It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like World’s End (Jack and the Genre-nauts Act 23)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every second Friday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like World’s End’!”


[The curtain rises on a backdrop of fields of ice. A sign atop a candy-cane-striped post reads “North Pole, 0.5 miles”, pointing toward the copse of Christmas trees on the stage’s opposite side. Entering from the wings are Gant-o’-the-Lute as Loki and Allyn-a-Dale as Fenrir, the Antichristmas Wolf in Jack Snow’s body.]

Lute/Loki [voice forbidding, smile stretched wide ]: Now’s the day, an’ now’s the hour;

See the Antichristmas lour,

And the Trickster’s rise to power:

Ragnarok unleashed!

Allyn/Fenrir: A stirring preamble, Father.

Lute/Loki: Like it? Modeled it after some poem or another by that Scot fellow, Burns.

Allyn/Fenrir [lips curled back in a wolfish grin ]: Fitting, that. For presently, this frozen world will blaze.

[Meanwhile, among the Christmas trees, out peek Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED, along with Will Scarlet as Jack Snow in the Mad Hatter’s body.]

Annabelle [stage whispering ]: This is it. The final boss battle. Sonic vs. Robotnik. Link vs. Demon Lord Ganon. Jack Snow vs. Antichristmas Beast/Wolf/son of Loki.

Will/Jack [turning to Annabelle in aggravation ]: What are you on about?

Annabelle [mumbling ]: Video game stuff. Sorry, I saw parallels.

Sir Wilbur: Never mind it, Jack. What’s the plan?

Will/Jack: Plan? I fear that’s a bit beyond me, at the moment. I’m Jack Snow in spirit, but Hatter in the head. What does his mad mind know of battle strategy?

Annabelle: Does this mean we’re screwed?

Sir Wilbur: It’s beginning to look like it. See there!

[The other side of the stage, Allyn has raised his arms high. Head thrown back, he speaks in a howling chant.]

Allyn/Fenrir: In the name of all evil things anti-Christmas,

I summon the fire of sky!

Flaming color, rain down ruin!

Raze and blaze, yon Northern Lights!

[A flickering green glow appears above, glowing redder the lower it descends. Lute’s cruel laugh has scarcely begun gaining momentum when Will plunges out of the trees, hand thrust up toward the lights.]

Will/Jack [rapidly, but with authority ]: Light of North’s nocturnal noon,

Ruin you shall not rain.

Heatless fire, arctic blaze,

In the sky remain.

[The reddening lights halt, then rise again, their harmless green hue returning.]

Allyn/Fenrir [with a snarling sneer ]: Counter rhymes, is it? That’s a game we could be at all day, Santa Claus. Unless you mean to sing my doom with carols as you did before?

Will/Jack: That depends. Would it work?

Lute/Loki [wagging a finger ]: Not so easy as that. Children of the Trickster were never fated to die the same way twice. It will take more than the power contained in a song to kill him. More than the power of Christmas itself!

Will/Jack [thoughtful, sober ]: Possibly so. But what of the power behind Christmas?

Allyn/Fenrir [eyes narrow ]: What do you mean?

Will/Jack [advancing ]: The first and greatest Christmas gift. A baby born to die. A saving sacrifice. This do I wield against you, Antichristmas: The sacrifice, made in the truest Christmas spirit, of Artifice Cheshirecott – a mad hatter who so loved his lost friend that he gave up his body to put an end to your wickedness one more time.

Allyn/Fenrir [ashen and wide-eyed ]: No… [clutches throat, choking and gagging ] Nooo…!

Lute/Loki: Fenrir! Son!

[But it’s too late. Allyn crumples to the ground, a thick haze of steam rising up around him. When the vapor clears, his body is gone. Dropping to his knees, Lute lets loose a shriek of anguish.]

Lute/Loki: A thousand curses upon you, Jack Snow! All I wanted for Christmas was vengeance! To destroy the legacy of the one who killed my son!

Will/Jack: Unfortunately, Loki, you’ve been a very naughty god this year. For that, you get the Shadow, black as coal. [arm raised skyward again, he calls out ]

Shadow of the hatter mad,

Fly to finish to Fenrir’s dad!

[A formless darkness with manic, cat-like eyes and a wide, crescent moon grin flits over the white backdrop.]

Will [voiceover]/Shadow: Ah, looky – it’s Loki! My own match in mischief! Now, what’s to be done about you?

Annabelle [stepping out of the trees with a noisy “ahem” ]: If it’s all the same to everyone else, I may have a solution.


“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Kelton de la Cruz and Tirzah Duncan,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Demon Lord Ganon’ and lyrics from “Scots Wha Hae’ by Robert Burns.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

Glory, Glory

A reblog of my 30th PerGoSeeMo Psalm from 2011, in honor of Christmas but days away. See you guys after the holiday!


