Sunday, February 10, 2019

Snowball Fight: The Story of a Winter Storm

. . . coming soon . . . 

Santa Claus School: The Story of Becoming St. Nick

Every September, Santa Claus School in Santa Claus, Indiana, welcomed twelve students who wanted to improve their holiday-making skills as men in the merry-red coats and hats with white beards.
Although the applications came through the U.S. mail, and they were scrutinized for the best Christmas-cheer, Clement Winter, the school’s teacher, could never be too sure what to expect on the first day of school.
The ten-week class covered all the basics and then some on how to uphold the tradition of Santa Claus. More than any other school in the country, Santa Claus School prided itself in graduating the best Santa Clauses. 
“Noel, Yule, Christian, Frost, Snowden, Kris, Jack, Christopher, Michael, Gabriel, Emmanuel, and Joseph,” Clement said, taking attendance on the first day of class and checking off each student, as they raised their hand with a “Ho-ho-ho.” Looking at the class, he felt saddened at their lack of enthusiasm. It took a certain amount of gusto and Christmas values to pull off being a genuine Santa Claus. Not everyone could do it. Not one of them had on a red suit, and very few of them had white beards, Clement thought to himself.
Clement wondered if the members of the class had simply signed up for the school for the money-making ventures during the holidays. Previous years, most students had at least come with their own Santa hats. 
“The first order of business will be to measure each of you for your own Santa Claus outfit,” Clement said. “So if you plan on gaining a pound or two, make sure to tell the tailor to let the pants out a bit.”
As Clement looked up to hear snoring, burping, and cursing from the students, he took radical action. 
“This year we’re running class like Boot Camp,” he said, astounded that many of them had not shaved their brown stubble, and one was hiding a Vodka bottle in his bag. One of them was even picking his nose during the breaks. Another one wouldn’t turn off his cell phone and kept taking calls from his various girlfriends. A handful of them tried to budget how much money they would make during the holiday season if they kept on track, even attempting to get free gifts. On the contrary, a few of them read their Bibles openly and prayed during class, ignoring Clement altogether. “You either get yourselves to classroom by 6 a.m., or you’re gone,” he said, handing out the curriculum. As he read it aloud, the Santas-to-be sat up in their seats:
“Week One: The History of Santa Claus, Week Two: Dress like Santa, Week Three: Act like Santa, Week Four: Children skills, Week Five: Reindeer skills, Week Six: Mrs. Claus skills, Week Seven: Flying skills, Week Eight: Toy making lessons, Week Nine: Letter-writing skills, Week Ten: True meaning of Christmas.”
The next morning at 6 o’clock sharp, the fledgling Santa student group arrived half-asleep, but when Clement explained to them that they will pass a 100-question quiz tomorrow or be replaced, they woke up pretty fast.
“No one failed the test,” Clement said, the next day passing back the quizzes. Many students earned 100 percent. By the end of Week One, Santa Claus School started to look a little more like Christmastime. Some of the students had Santa decorations from other countries or posters from famous holiday films on display. 
By the end of Week Two, each of the students finally had their own outfits, and only one of the Santas ripped his pants when he bent over. Those pants were immediately mended with extra padding and stitching. 
“If you can’t grow out white hair and a beard, then you can always find ones that look real,” Clement taught.
As Week Three rolled around, the men had to learn to sing, talk, dance, and walk like Santa Claus. 
“This will take some extra effort from those of you who are bad actors,” Clement explained in a loud voice.
Clement even taught his students Sign Language for the children who were deaf and wanted to talk to Santa. 
Week Four and Week Five were not so much different, being that children skills were similar to reindeer skills: Believe Santa is real, have a lot of cheer, listen first, be tender, and give snacks at crucial times. 
“During week six, learning how to interact with Mrs. Claus  might be the toughest week of all,” Clement said. “Hardly anyone has figured out how to interact with Mrs. Claus in a believable way. Try to love her.” 
Although Week Seven with flying lessons was more imagination than the practicality of making toys and letter-writing in Weeks Eight and Nine, Week Ten covering the true meaning of Christmas was the best. 
This was the week that most of the Santa students wanted to give up. Being that none of them was “the real Santa Claus,” they weren’t sure that they could convince anyone otherwise, even if they practiced for weeks.
“You might be the only Santa Claus that anyone ever meets,” Clement emphasized. “Give it your all, especially with the children who are believing for miracles. You might be their only Christmas memory.”
By the end of the ten-week course, the twelve Santa students graduated with hopes of presenting the best of Santa Claus to the rest of the world. From the elementary schools to the malls, they were now ready. 
When they started, they might have been an unruly group of bums looking for a buck at Christmas, but now they wanted more for their friends and family—a very Merry Christmas indeed. 
“The heart of Santa Claus is good,” Clement cheered.” “Be the good in the world, and don’t wait for Christmas!”
Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Green Beans: The Story of Vegetables in a Plastic Plate

