by Tracie Rae Griffith from the December 21, 2015 issue (Sorry about this. I had misplaced this story.)
Tagline: Living far from her family, in a new town, Emilee would celebrate Christmas alone this year. Or so she thought...
Observations: I wasn't bowled over by this story, but I will say that I hold holiday stories to a little bit higher standard. Holiday stories, I feel, should have that extra something that makes us feel warm inside, and I didn't have that feeling at the end of this story.
I thought the fact that she was a daycare worker and he was a high school counselor was cute and I really loved the part where he's holding his crying niece in his arms and all he can say is, "Help." Darling!
However, from then on the story lost a little steam. Emilee's feeling that she was going to have a great holiday came across as unfounded. She helped her cute neighbor settle his niece down and shared hot chocolate with him. I'm not sure how that is any indication her holiday will be a good one.
There was also a bit of a dead-end conversation about skiing...
"Looks like we'll have good ski conditions," Jack said, looking out the window at the snow that had begun to fall. He turned to face her. "Do you ski, Emilee?"
"I love it," she said, pleased to see the smile her words brought to Jack's face.
"Well, I guess we'd better get going."
Huh. Perhaps something more was edited out. With stories this short--and I believe it might say something to this effect in the guidelines--every word must propel the plot forward. The skiing conversation doesn't do anything. I'd rather have seen that part go away and a bit more added to the part where he's inviting her to the open house. Perhaps a small gray moment where she demurs and says she doesn't want to intrude and then Jack says something that makes us all sigh happily.
Photo credit: Foolfillment via the Flickr Creative Commons License