I grew up in an American household in which Christmas was observed with awe, merriment, and love. As Christians, we reverently set up the Nativity scene each year. We also waited excitedly for Santa Claus to come.
I was the youngest of six children, who, together, observed our own Christmas morning rituals. Mom and Dad had a rule that Dad had to go into the living room to turn on the Christmas lights and see if Santa had come before we could go in to see for ourselves. So we would awaken in the very wee hours of the morning and gather in the hallway. We’d seat ourselves on the floor, backs to the wall. One brave soul would be elected to go knock on Mom and Dad’s bedroom door and ask if it was time yet.
Invariably, the answer was “Not yet. Go back to bed.” But we didn’t. We waited, giggling and impatient, only to knock again a short time later. Finally, Dad would get up and put on his robe. We’d jump to our feet and wait, backs still against the wall, while he went to turn on the lights. Every year he’d come back to that hallway, a twinkle in his eye and a faked frown on his face, to tell us Santa hadn’t come after all. We never believed him.
When he finally gave us permission, we’d tumble into the living room to see the presents under the tree. Santa’s gifts were always obvious. They were never wrapped. I remember the year I got the Fisher-Price Castle playset.
But Santa’s presents weren’t the only ones under the tree. There were presents from siblings and parents, too. Those packages were never quite as obvious. Before Christmas, we would try to shake and tap packages to see if we could guess what was in them. But, in the end, most of them were a surprise.
This month’s stories are surprise gifts. Essentially, we closed our eyes and reached into Santa’s bag of great fiction (our queue of accepted stories) and pulled a handful out. Their only common trait is that they’re all amazing stories.
We hope you enjoy, and we wish you the best of whatever holiday you may or may not observe this time of year. As for me, I expect to have a very Merry Christmas!
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