Monday, September 7, 2020

THE UNICORN CURE synopsis

LOGLINE 

The strength of a unicorn makes you strong enough to achieve anything. 

 

PITCH

When Penrose, a powerful unicorn, is attacked by beasts of the forest and gives his life to save Sunshine, a princess in the Scottish land of Gras, all hope seems lost until Penrose appears in her bedroom as a mystical being. For the rest of her life, Sunshine is protected by the invisible intervention of Penrose and his magical alicorn, once even throwing a dragon into a sea to defend her. Like an angelic being, no one can see him but Sunshine. Because of his strength, she becomes a majestic queen for her parents and her people. 

 

SYNOPSIS 

Twelve-year-old Sunshine lives in the land of Gras whose best friend is a unicorn named Penrose. Because her father is King of Gras and her mother is the queen, she lives in a Scottish medieval castle. Penrose goes with her everywhere, protecting her from harmful beasts in the enchanted forest. She loves to play with him in her rose garden and splash with him in the hot, bubbling mineral springs. Only the rhinoceros is known to have a similar horn on its head, and this unicorn’s alicorn has a red tip. More than once, his horn has pierced the heart of beasts of the forest in Sunshine’s defense. Although she is a princess, she has many jealous enemies, trying to prevent her destiny to rule Gras as queen. Sometimes, she spends the night with Penrose in his unicorn lair next to her family castle. She brushes his silky white coat with her own golden hairbrush and braids his long flowing tail. On days when Sunshine is sick, Penrose helps her get well quickly. His horn has magical healing qualities, and he grinds it against a rock and mixes its powder in tea as a potion to cure her ailments. 

 

Days later, his horn grows back to its regular shape, as if he has never used it as medicine. When Sunshine swims in a river or lake, he dips his horn in it first, cleansing it for her. He always makes sure that she is never poisoned by the evils of the forest. In fact, the cup itself from which Sunshine drinks is made from Penrose’s unicorn horn. On the base of the cup is inscribed: “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.” So, whatever Sunshine drinks is purified by Penrose’s purifying healing powers and virtues.

 

One afternoon, Sunshine and Penrose take a nap together by the river in the beautiful forest. The unicorn curls up next to her in the tall grass, neighing, and falling asleep with its head on her lap. That particular afternoon, beasts have been watching the pair from a distance, waiting to pounce. As Sunshine and Penrose rest, the beasts circle, and when Penrose is fully asleep, the creatures descend. Penrose rises to his feet. Although it is devastating, Penrose throws himself in front of the beasts, giving Sunshine a chance to flee. As she runs into the distance, she sees the beasts slaughter her most majestic best friend. She cries all night until she can no longer produce tears, and she feels sick to her stomach. She sobs. Then, a sudden voice booms in her bedroom, shaking the walls. There stands Penrose in all his glory and stately heroism. She runs across the room and throws her arms around his neck, kissing his cheeks as she wept. Almost like an angelic being, Penrose accompanies Sunshine until the day she dies, but only she sees him. “I have as it were the strength of a unicorn,” Sunshine sings, rising from bed each morning in her castle. As queen of Gras, she sits on an ivory throne made of Penrose’s magical alicorn, reigning until age one hundred twenty.


Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

MINUET synopsis

LOGLINE 

Magic silkworms spin love in the most romantic way. 

 

PITCH

When Velvet Briar Rose needs a dress for the Cotswolds Ballroom Dance, her wicked aunt admits that she has kept the magic silkworms from her and her mother, who spins dresses all days long for little money. Her aunt lies and tells her niece that the silkworms are known to make one dress per lifetime that brings true love. Since her mother has already had the silkworms make a wedding dress, her aunt says that her mother has lost her chance, but Velvet still has one magic dress that can be spun. The aunt reluctantly gives Velvet the jar of worms, thinking she will get them back without her mother knowing. After the silkworms make both Velvet and her mother Emma dresses for the ball, they both have suitors, and the deception of the aunt is known. Without the worms, her husband goes to jail for fraudulent business dealings, and Velvet and her mother are no longer destined for a life of spinning at a wheel. 

