I am BEYOND excited to share with you a preview of the Christmas short story now running in the December issue of Brio magazine. It features Katie Parker and Mad Maxine, two characters very near and dear to my heart.
I have always been totally in love with Christmas stories, Christmas shows, and Christmas movies. When I was little I even had special Christmas paper dolls so I could make up my own Christmas tales. There is something just so magical about the holiday season. So to get the opportunity to write a Christmas short story for the best tween/teen magazine out there THRILLS my heart.
You can read a snippet of it here. But for the rest…you gotta find the December issue of Brio at a Christian book store. But it’s SUCH a great issue. You won’t be sorry! (And not because my story’s in there.) This issue is chock-full of cool things to read. Like an article on toning your tummy. Um…is it just a coincidence that they ran that when I was in the mag too? I doubt it. I must go dig out my pilates ball… And there’s a great article on a teen who has a brother with Downs. And lots of advice and Q and A’s. I LOVE reading advice columns. But one of the coolest things is there’s a great feature of Barlow Girl, the best harmonizers in the whole universe. Among other things, the girls talk about their new Christmas CD and how they wrote one song on it called “Hallelujah (Light Has Come).” I was so excited to see they wrote that because on this CD it is my ABSOLUTE favorite. You can totally get it on iTunes for 99 cents like I did!!! (Or buy the whole CD, but economic crunch and all…)Â Anyway, it is my new favorite Christmas song and stunningly beautiful. I totally sang it into my hairbrush just this morning.
And now without further ado…here’s (a piece of, just a scooch, a smidgen, a wee bit of) “A Katie Parker Christmas.”
“Get your long johns on, sweet pea. Don’t want your tushie to freeze.”
My foster grandmother, Maxine stands in my doorway, looking like a pink abominable snowman.
“I’m not going sledding with you again.” I turn the page of my People magazine. “I nearly broke my neck on the ramp you built last week.”
Maxine snorts. “Snow days are not for wienies.”
This is my second day off from school. And as usual, Maxine has trekked her way over here to draft me into her extreme winter sports. At her age, you’d think she’d be more concerned with breaking a hip–instead of breaking the town speed limit on a toboggan.
The bed gives as Maxine plops herself beside me. “What’s with the long face, Katie?”
I can’t hide anything from this woman, so I no longer try. “Christmas is less than two weeks. And I have been saving my allowance like crazy, but I still don’t have enough to get everyone really good presents.”
Maxine rolls her eyes. “Don’t worry about the others–as long as you have my gift.”
“You were easy to buy for–a box of Depends. It’s Millie and James I’m having trouble with.” Though my role in life is to rile Maxine, I’m quite serious about the gifts for my foster parents. What do you get a pastor and his wife–people who have everything? I’ve been working on knitting Milile a scarf, but right now it looks more like a misshapen beach towel. At least I’ve got Maxine’s already–a greatest hits collection of an eighties heavy metal band.
“I wouldn’t put much worry into it.”
I frown. “But it has to be perfect.”
My foster grandma kisses me on the forehead. “When it’s right, you’ll know.” She pats her chest. “Just make sure it comes from here.”
The first day back at school after snow days is so painful. I listened to the radio for cancellations for over an hour this morning before accepting defeat and crawling out of bed.
I open my locker, wincing at the pain in my shoulder. I make a mental note never to go tubing down a hill with Maxine again. We always get airborne, and somehow I’m always the the soft spot she lands on.
“New girl, ten o’clock.” I turn at my friend Jeremy’s voice then angle my sights where he’s looking. “You should go talk to her for me, Katie.” He throws his books in the locker beside mine. “Tell her what a fine actor I am. What a nice guy. What a–“
“Chicken for not talking to her yourself?”
He blinks. “ThatÂ hurts.”
“She doesn’t exactly look like she’s ready for the manly wonder known as Jeremy Foster. ” In fact, the new girl looks like she’s ready to escape the building and hit the slushy road any moment.
“Fine. I’ll just watch her from afar. Hey, a group of us are going out for pizza tonight. Are you in?”
Envy knots in my gut like a big yarn ball connected to Millie’s scarf. “No, I’m saving my money. Christmas, you know.”
In Junior English, I open my copy of Hamlet and reread the last few scenes in case there’s a quiz. It would be so like my teacher to throw out a quiz after a few days off. As my eyes trip over some wherefores, thees, thous, and arts, Mrs. Bailey clears her throat to begin class.
“Class, we have a new student. Please welcome Josie Dawson.”
Surprised that I hadn’t even noticed the new girl, I turn toward the back of the room. Huddled in a corner seat is the object of Jeremy’s affection. She smiles weakly, her eyes darting around the room, then down to her desk.
After school I talk with some friends, then make my way to my car. Well, actually it’s Milie’s. My foster parents are going to get me a vehicle, but can’t seem to find the right one. I’m not exactly the best driver, so they want a really sturdy car. James says he’s looking for a good used tank.
As I turn on the ignition, David Crowder pours out my stereo. And Josie Dawson appears in my rear view.
I turn around and see her sitting on the sidewalk, her head dropped.
Something tugs at my heart, so I pull up beside her. “Hey, Josie, right?” I quickly introduce myself. “Do you need a ride?”
She shakes her head no.
“You’ve heard about my dirivng, haven’t you? Look, I did take out a small chicken coop last week, but I don’t care what you heard, there were no casualties.” Except for my pride. And Millie’s left headlight.
Josie smiles for the first time. “Thanks, but my dad should be here any moment.”
“Okay. Well, I’ll look for you tomorrow. You should eat lunch with me and my friends.” I definitely know what it’s like to be the new kid. Before I landed in In Between,Â Texas and James and Millie took me in, I’d only moved a million times.
I wave goodbye and cruise down Main Street to the In Between Community Church.
“Hey, kid. What’cha doing here?” James looks up from his desk and grins. “And what’s a six letter word for trouble?”
I sit myself down in a chair. “M-a-x-i-n-e.”
That’s it for now! But there’s still so much in store for Katie Parker and the mysterious Josie Dawson, so be sure and pick up a December issue of Brio magazine and find out what happens next!
Also say a prayer for me. As you read this, I’m out losing my religion on Black Friday.