The day my baby brother was born,
I ate green beans from a plastic plate.
It was covered in tin foil wrap.
July 24, 1980 was the summertime date. 
My grandparents cooked vegetable soup,
And it sat in the middle of the kitchen table.
It looked quite gross in the glass jar,
And my stomach felt upset and unstable.
But the neighbor brought green beans,
Wondering when my brother would be home.
My third birthday was two days later,
And I had “Happy Birthday” July syndrome.
With balloons and streamers and chocolate milk,
We played many rounds of “Duck, Duck Goose.”
On the orange-checkered kitchen carpet,
We ate a train cake with a candy caboose.
But my brother wasn’t home yet,
So I opened my gifts and waited for my mom. 
My dad burned the cheese sandwiches,
And I tried my very best to stay calm. 
When my baby brother finally came home, 
He looked so tiny and incredibly small,
But he never stayed in the crib alone. 
He climbed from his bed and up the wall. 
And as he got older, he ate down the house. 
He loved ice cream, desserts, and special cuisine.  
He liked pepperoni pizza and Stromboli wraps, 
But his favorite food of all was green beans. 

Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters

Musical Chairs: The Story of the Last Person Standing

Twelve chairs in a circle
Give you each a place to sit,
But if we take a chair away, 
One of you must quit. 
Eliminate a musical chair
And eliminate a person.  
Music plays with the game, 
But each round makes it worsen. 
Why don’t you shuffle here?
And then you can shuffle there?
If you take my seat from me, 
It doesn’t seem altogether fair. 
The last person standing 
Is the winner of the game, 
Or everyone could sit on the chair,
And nobody loses all the same. 

Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters

Friday, January 4, 2019

Raccoon Danger: The Story of a Night Creature

Most people think the daylight sun is the best, 
But Raccoon Danger loves the night, not a bit of rest. 
He scurries through the bushes and looks at the moon. 
He wears a black mask and likes to sing and croon. 
Underneath the starry, starry never-ending sky, 
He feels the safest in the night, and I know why. 
The night has a beauty that the day cannot hold.
Its poetry is extensive, and its paintings are bold. 
The planets come out like a connect-the-dots game. 
Ride a shooting star like a bright beaming flame. 
Have a snack or two underneath the dark yonder. 
Almost like Raccoon Danger, let your heart wander. 
The night will greet you well, just as the day, 
And you won’t be in danger, no matter what people say. 

Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Ugliest Christmas Sweater in the World: The Story of Fashion Gone Bad at the Holidays

If you’ve ever had an ugly Christmas sweater, 
Then, you know you only need one for the better. 
It might have jingles on it with all the bells and whistles,
Or it might be as touchy as prickly holly thistles. 
You usually have socks that match it to a T,
But of course, don’t let anyone fashion-fancy see.
Then, you have gloves that also blend its frosty hues
And a hat that coordinates with snowy freezing dews. 
A reindeer or a Santa or a wreath of red and green
Is on your stomach and always right across your spleen.
Mine is the ugliest Christmas sweater in the world.
I know because I knit it, and I became unfurled, 
But I love it because it keeps me warm at night, 
It makes me think of Christmas when all the world is right. 

Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Most Silent Night: The Story of a Broken Organ at Christmas

“It’s such a silent night,” said Father Joseph on a quiet Christmas Eve in 1816 in a church in Salzburg, Austria. The day before, he had visited a sick child in the Austrian countryside, reminding him of the Christ child. He prayed for peace and asked God to bless the family and their child amid the snowy winter hillside.
A day later, when he tried to play his church organ, he discovered that mice had chewed through the bellows that were used to supply the instrument with wind. Although he tried to fix them, the music was stilled. 
Water from a nearby river had also flooded parts of the church and damaged organ parts, making them icy.
“What are we going to do?” Father Joseph said, cleaning up the water and mice droppings in the sanctuary. 
“Maybe if I write a new song, we could use the guitar instead of the organ for the Christmas Eve service.”
As he made his way into his office, he considered the sickly baby he had met just yesterday. 
He stuck his pen in the ink jar on his desk and scribbled a batch of lyrics onto a crumpled piece of paper. 
The lyric read: 

My Yuletide Lullaby
Tonight I hold you in my arms
Soft and tender
I try to keep you from all harm
Love you forever

You are my son
You are a savior
You are my love
You are baby

So I sing this cradle song
So I guard you all night long
I soothe you as you cry
With my yuletide lullaby
My yuletide lullaby

You are not mine, it’s understood
Time has a purpose
I give you back to God for good
I must have courage

Sleep in peace
Peace be still
Sleep and dream
Dream God’s will
For the world

So I sing this cradle song
So I guard you all night long
I soothe you as you cry
With my yuletide lullaby
My yuletide lullaby

I bless you with my tears
My heart will not give way to fear

So I sing this cradle song
So I guard you all night long
I soothe you as you cry
With my yuletide lullaby
My yuletide lullaby

Considering that the new song needed music, Father Joseph ran off to his friend, a schoolteacher, Father Franz in a nearby village church. Although Father Franz could play the organ, he could also play the guitar. 
“Can you finish my song before service tonight?” Father Joseph said, bursting through Father Franz’s front door. “Our organ broke, and I thought you could write something special for the guitar. I can’t do it myself.”
“Finish your song?” Father Franz said. “Even if I could finish it, who will play it at Mass tonight? I’d have to play for your service and then run right back to my service in the snow. I’m still writing my homily.”
“Mozart could figure out how to do it,” Father Joseph said. “Can’t you use a homily from last year?”
“I could use the end of a homily from two years ago,” Father Franz said. “No one will remember it anyhow.”
Franz took the crumpled piece of paper from Joseph and began to hum a melody while playing the guitar.
As Father Joseph paced back and forth in Franz’s home, Franz finally finished the music to the lyric. 
“Oh, it’s gorgeous, Father Franz,” Father Joseph said with a tear in his eye. “My congregation will love it.
The next time the mice eat the organ bellows in a flood, I’ll just know it is time to write another new song.”
At the midnight Mass, two families of glovemakers sat in the front pews, in awe of the beautiful new hymn.
“How thoughtful of Father Joseph and Father Franz to write a new song for Christmas,” the glovemakers whispered. In fact, Father Joseph and Father Franz performed the song with just enough time for Father Franz to return to his service to give his last-minute homily, which he cut short to perform “My Yuletide Lullaby” for his congregation. Congregants went home in the dark singing the new standard to themselves. 
“Could we please have a copy of the new hymn, Father Joseph?” the glovemaker said to the priest after service. “I would like to teach it to my children and friends. I could learn to play it on my own guitar.”
“My Yuletide Lullaby” was so loved at the Christmas Eve Mass in Salzburg that it spread to neighboring villages across Austria and eventually to singers who toured the world, performing for kings and queens. 
As legend has it, the song is only to be sung on Christmas Eve and not a minute too soon, offering a peaceful blessing in tumultuous times. Everyone needs a silent night, but most of all at Christmas. 

Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters