Here's the story I wrote for Susannah Hill's 13th Annual Holiday Writing Contest, aka the 2023 edition. Hope you enjoy it!
A Very Special Advent Calendar
Chiara woke and ran to the computer. Opening the daily message from her mother, who was out of town helping family, was now the best part of her morning. Chiara marked its arrival on her countdown checklist and read it once, twice, and then a third time. Today’s message took a bit more decoding than yesterday’s had. The clues were definitely getting harder!
The mystery message led her to a hiding spot in the garage. Chiara smiled when she found the small decorative box tucked in the back of the tool bench. She wrote a fancy number 12 on it in green marker and added it to the eleven others on the dining room table.
Each box was part of the Advent calendar she and her mother were building together while they were apart. Christmas Day was Chiara’s favorite day of winter, and this year the best present would be having her mother back home after so many days away.
On the morning of November 30, Chiara found the final box. Later that night, she arranged them in the shape of a tree. Tomorrow she would open Box One and begin counting down to the day her mother would be home.