Two of our Creative Writing work placement students have produced festive stories to get you in the mood for Christmas. We have A Christmas Story, an original piece by Hana Rysova, and Angel's Mail, an interpretation of a Lithuanian tale by Zyginta Juskute.
Hello, my name is Hana, and I am a third-year student in Creative Writing and English language. This story is about different Christmas celebrations. It is supposed to show that every country celebrates Christmas slightly differently. In this story, there are Czech traditions.
Christmas Story by Hana Rysova
It was a time of the year when children were waiting impatiently for Christmas day. Every house was decorated with coloured lights and radios played Christmas songs. People were happy, but one boy named Matyas was sad. During last year, his family had moved to the new country. He worried whether Baby Jesus would visit him there like every year before.
Matyas had a best friend, Harry, who saw his fear and asked him what had happened. Matyas described his problem with the Christmas and Baby Jesus. Still, Harry didn’t understand him and went to tell it to their parents.
“Mum, Matyas told me he was scared that Baby Jesus will not visit him this year, but who is that? The presents are given by Santa Claus, aren’t they?”
“Yes, Santa Claus brings gifts to you, but Matyas is from a country where Baby Jesus gives presents,” his mum told him.
But it’s odd,” Harry said stubbornly.
“What if you spend Christmas eve with us to see how we celebrate it?” Matyas’ mum suggested.
“Can we?” Harry happily asked his parents, who agreed. But they made the condition that Matyas’ family would spend the Christmas day with them too. The families agreed that Harry’s family would come at noon. They would help with preparation for dinner.
Just a few days before Christmas eve, Matyas wrote his letter for Baby Jesus and left it on the window. The next day the letter was gone, and this small thing lit up a little hope in Matyas.
The days sprinted past, and it was finally Christmas eve. It was the most important day for Matyas and his family. It was the day they celebrated Christmas. In the evening they would open the presents.
The smell of freshly baked candy wafted through the house. A red and silver tree shone in the living room. On the table was a wreath with four lighted candles representing four Sundays in December. Matyas’s mum was already in the kitchen and preparing open sandwiches for the evening.
Harry and his family came after lunch, which Matyas’ dad skipped. He kept the tradition of not eating for the whole day to be able to see a golden pig. Matyas wanted to join him, but he had already eaten a few Christmas cookies, and he had to wait until next year. The golden pig was a symbol of a lucky year. It was usually just a flash of light, but in the Czech language, this flash was called a pig.
“Do you need help with something?” asked Harry’s mum.
“No thanks, the potato salad is ready in the fridge, and the schnitzels are breaded. We will fry them before dinner. Do you want something to drink?”
“Just coffee please,” Harry’s mum nodded and went to joint boys and their husbands in the living room. Home Alone was on the telly.
Around three o’clock, the mums grabbed boys and took them to the nearby park, where the boys ran before their mums and called for Baby Jesus to come to their home.
“Mami, do you really think he’ll come today?” Matyas asked his mother on the way back.
“You have to wait until dinner, and you will see. But I think he heard you and will come,” she smiled at him. Matyas was happy and ran back to Harry.
It was almost time for dinner when they came home. The boys went to change their clothes. Meanwhile, their mums set the table and dads finished dinner. Mums laid bowls with pea soup, potato salad and plates of fried haddocks and chicken schnitzels. For drinks, mums had a glass of red wine, dads had a pint of beer and boys had a glass of coke.
The boys were ready in a few minutes and they could sit at the table. Before they could start, they had to wait until the first star appeared in the sky. The whole time Christmas carols were playing in the background. The star shone, and the dinner could begin.
“I need on the loo,” Harry said after everyone started to eat the soup.
“I am sorry, honey, but you have to hold it until everyone finishes dinner,” Matyas’ mum told him.
“Why?” Harry looked confused.
“Because if you leave the table now, you could bring death to your family,” Matyas’ dad explained to him.
“I will hold it,” Harry decided when he heard it. He didn’t want to someone die.
The boys tried to gulp their dinner, but they had to wait until their parents finished. The parents ate slowly, but the boys didn’t try to leave the table. Their parents ended, and the boys were allowed to run to the living room. The tree was shining, and under it, presents wrapped in colourful paper were waiting for them.
“Mami, tati, he came, he doesn’t forget,” said Matyas happily.
“Of course, he would never forget on you,” Matyas’ mum nodded.
The boys ran to the tree and started looking for presents for them. Both boys got just three gifts and they would get another three gifts the next day at Harry’s house. The parents got one present each.
After all presents were unwrapped, they decided to follow an old Czech tradition. Everyone got a small amount of hot liquid lead, and they started to pour it in the water. The mums helped their sons to prevent them from hurting each other. The final shape showed what would happen to them in the next year.
