Short Story Sunday 171: The Night Before Christmas [Dear Diary]

Short Story: "The Night Before Christmas" | Flash Fiction

            I babysit three to four days a week for a family I’ve been with for two years now. They have two kids, a boy, Zachary, at the age of eight, and a girl, Riley, at the age of ten. I had the two of them in preschool when I worked at the preschool in my church before it closed. I’ve known them for a long time, but now we have a much different relationship than teacher and student. It grew into a babysitter status and now that’s it’s been two years, I feel as though I’m more of a big sister to them. I still have the authority of a babysitter, but we treat each other like family.

I remember having them in preschool and both of them were very creative and energetic. They loved being at the art table drawing and creating crafts with our recycled toilet paper rolls, cardboard cereal boxes, and the like.

Now that I’m with them and see their home, I know how they’ve kept that creativeness in them all these years. I always tell people they are the easiest kids I’ve ever babysat (and I’ve watched many families over the years) because I don’t have to nag them to do things, other than homework, but really, who can blame them?

They always want to be outside and if they can’t go outside they want to create something such as drawing, writing, or baking. It’s very rare that I have to pull them away from the TV or their iPads, which is nice. So, if want a lazy day to just watch a movie together, I don’t feel bad doing so because we don’t sit around and do nothing that often.

The kids know that I love to write and that I hope to be a full-time author someday. They enjoy writing stories of their own. So, one day in November 2016, the kids were seven and nine at the time, Zachary asked to write a book with me.

One of his spelling words that week was “publish.” He kept asking me questions such as if I had any books published or when I would publish them and so on and so forth. I answered as best as I could to get a seven-year-old to understand, especially since I knew he was asking because the word was in the back of his mind from school.

That same day he asked if he could write a book with me. I said I would love to.

“I’ll be the illustrator, so I’ll draw the pictures.” He had said.

“Perfect! You’re a much better drawer than I am.” I had responded, which wasn’t a lie. He really is a much better artist than I am. I can’t draw no matter how much I would love to be good at it.

“You can be the writer… I forget what the actual word is called.” He said.

“You mean author?”


We got out a stack of blank paper, some pencils, a black fine-tipped marker, and he got out his artists chest which held tons of markers, crayons, oil pastels, paints, and much more.

“What are we calling this book?” I asked, uncapping my marker.

“The Night Before Christmas.” He said with a smile.

I chuckled writing it down at the top of the cover page. We both know there’s a book called that already, but it seemed appropriate for the kind of story he wanted to tell.

I wrote the title and underneath I wrote my name next to “author” and his name next to “illustrator.”

“Wouldn’t this be awesome if we could get this book published?” Zachary asked.

“That would be so cool.” I agreed.

I grabbed a new page and created a couple of lines using the edge of a box since I couldn’t find a ruler. I wrote the number one at the top of the page and then looked at Zachary.

“So, what are we writing?”

“A mom and dad go far away to buy Christmas presents for their four kids. But there’s a blizzard so they can’t take a plane home, so they get on a train. Then that breaks because of the snow and the cold so then they all wish they can be home for Christmas—oh, this happens on Christmas Eve, by the way—and then Santa appears and lets the mom and dad get on his sleigh and he and his reindeer drop them off at home. Then everyone is happy.” Zachary explained it in nearly one breath. I listened intently and nodded my head here and there taking the plot in.

“That sounds like a wonderful idea! I’ll get to work.” I began to write the first page, which was just a couple sentences long.

I gave Zachary the first page and as he drew the picture for that one, I began to work on the second page. We worked on two pages a day since, according to him, drawing the pictures was a lot of tough work. The first page alone was covered with stars, which represented the snow.

A few days later, as we neared the end of the story, Zachary was lying on the living room floor illustrating one of the pages. I was in the kitchen making him a grilled cheese sandwich when he called out to me.

“Do you think we could ever get this book published?” he had asked.

“I don’t know. It would be cool if we did, but getting a book published is a lot of hard work and it takes a long time.” I explained to him which still in the kitchen standing over the stove.

“I know we probably won’t get this published, but I just think that would be so awesome if we did.” Zachary continued. “I mean, you said you tried to get some books published, but haven’t right?”


“So if we got this book published then it would be your first one.” Zachary said. I could hear the smile in his voice. “And I would just be so proud of you.”

My heart melted. Zachary is the sweetest boy you’ll ever meet. He’s always looking for ways to help people and he rarely thinks of himself before others. The fact that he said he would be proud of me for publishing my first book instead of him, a seven-year-old, thinking how cool it would be if he got a book published made me so happy.

I’ve tried explaining the writing world to non-writers who ask me about it. They never fully understand and, since they don’t write, I don’t expect them to. However, some of them just don’t get it or some think they understand when they have it completely wrong.

Zachary doesn’t understand, but that’s because he was seven at the time. Yet, despite his age and innocence, he understood enough.

He wouldn’t be proud that I have a book published because he can say that he knows someone “famous,” but because he knows what a huge accomplishment that would be.

And, I hope, in the near future I will be able to celebrate that accomplishment with them.

Words: 1,194

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