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The Last Flight of Christmas


The Last Flight of Christmas

Susanna Leonard Hill is sponsoring her third annual holiday writing contest. I had so much fun participating in the  Halloweensie contest that I thought I'd participate again.  Here is my entry.

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The Last Flight of Christmas

(295 words)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and Papa was late,

Snowed in at the airport, stuck at the gate.

“My plane has been grounded. I’m sorry, my dear.

It looks like I’m going to miss Christmas this year.”

“But Papa,” I cried, as Mama drew near,

“It won’t be the same if you are not here!”

“Don’t worry,” said Mama, squeezing me tight,

“Maybe Dad will be able to catch the next flight.”

I had put on my jammies and climbed into bed

When a terrible thought entered my head.

“If snow’s going to keep us from being together,

How will Santa arrive in such wintery weather?”

“Santa will make it even if the snow’s deep,

But he won’t come to visit unless you’re asleep!”

Mama gave me a kiss and turned off my light,

Then I tossed and I turned the rest of the night.

I had just drifted off and was dreaming of toys,

When I woke with a start after hearing a noise.

“Santa!” I whispered and jumped out of bed.

“He made it for Christmas just like Mama said!”

In my robe and my slippers, I ran down the stairs

And found Papa, not Santa, in one of our chairs.

“Papa!” I cried. “When did you make it home?

You said you were stuck when we talked on the phone!”

 “Surprise!” exclaimed Papa, “but I found my way

With a jolly red elf who was driving a sleigh!”

“You met Santa?” I asked, “He gave you a ride?”

“With some help from his reindeer,” Papa replied.

“Mama!  I shouted, “You won’t guess who’s here!

Papa! He’s made it for Christmas this year!”

“Santa also delivered a present or two.”

“But Papa,” I cried, “the best present is you!”

Looking for more wonderful holiday stories to get you into the spirit?  Check out the other entries on Susanna's blog.  And Merry Christmas!


Too Many Tamales


Too Many Tamales

In addition to our Advent calendar, my children and I celebrate Christmas by reading at least one Christmas themed picture book at bedtime every night. Here is one of my favorites. 

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Title:  Too Many Tamales

Author and Illustrator:  Written by Gary Soto, Illustrated by Ed Martinez

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993

Genre:  Picture book

Ages: 4-7

Themes:  Christmas, cooking, family traditions, Hispanic heritage


“Christmas Eve started out so perfectly for Maria. Snow had fallen and the streets glittered. Maria’s favorite cousins were coming over and she got to help make the tamales for Christmas dinner.  It was almost too good to be true when her mother left the kitchen for a moment and Maria got to try on her beautiful diamond ring…

This is the story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales; of a desperate and funny attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble; and of the warm way a family pulls together to make it a perfect Christmas after all.”

Why I like this book

I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures.  My degrees in literature in two languages - English and Spanish - are proof.  My family and I live in San Diego and  I feel it's important for my children to learn about our Hispanic friends and neighbors.  Too Many Tamales teaches children about a different cultural tradition.  It’s also a tale about why it’s better to tell the truth than cover up a problem. Soto’s book is more than a lesson in culture or morality; the beautiful and original Christmas story is told with such warmth and humor that children of all ages will want to read Too Many Tamales again and again.

Activities and Resources:  

Scholastic has a wonderful discussion guide about Too Many Tamales. 

Too Many Tamales is one of the videos  in Weston Woods’s Stories from the Hispanic Tradition.

Love to cook with your kids?  Make tamales (and invite me over)!

Here is a kid-friendly recipe for a non-traditional approach to sweet tamales.

Since making tamales is a lot of work, here is an easier recipe.  Not authentic, as there are no husks or wrapping involved, but equally delicious I'm sure!

For more book ideas, check out Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday on her blog.  Here is a link to past reviews (organized by topic).