“Now, what about a shell boat race?” Matyas asked his parents. It was his favourite Christmas tradition.
“Of course,” his mum nodded and went for nuts shell and some candles. His dad grabbed a massive bowl with water and put in on the floor.
“Be careful,” said Harry’s mum when she gave Harry his boat with a lighted candle. Harry slowly put his small boat to the water and let it swim.
The boys played with their boats until 8 o’clock when it was time for Harry’s family to go home.
“See you tomorrow morning.” They said their goodbyes and left. Matyas was sent to the bathroom and went straight to the bed. He had enjoyed this Christmas with his best friend and his family. But he also missed his granny who stayed in Czechia.
Hi, my name's Zyginta. I am a third-year student in Creative Writing and English Language here in Worcester. I would like to bless you all with a translation of a great Lithuanian author Ona Jautakiene, who blessed my own childhood with her amazing children stories. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Angel's Mail, an interpretation of a Lithuanian tale by Zyginta Juskute
Augustine was very lucky: he won a trip to Lapland, to meet the real Santa Claus. Well, it's no secret to anyone that there are all sorts of pretenders: moms and dads with glued moustaches and beards, aunts, uncles, co-workers and even actors. When Augustine was still in kindergarten, he had a very serious discussion with other kids on how to distinguish a real Santa Claus from a fake one.
“You have to pretend to believe in him to find a perfect moment to act and then pull the beard down. If he squeals out of pain and grabs himself by the chin – he’s real. And if he’s a fake – his beard will hang on a rubber band... And plus, when you release it, the pretender will also scream”, Mike told everyone.
When the children met after the holidays and sat down to discuss the issue again, it turned out that they were all visited by pretenders! True, we might doubt the Santa Claus that visited George: he probably didn’t dare to grab his beard, although he tried to convince his friends that he just simply didn’t have the chance to do it!
That is why the trip to Lapland was so significant for Augustine. He talked to Santa about everything he was curious about. For example, why do you enjoy dreaming about gifts so much, but when you receive them, you’re always a little disappointed? Or how annoying it is to have a younger sister who is constantly following you and reports to your parents about your every move? They also talked about the strange wishes kids and adults have sometimes.
"Do you know where the letters that ask Santa for something he can't bring go?" You don't know? I'll take you there soon. We call that institution Angel's Mail", said Santa.
Augustine hoped to see the angels themselves, but there was no living spirit in the large white room they came to. Along the walls, there were shelves of index cards, as if it was a giant library. They approached one such closet. "Dreams" - was written on the front of the drawer.
Santa opened it and took one file out.
"I want to be a world champion. David”, the letter in the file said. Of course, the boy wrote this dream of his very, very long time ago - five years ago.
"Well, he's not a champion yet... When he sent this wish, David didn't even do morning exercises. Also, he always tried to get out of physical education classes because he was too lazy to run. Now he is not only exercising, but also attending a sports school”, said Santa.
"Children's wishes," was written on another drawer.
“I want to have a big gap between my front teeth like my friend Carol so I can whistle as well as she can. Unfortunately, my front teeth are quite tight”, Martynas wrote.
"The boy didn't know that he gap wasn’t the reason why Carol could whistle so well", Santa smiled. “Now he not only whistles like Carol but also learned how to play the flute”.
"Unfulfilled Desires," said another drawer.
“A little girl named Barbara longed for her grandmother to never grow old. She noticed that her grandmother would often look at her wrinkles in the mirror and sigh... Unfortunately, this desire is unfulfillable, because all people are getting older day by day”.
“It’s so sad!” Said Augustine, thinking of Barbara and her grandmother.
"Maybe", Santa said calmly. “But you know what was actually going on? When Barbara’s grandmother looks in the mirror, she is not afraid of those few wrinkles. She likes them and thinks that if she had been as beautiful in her youth as she is now, and so wise, she would not have lost so much in her life. That's why she sighs... Well, and Barbara realized that people of all ages are beautiful.
"And here's a surprise for you", Santa's eyes twinkled, and he opened another drawer.
“I want to meet the real Santa Claus from Lapland. Augustine".
Augustine had already forgotten about this wish, because he whispered it before he fell asleep in kindergarten, after that serious discussion about the real and fake Santa Clauses...
“But where are the angels?” The boy asked, looking around the white room again.
“Angels? They are working. They are helping children and adults catch up on their dreams. They make such gifts that you can’t put in my bag among toys, books, clothes, and other material items”.
When came the time to say goodbye, Augustine waited for the perfect moment and grabbed Santa Claus by the beard! Santa didn’t squeal, but his face frowned a little bit:
“Why are you, children, all so distrustful?” He shook his finger at Augustine. “Ai ai! But maybe that’s good…”
Translation from Moon Tales by Ona Jautakiene
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