A humble girl in Nazareth

Is favored above all,

And she sings unto the highest heaven:

Glory! Glory!

Merciful and holy,

The Mighty One who raised his servant lowly!

See how the shepherds leave the hills

To go before the babe who will

Be Shepherd over chosen Israel.


Christmas Star

Above the town of Bethlehem,

A host of angels call,

And their voices fill the highest heaven:

“Glory! Glory!

Goodwill to the earth!

The mother of Messiah’s given birth!

See how the kings come from afar

To worship, ‘neath the shining star,

The Savior King of chosen Israel.


At Temple in Jerusalem,

An aged man in awe

Lifts his song unto the highest heaven:

 “Glory! Glory!

Light and peace and joy

Will fill the hearts of many, through this boy!

See how the light has yet to dim

For all who still remember him,

And hail the coming of Immanuel.

Loose Beaks Sink Snow (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 3)

W.A.I.T. Button

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Loose Beaks Sink Snow’!”


[The curtain rises on a Dutch door (y’know, the kind where you can open the top half while the bottom half stays shut) squarely facing the audience in front of a forest backdrop. A large figure draped in hooded cloak, facial features obscured behind heavy scarves, enters from the wings and crosses the stage to the door. At a rap of the mystery character’s knuckles, the top of the door swings open, revealing Allyn-a-Dale.]

Mysterious Stranger [in a low, gravelly voice ]: Good day to you, young sir. Have I the pleasure of addressing the lad they call Jack Snow?

Allyn/Jack: Indeed you do. What brings you to the safe house of the dwarves?

Mysterious Stranger: Why, rumor of you. The little birds speak of your beauty throughout the land, praising your hair black as ebony, blush red as the rose, and skin white as the snow for which ‘tis said you’re named.

Allyn/Jack [blushing a hue indeed most rosy ]: The birds exaggerate, and would in any case do better to keep their twittering gossip to themselves. How safe is a safe house with its location and habitants broadcast all over land and sky?

Mysterious Stranger: Oh, but in what sort of danger would one such as yourself be? Surely no one would wish to do you harm.

Allyn/Jack: I am told otherwise. My dwarven keepers say I was brought here in my infancy by a goodhearted guardian to hide me from a great Beast who wishes my life as the price for zucchini.

Mysterious Stranger: A strange tale.

Allyn/Jack: A thing may be strange and yet all too gravely true.

Mysterious Stranger: Wisely said, Jack Snow. Have you in your wisdom thought to take stronger precautions against this Beast of which you speak?

Allyn/Jack: What precautions do you mean?

[The stranger’s hand as yet unseen within the folds of his cloak now extends to display a bright red apple.]

Mysterious Stranger: I bring you a gift, beautiful child: A magic talisman! One bite will render you invisible to the searching eye of the Beast.

Allyn/Jack: Such kindness! However could I begin to repay it?

Mysterious Stranger: No payment needed. It is enough to know you shall be well taken care of.

[Smiling in gratitude, Allyn opens the bottom half of the door and steps out to accept the stranger’s gift. No sooner has he bitten and swallowed than he drops the fruit and clutches his throat, his eyes gone wide and mouth gaping in a breathless O. Laughing nightmarishly, the stranger casts his cloak and scarves aside, revealing himself as none other than Little John, portrayer of the Beast.]

Little John/Beast: It is done! Sleep well and long, little fool, and never rise again to stand against me.

[The words have scarcely left his lips when an arrow whizzes in from offstage, narrowly missing his horned head. The Little John Beast flees, vanishing a split second ahead of the appearance of Will Scarlet, reprising his role as The Woodsman, bearing a bow strung with another arrow.]

Will/Woodsman: Beshrew the barbigerous bastard, there is no time to let fly another shot. Jack needs me!

[Casting the weapon aside, Will vaults to Allyn’s side and seizes him for a hasty Heimlich maneuver. With a cough, Allyn’s breathing returns to normal.]

Will/Woodsman: I was just in time. A moment longer lodged in your throat, and that apple’s poison would have been the end of you, and of your great destiny!

Allyn/Jack: Great destiny? Me?

Will/Woodsman: Oh, yes! While you’ve grown up here in safety less safe with every jabbering bird besotted with your face, I’ve been searching the world over for information on the Beast’s true purpose. This thing goes deeper than zucchini. And that Beast is more than just a beast: He is the Antichristmas!

Allyn/Jack: The— wait, Antichristmas? But what has that to do with me?

Will/Woodsman: Everything, Jack! For you see, I have discovered your destiny. You are the chosen!

Allyn/Jack: The chosen what?

Will/Woodsman [eyes burning with intensity ]: The chosen Santa Claus.


“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘scarves’ and ‘Santa Claus’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

“Present” or “Wilderhark 3 Unveiled!”

