Holiday Horror: A True Story

By Lucy Giardino Cortese

Twas two weeks before Christmas
And all through the house
Water standing in puddles
Mama starting to grouse

Three pipes in the floor
Had all busted their stuff
Brown shag carpets soggy
One would think that’s enough

But the calamities continued
For the 12 days of Festivus
While others all celebrated
We were drowning, the best of us

The dishwasher exploded
Hot water on the kitchen floor
Last time for Wet-Dry Vac?
No, one tsunami more

In the back bedroom
The last room still dry
Daughter’s waterbed split open
And she stared to cry

“Let’s leave this mess!” I shouted
And both kids did agree
To forget all our problems
We went shopping for a tree

When we dragged in the fir
A bit crooked and too tall
Despite attempts to balance it
Oh Tannenbaum did fall

Our trio could not prevent
That pine tree from crashing
Soon to the nearby ER
Our sad family was dashing

My firstborn’s broken finger
Added to our blight
As we collected wet pine needles
There erupted a fight

So Son went for a drive
To escape all the mire
But shortly sent an SOS
To rescue him and a flat tire

“It’s our best Christmas ever!”
To the kids I did tell
Knowing in my lying heart
Twas the holiday from Hell

I’ll run away from home
And retreat from this hole
Beg Santa to fly me
Back with him to North Pole

But being the Mommy
I knew I must stay
Hang up their stockings
And await the big day

Then after Midnight Mass
All huddled on that bare slab floor
Exchanging gifts of love
I could not wish for more

Lucy Giardiano Cortese is a freelance writer and owner of Lucy’s Lines ‘N Lyrics in Jacksonville, Florida. Her articles are published in Jacksonville Business Journal, AARP, Guideposts, Folio Weekly, Canticle,  Grandparents Day, GRAND, Family Tree and St. Augustine Catholic magazines. Now retired, Lucy has been a teacher, district administrator, school principal and executive director in a career spanning four decades. A lifelong educator, community activist, mother and grandmother, Lucy lives her personal mission statement, “Each One, Teach One.”


In the Arms of Saint Nicholas

By Karen Wells

I wondered on this Christmas,
If my house was shining bright.
If I once again bought three too -tall trees,
To dress with all my ornaments and light.

One would wear forest animals
Made from pinecones and whittled wood.
Owls, raccoons, and tiny mice,
That would scamper if they could.

One I would dress with just the dogs,
So many different breeds to see.
Those painted furry faces,
Seem to wag upon the tree.

The last  holds childhood memories,
Old glass so delicate and fine.
Ornaments my parents loved,
Once in their home, now in mine.

I wondered on this Christmas,
If my house did smell so sweet.
From sand tarts and chocolate chips,
Cookies I baked for friends to eat.

Secret Santa’d all my neighbors
By hiding gifts to make them smile,
Somewhere on their porches
In St Nicholas’s style.

Bought the plumpest turkey,
Then stuffed it nice and neat,
Marshmallowed yams and made cranberry sauce,
Mashed potatoes and carrots glazed so sweet.

Finished with a pumpkin pie
Apple, mince, and pecan too,
With homemade crust I rolled myself,
As my grandmother used to do.

Then set the largest table
Using every single plate,
Asked all I knew if they were free
If I could serve them on the date

I kept wondering this Christmas
If I could do all this and more.
If Good St Nicholas would bless me
With a gift not sold in any store.

So cookies  baked, dinner prepped, gifts delivered,
And the ornaments and lights all sparkling bright.
I sank into your favorite chair,
To pray and see that silent night.

Dark silence did surround me,
The cat slept upon my knee.
The clock it struck the hours,
Of such loneliness for me.

Then  a wind roared through the pine trees,
Out my window I gasped to see,
Stars swinging like ornaments.
From the bough of every tree!

Coyote, deer, fox, squirrel, mice, raccoon,
I watched them  slowly gather all around.
My cat slipped out  to join them,
All stared upward from the ground.

Then there came a deadly stillness,
I turned from animal and tree.
For a silver glow brighter than moonlight on snow,
Was slowly flowing from my fireplace to me.

My hands began to tremble,
And my heart, too loudly beat.
I sat in hopeful wonder…
Frozen staring in my seat.

Silver fire burned all around me,
Raging and rising in the air.
It parted like a curtain,
And St Nicholas stood there!

He was dressed in rays of sunlight,
Beautiful, bright, and hard to see.
Yet I knew that He was smiling,
As He stood staring back at me.

His eyes twinkled  every color,
And His skin shimmered every hue
He laughed the sound of wind chimes,
And I started laughing, too!

He moved close beside me,
And gently took my hand.
He said words which meant so much
That I could not help but stand.

When I did, He hugged me.
Again, He spoke your name.
Then you were right there with me,
My heart burst with joy to claim.

I  looked into your eyes again!
I laughed and cried and held you tight.
We were home together,
This blessed Christmas night!

You told me that you missed me,
You were with me all the time.
And for me to see you once again
Was a God Wink Miracle Divine.

Time no longer mattered,
The seconds stretched to years.
We had both past and future,
Free from sorrow and from tears.

When I woke the sun was shining,
And Good St Nicholas was gone
His gift-to be with you again!
Gave me the strength to carry on.


Karen Wells is a Professional Animal Handler for TV , movies , and print, residing in Cragsmoor, New York (

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One Response

  1. Wendy Bourke

    I’ve been thinking of taking my Christmas tree down all day – but my procrastination paid off … for once. The lights from the tree provided a lovely backdrop to your delightful Christmas poems. You have gifted my afternoon with a cascade of smiles.


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