December 19, 2011

The Holiday Contest Is Here!

Grab your mug of hot chocolate and settle in for some serious fun!  The week we've all been waiting for is finally here :)

Yes, Hanukah and Christmas of course, but also the world famous Holiday Contest!!!  (Or, if it isn't world famous yet it soon will be!)

The First Annual Holiday Contest is officially open!  Post your own version of Clement C. Moore's traditional poem 'Twas The Night Before Christmas.  Your entry must be at least 12 lines/3 stanzas, not to exceed 40 lines/10 stanzas.  Entries may refer to any winter holiday you celebrate (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) or to any combination of winter holidays, or no holiday - just a good winter-time story if you're not comfortable with a holiday.  And if the idea of writing in rhyme strikes fear and loathing into your heart, you may write a prose version not to exceed 350 words (and if anyone dares suggest you're wimping out well then you just tell them to talk to me!)

Entries must be posted on your blogs or, if you don't have a blog, copied and pasted into the comments on my blog between now and Thursday December 22 at 11:59 PM EST.  Once your entry is posted, please add the direct link of your post to the link list below.  There will be no Would You Read It, and hence no new Wednesday post this week, so this post with any entries in the comments and the link list will remain up for the duration of the contest, making it easy for everyone to read all the entries!

And the prize, lest you may have forgotten?  My lovely assistant judge and I will choose 3 finalists for you to vote on Monday December 26 (so you'll still have something to look forward to even after you've opened your presents :))  The winner will receive their choice of a $15 Amazon gift card (to buy themselves whatever book they really wanted and didn't get as a holiday gift :)) or the 2012 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market!

We got 21 entries for the Thanksgiving Contest which was SO much fun!  Let's see if we can beat that!

As an aside, before I post my just-for-fun sample entry, I just have to tell you that any mention of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas automatically makes me think of Larry The Cable Guy's "'Twas The Night Before A Non-Denominational Winter Holiday" - the supposedly  PC version of this holiday tale.  If you haven't seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out, but I can't in good conscience link to it here on my child-friendly blog because it is a bit off color :)  (Still, if you've seen it or if you watch it, let me know what you think!  I confess it causes me to ROTFL :))

Okay then, boys and girls, I hope you're ready for some truly epic poetry :)

'Twas The Night Before Christmas
by Susanna

‘Twas the night before Christmas and at the North Pole
The workshop was totally out of control.
And what do you think had come out of the blue
To cause all this riotous hullaballoo?

A phone call delivering notification -
The reindeer had won a Hawaiian vacation!
“Pack up your suitcases!  Do not delay!
Your splendid vacation begins right away!”

“Hawaii!” the reindeer cried out in delight.
“Palm trees and sand, not a snowflake in sight!
It’s the chance of a lifetime, dear Santa,” they said.
“That may be,” replied Santa, “but who’ll pull my sled?

All ‘round the world there are good girls and boys
Who are counting on us to deliver their toys.
We can’t let them down just so you can have fun
Swimming and surfing and soaking up sun.”

“You’re right, “said the reindeer.  “Of course we must stay.
Forget the vacation.  We’ll hitch up the sleigh.”
The reindeer went off to their work looking sad
And Santa was left feeling pretty darn bad.

“Poor Dasher and Dancer and all the reindeer.
They deserve a vacation.  They’re good every year!”
“I know!” said his wife with a smile on her face.
“Perhaps someone else could go out in their place!

But who could we get to come out right away?
Who would be able to pull that huge sleigh?”
“Great Scott!” hollered Santa, “I’ve got just the scheme!
Cousin Ira’s Alaskan Iditarod team!”

Santa knew his last minute request would be iffy
But Ira was ready to help in a jiffy.
When Santa was packed, set to be on his way,
Eight eager huskies were hitched to the sleigh.

“On Putter!  On Pookie!  On Piggy and Pup!
Good heavens!” said Santa, “who thought these names up?
And how in the world do you make these dogs go?”
“You just have to use a command that they know.

Mush, puppies! Mush!” Ira spoke to his crew.
Then up in the air and away they all flew.
And Santa exclaimed ere they drove out of reach,
“Merry Christmas, dear reindeer, have fun at the beach!” 

Now then, if that doesn't cause fear and loathing of rhyme I don't know what will! :)

I literally CANNOT WAIT! to read all your entries!  They will surely be better than that one!

So.  To the entries!  Please post the direct link to your holiday contest post in the list below or paste your entry in the comments!  Let the fun begin!!!

P.S. Although we won't be having Would You Read It this week, we will still be having Perfect Picture Books on Friday so be sure to stop back for that!


  1. Hahahahah! This was flippin' awesome, Susanna. I laughed so hard! Can just picture those reindeer sunning it up on the beach... while those husky pups pull Santa's sled. Bravo, wonderful rhyme!

  2. Thank you, Joanna - you're far too kind! I hope I'm going to get to see an entry from you!

  3. That is brilliant Susanna! I love the way you invented a vacation for the reindeer so that the huskies could pull the sleigh, how original and fun and festive. Love the rhyming!

    I won't know if my link worked until I come back from some Christmas errands. I look forward to reading the rest later. Have a great day!

  4. You, will. I shall be posting it Wednesday. looking forward to reading everyone's!

  5. I love how the reindeer won a vacation and Santa had to use huskies (HA HA). Only one did the huskies fly? ;)
    P.S. How did you come up with the huskies' names?!?

  6. I love the dog's names and what a fun story!

  7. Catherine - thank you :) I hope your link works - we'll see I guess!

    Joanna - oh, goody!

    Erik - I should have known you'd be the one to catch me out. I'll tell you what happened - I ran out of space because of my own imposed length limit! I needed one more verse to tell about the huskies being sprinkled with elf dust so they could fly - or maybe I should have just had them run really fast :) - but I couldn't fit it in, so I was hoping people would just assume Santa was magic :) But you're right! About the dog's names - I knew I wanted Pup for the rhyme, so that was easy. Putter is a friend of mine's dog, and I always call my dogs Pookie. So Piggy I just thought up because it was silly and started with P!

    Stacy - so glad you enjoyed it!

  8. You really did a wonderful job. Your rhyming was really good. The story was clever and funny, and I love your select of the dogs to pull the sleigh!

  9. Love your version and the image of all those reindeer sprawled on the golden sand enjoying the sun. About time they got a vacation.

  10. Pat - thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. When will you be posting yours? :)

    Delores - thanks, so glad you liked it! I just read yours - such fun!

  11. So much fun! I've already read 2 others and am amazed at the creativity (and work!!).

  12. Perfect meter and a good story, Susanna. Brava. And I just watched the Cable Guy video...HA! I've never heard of him - very funny indeed!

  13. Susanna, that was great! I'll be hard at work writing one up and will post it soon on my blog.

  14. Too adorable. Loved that the reindeer got their vacation.

  15. Coleen - glad you're enjoying them! I'm waiting to see yours! :)

    Renee - Thank you! And I know - isn't is hysterical?

    Miranda - yay! I'm so excited you're going to enter!!!

    Angela - even reindeer need a vacation :)

  16. Susanna! You are so talented! Your writing is hysterical and polished! Thanks so much for sharing and putting this contest together. How fun! (P.S. I tried to copy my link but have not seen it appear yet on the list. Any tips for this technologically challenged individual?)

  17. Elizabeth - thanks so much - you're too kind! I think I got your link up - I invented you an email address to do it, but it's showing up on my list now. I called It Happy Christmas Birthday. Let me know if you can see it and if it works!

  18. Susanna, I love your poem!! It's so so good! That Santa is such a jolly nice guy!

  19. It works! It works! Thanks for your help. =)

  20. Susanna, your poem is awesome and hysterically funny! I love the Husky names :-) You must have had so much fun writing this. Very very creative!! Love it!

  21. Susanna~Wonderful! I love it! Very fun idea! Speaking of ideas...I had 2 very different ideas! I loved them both, so I wrote them both. I am still deciding which one I'll enter. I have to give my self deadlines, so I'll decide tonight! You have no idea how much fun I have had with this! I told myself not to let it totally detract from my I recorded on my phone while walking & did the sticky note thing while putting on my make up :•) I don't blog...but I have created a blog, so this may be my first post. I love how easy it is to read everyone's entries with links. Thanks for your wonderful blog and this over-the-top fun contest!

  22. Forget about Larry The Cable Guy - THIS is the funniest Christmas poem. I mean really, who knew that Santa had a cousin named Ira???

    I am sure the number of entries will exceed lucky 21 - this is now a world famous event!

    Looking forward to reading them all - just had a sampling of a few. They are all fun and festive!

  23. I LOVED this version. :D

    Very nicely done, Susanna.

  24. Yikes! I put in the title of my blog instead of the title of my poem :-( It's called "Chanukah Nights". Is there any way you can chnge it for me? I'm link #8.
    Many thanks!

  25. Laura - thanks! So glad you like it :)

    Elizabeth - hurray! You're welcome! My grasp on technology is tenuous at best, so it's pretty much a miracle I could help :)

    Kelly - thank you so much! I DID have a really good time writing it. I would hvae liked room for one more verse, but the person in charge made such strict rules! :)

    Penny - send them both! By all means! You worked hard on them and there is no rule that you can't enter more than once! I'm so glad you had fun, and I will look forward to your blog should you decide to go ahead with it. Otherwise feel free to paste your entry in right here!

    Stina - thanks so much :)

    Gail - I think I fixed it. It shows up fixed for me. Let me know if it looks fixed to you! Now I can't wait to go read it :)

  26. Cathy - I'm so glad you enjoyed it! But the way you're talking sounds like you're not entering...! I always enjoy your entries so much - I hope I'm wrong :(

  27. Omigosh, so cute! What a great idea - a Hawaiian vacation for the reindeer when they're needed most. Love!!

    Happy Holidays, Susanna!

  28. Vicki - thanks so much! Happy holidays to you and yours too :)

  29. Susanna, Thanks! I'll take you up on that. I hope everyone has as much fun reading my poems as I had writing them. I am working on the links right now.

  30. Susanna, I love your version of the poem, and can't wait to read others'. This was a really fun contest and writing in rhyme is not as easy as one would think! As usual, in my case my children were the inspiration and even if they are the only ones who ever hear this out loud, it was worth it! Thanks for keeping up the contests and have a wonderful holiday!!!

  31. I LOVE it Susanna!!!!! Pictures with this story would be AWESOME!!!!! I was pretty sure the poor reindeer would miss out on a vacation of a lifetime! I mean really, HAWAII!!!!! Great story!!

  32. My entry is at my blogspot site, Susanna. I'm not sure how to do a link.It is
    I like yours- more in line with Santa whereas mine is quite different. It took off on it's own.

  33. Love love love it. It brought a big smile to my face on the bus after a long day at work! Huskies to the rescue!! :-)

  34. Cally - I'm so glad if it made a ling day a little better :) Thanks for your kind words :)

  35. Penny - your links are up, your stories are terrific! I'm sure everyone will enjoy them!

    Tracy - thanks so much, I'm glad you liked it. Yours is great too! No one else did baking cookies yet - so fun how everyone starts in the same place and goes in totally different directions!

    Saba - thank you so much for your enthusiasm! I can totally imagine the pictures too. I wish I could draw - I would have put a few in :)

    Jane - fun entry! I'm working on the link....

  36. Now why in the world are you bashing your poem? I had no idea you had such a knack for rhyme! The meter is excellent and it's a fun story. Well done!

  37. Iza - thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. True compliments indeed from the mistress of rhyme herself :)

  38. Susanna this is AWESOME! I don't want to ever hear you say you can't write in rhyme again - LOL. What a clever take on this classic Christmas tale.

    I'm going to read it to my kids tonight. :-)

  39. Finally got poetically inspired so decided to submit one under my other blog thefeatherednest.

  40. Accidentally posted this in the wrong spot, so here we go again. And yes, tis the season that makes me so brain fried.

    Hope everybody has a wonderful Holiday season and a successful New Year.

    T'was the week before Christmas and all through the town
    Not a smile was still showing but many a frown
    The Christmas list drawn up with love and with care
    Are only half done and there's no time to spare

    The parents all wrapped up to beat out the chill
    The parking, the lines, just to get what they will
    While the children at school are all in a chatter
    The teachers have given up on teaching their matter

    One week! One week! The kids shout with glee
    One week! One week! The parents long to flee
    The presents unwrapped and the cards are unsent
    Please don't remind us how much money we've spent

    Yet in spite of the stress and in spite of the fear
    Christmas will come, bringing those we love dear
    For Christmas' not something one holds in their hand
    It's being with loved ones as much as you can

    Don't worry if things are not quite perfect
    Looking forward to Christmas' not a thing to regret
    Too soon it is over, the laughter and cheer
    And it won't come again for a whole 'nother year

    So, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night
    Just take a deep breath, it will turn out all right.

  41. Julie - I'm so glad you liked it! I loved yours too!

    Delores - was just over to read it! Very fun :)

    PBuff - thanks so much for your entry! It's fun and expresses a great message! Thanks for joining in the fun :)

  42. Susanna, I can't get my link to appear on your page for some reason, so I'm pasting the link and the post here.

    My poem for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Twas the Night Before Christmas contest requires a little explanation. Several years ago I taught the first grade in an inner city school in Fort Worth, Texas. This school was built entirely underground. (a very bad thing in Texas, as the soil shifts terribly) Every time it rained, water trickled down my outer wall. The building was decrepit and moldy, and the children and I were sick most of the time. The children who attended the school came from the projects and the two homeless shelters located down the street from our school. Many of my students ate just two meals a day-the two meals provided by the school.

    A local church adopted our campus, and every year at Christmas volunteers from this church gave presents to each girl and boy in the school. These amazing people also donated gifts for the children to take home to their families.

    My poem was inspired by the time I spent at this school. Some parts are imaginary (there was no train) but the story is mostly real. I loved these children as if they were my very own. Teaching them changed my life forever, and I often wonder where they are now. I hope they are all safe, happy, and warm.

    ‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through the school
    The children excitedly prepared for Yule.
    The choir sang carols of joy and good cheer,
    And how they’d behaved for their parents all year!

    The students drew snowmen and reindeer and elves
    Which teachers hung proudly upon all the shelves.
    My class in pajamas, and I with my book,
    Read about the adventures that Santa Claus took.

    When out in the hall there arose such a roar
    We jumped from our seats and ran to the door.
    We peeked ‘round the corner to see what was there,
    For a moment the children could only stare.

    I cried tears of joy when I saw their bright eyes
    The volunteers planned an amazing surprise.
    Hot cocoa they poured for the girls and the boys,
    And parked in the hall was a train full of toys!

    The kids-how they squealed! Their faces aglow
    As each took his present tied up with a bow.
    This Christmas each angel received a new gift
    The worries that this special day would sure lift.

    They returned to our classroom so happy to be
    Heading home with these gifts to put under the tree
    When I opened the door, all the children said “Look!”
    On each little desk sat a shiny new book.

    “Do you like them?” I asked, I brought them for you
    From every direction came hugs, how they flew!
    This Christmas was special, I knew right away
    For as long as I lived I’d remember that day.

  43. Beautiful poem...I'm all misty eyed as I read it. We really don't know how fortunate we are do we? Like you, I hope they are all szfe and warm.

  44. I've entered my blogspot the tormented scribe with a submission but you can't judge it for the contest cause it's too long....I just wanted to include it for fun.

  45. No problem, Delores! Your entry is great and not too long :)

  46. Susanna,

    I know I have already entered my poem, but I realized today that part of it was left off...don't know how that happened. I want to leave the original poem as my entry as I don't feel it is fair to request a change now but wanted to give everyone a chance to read the whole poem if they wanted to. Here it is...

  47. Donna - it's no problem if you want to change your entry a little as long as you stay within the guidelines! We're not taking final exams on the honor code here :) Why don't you just fix it in the post that's already linked - or, if you want people to see the whole thing, write a new post explaining a verse got left off and include the complete poem and put up a link to that? It's totally fine - no worries! It just has to be your final version by midnight tomorrow - no changes after that.

  48. I LOVE your poem!! So fabulous! You should link up to the Poetry Friday crowd this week. Do you know that meme? I'm sure they'd all love to read your poem and hear more about your contest and the entries. So fun! Can't wait to read the other posts!

  49. Now that I've added mine I can go off and enjoy the other entries! Thanks fr the contest and Merry Christmas!

  50. This is a great version and don't sell yourself short as a poet! Very funny and clever with the huskies taking over! Merry Christmas Susanna and it looks like your contest is another hit! Julie

    P.S. I also enjoyed Kelly's touching poem that really puts the holidays into perspective! I can't wait to catch up with all of the others!

  51. Kerry - thank you so much! I'm not familiar with Poetry Friday - I'll have to check that out!

    Jim - so glad you entered! Have fun reading the others - everyone has done such a fantastic job!

    Julie - thank you - you're very kind :) I hope you enjoy reading everyone else's - they're all wonderful!

  52. Oh Susanna, I loved that. It had thyme and pathos by the bucket-full. Happy Christmas.

  53. Sorry that should read rhyme not thyme.

  54. Rosalind - thank you :) I'm glad you enjoyed it. If you have a couple minutes, read some of the entries - they're pretty amazing :)

  55. Susanna - I just wrote to Santa and asked him to leave a 12 pack of Red Bull at your house so that you and your assistant are energized to review all these terrific entries over the holidays! They are so unique and marvelous!

    I have seriously neglected my baking and wrapping duties while reading and commenting on the entries, but it has been worth it! Fun!

    Merry Christmas!

  56. Ha! I agree with bildebok! You will need energy for you and your assistant. This has been a load of fun. The entries are so clever. I have to say that I love The Night Before Christmas even more than I did before. I have had a ton of laughs!

  57. I love, love, love it!

    Merry Christmas!!

  58. Of course the reindeer deserve a Hawaiian vacation! LOL Love it! Susanna--You sure do have your work cut out for you. I have read every single entry and am amazed at how good they are! I truly enjoyed reading every, single one of them. :)

  59. Cathy - there's been a lot of neglect around here, too :) Thanks for the Red Bull - I'm going to need it :)

    Penny - I know, it's been sensational, hasn't it?

    Peggy - thanks! Glad you liked it! Merry Christmas to you, too :)

    Natalie - I have enjoyed reading them all so much, too! What talent! I hope you saw #28 which got added at the last minute because it was originally posted on the wrong list!

  60. Susanna,
    I noticed that by accident I had the link to my blog NOT the link to "A Jelly Bean's Christmas" on my blog. Therefore, seeing as I have been posting this week, it is not easy for people to find the story simply by clicking on the link I provided you. I tried to update the link, it might have posted again. Sorry! Can you please edit the link? It should be
    Thanks! This has been so much fun!

  61. thank you for fixing that! you are a busy blogger!

    i will go visit, now that i know where to go =)

    merry christmas!

  62. Marcie - I think it's all fixed. Give it a whirl and make sure it works for you - you might have to refresh your browser. If it doesn't work, please let me know, but it's working for me now.

    Tara - glad I could help (many tech questions are beyond my limited abilities!) Enjoy reading the others - it's an impressive showing!


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