‘Tis the season of giving, which I suppose goes some way toward explaining why Christmastime and I have such a special bond: I love giving people stuff!

In years past, I got this blog in the Christmas spirit by sharing “Outlaws of Avalon” spoofs of “A Christmas Carol” and “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. That was before I had a full schedule of publication prep to tend to (not to mention Will Scarlet’s crazy Saturday skits, including spontaneous parodies of “The Nutcracker” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”). So instead of writing another Christmas special, today I proudly present to you a different gift: A first look at my next Wilderhark Tales novella’s cover and blurb.


the face of…

The Seventh Spell”!

Seventh Spell Cover, front

I swear, I fall in love with each Wilderhark cover from Yana Naumova harder than the last. (Which may or may not have to do with the fact that Edgwyn’s prominence on the covers has been steadily on the rise.) Yup, there’s everybody’s favorite tailor … climbing a beanstalk … with a harp girl… What in the world is going on in this story?? A good question, and one the book’s characters would very much like the answer to…

Back of Book Blurb:

A witch’s attempt to cast one spell too many

casts everyone touched by her previous spells into chaos.

Scattered throughout each other’s pasts, Sula and Edgwyn, Villem and Rosalba,

and the rest of the magic’s affected have a single chance to break this last enchantment

before their “happily-ever-after”-s cease to have ever been.

The Seventh Spell

Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales

<> ~ <> ~ <>

An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast;

A princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell;

Bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk –

All within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

You’ve heard the stories –

of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel;

of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball;

of frog princes, and swan princes,

and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea.

Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.


There. Now you know about as much as characters do. Here – as a bonus, know a little bit more!

Full Title: “The Seventh Spell (Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales)

ISBN: 978-0-9891846-2-5

Genre: Young Adult Fairytale

Length: Novella (219 pages)

Release Date: February 5th, 2014 (so close, and yet so far!)

Future availability: Paperback ( and eBook ( and

Add “The Seventh Spell” to your Goodreads shelf today!


So, whaddaya think? ^^ The comment section is all ears! (And if one of the things you’re thinking is, “Boy, I sure do wish I could get my hands on an advance reader copy of ‘The Seventh Spell’,” you’re in luck, because there’s still time to get in an early read ‘n’ review! See here for details.) Feel free to share the gift of today’s reveal with anyone you think would like to see.  (My warm thanks to friends who have already done so.) The gorgeous cat is officially out of the bag!


This word has two meanings, each equally apt. It means “Christmas” – which, of course, is today. And it means “a Christmas carol” – which, of course, is a song; but it’s also a novella by the well-known English author, Charles Dickens.

            For all that I tend to avoid Dickens’ big, gloomy books, I love his noel. It is neither big nor gloomy, but quick and delightfully stuffed with Christmas spirit (or rather, Christmas spirits – three of them, not to mention the ghost of Jacob Marley).

            Heavily influenced by this 19th-century tale, and featuring the main cast from my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, I give to you “A Merry Christmas Carol”!

* * *

I – Merlin’s Dream

Merlin was asleep, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. He knew it? Not right away. How could one expect him to? Certainly, he was, at one point, aware of getting into bed with the intention of falling asleep soon after. But there is often a period in slumber – sometimes spanning its entire duration, from fuzzy beginning to bleary end – when the one doing the slumbering is quite ignorant of the fact that he is not truly living the events his mind would have him believe he is. Let it be restated here, however, that Merlin was very much asleep. This must be distinctly understood, for, if we were not perfectly convinced that what immediately follows this expository paragraph was the beginning of an extended dream sequence, we would likely find ourselves every bit as confused as was, initially, the man doing the dreaming.

            “A merry Christmas, uncle!”

            Merlin looked up from his paperwork, brows the same silvery gray as the beard hanging low from his chin drawn down in irritated surprise. “Excuse me?”

            “A merry Christmas, I say!” cried the young man again, his handsome, ruddy face aglow with smiles for the ancient wizard behind the desk on the low dais at the office’s rear. “And God save you!”

            “That he save me from your foolishness, Mr. Scarlet, is my daily prayer,” said Merlin, glowering over his spectacles. “What’s all this ‘uncle’ business? And what in the world are you supposed to be dressed like?”

            “Oh, this?” said Will Scarlet, tipping his top hat to a subtly more rakish angle over his red-gold hair. The accessory added an air of style to the outfit which included a vaguely shabby dress coat (burgundy red) and heavy woolen scarf (faded vermillion) informally tossed over one shoulder. “Isn’t it a riot?” he grinned. “Just screams ‘nineteenth-century man aboutLondon’. I thought it the very thing to wear Out caroling this evening!”

            “Out caroling?” Merlin repeated, disbelieving.

