Posted in poetry

A Christmas Poem

Peace on Earth By: Sherri Lupton Hollister 2011

Silver tinsel shining bright
Carolers singing Silent Night
Bells clanging, pealing ring
Peace on Earth the Angels sing
Chaos, confusion , heartaches abound
There is no Peace on Earth to be found
I pray for a calm, quiet place
God whispers, “Child I give you grace.”
Wadded paper, twists of tape
Knotted ribbon, the hour late
So much to do no time to pause
Children touting Santa’s cause
Alas upon my bed I rest
I know in truth that I am blessed
For Peace on Earth at last I find
Quiet rest for a weary mind.

Posted in Thoughts, writing inspiration

Holiday Traditions

With a daughter-in-law who was raised Buddhist and Methodist, and dear friends who are Muslim, as well as Jewish, Catholic, Bahai and an assortment of Protestants, each with their own unique traditions and holidays, I am awed by their different traditions.
What is your favorite holiday? How does your family celebrate it? What is your favorite part of your holiday?

Growing up I never really thought we had many traditions centered around the Christmas holiday except to be home for the holidays. No matter where we were, we tried to come back to eastern North Carolina sometime during the holidays. Here Christmas might be warm enough for short-sleeves or cold enough to hope for snow. One Christmas, the year my oldest son was born, it went from high sixties to a windy freezing in a matter of hours.
As a child, Christmas eve was spent at the church across the street performing in the Christmas Pageant. As a teenager, I wrote and directed the Christmas programs, sometimes cobbling together bits and pieces from other plays and pageants to create something to fit our small cast.
After the program, Santa would arrive to the ringing of the church bells. He would hand out the gifts that had been left under the big cedar tree. Everyone in church would then be handed a brown paper bag with an orange, an apple, some candy and nuts from Joe Deal’s store and later, a gift from the church. Those who participated in the play would be given an additional small gift such as gloves or a hat.
Most of my favorite memories center around that old church and the people in it. Hayrides on the back of an old farm truck, singing Christmas carols with the youth group and a few brave adults, returning to the church to drink hot cocoa and eat hot dogs and homemade fudge and rolled cookies. I miss those days, I tortured my boys with parts in the Christmas program. Unfortunately for them, they often participated in three, sometimes four Christmas programs: my home church where I was often in charge, in-laws’ church where their aunt was in charge, my grandparents’ church were my aunt was in charge and when we started attending another church as a family, we still tried to participate in all of them until the boys staged a coup. Because I enjoyed being a part of the holiday programs, I thought they should too.

Posted in Story

The Naughty List

While decorating the Christmas tree, my grandson Jack and I started talking. This story is from that discussion. I hope you enjoy it. 

Santa’s Naughty List (a family story)

Nick rocked the chair back and forth, struggling against his restraints as Noel strode towards him holding out the magical snow globe. “I’m sorry Nicky but the only way I can be Santa is if you are unable to fulfill your duties.”

He stared at his sister, he’d known for years she wanted to be Santa. Noel was the one who’d taught him what it meant to wear the red suit. She’d taken him to meet each elfin the North Pole. He’d been fascinated by every job and would often become distracted. At three, he’d wanted to be a painter, but that changed to a carver by the time he was five. As a teen, he’d longed to learn mechanics and electronics and dreamed of building robots and radio operated crafts. He’d sit with the experts for hours watching as they worked. Noel had only wanted to be Santa, she was a natural born leader, but girls couldn’t be Santa. “They’ll never let you be Santa, Noel. They’ll give the job to Clarence.”

She smiled showing off her bright teeth. “Ah, but as his wife, I can serve as Santa if something happens to him.”

He darted a glance at their cousin, Santa’s former heir and wondered what she had in store for Clarence. Clarence was besotted and seemed unconcerned by Noel’s plans. He would get no help from him.

His attention was returned to the globe. It crackled with electricity as lightening flashed in the glass bubble. The globe was one of the North Pole’s secret weapons. If someone became a threat to Santa or his operation, the snow globe could be used to erase their recent memories.

Clarence chuckled. “We found a way to increase the globe’s power. You won’t even remember your name.”

Nick noted how Noel held the globe away from her body. The velvet gloves that covered her to the elbows were not just a fashion statement.

“Candy canes!” Nick swore and began rocking the chair with more enthusiasm. He may not want to become Santa but he didn’t want to forget who he was. The chair crashed to the floor and he kicked the chair leg with his heel. Yanking his leg free he shoved his sister backwards. Noel stumbled and screeched as she was pushed aside by the arrival of a squad of iron soldier-elves. The mechanized soldiers clanked,their gears grinding as they marched heavily across the workroom floor destroying everything in their path. Nick freed himself from the chair debris,leaping to his feet as Clarence dropped to his knee beside Noel. In a voice thick with grief, he ordered the elves to attack.

