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The Christmas Given


By Paul K. Malm c2008

The world is white and wonderful—at least it is for Archie and Joel, two renegades recently released from Mrs. Gantry’s third grade class for Christmas vacation. The three days since the last bell rang have been filled with snow forts, slap-shots and winsome daydreams of Christmas morning—that is, until this morning and Archie’s dad’s announcement.


“So, what are you getting for Christmas, Arch?” asked Joel, the fresh snow beginning to stick to his short blond hair.

“Don’t start on me,” said Archie. “Didn’t I tell ya, not to start on me?” His tongue darted out from his slender freckled face as he tried to catch the descending flakes.

“You mean your folks are sticking to it?”

“Stickin’ too it? Yeah, they’re stickin’ to it. They’re going to do what’s best for me if it kills me.”

“Sheesh… sure glad it’s yours not mine.”


Archie adjusted his backpack then pulled his purple stocking cap over his ears. He waited until Joel wasn’t looking, then reached down for a handful of snow. He shot a quick look at his target; the smiling round face of his red-nosed best friend. Joel, seeing the stealthy side action, belched out a cloud of frosty air.

“Don’t you dare!” he warned. “I’m tellin’ ya. You better not start what you can’t finish.”


“Direct hit!” Archie laughed, pointing at Joel’s white Santa eyebrows and glistening cheeks.

“You’re askin’ for a face-wash, man!” said Joel, grabbing snow as Archie mocked.

“Neener, neener, neener, you throw like a wien—”  


“Hey!” yelled Archie, spitting snow. “Truce! Truce!”

“Don’t have the stomach for it, eh?

“You kiddin? I’m just takin’ pity on you. That and my mom said that if I came home covered with snow again I’d have to stay out of the kitchen till I dried off.”

“Ooo, gotcha where it hurts,” said Joel.

“Yeah. The presents may be gone, but it’s still the same Christmas as far as the cookies—and today she’s makin’ my favorite.”

“What? Peanut butter?”

“Naw. She calls ’em Ranger cookies. They’re kind of crispy and chewy at the same time. Mmm, they are so good. “Cept the last time she made them I got sick.”