            “Yes, you know – going house to house, cheery candles raised high, singing jolly tunes and being offered warming treats like cider and chocolate and cookies and figgy pudding, one can only hope,” he laughed, “since goodness knows we won’t go until we get some!…”

            “Nonsense!” Merlin cut him off curtly.

            Will’s brilliant blue eyes blinked in astonishment. “Christmas caroling nonsense, uncle! You don’t mean that, I’m sure?”

            “I do.”

            “But it’s Christmas Eve!”

            “Yes, I am in possession of a calendar,” said Merlin. “But I don’t see what the day has to do with your going Outside to torture people with your attempts to carry a tune, let alone your insistence on naming me your uncle. You know perfectly well that you’ll not be leaving the Faire – not for caroling, nor for any reason short of a dire emergency of the sort we faced this past summer.”

            Will’s lips puckered into the beginnings of a pout. “Why not?”

            The wizard’s pale blue gaze was hard and sharp as flint. “Really, Mr. Scarlet?”

            “All right, all right, I know your so-called reasons why. Maintenance of secrecy, avoidance of death, so forth and etc. You don’t have to be so cross about it.”

            “Don’t have to be so cross about it…” Merlin muttered, halfway to himself. “What else can I be, when I live in a world with such a fool as this? If you don’t have anything more important to speak of than empty plans and ‘merry Christmas’, then good afternoon.”

            “It would be a great deal of fun, you know,” Will Scarlet wheedled.

            “Good afternoon,” Merlin said again.

            “I don’t see the harm in our going, just this one night. It needn’t be far, it wouldn’t be long… and you know you’d be invited to come along, right? You’re what, a baritone? I’m sure we could work out some killer harmonies…”

            “Good afternoon.”

            Will sighed. “I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute and so much the definition of a spoilsport. But I’ll keep my Christmas humor to the last (with little thanks to you). So a Merry Christmas, uncle!”

            “Good afternoon.”

            “And a Happy New Year!”

            “GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!” Merlin bellowed.

            “Getting out of your office,” Will said cheerfully, already tripping backward to the door. “Good afternoon, by the way.” Pitching his voice a little louder and past Merlin, he called, “Season’s Greetings, Gawain!”

            “And to you, Mr. Scarlet,” came the courteous reply.

            Merlin turned, startled. He hadn’t known anyone else to be in the room. And strictly speaking, no one was. In the wall to the right of the dais, a doorway opened into a dim little cell of a room which, to Merlin’s knowledge, had not been there as recently as five minutes ago. Inside the room, hunched over a guttering candle on a desk of his own – and, it seemed, striving valiantly not to shiver with cold – was the aforementioned knight of Camelot, arrayed rather as if he meant to evoke a nineteenth-century drudge about town.

            “Sir Gawain,” Merlin barked. “What do you think you’re doing, back there?”

            Gawain glanced over, his broad face professionally placid, as was his habit. “Copying letters, sir.”

            Since when was letter-copying in a nonexistent closet a part of a knight’s job description? Merlin had just drawn breath to demand an explanation when another man burst into the office, an eruption of woodland brown and green from head to hood to shirt to hose. Finally, Merlin thought; someone dressed like a normal person.

* * *

(For the continuation of the tale we’ve only just begun, please follow the merry link to the full note on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page. If I haven’t the chance to tell you again before you and my words part ways, Merry Christmas! ~Deshipley )


A few weeks ago, I began this series of blog posts inspired by an old, Christmas-themed short story of mine. Together, all of you, I, and (occasionally) my character pal, Al Fischer, have counted down, from 10 to 2, the reasons we love Christmas. That brings us to today – Christmas Eve, and time to reveal the number one thing that makes Christmas the world-rocking holiday it is; high time, too, that I finally let you read this story I’ve been going on about since November’s end! Here it is at last, Ever On Word readers: “The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World”.

* * *

All was peaceful. All was quiet. In the bedroom lay two sleeping boys, the younger with the beginnings of a frown on his face, the elder with a well-developed smile on his. The room was dark but, gradually, grew lighter. And then, in an instant, the smiling boy’s eyes snapped open wide, one word ringing in his head and heart and soul:


            “Christmas!” he squealed, springing out of his bed and onto the one across the little room. “Carl, wake up!” he cried, shaking the boy on which he had pretty much landed. “It’s Christmas!”

            “Al, shut-up! Get off! What’s the matter with you?” Carl groaned.

            “The matter?” repeated Al, all surprise. “No matter here, Carl. Haven’t you heard? It’s Christmas!”

            “Yeah, I heard you. And if that chorus of ‘shut-up, Al ’-s means anything, I’m not the only one in town who did.”

            “Really, Carl,” Al tutted. “What a Scrooge you are.”

            “Oh, please, no!” said Carl, groaning again. “Do not go all Nephew Fred on me this year!”