 

SYNOPSIS

Night and day, Emma Souster spins thread on a spinning wheel in her home, causing calluses on her hands. Her thread makes cotton frocks for the women of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds in England. Because she is always too busy spinning for someone else, her daughter, Velvet Briar Rose Souster, wears clothes made from the scraps. Most of the time, Velvet even sews them together herself. Now 15 years old, she needs a pretty dress for the winter Cotswolds Ballroom Dance. When Velvet was two years old, her father died of pneumonia in the winter frost. Heartbroken as could be, her mother never remarried, leaving Velvet and her mother to fend for themselves alone. However, her aunt lives in London, and her uncle is a wealthy banker, so Velvet often spends time on the train visiting her aunt and uncle, hardly making ends meet for herself and her mother. 

 

According to her aunt, a fairy godmother gave magic silkworms to Velvet’s grandmother in her youth, and her grandmother gave them to her aunt for safekeeping, not her mother. Years ago, the silkworms spun a wedding dress for Velvet’s mother, but when her father died the “one-dress-in-a-lifetime” magic of the silkworms’ spinning had already run out for her mother, or so her mother had been told. Velvet promises her aunt not to tell her mother about borrowing the silkworms and will return them on her next trip to London. Her aunt secretly plans to never talk to Velvet again once she gets back the magic silkworms. 

 

Upon returning home, Velvet finds her mother spinning at her wheel. The morning of the dance, she wakes up looking for answers from the magic silkworms. The worms, which she hid under her bedroom floorboards, are gone. As Velvet walks into the cottage kitchen, she finds her mother sitting at the spinning wheel, glowing. The magic silkworms visited Velvet and her mother, making each of them a glorious dress for the dance. As it turns out, Velvet meets a suitor at the dance who courts her, and so does her mother. In the meantime, Velvet’s mother receives word that her sister’s husband has gone to jail for fraudulent business dealings. In fact, Velvet’s disheveled aunt busts into the cottage one afternoon unannounced when Emma is out doing errands at the market. When Emma comes back from town, she walks through the door with her suitor on her arm. The evil auntie runs from the cottage without taking the silkworms with her. To this day, the magic silkworms will spin a dress for anyone looking for love.


Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

SHOES synopsis

LOGLINE 

If you ever wanted to live in a shoe, now is your chance!

 

PITCH

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe with a neighborhood of footwear. The Shoes Neighborhood is a place where customers live in their shoes instead of wearing them on their feet, and when a three-footed shoeless giant comes along to squash their homes, even he gets his own special trio of shoes from Grammie and her twelve grandchildren.

 

SYNOPSIS

Over the river and through the woods, there is an old woman who lives in an ankle boot in the Shoes Neighborhood, a neighborhood of footwear. Although her five children—the parents of her twelve grandchildren—live nearby, her grandchildren enjoy staying at her home more than any other place in the entire countryside, including the village candy store. Of course, she is a good grandma—she feeds her grandchildren, clothes them, scolds them, and encourages them when they are sad. They never lack for anything because she is so wise and creative. Gramps passed away a few years ago, but she keeps his shoes by the fireplace for everyone to remember. In this quaint neighborhood of footwear, much like the shoe section at the village clothing store, there is a type of shoe for everyone’s personal taste. Except in the Shoes Neighborhood, the customers live in their shoes, instead of putting them on their feet. 

 

As much as everyone likes the Shoes Neighborhood for its cleverness and class, it has one enemy: Its long-standing rival, the Three-Footed Giant, whose feet never fit in shoes, because shoes come in a pair, and he has larger-than-life triple feet; so not only is the size a problem, but also his number of feet. The whole ground shakes every time he comes near the Shoes Neighborhood. As the Three-Footed Giant plods his way through the streets, the thigh-high boot home falls over, the roller skate home loses a wheel, and the stiletto home breaks its heel. Several porch sandal straps fall to the ground from a local residence, swinging back and forth with no place to attach. It is not a pretty sight, and neighbors run from their homes in tears and fright, afraid that their shoe house will be next to fall apart. In an attempt to soothe the Giant, Grammie and her grandchildren make him his own trio of shoes. Hurrying to work before he returns, they start by measuring his footprints. As the twelve grandchildren work for five straight nights in a row, they make the Three-Footed Giant individual army boots, matching his three distinct footprints, each of which has varying numbers of toes. When the army boots are painted and laced, Grammie inspects the shoes with her spectacles. She paces about the boots, gearing up for her showdown with the Giant, anticipating the next time he comes ‘round. 

