Every short story collection ought to have a Christmas tale, don’t you think? It’s like having a holiday episode of Doctor Who. It just seems right.
Thus we get “Sacrificium,” which my wife says is her favorite of all my stories. I also get an annual request for it when volunteer mentoring at a local middle school. And it won a Christmas story contest just a few years ago. Yeah, this one seems to hit the mark. (For the record, “Superhero” is a Christmas story, too, though less obviously so.)
When I read this one to middle schoolers, I delight in their reaction when they finally realize who—or rather what—Josh is. Typically they go back to try to find the many hints sprinkled throughout. No single hint gives it away, and even collectively the leap is a big one. But it’s a fun exercise.
“Sacrificium” has won a couple of contests over the years. The first time I entered, it didn’t even place. The second time it was the winner. I tweaked it a bit in the interim, tightening the prose, which probably helped.
It’s hard to write about this one without being too spoiler-y, so I’ll stop the expose’ there. But it’s worth noting that this one is a unique way to tell not just a Christmas story, but an Easter one, too.