11 months ago


24 x December 21, 2017 -

24 x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23 for a charity of some sort. I remembered some old toys my mom never got rid of. I also remembered where she had stashed them. I headed up the elevator to Level 2, then on to Room 250. I opened the door slowly, slipped off my coat, and hung it up as I closed the door. Once I heard it click, I ventured forward under our ministairs where all the stuffed animals were. I gathered as many as I could before hauling them down to the donation box. I felt light while I ate dinner with my mom in silence. Seeing the toys dropping and the relief on that lady’s face when I offered help kept flashing in my mind. I looked up to my mom, eyes wide. “What is it, Jack?” she asked concerned. “I need to write my essay now. I just had an idea!” I jumped up from the table and hurried to my room. I had performed little acts of kindness in the spirit of the holiday, so my essay would be about the things most don’t see — the little things. Honorable Mention An 80s Christmas by Valeria Quintero Southwest Orlando On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2017, a 14-year-old girl named Frankie sat with her family. In the midst of all the noise, the only person Frankie was listening to was her mother, Diana. Her mother had always enchanted Frankie with stories of her past. Frankie’s favorite was the story of Christmas 1984. When her mom was a child, she asked for all the newest toys, and even though she received everything she wanted, she still felt something was missing. Diana went on a walk to think things over. She soon found herself on the other side of town. Lost and forlorn, she searched for a way home. Then, she saw a few families opening their gifts together. The children were sharing what little they had, yet they were happy. Diana was shocked. She had not taken into consideration how much she had in comparison to others. At that moment, she realized what mattered the most. It was people who made the holidays, not what you received. After hearing the story for the 100th time, Frankie went to bed. She thought about the trinkets she would receive in the morning and about what Christmas must have been like in the 80s. Soon she drifted to sleep. The next morning, Frankie sprinted into the living room but soon realized it looked very different. Confused, she went into the kitchen looking for her mother, but when she passed by the calendar, there was something horribly wrong. The date was Dec. 25, 1984. Frankie went blank. Was this a dream? She heard a noise behind her. It was her grandparents. “Hey, honey,” they said. “Are you ready to open your presents?” “Grandma, Grandpa, what is going on?” Frankie asked. “Where are my Mom and Dad?” “What?” Grandma asked. “We are your parents, silly. Grandma and Grandpa? We aren’t that old!” Frankie was then ushered toward the tree to open presents. Reluctantly, she opened the first present. It was a cassette player. She opened the next one. It was a CareBear. Frankie was beyond confused. What was happening? These presents were old and not what she wanted. Frankie decided she needed to take a walk to calm down, so she told her “parents” and left. Frankie felt completely lost. She soon realized that just like her mother, she had reached the other end of town. This was the same day her mom had seen those children in the street. She then spotted the kids. Frankie now understood what her mother meant. They really didn’t have much, yet they were so happy. They were not focused on the toys they had, but instead were interested in spending time with each other. Frankie finally understood. She ran back to her house, but when she got there, her grandparents were sleeping. Although she felt awful, she decided to talk to her grandparents in the morning. Frankie woke up early and headed for the living room. To her surprise, everything was back to normal! Her parents greeted her with warm smiles. Frankie ran over and gave them a huge hug. “What’s wrong, sweetie?” her mother asked. “Don’t you want to open your presents?” 407-757-2241 Kidney & Hypertension Specialists of Central Florida, P.A. Now offering NOCTURNAL HEMODIALYSIS Benefits of Nocturnal Dialysis • Excellent blood pressure control with less medications • Decreased requirement of phosphorus binders • Liberalization of dietary restrictions • Improved heart function • Better quality Dialysis resulting in better quality of life • Availability of day time for productivity pursuits. Ocoee 407-296-1976 10000 West Colonial Drive Suite 483 Adnan Ahmed, MD, FACP Board-Certified Internist and Nephrologist Medical Director FMC Clermont East Dialysis Clinic 17319 Pagonia Road, Clermont, FL 34711 (407) 877•0454 Minutes away from Ocoee and Winter Garden Clermont 352-394-1361 306 Mohawk Road