 

Days later, when the Three-Footed Giant comes back to the Shoes Neighborhood, Grammie has been baking, and he smells her blueberry muffins. Grammie bursts through the front door of her home, and she parts the trees in her yard, showing him his new trio of army boots. She tells him that the shoes are for him and that they are a perfect fit. After much fussing, fidgeting, and rolling on the ground, the Three-Footed Giant shoves his feet into the boots. Filled with gratitude, he breaks down sobbing like a two-year-old child. Against her will, the Giant scoops Grammie up in his palm and places her at his heart. He tells Grammie that he loves her, and she responds, saying the same. He wants to bring all his friends with awkward feet to her for shoes.  From then on, the Shoes Neighborhood is known as the most generous place for people with misshapen feet.


Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Christmas Crackers: The Story of a Wedding Cake Baker

“Christmas crackers!” called Tom Smith, a wedding cake baker from Clerkenwell, London. 

His wedding cakes sat delicately in his shop window on fine china, decorated with colorful icing. Waiting for his own true love, he just kept baking wedding cakes. Another day, another cake. 

“This is going to be my wedding cake when I get married!” announced an elegant customer walking in the shop. 

This year, 1847, he introduced his crackers along with his wedding cakes, which crackled like logs put on a fire in a twist of paper. 

“When is the date?” Mr. Smith asked his new customer. “I need to make sure to get your order on my calendar, so it’s done in time.”

He noticed that the sun shone a little brighter through the shop bay window. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. 

“Oh, I’m not engaged yet,” she explained. “But I will be soon. Very soon. I just need the right man.” 

“Oh, I see,” Mr. Smith sighed. “Well, here’s the brochure of all my cake designs. Find your favorite!”

“What are these?” inquired the lovely woman, also eating a sample of chocolate wedding cake from the counter.

“Those are Christmas crackers!” he answered. “My bonbons slumped in sales, so I put love messages in my sweets.”

“Love messages!” she gasped, grabbing a handful. “I need all the love messages that I can get!”

“I’m considering putting jewelry and toys in some of them instead of sweets for fun,” Mr. Smith commented. “I thought expanding the merchandise might increase business,” he continued, as she opened her first cracker with a pop. 

“At first I called the crackers ‘cosaques’ after the noise from Cossack’s whips, but I decided on Christmas crackers,” he explained. 

“It says, ‘You’ve just met your true love!’” the brunette woman whispered, looking up at Mr. Smith. 

“That’s what it says, does it?” he stammered, scratching his head. “You can’t take those things too seriously!”

Before Mr. Smith could say anything else, his mystery customer threw her arms around him and kissed him.

“Marry me!” she exclaimed. “Marry me! Then, I’ll take every wedding cake in your shop for the rest of my life.”

At first, Mr. Smith tried to fight back, but after a moment, he figured there was no use in fighting with a gorgeous woman who loved his sweets. 

“Christmas crackers!” Mr. Smith cheered, kissing her back. “Will you be my Mrs. Smith?”

“Of course, I will,” the wife-to-be agreed, taking a handful of cake and smashing it in his face and hair. “Taste the icing!” she laughed. 

Then, he took a handful of cake and smashed it in her face and hair as well, and they both looked radiant. So, Mr. and Mrs. Smith lived happily ever after with wedding cakes and love all around them. 

“Get your Christmas crackers!” Mr. Smith advertised. “They’re going fast!”

Their shop became known as a magical place where romantic messages read by customers proved true every time, even if there were a few bumps along the way. 

“You can kiss me whenever you want,” Mrs. Smith told Mr. Smith in front of their customers. “No mistletoe needed!”

“I’d like a blizzard of kisses,” Mr. Smith replied, kissing her as the shop door opened, blowing in snow from the latest storm.

“My snowflake wishes have all come true, and so can yours,” Mrs. Smith announced.

Each year at Christmas, “Christmas crackers” sold in the millions all over the world because of the lasting love of the Smiths. 

 

Copyright 2021 Jennifer Waters 

A Merry Christmas Parade: The Story of a Holly, Ivy, and Mistletoe Float

Holly, ivy, and mistletoe floats!

Down the street they go, so get your coats!

If you want to meet good ‘ole Santa Claus

At the end of the parade, make it your cause.

Stand by the side of the street and cheer!

Run behind the parade until he is near. 

Jump on his sleigh and tell him your wish. 

Slip in and give him a kiss with a swish. 

