The last day of autumn is technically next week, but we can still prepare ourselves for the winter season now. Today, let’s write about a winter wonderland. Keep reading to see the prompt and my completed version of it.
Today’s Writing Prompt: Winter Wonderland
Write a scene in which a character gets caught up in a winter wonderland.
Completed Version of Today’s Writing Prompt
Winter Wonderland, by K.E. Creighton
When I stepped off the train, I clenched my coat because it was freezing out. Of course, I hadn’t traveled prepared for the weather to shift, and now my knuckles and knees were paying for it. I always forgot how far away my mom’s house was via train and that the weather could turn on a dime this time of year. Sure, she only lived in the suburbs, but it might as well have been a different country.
The Holiday Train stopped on the other side of the tracks, completely decked with lights and bright cartoon murals of Rudolph and his fellow reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh. Everyone near me was laughing and pointing. I headed in the other direction toward the stairs.
At the bottom of the stairs, I heard the Salvation Army bells before I saw the Santa who was ringing them. He ended up being a bit scrawny and smelled a little like beef and cheese when I walked by to leave the station. But he did seem merry, so I’ll give him that.
I was greeted with fresh snow as I exited the station— the light and fluffy kind (the best kind). There were no cars on the street because it had been blocked off for the festival the previous day, making it open to meandering pedestrians and a group of carolers dressed in traditional costumes standing next to a portable fire pit. The red ribbons were still tied underneath each of the old-style lamp posts lining the street. And the wreaths on top of each storefront were getting a fresh coat of white snow.
The strands of light above the street were glowing and inviting. So I stopped beneath them for a few minutes to listen to the carolers and warm my hands by their makeshift fire. A small girl walked by smiling, holding an older girl’s hand. And a man in an elf suit had a jolly gait as he carried an armful of wrapped presents.
I always forget my gloves and never wear the right boots when I venture out this way this time of year. And, of course, I never like admitting when my mother is right. But, honestly, this place is a magical winter wonderland. One that you just can’t ever find in the city.
All the usual sights and sounds of my birthplace came back to me in a flood of memories. My entire family would go to the festival, followed by Christmas shopping downtown. Dad would head off to the Christmas tree lot, always choosing a 6-footer. Mom would let the older sister and brother go off on their own to shop, promising to meet at Harry’s for dinner.
I chose to go with Dad one Christmas, and he reminded me that if I came, I was required to help carry the tree back to the family car. Since I was in eighth grade, I told him I thought I was big enough. He pondered for a moment and then nodded in agreement. Mom said she would miss my help carrying the presents, but since my younger brothers were in 5th and 6th grade, she agreed.
The tree lot was busy, some choosing the 3-4 footers, others eyeing the limited amount of 10-12 footers. I had long given up trying to name the different varieties of pine, and I knew Dad would probably carry the base and let me have the top. He settled on a 6-footer, and the owner shook his hand and thanked him for coming to him every year for over 10 years!
On the way back to the car, Dad took a moment and talked to the Santa by the Salvation Army kettle. I was glad for the break, and noticed Dad not only gave a dollar, but slipped an envelope into Santa’s glove. I decided to keep quiet, since Dad gave me a “shush” sign. Santa began to sniffle, and hugged my father. I was completely baffled!
I caught a glimpse of my older brother and sister coming out of the five and dime. They each had a big bag of presents. After I helped Dad tie the tree to the top of the car, he whispered something to my older brother. Frank nodded and hurried to the Salvation Army kettle. I was tired, but Dad said it was time to meet Mom at Harry’s diner for dinner.
As we gathered out front, Frank came running up to Dad and whispered something to him. Dad smiled and we all went in to eat dinner. Harry had our favorite table ready, and everyone enjoyed a terrific turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Dad agreed to let everyone order apple pie for dessert.
I smiled at the sweet memory of that Christmas, and hurried to the car. Frank hugged me and took my luggage. He told me that Dad had sworn him to secrecy that Christmas, but I would get the whole story after dinner.
Mom and Dad and all my siblings met me at the door of the old family farm. Hugs and kisses went around, and we all sat down to a fine feast. After prayer, Dad picked up a letter from Dan Dailey, an old co-worker and friend of the family. It had been 25 years since that Christmas, and the truth was about to come to light.
“Dear friends, I knew that your father would want this kept secret. I decided to honor his wish until I was called home. The Christmas of 1997 was the most difficult for the Dailey family. Even though both our children were in college, we were about to lose everything. My wife came down with pneumonia, and they fired her from her job with the county. We had been served bankruptcy options from the bank, and we had nowhere to go.”
“Your father had given to the kettle every year for 15 years, but nothing like this Christmas! Since Frank and your father had recently come into a windfall by selling off the best brood mares at auction, he was planning to expand the ranch. However, the teller at the bank had mentioned out plight to him. He immediately met with the branch manager, and paid off the mortgage. He also put $500 into our checking account.”
“This meant that none of the children could go to college for the next four years. However, I later learned of the scholarships and grants each of you earned. My wife recovered 3 months later and got a better job with the state. Seeing our mortgage in the fireplace that Christmas was the best gift ever. Now, your father is ready to hand the ranch over to my son. Your family has been the greatest blessing this town has ever know!”
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