Essay entries give Christmas insightsPublished 10:44am Thursday, December 19, 2013
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I’ve been sorting my way through a bunch of “What Christmas Means to Me” essays this week. I was just the middleman (make that middlewoman) in this contest, collecting entries and passing them on to an impartial panel of judges, but one perk of my position was having the pleasure of reading through their lines of well-placed adverbs and illustrations. The truth is I felt really sorry for the four judges. Choosing the winners must have been difficult.
There was honesty from a preschool entry: “It’s about presents and candy. And it’s about decorating the house and giving stuff to people.” I noticed some pretty confident anticipation, too: “I praise the Lord because God is going to give me a bow and arrow.”
I couldn’t help but think how Martha Stewart would probably pick this one: “I like to make people feel comfortable and at home when they visit me at Christmas time.” Another told of a family tradition: “I love Mr. Bingle, the stuffed animal, which we only take out at Christmas.”
One young man chose to confess: “Now, I have to admit the presents are pretty tempting, and I do get a little too excited about them. As a matter of fact, I get more excited than anyone in my family.”
His sister, on the other hand, had Mary on her mind: “I’m sure Mary was nervous, and probably felt unworthy to give birth to this baby who would save us from our sins. I am also sure she wondered what people would think about her.”
There was a sixth-grader dreaming of the white stuff: “My mom likes snowmen so we have a lot of them in our house. We don’t get a lot of it but I wish it would snow every year at Christmas,” and a 13-year-old comparing apples to Apples: ”Dad, can I have an apple for Christmas?” If a child asked this question today, they would be asking for a technology-built Apple Incorporated product. For children in the 1940s at Christmas, however, this question meant an apple that is the juicy, fruit kind.”
There was giving, “We make shoeboxes for other kids,” and more giving: “I just love the cold weather, the music, the happiness, the traditions we share as a family, and the giving!”
One seventh-grader tied in his essay with some facts about Edison, then concluded: “But the main reason we have Christmas lights is to remind us of the Lord Jesus. The little lights we hang are festive and joyful and also show our faith. They brighten the dark winter night. The beautiful lights in my home remind me of my Savior who is the Light of the World.”
An 11th-grader expressed a refreshing non-electronic gaming interest: “It is also spending time with family and friends! At Christmas time, we are always playing games like Cornhole (we love Cornhole!), Progressive Rummy, Dictionary, Taboo and Scattergories, just to name a few.”
And here’s an entry vivid enough to appease any English teacher: “Finally, after looking at hundreds of trees, there it was swaying gently in the breeze, standing in the middle of a grass clearing with the sun flashing off its glossy needles.” And another that threw in some linguistics: “But what is a holiday? In the Greek translation, “holiday” is very clearly described as what it truly is, “a day to celebrate a holy event.”
A high-schooler provided this history lesson from World War I: “Through the week leading up to Christmas, parties of British and German soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches. At some places along the line individuals could be seen crossing “No Man’s Land” bearing gifts for the opposing side.”
And this contender who expressed concern for others: “I take for granted that I will wake up on Christmas morning with lots of gifts. Others have less things, no home, and certainly no gifts.”
But perhaps most important of all is this line from a junior high composition: “To sum it up, even though we hear this story every year, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.” Not only is that a good conclusion sentence (important in essay contests), but it’s pretty wise advice from a seventh-grader. Thanks for the reminder, Alyssa Burns.
Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.