He’s sure to listen if you ask really nice. 

If you’re desperate for gifts, maybe ask twice.

Spell your name and give him your address. 

A Christmas carol would surely impress. 

You could bring a card with your picture inside. 

Then, sit on his lap for the rest of the ride. 

A Merry Christmas Parade is the best!

Santa is always looking for a new guest. 

            

Copyright 2021 Jennifer Waters

The Pohutukawa Tree: The Story of a New Zealand Ghost

“Did you see that shadow pass by the cave?” eight-year-old Amelia Brown whispered, pulling on her father’s jacket. 

“Oh, you’re probably imagining that you saw the warrior Tawhaki,” her father explained, looking out over the coast. “I know you’ve been so sad since your mom died. I’m so glad that we got to spend the day together by the ocean.”

Amelia teared up, wiping her nose on his jacket sleeve. “I miss Mom so much,” she cried. “Why did she leave us?”

The wind blew hard against the Pohutukawa tree that clung to the cliff of Cape Reinga in New Zealand. Caves wrapped around the cliff, where it is said that people visited before they passed into the spirit world to heaven. 

“Let me tell you a story,” her father quipped, taking his daughter’s hand, and squinting to see if he could find Tawhaki.

“I love stories, Papa,” she stated. “I’m still trying to find where Tawhaki’s shadow went. If I find him, I’ll tell you.”

“Until then, I’ll share with you his legend,” her father explained. “As the story goes, this Pohutukawa tree emerged from the cliff of Cape Reinga in New Zealand on Christmas Eve many years ago. Its burning red flowers are said to symbolize the blood of a warrior who died attempting to avenge his father’s death. His name was Tawhaki.”

“Why doesn’t everyone know about him?” his curious daughter wondered.

“I’m not sure, honey, but supposedly the warrior tried to get help in heaven on his mission, and then he fell to earth, causing the red flowers to bloom. He still roams the earth, trying to avenge his father’s death. He hates injustice and secretly tries to bring justice to those in need of it. Rumor has it that he also helps people on their journeys from earth to heaven through the caves near the cliff. Now, I bet you thought it was just a tree?” her father clarified. “Sometimes, I think it still might just be a tree.”

“I always knew there was something special about the tree because it glowed,” she told him. “Only since Mother died last summer have I seen the shadow of the warrior. I wasn’t sure where he came from, but he seems to follow me.”

“Really?” her father inquired. “You didn’t wander into the caves, did you? I told you not to go inside those old things. The legend of Tawhaki is really just a lot of folklore . . . and it makes you feel better for a while.”

“I thought I might talk to Mother one last time,” Amelia cried. “I dreamed I met her in the caves by the tree.”

“Well, did you find her there?” Mr. Brown asked, almost wishing he hadn’t asked his grieving daughter the question.

“No, I just saw the shadow of a man who has followed me,” Amelia giggled. “Did you see him?”

“I didn’t see him tonight, but he’s said to exist,” Mr. Brown admitted. “No one knows why your mother passed away so suddenly. If Tawhaki exists, he is probably trying to avenge her death, like the death of his father. According to the myth, he fights to bring justice.”

“Oh, I just saw him again, next to the tree,” Amelia gasped, pointing. “How could you miss him?”

“If you want to, we could walk through the caves one last time, but then that’s enough,” Mr. Brown decided. 

“I would like that,” Amelia agreed, secretly seeing a woman that looked like her mother at the mouth of the caves.

Amelia and her father walked into the heart of the caves, using the flashlight from her bag to light their way. As they descended deeper into the caves, Amelia came face to face with the spirit of her mother. Tears filled her eyes, and she looked at her father, wondering if he was able to see her mother. Realizing that he could not, she said nothing. 

“Now, did we find your mother in these caves?” her father asked, as Amelia watched the spirit of her mother bend over and kiss her cheek. “I don’t see her anywhere!”

The kiss burned like fire, and Amelia was sure it was real. Then, her mother did the same to Amelia’s father, but he must have not felt the fire on his cheek. Amelia’s mother slowly took off her diamond wedding ring and slipped it into Amelia’s hand. 

“Keep this for me, Amelia. I love you,” her mother said, disappearing into the cave. 

“I love you,” Amelia whispered. “I’ll love you forever.”

