The Christmas Storm

Foster’s Daily Democrat, our local newspaper, runs an annual holiday art and writing contest. It was open to all students from first grade through high school in the seacoast area of New Hampshire and Maine. Over 2,000 students submitted entries. 34 winners were chosen for the art portion, and 36 winners were chosen for the writing portion.


The Christmas Storm, a short story

courtesy of christmaswow


My daughter was one of the winners for writing. Some of you may have seen my Facebook post about it, and a few people had requested to read her story. While her short story was published in the paper, it was in a special pull-out section that is not accessible on-line. So, I’m posting it here.

Merry Christmas!

*          *          *         *          *


   by Madeleine Johnston

We had just finished baking the hazelnut pie when the storm hit, a monster blizzard with enough wind that it tore down three telephone poles. The Christmas tree lights sparked and went out, as did all the other lights. I noticed snow had begun to fall in heavy clumps. The house shook violently from the fierce wind, and my mother ordered me to retrieve my brother and father. I got them out of the TV room as fast as I could, snatching Posy, my cat, as we rushed to the kitchen.

“I’m scared!” my brother wailed.

“Everything’s fine,” my father said. But I knew he was lying.

My mother handed us our winter jackets. “Go outside! Hurry!”

Just then, there was a tremendous BOOM! Bark and branches scratched my skin, and I smelled sap. A tree had smashed through our house. I screamed and fell on my behind. Posy raced off.

“POSY!” I jumped up.

“Leave her!” my mother said.

“NO!” I followed her through the scabby branches and into the dining room. She was cowering under the table. I coaxed her to me, picked her up, and hurried back to the kitchen.

“OUTSIDE! NOW!” my mother bellowed.

We were ushered into the freezing garage, and outside, which was even colder than the snow I was playing in yesterday. Dark storm clouds had rolled in and were dropping hail on our heads. A huge pine tree destroyed the house on the left, and I heard screaming. I wanted desperately to help our neighbors, but I knew we couldn’t.

I hugged Posy close to my chest. Our hearts pounded together.

“To the rock!” my mother hollered above the wind. We ran through the snow to the enormous boulder in the backyard. The world was black as coal.

We crawled under the rock, my father shielding us with his broad body. Posy hissed. My brother was crying, and my mother kissed my head.

We soon fell asleep, as trees crashed down around us. I worried for our Christmas tree farm.


     When I awoke, the wind had ceased. I peered around my dad. The sky was cloudy, we were weighed down by snow, and our house was reduced to a mound of debris. Somewhere, a bird chirped.

I looked up to see a cardinal sitting in one of our Christmas trees. Only part of the Christmas tree farm had survived. The others were uprooted.

The cardinal nibbled on the string of cranberries we hung around the trees every Christmas season.

I heard my father mumble, “Everything, gone.”

“Not everything,” my mother whispered. “For one, we still have part of our farm. And…” From beside her, she pulled the hazelnut pie. It was a bit squished, but not badly. I hadn’t noticed she’d brought it. She smiled meekly. “We’ll be okay.”

And I believed her.

So we sat beneath the rock, enjoying the only thing we had left.

Except for being together.


56 thoughts on “The Christmas Storm

  1. Were you taking notes, Kate?
    You should have been taking notes- Kate.
    Did you see how she hooked the reader? She used a barbed hook. I didn’t notice it until I tried to pull away for a potty break. It wasn’t going to happen. I had to finish reading this turbulent story first.
    Talk about tension!
    That was a nice little thrill ride. You should try reading it before you go to the restroom. It’s really intense. Bravo!
    I love a good read early in the morning.


  2. Terrific story! I found myself shivering and breathing shallowly as I read–that’s how immersed I was in the ‘reality’ of the piece.


    • She was really worried when she heard how many schools were eligible for the contest. We have a lot of schools in our little seacoast area, believe it or not. I’m glad her story stood out. She worked really hard on it — even making sure it was grammatically correct! Merry Christmas.


  3. Thank you so much for sharing Madeleine’s story, Kate! She’s really a talented writer, and I’m so glad she writes first for the love of writing. That’s the best way to go. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas—with no storms!


    • Hey JM, I think she’s pretty talented, too. She’s got such a huge imagination it’s hard for her not to write. I think as far as the weather goes this year, we’re in for rain, without the stormy bit. I’d rather have snow, but oh well. I hope you and Paul have a lovely Christmas. Will you be in your new home?


      • We’re still a few months away from completion. If the weather isn’t bad this winter, construction is estimated to wrap up in late March. That’s really not too far away! But it’s our last “somewhat cramped” Christmas in a rented townhouse. 🙂


  4. Pingback: The Christmas Storm. | Learning from Dogs

  5. What a great story, thank you for sharing it with us! It’s so wonderful to see talent like this being recognized and encouraged at a young age. I hope she will continue to write throughout her life. Happy Christmas Kate!


    • I agree, Letizia. I like to seek out contests like this for my writing students, just so they have other outlets to explore. I think she’ll always be writing. It is one of her favorite things to do when she has free time. 🙂 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


  6. What a great story – I love the details of the sudden branches and pine smells, then the cardinal on the tree. It’s easy to see you there saving Christmas too. I hope your Christmas was filled with love and laughter and no disasters!


    • Thanks for reading, Sheila. She took a lot of those details from our backyard. We’ve had pine trees come down in storms, but none on our house, thank goodness! I hope you enjoyed your Christmas. Happy New Year!


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