Your Favorite Christmas Story

by Joe Bunting | 11 comments

Well, submissions for our “Show Off” Writing Contest are now closed. I'm excited to tell you seventeen of you decided to submit your Christmas story to the contest, with a total of eighteen stories (yes, one of you submitted twice—you know who you are—it was part of the rules, though, so it's cool).

I had no expectations for how many would participate, but this completely surprised me. Eighteen?! Well, done, writing friends. Well, done.

The best part for me was that many of the entries came from people I haven't interacted with, yet. I hope you all will continue to practice and check-in in the comments so I can get to know you better.

Christmas Story

Photo by Shandi-Lee

Now, I have two pieces of business to discuss with you.

First. I will post the winner of the contest Monday. The winner will then work with me to edit their piece to perfection (but since I don't believe in perfection, really just until it shines and sparkles like a candy cane).

Then, the finished piece will be posted here on Christmas day (or Christmas eve, I haven't decided—what do you think?), and be included in our forthcoming Write Practice anthology. Woohoo!

Second. For today's practice, I want to give you the chance to get inside the head of an acquisitions / literary magazine editor. These editors have the impossible job of deciding who wins and who loses. It's a painful thing to have to say no to so much excellent (and, sometimes, not excellent) writing.

And now I want you to try.

So go vote on your favorite “Show Off” piece by clicking the little “Like” button at the bottom-right of the post. Read as many of the pieces as you have time for, but try to read at least three or four so you can start to get an idea of what it takes to be an editor.

Oh, and don't everyone start at the beginning because then the first posts will get all the love. Although I'm not sure how to coordinate that.

Your vote will add somewhat to my decision about whose story wins the contest. Let's say 23.6% of the judging will be based on votes.

(And no one will know if you vote more than once. Except you.)


Practice your acquisitions editor skills:

1. Read three or more entries from our Christmas Writing Contest.

2. Vote for your favorite (by clicking the “Like” button at the bottom-right of the post).

Have fun!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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  1. Rhonda Ransford

    I can’t seem to get to the Christmas stories, so I can read them.

  2. Rhonda Ransford

    I can’t seem to get to the Christmas stories, so I can read them.

  3. slappy1nyc

    Kicked in the Dick on Christmas day

    I hate Christmas. The fake spirit, the phony joy, it’s all a big farce. As a kid, when Santa Claus was motivating, I looked forward to the seasonal customs, but was always suspicious of how Santa operated. On Christmas Eve, my parents would encourage my brother and I to “go to bed” because Santa would not arrive with people awake. Then they would stay up with a houseful of guests celebrating the holiday Italian style -drinking jugs of wine, smoking cartons of cigarettes, eating seafood, and carrying on till sunrise -while we listened and choked on the fumes atop the stairs. Christmas morning we would drag my parents out of bed. Hung over and exhausted, my father would set up the old 8 millimeter camera, flood the room with studio style lighting, and blind his children while capturing silent films of us tearing into an overabundance of gifts. We truly were blessed. We always received what we wanted, and as an added bonus, my brother often had more fun playing with the boxes our gifts arrived in.

    As an adult, though, Christmas sucks. Maybe it’s because I’m older now, but the holiday seems co-opted by big box retailers and clever marketing schemes. Black Friday is a shoddy embarrassment of American adulthood, devoid of religious meaning or seasonal cheer. Simply stated, Christmas is a shell of what it was years ago. Today’s fragmented families also deplete the Hallmark qualities from decades ago. Many neighborhoods no longer string lights across the Avenues for shoppers. Even Brooklyn’s pea coat and cap wearing long shoreman-type Christmas tree vendors have been replaced by Mexicans. Say what you will, but the feeling just isn’t the same.

    I try to do my part though. While I won’t fake holiday cheer, I go to great lengths to be kind and generous to others. My professional standard of showing great discretion is heightened every December. Well intentioned citizens are given greater leverage by many officers not wanting to be considered “that Grinch of a cop,” especially on Christmas Day. There’s no greater shame than forcing the wheels of justice (from the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Officers, etc.) to have to deal with some silly cop’s unnecessary arrest. I get the point. On a recent New Year’s Eve, I was shamed by the entire party-hat wearing, horn tootin’ emergency room staff for escorting some young and unconscious female drunk off the streets just before midnight. But hey, shit happens.