“Please, honey, just stay out of the caves from now on,” Mr. Brown insisted, unable to see Amelia’s teary eyes in the dark. “Now, let’s cut some of the red flowers from the tree. We’ll put them by your bedside, but we should be getting home for the night.”

“At least there might be someone looking out for me, so I’m not alone without Mom,” Amelia told her dad, hugging him.

She decided that telling him what she just saw might not help him at all, but it helped her more than she could say. Her mother’s wedding ring hid deep in her pocket, although it was too big to fit on any of her fingers.

“I’m looking out for you!” Mr. Brown explained. “Both of us could use the help of Tawhaki, but I love you more than he does.” 

The wind blew hard, and the Pohutukawa tree shook, as a shadow fell from its branches, following the Browns back to their house. 

“If heaven could only come to earth,” the shadow called into the night sky.

 

Copyright 2021 Jennifer Waters 

Christmas Stockings: The Story of Golden Dusty Chimneys

If you’re in need of a Christmas stocking, 

Take your cleanest sock from walking,

And stretch it to its farthest limit. 

If it’s too long, be sure trim it!

Try to pick one that’s red or green,

Or whatever you have that’s in-between.

Write your name with a magic marker!

The best kind is bright and darker. 

Then, hang it on the fireplace mantle.

If your feet are cold, wear your sandals.

Wait for Santa to fill your stocking with gifts!

Watch for him on open-eyed shifts. 

Down the golden chimney he’ll jump!

Toys and gifts he likes to dump. 

Now make a stocking for all your friends,

And that’s where this poem ends. 

Christmas is not just a stocking holiday,

But fill mine to the top please anyway!

 

Copyright 2021 Jennifer Waters

Shiny Nose: The Story of Robert L. May, the Creator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

“I wish the world was a brighter place,” said Robert May, working on his latest copywriter assignment at Montgomery Ward, a successful Chicago mail order house. 

It was 1939, and many families were still feeling the effects of the Great Depression.

Instead of making the annual coloring book, Robert was trying to draft an original Christmas story about an animal with holiday cheer. 

Of course, the tale had to involve Santa Claus and his sleigh. 

“I think the poem should be about a reindeer,” Robert imagined, thinking about his daughter Barbara’s love for deer. 

“A reindeer?” doubted Sewell Avery, CEO of Montgomery Ward. “Are you sure that this is going to work?” 

“I always wanted to write the Great American Novel. I think I’m onto something with the reindeer,” Robert insisted. 

“Rollo, or Reginald, or Rudolph? I’m sort of leaning toward Rudolph. I think it’s the most original.” 

“Rudolph is definitely an original,” Mr. Avery quipped. “I would have never thought of a reindeer named Rudolph.”

Coming home from work that evening, Robert sighed at the tiny, unkept two-bedroom Chicago apartment.  

“How are you feeling today, Evelyn?” Robert asked, kissing his wife on the cheek. She had been bedridden from cancer for the past two years. “I’ve been working on my poem about Rudolph the reindeer all day again . . .” 

“The reindeer with the shiny nose?” his wife wheezed. “I hope it’s a big hit with the shoppers.” 

“Dad, let me hear the latest version!” Barbara, his daughter proclaimed, running to hug her father.  

“I’ll read it to you before bed tonight,” her father promised, hugging her tightly. “Let’s eat some dinner now.” 

After dinner, Barbara crawled into bed, in tears, wondering: “Why is Mom different than other moms?” 

“She loves you very much, Barbara,” Robert cried softly, holding his daughter. “Let’s read about Rudolph.” 

As Robert read to her about a reindeer named Rudolph with a very shiny nose, she fell asleep. He wasn’t sure if she heard the part about how everyone used to make fun of the creature. After all, reindeers were not supposed to have big shiny red noses, and it embarrassed Rudolph every time he was teased for being different than everyone else.  

As the story went on, even Rudolph’s family ridiculed him for his nose calling him “a red-nosed reindeer.” Since the outcast was the ninth and youngest of Santa’s reindeer, like many children, it made the reindeer easy to pick on.  

“I have to figure out what good can come of Rudolph’s nose,” Robert whispered, kissing his daughter goodnight. “Most days, I feel almost like the out-of-place reindeer. I might as well be as awkward as Rudolph . . .”

Later in the week, Mr. Avery agreed to consider drawings from Denver Gillan from the company art department. 

“Show me something that will really work!” Mr. Avery demanded. “Every child has to love Rudolph!” 

