Christmas week has come at last, and with it some much-needed joyful celebration.

The WMG offices will be closed Dec. 22-26 and Dec. 29-Jan. 2 so our staff can spend time with their families (safely, of course). And in my household, we have plans!

We have cookies to bake and presents to wrap and holiday movies to watch!

But before I do all that, I have an annual tradition to fulfill. A gift to you, dear readers.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Free Fiction story this week, “And a Cup of Good Cheer,” is a story I originally bought for a volume of Fiction River that I was going to edit called Unlikely Heroines. Because of the pandemic, we were unable to publish that volume (although Leah Cutter so kindly rescued it and published all of my beloved stories in Unexpected Heroines). But now we have published it as a standalone short story, so I’m so pleased to be able to share it with you.

This story is delightfully weird. And definitely unexpected. And a refreshing twist on a holiday tradition.

Here’s the synopsis:

Gail looks forward to her annual Christmas shopping trip to the high-end specialty foods store. Until her phone keeps interrupting with news alerts and a barrage of texts from her husband, Ron.

Ron never texts her, and the messages grow increasingly weird. He wants a figgy pudding and he wants one right now!

Gail soon realizes her family needs her—and her Christmas spirit—to save the day.

I love Gail. I think we’d be friends.

For the next week, you can read this story on Kris’ website by clicking here, or you can download it to your device here.

So, good tidings we bring to you and your kin. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.