    In keeping with the holiday spirit, I often volunteer to work on Xmas day. After all, someone with kids should get priority over me on the holiday. So I will usually work for someone else on that day if possible. Working in Coney Island, winter holidays are a charm anyway. Coney in the off season is an interesting place, distinctly different from the madness of summer. The only people roaming the closed amusement district are the homeless zombies evicted from trains at Stillwell Avenue enroute to the storage yard.

    One Christmas I was volunteering my day and the crisp chilly night was picture perfect. The only thing missing from Surf Avenue was tumbleweed. I was spending my lunch hour at the front desk joking with the Desk Officer and his assistant (both a Sergeant, and a Police officer) when someone came barging through the front doors yelling, “There’s a fight on the bus out front!”

    UGGGH! I looked at the two on the desk, (Both on modified duty and without a gun and shield…another story for another day.) and they looked at me, loaded up and in full uniform.

    “Ok, I’m coming” I said, wondering what kind of foolishness I was about to get myself into.

    Looking toward the parked bus, I noticed it swaying with a commotion going on inside. Getting closer, I see a woman flailing her arms like a windmill and swinging on everyone in her path, but connecting with nobody. Turns out, she was kicked out of her family holiday gathering for being drunk and obnoxious. Not wanting to spoil the mood, she took her cause to strangers on the bus. After many warnings from the driver, she walked up and began slapping him. At that point bystanders became involved, giving the 22 year old amateur drunk other targets for insults and punches. As I arrived, she was being slammed into the rear exit door by the bus driver whose shirt was partially untucked. His gut was hanging out

    “I want her off this bus!” He shouted, massaging his forearm. I quickly put her in handcuffs as passengers reciprocated the holiday spirit with a barrage of joyous insults, cursing back at the over served girl. Looking at the bus driver, I could tell he wasn’t in the mood for this scenario any more than I was. The driver kept looking at his watch until saying, “It’s my last run of the night, and I just want to get home.” At the same instant, from the front entrance of the bus, I heard a familiar voice blurting out something behind me.

    “Assaulting a Bus Driver is an automatic arrest and a felony!” I turned to see Brian, our perpetually modified desk cop blurting out free legal advice. Glaring at my unwanted assistance, I suddenly had a vision. The vision was of a desolate central booking on Christmas night, with the lights dimmed and holiday music piped into the cells. Then I imagined all the assigned personnel, serving egg nog with Santa hats on, looking at me with sheer disgust for admitting this very unnecessary, loud, drunk chick. Suddenly I snapped back to reality. I turned to the driver and said, “If it’s alright with you, I will drag her into the precinct and take care of it from there.” He was elated to oblige and salvage the holiday away from his paperwork, and go home.

    Walking back across Surf Avenue, and holding onto the cuffed perpetrator, I began my vocal criticism of the assistance. “Are you gonna process this bag of shit? Of course you’re not, so shut the fuck up and let me handle the situation! I was handling it well enough without you…and why are you even out here without your gun and…OOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFF!”

    While escorting the drunk, holding her rear cuffed and walking one pace behind, I turned my head for 20 seconds. During my tirade, she decided to mule kick me right in the groin. I nearly collapsed, but held on. A true test of professionalism, I fought the impulse not to lose my cool and punch the prisoner in the head. Luckily, the prisoner was drunk, female, and at the moment of impact, I would have preferred to punch my backup instead. She also missed the sensitive area and, thankfully, only nicked my Irish endowment instead.

    She sobered up considerably in my company as I began walking upright again. Fortunately, she did not have any outstanding warrants; and because there was no legal assault on board, she was given a disorderly conduct ticket, and tossed out into the cold with the zombies. I haven’t been mule kicked by any prisoner since.


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