The heavy snow globe shimmered against the pale skin of Noel’s chest. The angry lines around her mouth softened to a sleepy smile. The furrow between her brows smoothed. There wasn’t time to see about his sister as the elves were closing in. Nick looked around the workroom for something to use as a weapon. He grabbed a mallet from the nearest workstation and swung it upward under the attacking elf’s chin. His iron head swung back but it did nothing to stop him. Nick was shoved back into another workstation as the elves pushed and clanged forward.He climbed on top of the table. Scrambling across the half-made toys he found areal hammer and swung hitting the iron soldier with the reverberating ring of steel on iron. The noise was deafening in the tiny workshop.

The iron men continued, crowding around him, threatening to surround him. He leapt from one workstation to another throwing whatever he could to slow the advancing soldiers. Nick was thankful for his workout routine, years of lifting weights,running, and sports had all been tools to relieve the fear of failing his family. He knew he wasn’t cut out to be Santa Claus and after being captured soeasily, he was ashamed to return home. Maybe I should have just let Noel erase my memories, it would be better than living with this shame. He shoved that thought away. Regardless of whether he was Santa or not, he’d not go down without a fight.

Bright light filled the room. Nick blinked and nearly toppled from the work desk.

A battalion of elves slid down golden ropes, their black uniforms trimmed with Santa red.These were Santa’s elite, North Pole Special Forces. Nick stifled a groan. They shot blasts of water at the iron soldiers. The gears and joints of his attackers quickly rusted and soon they were all as still as lawn statues.

Crystal, Santa’s majordomo and head of his special forces greeted him with a salute.“Glad to see you, sir.”

Nick sighed and nodded. “Thanks for the rescue.”

She gave a stiff nod and ordered his sister and cousin apprehended.

“Be careful of the snow globe,” he warned.


Nick stood before the council of magic folk waiting to give his testimony. His father, dressed in his best suit, presided over the court.

Easter Bunny said with derision, “I think they should be exiled into the human world.”

“What kind of punishment is that,” demanded Tooth Fairy.

Father Time spoke thoughtfully, “I believe both should have their memories wiped…”

“No!” Nick shouted. “Don’t you see? It is your fault and mine that Noel chose this path. She would have made a better Santa than I, yet because she was born a girl, she could not inherit the suit.” Nick paced. “I know I failed by allowing myself to be tricked and captured…”

“You were rescuing the elves trapped in the burning toy factory!” His mother argued.

Santa scowled.

She glared in return, but silenced, sat.

“They set the toy factory on fire to entrap you,” Bunny said, not unkindly.

“We were planning to rescue the workers ourselves,” Clarence spoke up. He reached out and squeezed Noel’s hand. “We’d not expected Nick to be a hero. Though I did warn her he might. We’d planned to swoop in and save the day and make Nick look like a chump. But it backfired. The fire got out of hand and so we improvised.”

“But you already had a plan in place,” Santa nodded towards the snow globe.

Clarence flushed. “We’d already planned to make Nick forget he was to be Santa.”

Noel brightened. “Santa? Is Santa coming to town?”

Clarence patted her hand.

Nick spoke up. “I know they didn’t do things right. They put people’s lives in jeopardy,they destroyed property, they used magic without sanction…”

“If you’re trying to help us, please stop,” Clarence muttered.

Nick glared at him and Clarence clamped his lips closed and faced the council. “But they were shoved aside, ignored and treated as if they didn’t matter all because of me.” He flushed. “As the long-awaited heir, I was treated different. I saw how it hurt Noel and Clarence. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never wanted to be Santa. I do not deserve it. They worked hard for a morsel of respect and all I had to do was show up. That’s not fair.”

Santa frowned and said, “I believe it’s time the council made a decision. If you will excuse us.”

Nick lowered his head feeling the burden of their decision heavy on his shoulders.

The sound of chains rattling alerted him of Clarence’s approach. “You’re wrong, you know.”

Nick glanced up.

“You earned their respect. Your kindness to everyone, your willingness to do even the most menial job, it shows you are truly the one who deserves to be Santa. Thank you for standing up for Noel and I.” Clarence held out his hand.  

Nick took it. “I’m afraid it’s not enough.”

Clarence shrugged. “We will accept whatever the council decides.”

Santa returned leading the other magical beings.

“Will the accused rise?” He bellowed.

Clarence pulled Noel to her feet. Nick rose as well.

Santa met his son’s defiant gaze and nodded. “It is the decision of this council that the elves, Clarence and Noel Claus be stripped of their rank and magic.” Nick started to protest but Santa held up his hand. “They will be allowed to work in Santa’s village and may live as husband and wife, but they will be under the scrutiny of the council until such time as determined they are indeed reformed.”

Clarence embraced Noel.

She smiled confused her mind still muddled by magic.

“As for my son Nick, the council has determined that he has indeed exhibited great promise with his heroic deeds and kind acts. It is our decree that he be declared, Santa Claus.”

Posted in Story

Molly’s Christmas Wish (an original short-story)

“Santa Claus!” Molly exclaimed. “Oh mommy, can I go tell Santa what I want for Christmas? Please.” Five-year old Molly tugged on her mother’s hand.

Callie bit her lip and stared at the mall Santa in his red suit. What’s the point, there will be no Christmas for us.

“We have time Callie,” her cousin Rose said. “Let’s take the girls to visit Santa and then we can finish our shopping.”

