This has been a wonderful year full of writing and meeting great people along the way. To commemorate where it all started, and to bring out a little holiday humor, I wanted to share my first short story written last Christmas.
Naomi Neel spent way too much money shopping – again. She didn’t need another box of LED lights, a rotating snow globe, or two six-foot-tall blinking topiaries. But she had to use the half-price coupon that had burned a hole in her purse for the past week.
After she pulled the car into the driveway, she glanced at the home next door. The yard was almost ready for the annual decorating contest and way ahead of schedule. Her neighbor, Carolyn Crandall, stood on a ladder wrapping a string of lights around a tall evergreen shrub. Naomi hoped to get inside before Carolyn saw her, but that didn’t happen. When Naomi’s automatic garage door squeaked open, Carolyn leaned away from landscape and presented her with an enthusiastic wave.
Five years ago, the neighborhood yard decorating contest began as an attempt to boost Christmas cheer. But over the years, the competition morphed into a ruthless tug-of-war between the “Crazy Crandall’s” and the Neel’s, to win the coveted first place prize. Naomi’s family was known for their unique front yard masterpieces, and they had won the title the past two years. This Christmas, she’d already set her sights on a three-peat victory.
In the beginning, Naomi’s family coerced her to get on board. But after winning, she’d transformed into an obnoxious ring leader that barked out orders, shopped year round for unique holiday decorations, and turned their home into a Christmas command central.
As she exited the car, and moved around to her front yard, Naomi noticed a row of toy soldiers propped up against the Crandall’s house. Not just your ordinary soldiers, but life-size ones decorated in the untraditional colors of pink and green. Is that? No it can’t be the same familiar shade of pink and green? Wait – it is?
“Well, hello my favorite neighbor,” Carolyn said with a small hint of sarcasm. “Fine day to begin decorating isn’t it?”
Hoping to calm her inner rage, Naomi hesitated before answering.” Well, if you like decorating in freezing temps.”
“Nothing gets in the way of our holiday decorating. When will you start working on your yard?”
“Soon, very soon.” Naomi pointed to the toy soldiers. “Interesting items you have there, Carolyn. Where ever did you find such unique decorations?”
“Well, it’s a crazy story. One I’d love to tell, but I’m extremely busy.” She waved dramatically to the miles of lights overflowing from a plastic container. “Toodleloo!” Just like that she smiled and dismissed Naomi in her own flighty way.
Naomi darted to her basement like a race horse set free from a stall at the Kentucky Derby. When she reached the bottom step and flipped on the light, she froze mid-stride. All of her prized decorations were missing, gone, nowhere in sight. She couldn’t believe the Crandall’s would stoop this low. In that moment, Naomi made the vow to get everything back. All of her decorations back.
For her important, but very dangerous mission, Naomi decided to go rogue. After waiting until everyone left her house that evening, she set a strategic plan in motion. She peeked through the blinds to the Crandall’s home and noticed all of the lights were off including the yard decorations. Naomi leaped into action.
Dressed in all black, she crouched low and made her way into the Crandall’s yard. She shook uncontrollably with a twinge of excitement, but mostly fear, as she made her way to the first yard ornament. When she lifted the first toy soldier, a blaring alarm sounded and permeated through the quiet neighborhood. Naomi froze when all of the outside lights came on and illuminated the whole yard. If that wasn’t enough to embarrass her, a large group of people spilled out onto the front porch. As Naomi’s eyes adjusted to the bright light, she recognized the faces of the entire Crandall family, the neighbors from across the street, and her family. Oh geez. This was bad!
Before she could squeak out an explanation, Naomi’s husband escorted her into the Crandall’s living room, and over to a chair placed in the center of the room. Still confused, she sat and gazed around at the other folding chairs placed in a circle. But as everyone sat down, and pulled out their handwritten letters, all cylinders ignited.
Then everything came into focus – this was an intervention!
I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and the best start to 2015!