Giftmas 2018: Out of Cocoa

2018 GiftmasBlog Tour

It’s become something of a tradition to join editor and author Rhonda Parrish in her Giftmas blog tour to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank, and now we’re back again! I’m picking up the blog baton from author E.C. Bell. And this year we have something new and cool for you!

Every stop along the tour, starting December 1, will have a story or poem for you. It’s free — a gift, you might say. So you’ll have 24 free stories just for coming along with us.

We hope that along the way, you’ll put a donation toward the Edmonton Food Bank (which you can do right here). Our initial goal this year was to provide 2,250 meals to the hungry, and we’ve already achieved that first goal! Hurray! But we can do more; please help!

Canadian donors can receive a tax receipt for their donation, and Americans — all donations are in Canadian dollars, so you can leverage the power of exchange rate to become a Super Donor

And then, on December 25, you can stop by once more for your Christmas gift.

But without further ado, my entry in the Giftmas 2018 lineup!


pine cone and ornaments on Christmas tree, courtesy PicJumbo

“We are out of cocoa,” Anne said.

Without looking up from his electronic tablet, Walt grunted something which could have been acknowledgment or protest or aural camouflage.

Anne crawled onto the couch and over his legs until her head hung over the screen. “We are out—of—cocoa.”

He shifted the screen back into view around her. “I heard you. What do you want me to do about it?”

“Walt. It’s December twenty-third.”

His wide eyes jumped to find hers. “Oh no.”

She nodded. “How much time do you think we have?”

He looked at the antique clock on the mantle. This was the one day of the year when they didn’t check phones or fitness trackers for the time. “Um—an hour, do you think?”

“Is that enough time?”

“We can run.”

They did run, from the house to the car, from the car to the grocery doors, from the doors to the separate aisles for cocoa, milk, cinnamon, marshmallows, candy canes. They waited at the self-checkout, balancing stacks and humming anxiously as they willed the holiday-length line to move faster, and then they half-ran to the car with their bags.

“Twenty-five minutes,” said Anne.

They started milk on the stove, in the pressure cooker, in the microwave.

Walt arranged neat rows of plain green and red mugs on the counter. As Anne filled them with milky cocoa, he topped each with two marshmallows, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a candy cane. A separate row was filled with cocoa and coconut milk, for those avoiding dairy or soy but still indulging in sugar.

Anne looked out the window every moment or so, as if she might see them coming. It was a waste of time, but it was hard to stop herself.

And then there was a growing pressure in the air, like a plane’s descent, and Noel the cat ran down the hall to hide beneath their bed. Anne’s ears popped, and in the relief a figure appeared in the living room.

“Hello!” he called, tall and thin and pale and cheery. “Merry Christmas!”

cutting out Christmas cookies

More elves stepped into existence behind him, dressed in jewel tones and reindeer furs. They spread through the living room and kitchen, embracing Anne and Walt in greeting before oohing at the array of cocoas awaiting them.

“How are you two this year? Any news?”

“Oh, the same, mostly,” Walt said. “I’m up for promotion, haven’t heard back yet. Anne has a corner office now. Oh,” he added, “that’s really good. It’s a prestigious position.”

“Good, good! And here’s to your upcoming promotion!” They drank cocoa.

An elf came down the hallway, gleefully bearing Noel. “Look how big she’s grown!” They had brought Noel, a kitten from the cold, two years before. They always brought a gift.

“Let’s have some music!” Two elves prodded Walt’s tablet into playing Daft Punk on the speaker system.

An elf deposited a beribboned Blend-Tec on the kitchen counter. “Scratch and dent,” he said with a wink and turned back to the cocoa.

The house was a whirlwind of elves, cheerfully examining the Christmas décor, adding a few touches of their own, nodding over the displayed Christmas cards, adjusting the star over the nativity set and pushing the magi back, arranging the wrapped gifts in a more aesthetic display. Twenty minutes later, the cocoa and the elves were gone, and Anne’s ears popped again.

She exhaled. “They seemed well.”

“Hard to tell, so short. But yeah, they seemed well.”

“I have to say, it’s the nicest work holiday party I know. I wish ours were over in half an hour.”

“No kidding. And not one of them has ever drunk-texted a manager.”

They turned off the music, loaded the dishwasher with mugs, collected holiday-print paper napkins from around the living room, gave Noel a taste of leftover milk. Then they sat down together on the couch.

“Are you feeling more like Miracle on 34thStreet or A Christmas Story?”

“What about It’s a Wonderful Life?”


They leaned together, Noel purring across their laps, and darkened the room for the movie, leaving only the Christmas lights twinkling across the room.

Thank you for stopping by! Remember, you can donate to the Edmonton Food Bank if you appreciate the blog tour or just want to help. Tomorrow you can continue the Giftmas blog tour with Beth Cato

Want to share about the tour? Use the #Giftmas tag and we’ll see it, share it, and thank you!

Oh, and we have a raffle for you, too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Operation Tannenbaum - red cover, with Nazi eagle and swastika, blood-spattered, with an evergreen branch

One final thing: I’m donating 100% of the profits for Operation Tannenbaum to charity. It’s a short dark fantasy, set during World War 2, about why Hitler’s invasion of Switzerland failed (and why history says it never happened). It’s unsuccessful Nazis for a good cause! and it’s $1.99 to buy or free with your KU subscription.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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  1. Cute story!

  2. These stories are not all happy. They re not all holiday-themed. They re not even all speculative. But they have all been donated by generous writers to help draw attention to our fundraiser for the Food Bank. The stories will mostly be hosted at the blogs of the people who ve written and donated them, so we ll be spreading the love around. I will be sharing those URLs on my social media (Twitter and Facebook mostly) but once a week I ll have an update here to share all the URLs and make sure even those of you who don t follow me on social media won t miss out ??

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