            “But I must! He’s my favorite fellow from ‘A Christmas Carol ’! And besides, it’s a tradition. Have you no respect for tradition?”


            “Well, I love a good Christmas tradition,” Al said with relish. “It’s one of the top 10 reasons Christmas rocks my world. Reason number 7, in fact.”

            “You don’t say,” said Carl, trying to snuggle deeper under the covers and nudge his big brother off the bed all in one surreptitious movement. “Have them all numbered, do you?”

            “Of course. I’m organized, like that. Now don’t think I don’t see you trying to get all cozy in there. Stop it at once – up, up, up!”

            “Ugh…!” Carl protested as he was dragged out of the room and down both hall and stairs.

            “Oh, come, whatever are you ‘ugh’-ing for? Don’t you care about presents?”

            “Don’t you think that, for a fifteen-year-old, you care a little too much?”

            “Silly – they’re presents! You simply can’t care too much about them, whether you’re fifteen like me or ten like you! They’re reasons 5 and 6, man!”

            “How can one thing be two reasons?” Carl demanded.

            “6 for giving, 5 for getting,” Al answered patiently. Then he glanced around the living room and immediately became impatient. “Oh, honestly. Where is everybody? Mother!” he called. “Amy! Aaron! Dad! HAVE WE ALL FORGOTTEN WHAT DAY IT IS, HMM?”

            There followed sounds reminiscent of un-Christmas-like grumbles, succeeded by footsteps that ranged from tired shuffles to angry stomps. Sixteen-year-old Amy was the first to join her two younger brothers by the tree, tightening the belt of her robe with unnecessary ferocity and glaring at Al in much the same way.

            “You realize, I hope,” she hissed, “that this ceased to be cute, oh, a decade ago?”

            “Merry Christmas, Amy!” said Al, choosing to overlook her surly attitude. Leaning around her, he waved to the slower-moving, much less crabby others. “Merry Christmas, all, and God bless us, every one!”

            “Gag me,” said Aaron. Okay, so maybe the others were only slightly less crabby.

            “Aaron, Amy, be pleasant,” Engelbert Fischer instructed his two eldest, his words almost lost in a yawn. “And Al? Try to be a little… less pleasant.”

            Al sighed, his eyes rolling heavenward in a show of martyrdom. “I’ll attempt it, sir.”

            “All I’m asking.”

* * *

After a few gifts had been exchanged, everyone’s mood drastically improved – even Al’s, whose mood you wouldn’t think had room to improve at all, let alone drastically.

            “Do you know why I’m so happy?” he simply had to burst out at one point.

            “Reasons 5 and 6?” Carl guessed.

            “Nope,” Al shook his head. “Reason 8.”

            Aaron looked from one to the other of them. This was an uncommon occurrence, as Aaron was a senior in high-school, and therefore saw anything younger than a junior as something less than worthy of his attention. (And when he had been a junior, the rule had applied to anything younger than a sophomore. Pattern established.) “What are you geeks talking about?” he asked.

            “The top 10 reasons that Christmas rocks his world,” Carl replied, his tone holding only a fraction of its usual sarcasm.

            “And what’s reason 8?” Freya Fischer inquired of her third-born.

            “Family togetherness,” Al declared. “Look at us – all in the same room and practically getting along! You hardly ever see that sort of camaraderie around here unless it’s Christmas.”

            “Must be the presents,” remarked Aaron. “Puts you in a certain kinda ‘tude.”

            “I’ve more often heard it called ‘holiday spirit’,” Engelbert put in.

            “But it’s not just the presents that do it, goodness knows!” said Al animatedly. “It’s the whole kit and caboodle! I mean, just look around at reason number 3!”

            “What?” asked Amy. “Furniture, people in their pajamas, what?”

            “Decorations!” said Al. “All the lights and the sparkle and the glitz and the ooh-ah! And snow, if You-know-who decides to get into the act.”

            “Who’s you-know-who?” asked Aaron.

            “Obviously misnamed, whoever he is,” Carl observed.

            “I am referring to God,” Al enlightened them. “You know, the one who sends the snow and all other weather? And, of course, the one who sent the reason we even have a Christmas, a.k.a. reason number 10. I mean, salvation aside, I say we owe him just for this awesome holiday!”

            “Well, make sure to thank him for all that at church tonight, then,” said Freya.

            “Thanking him as we speak, Mother.”

* * *

Following a few hours in front of the TV enjoying reason number 9 (holiday specials), Al wandered into the kitchen. “Do you need any assistance in here, Mother?” he inquired helpfully.

            “Sure,” answered Freya. Not that this was the technical truth, mind you; but what mother is going to turn down an offer like that from her teenager? “Why don’t you finish cubing these potatoes.”

            “Ooh, do I get to mash them, too?”

