(Editor's note: The following story was written by my mother-in-law Joyce Speas and e-mailed this week to my 5-year-old daughter Alia. I hope you don't mind if I share it with you. Merry Christmas!)


Once upon a time in Brookings the snow fell and fell.It got so deep that the dogs, Cosmo and Black Jack, had to make a tunnel to go outside and potty. All Alia could see was white snow because it was as deep as the house.Mommy andDaddy had to stay home from work and Alia had to stay home from school.

So Alia sat at the table with her curly Ducky and drew.She drew pictures of the North Pole and Santa and worried if Santa would be able to find her house in all the snow and, if he did, how he would ever get down the chimney.And she worried if Uncle Jim's airplane would be able to land, and if Nana and Grandpa would be able to drive up here (from California), and even if Gramma and Grandad would be able to make it from their house a few miles away.

Mommy came over to the table and suggested that they bake some cookies for everyone.

andquot;But will they be able to come mommy?andquot; Alia asked.

Cosmo and Black Jack looked like they wondered if they're animal friends Raven (the doberman) and Pepper (the cockatiel) would be able to come.

Mommy said, andquot;There are still a fewhours before Christmas and you have been a very good little girl this year so I am sure everything will be all right.andquot;

So Alia and Mommy went into the kitchen to make the cookies. When they were all mixed, Mommy popped them into the oven and they went into the living room where Daddy was watching TV.

Daddy turned off the TV and said andquot;Let's all read the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' story together!andquot;

He was part way through the story when there was a knock on the door.Alia looked at Daddy, Daddy looked at Mommy, and Mommy looked at Alia ... who could be at the door with all that snow?

Daddy got up and looked, and there was Raven. And right behind her ona sled were Gramma and Grandad - and a stack of presents!

Grandad had taken a very hot torch and used it to make a round tunnel and Raven had pulled them through it on the sleigh so they could spend Christmas together.

Alia asked, andquot;But what about Pepper D Byrd?andquot;

At that moment, a little white birdie head poked out of the top of Gramma's coat where he had ridden quite warmly and comfortably.

andquot;Oh, this is just wonderful!andquot; exclaimed Alia. andquot;Now, if only Uncle Jim and Nana and Grandpa were here.andquot;

That night was quite wonderful, even if they weren't there.They sang Christmas songs, played games and told stories, and each person and pet opened one present.

Then it was time to go to bed and goodnight kisses were given and cookies and milk set out for Santa.Daddy picked Alia up and carried her off to bed.

Finally all was quiet.Alia was asleep in her bedroom and Mom and Dad were asleep in theirs. Now Gramma and Grandad had trouble sleeping on the couches and were tossing and turning when, as the Christmas story goes, they heard a noise on the roof top. They jumped up and were staring at each other when jolly Santa fell down through the chimney with a Bang! and jumped out of the fireplace.

Santa leaned in the chimney and called andquot;Next!andquot; and a andquot;wheee!andquot; was heard in a deep male voice and Bump! Bang! down the chimney came, who else, but Uncle Jim.

andquot;Next!andquot; Santa called.

andquot;You go next,andquot; came a man's voice.

andquot;No, I don't think I can do it ...andquot; came a woman's voice.

andquot;Here you go!andquot; the man said, anddown, with a loud scream, came Nana holding Pepper dog,followed quickly by Grandpa.

They were all covered with snow and quickly shook it off. Santa went back to the fireplace and pulled a rope and down came a large sack filled with toys, including the presents Uncle Jim, Nana, and Grandpa had brought.

Santa hurriedly filled all the stockings, ate the cookies, drank the milk and then turned to the family and said, andquot;Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!andquot;

And before Uncle Jim, Nana and Grandpa could say thank you, he was gone.

Uncle Jim and Nana and Grandpa told of how Santa had seen how much they wanted to spend Christmas with the whole family in Brookings so, as he was coming to here anyway, he picked them up and brought them along.

Now, the next morning, there was certainly a big surprise waiting for Alia, Mommy and Daddy.

The day was filled with presents, food and fun. But best of all, all of the family was together in the winter wonderland of Christmas.

The end.