“Yes sir,” Robert agreed. “I’ll spend the whole weekend at the zoo with Denver, if that’s what we have to do!” 

 

“Come on Barbara, we’re off to the zoo, so we can make some drawings of the deer,” Robert explained when Saturday morning rolled around. “We’re making drawings of Rudolph. You can even help color his nose!” 

“See you later tonight,” his wife coughed. “Have a great day together. I’ll miss you. Wish I could come.” 

For most of the afternoon, Robert held Barbara on top of his shoulders, as Denver sketched the first Rudolph. Barbara filled in Rudolph’s nose with a red crayon.

“Oh, I wish that deer would turn his head,” Denver pleaded. “Look this way!”

“Merry Christmas!” Barbara called, as the reindeer looked right at her.

The next week, Robert sat at his desk, scribbling on pads of paper and throwing them in the trash can.  

As he stared out the window, he could not see through a thick fog from Lake Michigan.

“I’ve got it!” he concluded. “Rudolph’s nose can shine like a spotlight through the fog on Christmas Eve, so Santa can make his deliveries.” 

When the phone rang, and Robert heard his wife’s mother on the line, he felt sick to his stomach. 

“Robert, you need to come to the hospital right away,” his mother-n-law insisted, crying. “Evelyn just died. I can hardly believe it.”

“How am I going to tell Barbara that her mother has passed away?” he sobbed. “I’m on my way to the hospital.”

When he laid eyes on his daughter in a hospital waiting room chair, she cried and cried and collapsed in his arms, kicking and yelling.  

“It’s going to be all right,” Robert assured. “Do you want to hear about Rudolph? The story is almost finished.” 

“No, I don’t want to hear about Rudolph,” Barbara blamed him. “He’s not real. He’s just a stupid reindeer.” 

“Well, Rudolph is about as real as I can get right now,” Robert cried with tears, hugging his daughter. “I love you, dear.”

“I’m sorry, Dad. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” Barbara apologized. “I love you. I love Mom, too.”

 

After his wife’s funeral at Saint Joseph Cemetery in River Grove of Cook County, Illinois, Mr. Avery insisted that Robert didn’t have to finish the Rudolph poem, if he wasn’t up to it. Instead, he sent flowers to the apartment.  

“Look, you can take a couple weeks off,” Mr. Avery communicated by phone. “Forget about Rudolph for a while.” 

“Thanks, but I think it’s wiser that I finish the story,” Robert insisted on the telephone. “I need Rudolph.” 

“If you think so,” his boss stammered. “I know it’s a really hard time for you, and I don’t want you to feel stressed.” 

“It’s fun for me, actually,” Robert rambled. “It keeps my mind on other things, and Barbara likes the story, I think.” 

After a few more weeks of writing, Robert burst through his apartment door one evening to find Barbara eating dinner with her mother’s parents. 

“I finished the story about Rudolph!” Robert exclaimed, hanging up his coat. 

He pulled up a chair to the table, reading the draft aloud, explaining that Santa Claus would have never made it on his annual trip around the world on Christmas Eve without Rudolph’s very shiny nose, due to foggy weather conditions. 

All the other reindeer, like Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen, who used to laugh and call Rudolph names, are now in awe of their youngest brother who helps to save Christmas because Rudolph leads the sleigh through the sky.

“That’s great, Dad,” Barbara cheered. “I wish Rudolph was real, and I could meet him. Mom would be so happy.”

“You never know how something that was once a great shame can be turned into a miracle,” Robert announced. 

“If you say so, Dad,” Barbara agreed quietly, jumping on his lap. “How are the pictures of Rudolph coming?” 

“We’re working on it,” Robert explained, showing her the latest sketches. “The book should be out for Christmas.” 

“Well, if nobody else likes the story, I like it,” Barbara encouraged him. “It’s my favorite Christmas story ever!”

 

By Christmas, 2.4 million copies of the poem were distributed to Montgomery Ward shoppers to great success. 

“To think that people used to laugh and call Rudolph all kinds of names,” Robert chuckled to himself. “That’s not happening anymore!”

By 1947, after Montgomery Ward gave Robert the rights to his story, Maxton Publishers, a small New York publishing company, printed a copy of the Rudolph book, and it was a best seller. 