            “Um, no.” In the name of quality control, some offers did need to be turned down.

            “Very well,” said Al, resigned. With the exaggerated, clumsy care that marked him for someone who had very little idea what he was doing, he began to dice. “How’s this?”

            “Slightly bigger pieces… yes, like that.”

            “Got it. And what are you up to?”

            “Mac ‘n’ cheese.”

            “With extra cheese? And extra mac? And extra ‘n’?”

            “Yes, all of the above,” Freya laughed. Al beamed; he lived to get a laugh. Then suddenly, he gasped, and dove for the little radio that sat on the counter by the sink.

            “What the…?!” Freya cried.

            “I love this song!” Al cried back. He then proceeded to bounce around the kitchen like a man possessed.

            Hearing all the commotion, Engelbert and Amy poked their heads around the corner, he demanding, “What in the world is happening in here?”

            “WE’RE SIMP-LY HA-AVING A WON-DERFUL CHRISTMAS TIME!” Al sang back at the top of his lungs.

            “I think we’ve discovered another of his top 10 reasons,” Freya told her husband.

            “His world certainly does seem rocked,” he agreed.

            “Oh, it is,” said Al, still bouncing up a storm. “Music comes in at number 4. And in fact, I should make a separate list for the top 10 Christmas songs that rock my world. This particular one would rank quite high.”

            “You act quite high,” Amy muttered.

* * *

In due time, the meal was ready, and the Fischer family gathered around the table to partake.

            “Oh, bliss!” sighed Al – rather rudely, in all honesty, as his mouth was stuffed to capacity. “Reason number 2, right here!”

            “Dude,” said Aaron, also with his mouth full, “if the dinner isn’t reason number 1, your list is screwed up.”

            Al shook his head. “Believe it or not, there is one thing better. Here, I’ll let you all figure it out. Reasons 2 through 10 added up equal what?”

            “I got this one, give me a sec,” requested Carl. “Um… fifty-four. Right?”

            “No, no, don’t add the numbers – add the reasons themselves.”

            “What, you mean the original Christmas present + holiday specials on TV + family togetherness + special seasonal traditions + gift giving + gift getting + the music + the decorations + dinner?”


            Carl held up his hands in surrender. “Sorry, we’ve left straight-up math territory; I’ve got nothing. What’s the answer?”

            “The wonderfulness that is even more than the sum of its parts,” Al said cheerfully. “That is reason number 1.”

            “So, wait,” said Amy. “Are you basically saying that the number 1 reason Christmas rocks your world… is just because it’s Christmas?”

            Al paused for a second, then laughed and shrugged. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

            His family took a moment to absorb this. At length, Aaron nodded. “That works.”

            The End. Merry Christmas, everyone! ~ Deshipley


A few years ago, I wrote a short Christmas story in which (nutshell version) fifteen-year-old Al Fischer spends the holiday enthusiastically telling his family everything he loves about the Christmas season.

By purist coincidence (or not…), Al and his author have similar ideas about Christmas. And he’ll be pleased to know that I’ve decided to commemorate our mutual obsession here on Ever On Word by dedicating a series of blog posts to The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World.

* * *

#2: Food

            There’s a reason soup kitchens and the like do such booming business during the holidays. Like Christmas without togetherness, Christmas without gifts, or Christmas without carols, Christmas without food would be starting the holiday off on quite the low note.

            Dr. Seuss knew this; that’s why he conceived the Grinch’s nefarious plan to steal Christmas as involving the theft of Whoville’s canned goods, roast beast, etc. Charles Dickens knew this; that’s why he directed his reformed Ebenezer Scrooge to have a big turkey delivered to his impoverished employee’s home. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky knew this; that’s why he composed a whole ballet revolving around dancing candy and a prince enchanted to crack nuts between his wooden teeth.

            The arts have spoken: Food is an integral part of Christmas.

            I don’t really have to define this word for you, do I? We all know what food is: Stuff you eat. Likewise, we can probably most or all of us name a food or two associated with Christmas – though some answers will vary from country to country.

            Here in the U.S. of A., we’ve got gingerbread and other cookies, candy canes, turkey, cranberry sauce, and just about anything granted the flavor of eggnog.

            In Britain – and later as far away as Australia or Canada – there’s a seasonal treat known as Christmas pudding (which, despite what you may or may not have seen on old televised adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was not traditionally meant as a prison-breaking tool).

            Spain has seafood like shrimp, lobster, and crab on the menu, and Puerto Rico takes it a step further with ensalada de pulpo – octopus salad.

           France and the Dominican Republic don’t skimp on the fruits – both featuring apples and oranges, the former including pears and winter melon, and the latter offering grapes, bananas, and mango. But before this fruit-loving blogger goes dashing off to Dom. Rep., maybe she should consider hitting New Zealand instead. They may not make a habit of Christmas mango, but word is they’ve got Christmas strawberries.

