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Christmas Competition

Christmas Competition
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.47

     challenging words:    enchantment, light-hanging, nail-hammering, out-do, wassail, flocked, hapless, cocktail, nativity, selfless, sing-along, response, impressed, associate, entertainment, writing
     content words:    Hollydale Community Church, Morningside Fellowship, Nancy Chumley, Dolores Fremont, Silent Night, Suddenly Ray Schaumgardner, Katrina Vinton, Community Church, Ron Talmadge, When Sidney Davis

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Christmas Competition
By Brenda B. Covert

1     While most people associate Christmas with joyous caroling, gift giving and good will, the good folks of Hollydale considered it a time of boisterous one-upmanship.
2     Outside, snow cloaked the landscape in soft velvet. Icicle lights decorated the homes and businesses, transforming a sleepy village into a scenic land of Christmas enchantment.
3     Inside, fires burned, thoughts churned and voices buzzed as groups gathered to tackle such weighty issues as whether to use real oxen and sheep in the live nativity this year or have choir members dress as angels and sing from the rooftop of the church. If anyone felt led to preserve the true meaning of Christmas in a quiet, albeit special way, he didn't say so. Peace, good will and selfless giving could not be purchased, covered with lights, and put on display. This annual contest provided maximum entertainment for minimum cost. Tourists flocked to Hollydale every December for its creative holiday light displays and live nativities.
4     The Christmas competition was mainly between Hollydale's two churches, Hollydale Community Church and Morningside Fellowship. The congregation of each church threw itself wholeheartedly into the spirit of competition to the extent that the men of each church volunteered to decorate any house whose owner didn't feel up to it. More than one thumb was sore after all the nail-hammering and icicle light-hanging was done, but those sore thumbs were a source of pride to the men as they viewed the results of their labor during an evening ride around town.
5     One crisp afternoon the Christmas committee of Morningside conducted a planning session. However, while the others discussed this year's live nativity, Nancy Chumley sat quietly at work creating a word puzzle. She was optimistic that her word puzzles would be published in a book one day. Her goal seemed ever more obtainable as her file of puzzles grew. At that moment she was writing a puzzle under the category of Christmas. Nancy took a word associated with the holiday and wrote a definition for it. The reader would guess the word by studying the clue!
6     Her first clue was this: primitive cradle. Would her readers reason it out? Would they correctly guess that the word was 'manger'? Technically, Nancy told herself, a manger was a feed trough, not a cradle, but according to the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph used it for baby Jesus the night he was born in a stable.
7     At the moment she gave a sigh of pleasure - impressed with her own creativity - Dolores Fremont called her name.
8     "Nancy, please pay attention. We're taking a vote, and we need your response." The committee had decided against serving donut holes to the visitors at their live nativity this year. In an effort to out-do their rival, someone suggested serving those precooked cocktail wieners in barbecue sauce. Someone else suggested changing the beverage to hot wassail instead of the hot chocolate that they had served in years past. Still another person suggested dragging the old piano out to the makeshift stable and hosting a sing-along with songs like "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night."

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