Could be wrong on this, though! :)
Karlene Jacobsen10/27/08
I was expecting the ring by the end. Thank you for not disappointing me.
THis is a beautiful story filled with hope, healing and the celebration of life.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/28/08
Sweet blessing/s is a good description for your story.
Scott Sheets10/28/08
Very sweet, well-written entry and the ending took me by surprise. Great Job!
Beth LaBuff 10/28/08
Your writing is so smooth. I was totally caught up in your story. Your title is perfect for this. The ending with the ring on the antler is "sweet." Great writing!!
Marlene Austin10/29/08
"Sweet" piece and the characters are written completely real-to-life. :)
Marijo Phelps10/29/08
LOVED the antler ring part! What a neat twist - thanks for writing this one!
Yvonne Blake 10/29/08
Ahhh...so sweet!
It's a little hard to follow. Try to keep to one POV, or make it clear who's talking or thinking.
I like the ending.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge10/29/08
I loved the story, characters, dialogue, and message.

I did have trouble following the POV shifts. The MC went from a first person to a third person narrator several times.

Lots of sweet touches and visuals.
Lyn Churchyard10/29/08
I love the interaction between the characters. Your story is creative and very heartwarming. Well written - great job.

Leah Nichols 10/30/08
I loved this one! Course, I love romances - this one is packed with meaning. A few POV shifts, but I was still able to follow along with the story. Excellent work!
Joshua Janoski10/30/08
LOL. Ok. Don't laugh at me, but for some reason my favorite parts were the Bose sound system reference and the pizza Jack brought. Of course that doesn't mean that the rest of the story isn't wonderful, I just am weird and like pizza and technology. :)

Seriously, this was a very heartwarming piece that emanates the spirit of Christmas. I love how Jack presented the ring to Cassie. A great way to end this story.