            King cake isn’t just for Mardi Gras: In Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, and Bulgaria (just to rattle off a partial list), the sweet bread is a part of the celebration of Epiphany at the end of the Christmas season.

            And Japan, unless the inter-webs kid me, has made a holiday staple of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

            All of which just goes to show that Christmas food, whatever the definition, is without a doubt rocking people worldwide. So you all make sure to have yourselves a yummy little Christmas, readers o’ mine!


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic… Whoops! Wrong preamble. Just seeing if you’ve been paying attention. (;

A few years ago, I wrote a short Christmas story in which (nutshell version) fifteen-year-old Al Fischer spends the holiday enthusiastically telling his family everything he loves about the Christmas season.

By purist coincidence (or not…), Al and his author have similar ideas about Christmas. And he’ll be pleased to know that I’ve decided to commemorate our mutual obsession here on Ever On Word by dedicating a series of blog posts to The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World.

* * *

#3: Decoration

            I don’t know about your geographical area, but in mine, you know it’s Christmas when the dark-by-mid-afternoon streets are lined with trees and houses aglow with strings of lights. Or maybe it’s February, and not everyone’s bothered to remove the evidence of last year’s “act, process, technique, or art of furnishing, providing, or adorning with something ornamental” yet. Or maybe it’s like that one episode I saw of the “Garfield and Friends” show, a good decade ago, where everyone got themselves through a heat wave by decking their halls in July. But chances are it’s Christmas.

            If you enjoy the pretty, the tacky, the adorable, or some combination thereof, Christmas is a great time of year to have your eyesight.

            It’s not just rows of little bulbs turning ordinary homes and shrubbery into what looks like an extension of a starry sky.

            It’s the wreaths interwoven with ribbons and pinecones and bells, hanging on doors like a silent “Merry Christmas”.

            It’s a nighttime room with all in darkness save the red and blue and evergreen glow from the boughs bejeweled with shiny balls and candy canes and who-can-quite-tell-what-that-is, handmade by a precious four-year-old; don’t forget the angel or the star on top.

            It’s the nutcracker that stands soldier-straight from painted feet to tuft of beard on the jaw that yawns so weirdly wide, and you can’t tell whether you’d trust him as your prince or try your luck with a mouse king on your own.

            It’s the dancing snowmen and the waving Santas and the mantle or desk or coffee table covered in cards from friends you haven’t heard from since this time last year.

            Yes, it’s even the snow you spent all day shoveling out of your cruelly lengthy driveway yesterday. You didn’t have anything to do with putting it out there, and your back’s still sore, and you hate the cold, but you spent a good twenty minutes doing nothing but watch the fluffy crystals fall, because nuisance or not, it was beautiful.

            Just for a little while, it’s life in a snow-globe, or a Kincaid painting, or the sugarplum dreams of a child on Christmas Eve.

            It’s not quite all that these sentimental musings are making it out to be. And at the same time, it’s all that and more. It’s Christmas for the eyes, and were it to happen all over again in July, I’m not so sure I’d mind.


A few years ago, I wrote a short Christmas story in which (nutshell version) fifteen-year-old Al Fischer spends the holiday enthusiastically telling his family everything he loves about the Christmas season.

By purist coincidence (or not…), Al and his author have similar ideas about Christmas. And he’ll be pleased to know that I’ve decided to commemorate our mutual obsession here on Ever On Word by dedicating a series of blog posts to The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World.

* * *

#4: Carols

            “Music comes in at number 4,” Al announced in his story. (But of course, I’ve already got a blog post entitled “Music”, so I went for more specificity, here – not merely music, but “songs of praise or joy, especially for Christmas”.) “And in fact,” he went on to say, “I should make a separate list for the top 10 Christmas songs that rock my world.”

            I’m all for that! Christmas wouldn’t feel the least bit like Christmas to me without several weeks of Christmas carols everywhere I turn. One of my favorite traditions of the season is playing an ongoing game of roulette with the radio, hoping I’ll tune in just time for some song or another that never fails to make me smile. (There’s even some measure of fun in groaning over the umpteenth time in a single day they’ve played some song I halfway hate.) I can and do enjoy Christmas music any time of the year, but it’s extra special to hear it in December.

            So, Al, here’s another one for you – and for any readers out there who are game for a Deshipley-endorsed playlist. Counting down from ten to one, here are The Top 10 Christmas Songs That Rock My World.

#10 – “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”. Most Christmas nonsense-songs annoy me. This one, I wish I wrote.

#9 – “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”, because I love it when it’s so!

#8 – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”. A long beloved carol plus a Mannheim Steamroller instrumental will tend to equal a happy Danielle.

#7 – “The Kid in Me”. My not-too-deep-down inner child used to sing this along with Donny Osmond multiple times a day.

