Young Algarve Writers

Manuela Istrate, English teacher at Júlio Dantas Secondary School in Lagos, is keen for her students to improve their language skills in innovative ways. Based on a visit to the school by a local author in June, who presented his children’s books, Manuela launched a story-writing project with winning entries published in the July and August editions of Tomorrow. It greatly encouraged the students to see their work in print. The Christmas story-writing competition was won by 16-year-old Alexandra. Well done, Alexandra!

Manuela’s idea of a regular Young Writers Club is also materialising, with another local author talking to the youngsters in early December. 

A Christmas Story by Alexandra Alexandrovna Belova

In the charming town of Lagos, where the golden sun embraces the small town every day, lived a spirited little girl named Sofia.

Sofia was the embodiment of joy, especially during the magical Christmas season.

There were three days left before the long-awaited day arrived. Sofia jumped from one side to the other, excited to receive her Christmas gifts. The little girl’s mother looked at her with a smile on her face and then decided to ask her if she knew the real meaning of Christmas. 

Sofia looked questioning and tried to find an answer. Her mother, seeing that her daughter was struggling, decided to challenge her. Today, she would have to talk to the priest and ask him what Christmas meant to him. When there were two days left until Christmas, she had to ask an exhausted adult. And on the last day, she would have to ask a person who seemed to have the answer to the question. 

Determined, the girl left home and went looking for the answer in the church. Upon meeting the priest, Sofia took the opportunity and asked what Christmas meant to him. 

The priest looked at her and said, “So … if we go by the religious motive, I would say that it serves to remember Jesus Christ and his sacrifice.”

Sofia thanked him and went back to the house. The next day, the little girl decided to ask the same question to the most tired adult she knew … her dad, João. 

Sofia’s father always came back from work tired and exhausted with puffy eyes. Sofia asked the same question to her father. 

“Well, my little angel, see … I work hard every day, and Christmas is one of the only days I can rest and pass the time with your mother and you, my princess.” He kissed her forehead and went back to work. 

The next day, Sofia was in the living room comparing her father’s answer with the priest’s answer. The young girl was getting frustrated for not finding any similarities in their answers.

The little girl’s mother noticed that there was something wrong with her daughter, and she seemed irritated. “Are you okay, my dear?”

Sofia, disappointed with the answers she had been given, said: “I can’t find a definitive answer to the question that you gave me.”

Maria, Sofia’s mother, found the situation funny and resolved to calm her down. “Sofia, be patient. You’ll find the answer. Why don’t you go to the main praça and try to find someone who could help you?”

Sofia’s happiness increased with her mother’s help. “Thank you, mum.” The girl left home with a bright smile on her face and stayed out all day.

As Sofia walked around the city, she noticed everyone was happy and joyful. At that moment, the answer suddenly came to her! Everyone seemed to have the same goal in mind: to spread happiness and joy to others. There were so many people giving each other gifts and bringing food to their friends. There were also people smiling and enjoying the time with their family. 

Sofia finally understood that the answer was in front of her eyes. The real meaning of Christmas was not just receiving presents. No, it was more than that. It was about giving presents, hoping for a happy reaction. It was also about passing the time with family and friends and remembering all the good memories.

My name is Alexandra Alexandrovna Belova. I’m a 16-year-old girl with double nationality – Russian and Portuguese. I practise dancing as a hobby, and I go to several national and international competitions. I have always been curious and keen on learning something new. I find it fun to learn foreign languages, and for now, I speak four different languages. I guess my natural curiosity hasn’t failed this time, inspiring me to write a Christmas story.


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