Even Robert’s brother-in-law named Johnny Marks adapted the story into a famous song called “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” causing animated television specials, postage stamps, stuffed animals, comic books, games, and all kinds of memorabilia.  

“What would Christmas be without Rudolph?” Robert asked himself every year for many decades. “Rudolph is almost as important as Santa Claus. I think his nose made the world a little brighter after all.” 

 

Copyright 2023 Jennifer Waters 


https://soundcloud.com/jen-waters/shiny-nose

The Christmas Woodcutter: The Story of the Christ Child and the Fir Tree

“Can I please come inside?” cried a little child freezing in the cold on Christmas Eve in Fourc├ęs, a small town in France. He knocked on the ice-and-snow-covered kitchen window of the home of a poor woodcutter. 

“Come sit by the fire,” begged Valentine, the woodcutter’s only son. Marie, the woodcutter’s younger daughter, wiped the snow off the child’s face. The wife of the woodcutter warmed the last of their supper stew for the boy. 

“Thank you, kind people,” the boy whispered, nibbling on day-old bread from their table. “I am far from home.”

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost,” the father read in their nightly Bible devotional by candlelight.

The mother poured the child the last of their milk from their icebox, hoping the family cows would give more in the dawn.

“Now let’s join in a round of ‘Silent Night,’” the mother suggested, quietly singing the first verse of the carol.

As the family and little child finished the carol, the father cheered: “Time for bed. Christmas Day is tomorrow!”

Marie and Valentine’s father and mother had saved money all year for the candies and treats the children would find in their stockings over the fireplace in the morning. The woodcutter had also carved each of them special toys. 

“You can sleep in my bed tonight,” Marie insisted to the little child. “I will sleep on the kitchen bench instead.”

“How very sweet,” the child agreed, admiring the hand-carved table, chairs, benches, and ornaments in the home.

“Our father made the bedframes and benches,” Valentine bragged. “He made all the woodwork. It’s so beautiful!”

“Thank you for your kindness,” the little child smiled, crawling into Marie’s bed underneath a soft quilt.

As the family settled into their beds, Marie drifted to sleep on the hard bench with one pillow and blanket. 

“This definitely isn’t like sleeping in my bed,” Marie considered. “I will hardly get any sleep at all . . .”

Trying to sleep, she watched the snow out the window with a shooting star drifting into the distant night sky. 

“Do you hear the singing and the harps?” Marie asked aloud hours later, sitting up, wondering if she had a dream.

Valentine slipped into the kitchen to peer through the window, and the children realized they had been visited by angels. 

“Look, they are dressed in silver robes with golden harps and lutes,” Marie gasped, whispering to Valentine as her heart leapt. 

While the cherubim and seraphim sang, a group of children gathered beside them also appearing in silver robes. 

Then, Marie and Valentine turned to see the little child standing next to them in a golden robe and crown. 

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor,” the little child announced. “I am the Christ Child, the one of whom the angels sing. I bring good gifts to children.”

He opened the front door of the poor woodcutter’s home in the breaking dawn and snapped a bough from a nearby fir tree. Amidst the excitement, the woodcutter and his wife hurried to the front porch with their rifle.

“What is going on?” the woodcutter yelled, only to be stunned at the gathering in front of his home. 

After a moment to realize what was happening, the woodcutter and his wife fell to their knees in reverence.

The angels and children continued to sing and dance on the early Christmas morning in the French countryside.

With jubilation, Marie and Valentine joined the other children in their celebration, making merry music. 

“I bless you with the bough of this fir tree,” the Christ Child declared, planting it deep into the ground. “Let it bear much Christmas fruit every year.” 

Then the child who was also God disappeared into the early morning air. 

“Glory to God,” the woodcutter called into the fields. “Who am I that you would choose me, a humble servant?”

The fir branch shot into the sky, growing into a full fir tree, decorated with golden apples, silver nuts, and wooden toys. Marie and Valentine took the gifts from the tree and delivered them to the other homes in the town. 

“We must never forget what just happened, even if no one believes us,” Marie told Valentine on their way home. 

“No one will believe us,” Valentine chided, “but that doesn’t mean that the Christ Child was in our imagination.”

“I know he is real,” Marie pinched herself. “I gave him my bed, and the bench was very hard for the night.”

To this day, children everywhere decorate Christmas trees in honor of the little child, remembering the faithfulness of the woodcutter and his family. 

