Everyone Loves a Free Sample

A free sample, without going to Costco? Yes, please!

If any of you are having trouble getting into the Christmas Spirit, or just need something to read, or were feeling nostalgic for the ’70s, I’ve got you covered.

Here is the first chapter of my 2nd Christmas novella, “The Year We Stole Christmas.” Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Friday, December 21, 1973

You know what stinks about Christmas? You try and do something nice for someone else, and the next thing you know, the police are after you, crazy men are chasing you, and, worst of all, you’re worried that your parents will find out what you’ve been up to and tell you that they are disappointed in you. I mean, what happened to the Christmas spirit?

Hanging out at the library with Darren was a good break from thinking about the craziness we had gotten ourselves into. It was nice and quiet. We were so busy looking at books in the kids’ biography section that I didn’t realize what time it was. I was lucky that it was exactly 3:00 pm when I saw the clock on the wall. I grabbed both Davy Crocket books I was looking at, added them to my stack, and headed for the front desk.

I pulled my glove on with my teeth as I ran out of the library. It was easy to spot my Sting-Ray because there were hardly any other bikes in the rack. I don’t know about you, but most fifth graders are too scared to ride their bikes when it’s snowy, and most kids don’t go to the library during Christmas break. I like to do both. 

My best friend Darren was just coming out of the door and wrestling with his coat when I blew past him. “Hey Scotty! Wait for me!”

I rode past and waved at him, “You snooze, you lose.”

He yelled something back at me, but I couldn’t hear him. I was already on my way up the road, leaving him and the library behind. Darren is my best friend, but I was in a hurry. 

I splashed through a few snowy puddles and almost spun out on a patch of black ice, but I caught myself and kept pedaling. I’m surprised I didn’t wipe out because I was riding with one hand, so I could hold my stack of books with the other.

In just thirty minutes, I had to check out my books, ride home, and be ready by 3:30. Possible, but tough. It was uphill most of the way, so I was breathing hard when I pulled into our carport. I hopped off and leaned my bike against the wall.

I came through the door into the kitchen and set my books on the counter. “Mom, I’m home!” I shouted. I pulled my coat and gloves off. “Where’s Mark? Can I have a snack?”

Mom’s voice came from downstairs, “He’s down here with me, and yes, but don’t eat too much, you are eating dinner early. Dad and I have that Christmas party tonight.” Then she added, “And try to eat something healthy.”

I checked out what was in the pantry and decided on a box of Sun-Maid raisins but grabbed a whole package of cinnamon graham crackers, too, just in case.

Our TV was pushed over into the corner of the living room to make room for our Christmas tree. I loved that it smelled like the forest. I set my snacks on the coffee table, walked over to the TV, and pulled out the On/Off button. I turned the dial to channel 5 and messed around with the rabbit ears until the picture looked good. I grabbed my snacks and sat down on the sofa, kicking my wet Keds off onto the floor. 3:30 pm on the dot. Perfect!

The Looney Tunes song started, and I was pretty proud of myself for getting home in time to watch the first cartoon, which was usually Bugs Bunny. Half an hour of cartoons then a Gilligan’s Island rerun was a perfect afternoon.

Right after the cartoon ended a commercial with an owl and a Tootsie Pop came on. “How many licks…”

There was a knock on the door. I yelled, “Come in, Darren.”

Darren opened the door, stomped his feet on the mat outside, and came in. He took off his coat and mittens and left them on the floor by the door. He plopped down on the sofa next to me. I handed him the package of graham crackers.

“What took you so long?” I asked.

“Hey! Why did you ditch me?”

“I didn’t ditch you, I was just faster than you and wanted to get home before cartoons.”

“Next time, don’t ditch me.”

“No promises.”

“What did I miss?” Darren asked.

“Only Bugs Bunny and the hairy monster. That’s why I hurry.”

“His name is Gossamer.”


“His name is Gossamer,” Darren said, like he was all cool.

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

“The hairy monster’s name is Gossamer!”

“He has a name?” I asked. “Why do you even know that?”

Darren shrugged his shoulders, “I dunno. I just do. And your shoes stink.”

We watched cartoons together and ate the whole pack of graham crackers. The last cartoon was Pepé Le Pew still trying to get a cat to fall in love with him. We weren’t very impressed.

“I don’t like all that smoochy stuff. I’d rather see the coyote get smashed or blown up,” Darren said.

“Me too. My big sister loves the smoochy stuff. She got a new Carpenters record and she plays it all the time. She even has a David Cassidy poster on her wall. Ick.”

“Girls are weird,” Darren said.

I nodded my head. “Yes-sir-ee.”

Cartoons ended with Porky Pig saying, “That’s all Folks,” and then the theme song to Gilligan’s Island started. It was my favorite show by a mile.

Mom came up the stairs carrying a really full laundry basket with my little brother coming up behind. “Hi sweetie, how was your day? Oh, and Scotty, I need you to match socks, there are a ton in here. Most of them are yours.” She sat the basket between me and Darren on the sofa. “Penny a pair?”

“Okay, but can we do it while we watch Gilligan?”

“Sure, but match more, watch less.”

We started matching the socks and rolling them into balls, then tossing them back into the basket.

“You get paid to match socks?” Darren asked.

“Yeah, it’s great. Penny a pair. Penny-candy money.”

The doorbell rang. “I’ll get it,” Mom called when she came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. I heard her open the front door and say, “Oh. Goodness. May I help you?”

I could hear a man’s voice, “Ma’am, is this the Hadley residence?”

“Yes, it is. Is there a problem, officers?”

“I’m Sergeant Palmer, and this is Officer Vetterli. May we come in?”

“Of course. I’m sorry. Please come in.”

My heart started pounding, and I dropped a pair of socks on the ground. I had been worried about this for over a week. I looked over at Darren, and he looked like he was gonna pass out.

“Is Mr. Hadley here?” I heard one of the policemen ask.

“No. He won’t be home for another hour or so. Is there something I can help you with?”

I did my best to hear them talking over the sound of the TV as I slowly tried to melt into the sofa. I never wanted to be invisible so bad in my life. Darren stood up and almost ran to the back door. He whispered, “I’m outta here. Good luck.” Geez, thanks Darren.

He went out the kitchen door but left his gloves and coat on the floor.

I heard the policeman say, “Ma’am, we are here to talk about your son, Scott.”

“My Scott? What on earth for?”

“It’s quite a long list, Ma’am. You might want to sit down.”

That’s when I barfed graham crackers and raisins onto the shag carpet.

Well there it is! Chapter 1. If you would like to read more, here is the link. It is in paperback or Kindle format. No audiobook as of yet.

(Did I mention that these are great neighbor and friend gifts?

(And they are very affordable at $6.99 paperback, $2.99 KIndle?)

Click HERE to go to find it on Amazon

(Did I mention it has 4.8 stars?)

About the author


  1. I loved both of your books! They are just so much fun and the messages were equally heartwarming. I encourage anyone who hasn’t checked them out on Kindle or Amazon to do so 🙂

  2. Riding a Sting-ray on snow….the thrill!!! (then add 30 lbs of newspapers to the handlebars for an even greater challenge.) You have definitely captured the after school 70’s…..only thing left out….was the variety show “Zoom” Z-double-O-M, Box 3-5-0, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4: send it to Zoom!

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