Angela and Molly looked up with pleading eyes.

Callie blinked back tears, her stomach churning. Molly was too young to understand. The storm that had destroyed their home had left them devastated. They had no money for Christmas. They were dependent upon the kindness of her cousin, Rose, and her family for even the clothes they were wearing. She would not impose on their holiday. Callie had already been making plans to return Texas. FEMA would give them vouchers for a place to stay until they could rebuild their lives. Straightening her shoulders, she followed Rose and the two girls to the miniature Santa’s village.

Rose’s daughter, Angela, just a year older than Molly, went first. She had a list of Christmas presents she wanted and Santa finally had to tell her he’d surprise her with some of the things on her list. Smiling, she’d leaped from Santa’s lap and whispered to Molly as she passed. The two girls touched hands and Callie had to wonder what they were up to.

Molly climbed on Santa’s knee and stared up into the man’s kind face.

“And what would you like for Christmas Miss. Molly?”

Molly’s eyes grew large. “You know my name?”

He smiled and patted her back. “I know all the good children’s names.”

Molly leaned close and whispered.

Santa glanced up and met Callie’s eyes. He blinked and nodded. “I’ll do my best.”

Molly patted the gloved hand and said, “That’s all we can do Santa, our best. That’s what my mommy says.” She looked up and waved.

Callie smiled and waved at her daughter as she struggled to control her emotions.


“That was an awfully long list you had Miss. Angela,” Rose scolded her daughter. “You know what I think of greedy children, don’t you?”

Angela blushed. “But I had to mommy, Molly wouldn’t ask Santa for what she wants for herself, so I had to give him both our lists.”

Callie stopped walking and turned to her tiny cousin. “What do you mean, Molly wouldn’t ask?”

Molly tugged on Angela’s hand and shook her head. “You can’t tell or it won’t come true.”

Angela sighed, and whispered loudly, “You can’t tell but I think it’s okay if I tell.”

Molly hung her head. “You’ll ruin everything.”

Rose patted Molly’s head. “It’s okay Molly, you can have your secret. Of course, if you told your Aunt Rose, I could make sure Santa didn’t forget…”

Molly stared up into Rose’s eyes. Rose was only her cousin but because of the age difference, Molly carried on the family tradition of giving cousins of the previous generation the honorary title of aunt or uncle.

“Callie,” the ladies turned to see a handsome young man coming towards them. “It is Callie, isn’t it?” He asked.

Callie nodded. “Do I know you?”

Touching her hand, he turned her away from the girls and mouthed, “I’m Santa.”

Callie blushed. The man couldn’t be any older than she. Fit and handsome, he wasn’t the typical Santa. “Oh yes, how can I help you?”

“I was wondering if you had a moment.” He nodded to the coffee shop. “I’d like to talk to you.”

When Callie hesitated, Rose said, “I’ll take the girls to the bathroom and we’ll get a snack at the bakery.”

She didn’t wait for Callie to agree as she hustled the girls down the mall to the bathroom.

Callie asked, “What is this about?”

He smiled, his gentle green eyes full of warmth. She liked the way his whole face lit up when he smiled. “Come, let’s get some coffee.” He led her into the shop. “My name’s Jeremy Deans.”

She shook his offered hand. “Callie Davenport.”

They took their coffees to a table near the back of the café and he held out her chair. When they sat down, he said, “Molly’s worried.”

Callie nodded and stared into her coffee.

“She wants to stay here but she knows you don’t like taking charity from your cousin. “

She blushed and looked away. “My God, that girl…”

“My aunt owns this coffee shop. She’s looking for help. I know you don’t know me…”

“You’re right. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.” She started to rise.

Jeremy put his hand over hers briefly. “I’m a police officer in my regular life. I play Santa each year because I love kids. Molly’s only wish for Christmas was that you find a job here and a place to stay near her cousins.”

Callie wiped at her tears. There was little for her back in Texas, why not start over again here in North Carolina? Taking a deep breath, she said, “I’d like to meet your aunt.”

Jeremy waved over an older woman with kind green eyes just like his. “Aunt Ginny, this is Callie Davenport, she’d like to apply for a job.”


Callie said good bye to Jeremy and went in search of her daughter and cousins.  “You’ll never guess what just happened,” she said, smiling. “I have a job and a place of my own.” She told them about Jeremy and his aunt, leaving out the part about Jeremy being Santa. “She offered me an apartment, it’s over her garage but we’ll be out of your hair. It’s only a few blocks from your house.”

“I know Ginny and Jeremy. They go to our church. Oh, Callie, I’m so glad you’ll be staying. I’ve enjoyed having you and Molly here.” Rose hugged her. “You know you could have waited until after Christmas.”

“Luke’s family will be coming to visit and you need the room.” Callie hugged her. “This is better. We’ll still be together but just not under the same roof.”

The two little girls whispered together. “Santa is real. He didn’t even wait for Christmas to bring you your wish,” Angela said.

Molly nodded and hugged her cousin. “And we won’t be separated ever again.”

Callie and Rose wrapped the girls in a group hug. They were all getting their Christmas wishes early.