 

Copyright 2021 Jennifer Waters

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Candy Cane Twist: The Story of a Christmas Ballet Choirmaster

“This year, we’re going to combine singing with ballet in the annual Christmas concert,” choirmaster Forte Piper announced at the first chorus practice of Head of the Class Middle School in Hoboken, New Jersey. “The Hallelujah Chorus meets The Nutcracker. It’s never been done before, and we have to break new ground.” 

Mr. Piper was famous for popping candy canes into the mouths of students if they were caught talking in the middle of choir practice. He kept a handful of candy canes with him at all times, ready for anyone babbling. 

In case he needed to pull someone off stage, he used a shepherd’s crook, which looked like a huge candy cane. 

“Candy canes are the only way to keep you quiet!” Mr. Piper snapped, shoving one into Drummer Harp’s mouth. “Do you notice how the rest of the seventh-grade students are listening? Use your bass solo voice when asked.”

“I have no idea how to dance the ballet!” sixth grade lead tenor Griff Gig argued, as he got a candy cane up the nose. “You missed my mouth. I can still talk!” 

Mr. Piper quickly pulled the candy cane out Griff’s nose and put it into his mouth.

“I love the ballet!” seventh grade solo soprano Mandolin Sonatina whispered to sixth grade Seraphine Viola.

“You can’t dance any better than I can dance!” solo alto Seraphine responded. “This is supposed to be choir!”

Both girls got candy canes popped into their mouths before they could say anything else, kind or otherwise.

“I even got my own tutu for the rehearsal,” Mr. Piper showcased, dressed in a red and white striped outfit.

The children sat in stupendous fright at the thought of the entire school seeing them embarrass themselves. 

“We start our first vocal ballet practice tomorrow!” Mr. Piper explained. “Come prepared with your own tutu.”

Then, the bell rang, ending the most dreadful choir practice in the near memory of Head of the Class Middle School.

“We’ve got to come up with a plan,” Drummer told the other choir members on the way out of the door.

“Yeah, we’re not letting Mr. Piper do this,” Griff agreed. “He’s bored, and he’s a nutcracker.”

“I think we should go along with his practice until the performance night,” Mandolin suggested.

“He’s going to suspend us if we don’t do what he says,” Seraphine warned. “My parents will be so angry.”

“Okay, so the plan is to do what he says until December 14th, the night of the performance,” Drummer declared.

“Then, we keep him in the music closet using one of his candy canes as a key to lock the door,” Griff brainstormed.

“We could just sing the same old songs that we performed last year,” Mandolin added. “No one will notice.”

“If he gets out of the closet, the night will mostly be over. We’ll have saved our reputations,” Seraphine stated.

The four soloists passed the word to the rest of the chorus members, and for the next few months endured practice.

“Pirouette!” Mr. Piper charged the students. “If I can do it, you can do it, too! On your toes everybody!”

“This is a nightmare!” the students mumbled to each other. “We should’ve signed up for band or orchestra.” 

When performance night finally arrived, Mr. Piper was pulled off stage with his candy cane crook and locked in the music closet. 

“Wait! I’m sorry,” Mr. Piper called, kicking the door. “I didn’t mean to humiliate you through ballet dancing!”

He slumped down on the floor and cried because of his bullying behavior toward his wonderful students.

“Mr. Piper wasn’t feeling well tonight,” Drummer explained to the crowd at the microphone on stage. “We sing on!”

“And He shall reign forevermore,” the chorus finished for the evening after several holiday selections, as Mr. Piper broke out of the closet and ran across stage in a tizzy in his hideous tutu. “For ever and ever, hallelujah, hallelujah!”

The audience laughed as though it was a joke, and so it was, but it was also the best choral performance in the history of Head of the Class Middle School, and it didn’t involve one bit of ballet dancing for the choir. 

“Merry Christmas!” Mr. Piper bowed in his tutu, throwing candy canes to the crowd in good cheer. 

“Next year, we’ll be doing a ballet with our singing,” Mr. Piper scolded and informed the parents. “You just wait!”

“I’m going out for the basketball team, and so is everyone else,” Drummer challenged with fighting words. 

“Maybe we could just take a field trip to the New York City Ballet instead,” Mr. Piper compromised, as the students once again pulled him off the stage with his own candy cane shepherd’s crook. “I’ll buy the tickets!”


Copyright 2021 Jennifer Waters