#6 – “Carol of the Bells”, but not just any old version! Trans-Siberian Orchestra or nothing! …Well, okay, or the one by David Foster. But since I’m only linking one cover per song…

#5 – White is in the Winter Night”, which I owe Allyn for introducing to me this year. Who knows how much longer I would’ve gone without having ever heard this Enya carol, had I not been scouring YouTube on behalf of “Allyn-a-Dale’s 25 Days of Christmas” (hint-hint, plug-plug, more on that at post’s end).

#4 – “We Need a Little Christmas”. Something about this song makes me want to put on a petticoat and dance around a candlelit tree.

#3 – “Angels We Have Heard On High”. I’ll love just about any version of this song, I think, but again, I’m only linking one, so it’s back to Donny O.

#2 – “Twelve Days of Christmas”. Not the Muppets, this time, those of you who are having three-posts-ago flashbacks. This cover rocks harder, courtesy of Relient K.

And coming in at #1, we’ve got… “‘Wonderful Christmas Time’!” Al cheers, jumping around for carol-induced joy.

            A character/author mutual fave, eh? How purely coincidental (or not…).

            What say you, readers? Which favorite carols would grace your lists?

            (P.S. – if you’re in the mood for more Christmas tunes, do drop by the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page, where Allyn and I have been featuring minstrel-approved carols all December long!)


(Think you’ve got this blog series’ introduction memorized yet? Let’s see if we can recite it, word for word. All together, now!)

A few years ago, I wrote a short Christmas story in which (nutshell version) fifteen-year-old Al Fischer spends the holiday enthusiastically telling his family everything he loves about the Christmas season.

By purist coincidence (or not…), Al and his author have similar ideas about Christmas. And he’ll be pleased to know that I’ve decided to commemorate our mutual obsession here on Ever On Word by dedicating a series of blog posts to The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World.

* * *

#5: Gifts (Getting Them)

            Popping awake at the first spidery crack of dawn. Dashing headlong down the stairs, or perhaps just down the hall. Sliding into a brightly-lit, evergreen home plate, because you are ready to score, and to score big. For many, this is the highlight of Christmas – the point of Christmas – what Christmas means to them, actual reason–shmeason. Quite honestly, even Child Danielle more or less felt this way. (“Happy birthday, Jesus! Now where are my presents?!”)

            Sure, it’s more blessed to give; we’ve covered that. But let us not be so maniacally virtuous that we eschew the joy of getting, for that would gyp two parties of very great pleasure – giver and getter both.

            Last post, I reminisced about one of my favorite gifts ever given. Now for a look back on one of my favorite gifts ever received.

            Once upon a time (a couple months ago), in a land faraway (also known as my living room, which we actually call the “big TV room”, but that’s beside the point), I was celebrating my 23rd birthday with my parents, the sister who wasn’t at “Nutcracker” ballet rehearsal, and my BFFAEAE (best friend forever and ever and ever…) by opening aforesaid BFFAEAE’s snazzily-wrapped, very heavy present. Turns out that the box’s weight was due to its containing the deepest desire of my heart. …Apart from international fame as a bestselling author (which would not necessarily be heavy). …And the materiality-slash-availability of my tailor (whose weight we’ll politely leave out of this). …And superpowers (which might or might not be heavy, dependent on the form my power took).

            That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: It was a chain-mail shirt.

            For the sake of context, let it be known that I’ve been lusting after chain-mail since before I hit my twenties. Part of my annual Renaissance Faire tradition had been to stare with blatant yearning at the assemblage of metal links on display in one of the vending areas devoted to the glorious stuff. I wanted so badly to don the shiny protective gear and feel like Aragorn son of Arathorn (what “Lord of the Rings” fan wouldn’t?), but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on such an impractical item. (If only I had a legion of Uruk-hai to battle, but nooooo.) So no chain-mail for me. Until Tirzah hooked me up.

            And did I mention she gave me a hand-sewn cape, too? ‘Cause she did. ‘Cause she’s an angel.

            There was a good deal of grateful carrying-on, that day. Squealing, cheering, whimpering… I’m a little surprised there weren’t actual tears of joy. I went around in my twenty-pound shirt (and cape, and my minstrel beret) for the rest of the afternoon and evening, quickly-wearied shoulder muscles be darned. Every few minutes, I was forced to announce in a strained whisper to the world, “I have a chain-mail shirt.” The world was happy for me. Tirzah got hugged a lot, and I suffered her to poke my arm and beat me up because, what the hey? I had a chain-mail shirt!

            And that, my friends, is gift-getting ecstasy at its most gift-getting ecstatic. I guess every now and then, receiving can be pretty blessed, too.

            Anyone else want to relive the huge hurrah of getting something that blew your mind? The comment section awaits you!