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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Reason for the Season of Christmas (12/04/08)

TITLE: Party Circuit
By Betty Castleberry


My email notification alerted me with a soft ding. I opened the incoming message.


The Johnson’s party is Saturday night. You’re invited. We can’t miss THE party of the season. Besides, you know Miriam’s lobster canapés are to die for. Bud Freeman is planning his annual Christmas party, too. Sardine dip again. Let’s skip that one.


Hitting forward, I sent it on to the rest of my senior ladies prayer group, adding a postscript to my best friend, Ellen.

Ellen, I overheard Leah in the drug store the other day. She says they are having a party next week. You know how fantastic her cheesecake is. See if you can finagle an invitation for us. Beg if you have to. You know her better than I do. Also, I got an invite for two to Claudia’s shindig. She’s the tamale maker. I’ll do my part and you do yours. Evil grin.

I heard the ding again and read the new message.

I lucked out hooking up with you gals. Who else would have thought to keep each other informed by email of the parties with best food? Rich desserts, here we come! See you at the Johnson‘s.

And how do we get out of going to Bud’s? He sure comes up with some weird concoctions.


Five days later, I was primping before going to the Johnson’s party. Ellen let herself in.

“You ready?”

“Yep, I’m ready.”

We left my apartment, anticipating all the scrumptious food we would get to eat. The Johnsons’ home was a confection in itself. Every corner sparkled with holiday glitz and the huge tree in their family room was frosted with delicate angels and satin ribbons. Tiny white lights twinkled from deep within the branches.

The masterpiece was the loaded buffet table in the center of the room, lit with softly glowing candles. A red tablecloth made a cheery backdrop for the expected tasty dishes, as well as for a few new ones.

Ellen’s eyes were huge. “Look at that.” She was staring at a luscious looking Yule log. “It’s too pretty to cut.”

“No it isn’t. “ I sliced off a piece and tasted. “Heaven.”

Bea, Nancy, and the rest of our prayer group were there as well, piling their plates full. Nancy gave me a conspiratorial wink.

Somebody came up behind me and covered my eyes. “Guess who?”


“Very funny.”

I turned and faced Bud. “Oh, hi.”

“Hi. I’m counting on you and the rest of your prayer group to be at my get together tomorrow. You’ll be there, won’t you?”

I looked around for Ellen to rescue me. She had conveniently walked off. “I’m not sure.”

Bud’s smile tightened. “Oh?”

“Yes, I have this thing to do. It’s umm, important.”

He looked at me questioningly.

I felt my face flush. “But I think I can change my plans. I’ll be there.”

“Great. See you then.”

By the end of the evening, I had convinced my prayer group to show up at Bud’s. Actually, saying I had coerced them would be more accurate.

Ellen picked me up the next evening and we went to Bud’s.

Both Bud and an unpleasant smell greeted us at his door. “Looks like you’re the last two to arrive.” He nodded toward the rickety card table he had set up. “I bought some Limburger cheese just for this party.“ There was no tree. The only hint of Christmas was a small Nativity scene on an end table.

Bud tapped a spoon on the side of a cheap jelly glass. “Attention, please.”

The buzzing quieted. “I just want you all to know how much I look forward to this every year. I’m blessed to have real friends like you. I’m not the best cook in the world, but you folks don’t seem to mind.” He pointed to the manger scene. “You come anyway to celebrate Jesus with me. That’s what Christmas is really all about. Thank you for that, and thank you for loving me.” He wiped his eyes and honked into a hanky he pulled from his pocket, then gestured to the food. “Please, enjoy.”

Ellen whispered. “Maybe it’s not all about the food.”

I whispered back. “Not here it isn‘t.”

We blessed the food and filled our plates. I was brave enough to put sardine dip on mine, but in case I couldn’t eat it, I added my own prayer.“Please, Lord, send a cat.”

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This article has been read 1121 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 12/11/08
My cats wouldn't touch the sardine dip either! Isn't it amazing how we major on the minors at Christmas? Your message can through loud and clear.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/11/08
What a wonderful message you presented with superb humor. I loved the last sentence.
Judith Gayle Smith12/11/08
Limburger cheese! Sardines! What a jolt of hilarity! Your story pulled me in - I recall the pick and choose of partygoings when I was young and foolish (I am now old and foolish). Christmas is definitely about our tastebuds - but about our taste as to what is right and what is wrong, and to choose the right in truly loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Karlene Jacobsen12/11/08
Isn't it tough to overlook the unpleasant things and see what's really important.
Connie Dixon12/12/08
Poor Bud. I felt sorry for him at first, but he's the only one that really "get's it!" I enjoyed this a lot.
Joanne Sher 12/12/08
Message is wonderful, and the characters very well-drawn. Enjoyed this.
Gregory Kane12/13/08
This story should carry a waistline warning. It's left me feeling decidedly peckish - and not for sardine dip! Thanks for a fun and pointed read
Pamela Kliewer12/13/08
Why is that Christmas does center so much around food? Hmm.... thanks so much for this well-told story. You nailed it.
Sharlyn Guthrie12/16/08
Very cute and poignant. As usual, your characters sparkle as brightly as the lights on the angel-trimmed Christmas tree.
Lyn Churchyard12/17/08
Betty, your characters are a hoot once more. Poor Bud, you can't help feeling sorry for him. Nice reminder that it isn't all about the food. Your MC would have been better praying "Lord, I'll get it down, if You will keep it down."
Kristen Hester12/17/08
This is deligthful! I love all the characters and the original way you got the message across. I always look forward to meeting your characters!
Laury Hubrich 12/17/08
Very funny. I was wondering how you were going to bring the topic into this:) Should've known you had it covered! LOL!
Loren T. Lowery12/17/08
Cute, and I couldn't help but think while reading this if these women weren't somehow being "enablers" for poor Bud.
Nice and unique and amusing way to deliver the msg. of Christmas : - )
Jan Ackerson 12/17/08
Betty, this was priceless all the way through, but I about sprayed my monitor upon reading your last line. Love it.
Catrina Bradley 12/17/08
I was so afraid Bud was going to get that email by mistake! I like how you described the Johnson house to reflect the whole food theme of the story. And I loved Bud's speech at the end.
Peter Stone12/17/08
Most amusing glimpse into the minds and activities of this delightful bunch of ladies. The last line was priceless. Would you like my cat? At thirteen years, she's just entered her second kittenhood...
Janice Fitzpatrick12/18/08
So enticing and full of rich descriptions that this piece made my mouth water. I could almost see the Better Home and Garden type of decorative spread in my mind. I love your characters
and the simple truth expressed by Bud. I had to wince as most of us have tried to avoid those "Buds" in our lives, only to find that we were too self indulgent.
I'm not sure I could stomach limburger cheese anymore or trying sardine dip but they are precious memories to me. My dad, now gone, a raver of "grossitities",( lol,is that a word? Grin!),actually ate those slimy little guys like they were a mouthful of Porterhouse steak.
Limburger cheese became a temporal link between my father and me, as a wide eyed two yr old who was willing to try anything my daddy did, at that age.
Love this hon! Amazing writing in humorous style! Thx for writing this, I got a chuckle too!:0)
Angela M. Baker-Bridge12/18/08
You never fail to make me laugh. Congratulations on you EC, talent, skill, creativity, heart for God, and sense of humor. We're blessed that you're part of FWs.