“Mom, after thinking about it, I want to spend some time with you before opening presents,” Frankie said. “But why?” her mom asked. “Well, because I now know that Christmas isn’t about the material gifts we receive. It’s about the gift of love we receive from our friends and family.” Honorable Mention I Still Remember by Peter Kinakin Ocoee I still remember traveling to Castlegar, British Columbia, Canada, for Christmas when I was just 7. I still remember traveling with my family — Papa, Mama, Sarah and me, Peter. I still remember saying, “Bye, home!” I still remember visiting the Space Needle. I still remember skiing. I still remember Baba’s cookies. I still remember playing piano for Great Baba. We left the Cedar Rapids airport for Seattle at 6:35 a.m. When we got there, I noticed there was a two-hour time difference. We stayed in Seattle for two nights. On the first day, we were tired, so we rested at the hotel for a bit. Later that afternoon, we visited Pike Place Farmers Market. We looked around, then ate a lunch of macaroni and cheese, and lobster. I even got to try fried squid head! Yum! I also got a very cool laser-printed replica of the Space Needle for a souvenir. The second day, we woke up early so we could go to the Space Needle. Up at the top, there was an awesome view and beautiful weather. We also looked around town with binoculars and took lots of pictures. You could see everything for miles. That same afternoon, we visited the Chihuly Gardens and Glass museum. It had a small fee, but it was OK, because it was amazing! We also had a quick snack at the original Starbucks. We checked out of the hotel then drove to the Bavarian-styled German settlement of Leavenworth, Washington. The two-hour and 15-minute drive was full of beautiful scenery. By the time we got there, it was 9:45 p.m. “Suppertime!” I said happily. We had supper at a good food truck. Both Papa and I had a German sausage x December 21, 2017 - January 3, 2018 x 25 called a bratwurst. Sarah had a pretzel, and Mama got cabbage. The next day, we went sledding and later skiing until nighttime. It was that night that I remembered seeing the twinkling in the Christmas lights and snow. After we slept that night, we got some souvenirs and set off on the five-hour, 45-minute drive to Nelson, Canada. Oh, and may I suggest to never say no to German chocolate cake! In Nelson, we picked up Uncle Ryan and went to visit my great grandmother at the Castleview nursing home. I played the piano for her and the other people there, like I do every time we visit. Last but not least, we were at Baba and Deda’s! I remember running through about 3 feet of snow to their door. I remember everyone hugging and greeting each other. I entered and smelled piroshki, a Russian fruit tart in a pie shell. I saw the Christmas tree full of ornaments of all kinds and many colored lights. Those nights before I flew back home were lots of fun — staying up late to play games and eating snacks and desserts. The only night we couldn’t stay up late was Christmas Eve. Baba said, “Don’t stay up late or else Santa won’t come!” The next morning, we had lots of fun unwrapping gifts, and the next day, after saying our goodbyes, we left for home. I will never forget this trip, as it was the last time before Baba and Deda moved. I still remember the landmarks in Seattle. I still remember the twinkling of the lights and snow in Leavenworth. I still remember playing the piano for everyone at the Castleview nursing home. I still remember piroshki and Baba and Deda’s old house. I still remember the trip up to now. I still remember Castlegar as a white Christmas. I still remember ... Honorable Mention No Way Without Sadie by Sandra Roman The Willows at Lake Rhea I left my beloved island, because a monster hurricane named Maria destroyed my house and my business, a tiki bar appropriately named Ocean Air. I worked 30 years in a boring IT job, CONTINUED ON PAGE 26 Welcome, New Patients! The Women’s Center 7 Locations throughout Central Florida CALL TO SCHEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT TODAY! 407-857-2502 Ext 1600 OR ONLINE AT is there through every step in Women’s Health. Specializing in: Obstetrics • Gynecology • Pregnancy • Infertility Contraception • Menstrual Problems • Menopause • Annual exams and 3D mammogram during same visit • Convenient in-office minimally invasive procedures • In-network with most commercial insurances and Medicaid plans • Open 6 days a week EXPECTING? Enjoy peace of mind with Sonograms at every visit! – Schedule your appointment today!