Winner wonderland

Thank you to everyone who played “Guess the Christmas Carol” for the past four weeks! I really had a lot of fun with it, and I appreciated the interaction, the encouragement, and the humor. Thank you!

Below are listed all the winners, from all four weeks. Make sure you read to the very end to learn about the Grand Prize Winners!

Week 4 Winners—

“Joy (2) the World”

Congratulations and Merry Christmas to (pictured above)—
1. Deana Wilson
2. Ann Schenkel
3. Jim Grutzius
4. Judith Robl
5. Nancy Buis

Week 3 Winners—

“What Child is This?”

Congratulations and Joyous Yuletide to (pictured above)—
1. Deana Wilson
2. Nancy Rejholec
3. Michelle Lagestee and Sally Rock
4. Jim Grutzius
5. Amanda Cleary

Week 2 Winners—


Congratulations and Season’s Greetings to (pictured above)—
1. Robin Scheldberg
2. Nancy Rejholec
3. Karen Racek
4. Judy Alderden
5. Marti Topp

Week 1 Winners—

“Deck the Halls”

Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year to (pictured above)—
1. Rebecca Holwerda
2. Jim Grutzius
3. Kurt and Julie Benda
4. Joan Schutt
5. Marti Topp

Congratulations, Grand Prize Winners!

Jim Grutzius was the only carol-guesser who managed to make the Top 5 list three times, so he wins the much-publicized LifeLines Story Starter Kit (shown at left). The kit includes an embossed padfolio, complete with a 5×7″ writing pad and a compact LifeLines pen, so Jim can begin taking notes, jotting down memories, capturing inspired bits of prose, and journaling his life experiences—all of which can become part of his memoir one day. The kit also comes with a 1gb thumb drive, so as Jim begins typing up his notes into manuscript form, he can back it up to this drive and carry it around from one computer to another. Congratulations, Jim! Go start your story!

In the spirit of the season, I’m also awarding a Grand Prize to the three people who achieved Top 5 status twice throughout the Guess the Christmas Carol series:

  • Marti Topp (Weeks 1 and 2)
  • Nancy Rejholec (Weeks 2 and 3)
  • Deana Wilson (Weeks 3 and 4)

They also will each receive a LifeLines Story Starter Kit. Those will be delivered sometime after the holidays.


And, as a sample of what can happen when you start keeping a journal and then team up with a brilliant wordsmith to turn it into a published work that can bless thousands, I’m also including with each LifeLines Story Starter Kit a free copy of the paperback version of Cancer Freedom. Usually the people who read this book are cancer survivors, or families of cancer survivors, but for our four winners, the book may be a source of writing and journaling inspiration as well. That’s my hope anyway.

Thanks again for playing! It’s been a fun way to celebrate Christmas and end a wonderful year. Next week, we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled programming.


[Story Break]
Guess the Christmas Carol – 4

Last chance!

This is our last entry in the Guess the Christmas Carol series—can you tell what Christmas carol is represented by the photo above? (If you don’t get this one, you are probably a Scrooge!)

Hurry up and email your guess to [email protected], for your last chance at Christmas fame and glory.

Last week

Last week’s Christmas carol was “What Child Is This?” If you’re looking for a literal answer to the question as it applies to the photo, it’s “I don’t know.” I took that shot many years ago when I lived in Germany for two months. I was walking around Tuebingen one afternoon, taking random photos of daily life, and this small German child kicked a ball across my path and ran over to retrieve it. I took his picture, and he ran off. That’s what child this is.

Last call

These are the first three people whose speed, cleverness, and persistence earned them a spot in this week’s final list of winners:

1. Deana Wilson was not only the very first responder, she was also correct! Her winning answer arrived in my inbox at 6:49 in the blessed A-M last Wednesday. Deana is the Community Manager at Holland Home, where my grandfather now lives. (Go ahead and “like” their Facebook page!) I have worked with Deana and her team professionally for a few years and have always had a great deal of respect for them. Now that Gramp lives there, my interactions with them are a little more personal, and my respect has only grown. It’s good to know that Gramp is in a safe place, surrounded by good people. Plus, now that Deana has won this edition of Guess the Christmas Carol, I have undeniable proof that she is exceptionally intelligent, even at the earliest hours of the morning. Congratulations, Deana!

2. Nancy Rejholec returns this week as the second correct responder. She emailed LifeLines six hours after the post went live, and there were 17 incorrect guesses between Deana’s and Nancy’s. Nancy was kind enough to include this note in her email: “This is really fun for me. It has given me something new to look forward to each week. I have always enjoyed Guessing-What-This-Is challenge games and puzzles. Have you ever thought of doing this other times of the year? I vote “‘Yes.'” Nancy, I’m not going to make any promises about doing games like this throughout the year—with the clever bunch of subscribers I have, it’s a lot of work to figure out ways to keep challenging you! But I appreciate the encouragement, and I will see what I can do. Anyway, congratulations, Nancy!

3. Michelle Lagestee (with brainstorming help from Sally Rock) did finally arrive at the correct answer—after four attempts. The email conversation went something like this:

10:32am – “Oh Melanie, you drive me crazy with this game every week! Good thing on I’m off on Wednesdays LOL. Is it ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’?”

1:42pm – “How many chances to do I get to guess before you tell me I got the right answer? Is it ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’?”

8:50pm – “Sally and I have been discussing this tonight as a team, and this is driving us crazy! Is it ‘I Wonder As I Wander’?”

And finally, 10:56pm – “Ok, I am not going to sleep tonight! Is it ‘What Child Is This?’!?”

Was it unfair for me to give Michelle the impression that none of her first three guesses were correct? If so, I apologize to the dozens of you who were so quick to send in a wrong answer and did not receive any encouragement to keep trying.

Speaking of wrong answers, by week’s end, I still had two vacant slots in the top five. So I’ve chosen the two responders who had the good humor to poke fun of last week’s use of a “lesser known” Christmas carol. (Not “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” but the lesser known “Emmanuel.”)

4. Jim Grutzius, a repeat winner from Week 2, emailed a reply that cracked me up immediately and continued to make me laugh at random moments throughout the day: “Melanie, I am guessing ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ I am hoping there is not a lesser known song called ‘Hear.’ Love playing this game!” Jim is an accountant-type person who also is involved in sports and youth ministries at Living Springs Community Church. Congratulations, Jim!

5. Amanda Cleary sent in this response: “Hmm, I’m going to guess ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ My second guess would be the less popular ‘Do You See This Christmas M&M I Stuck in My Ear, Mom?'” Amanda also included a link to some interesting history of “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” so I give her extra credit for that. Amanda is a talented writer with many beautiful things to say. She says many of them at her blog, Namasteawhile. Congratulations, Amanda!

Last list

Next week’s post will include the (obvious) answer to this week’s challenge, along with a list of all the winners, including the holly jolly heroes who have won their very own LifeLines Story Starter Kit!

Thanks for playing, everyone! And have a Merry Christmas!


[Story Break]
Guess the Christmas Carol – 3

This week’s game

Can you tell what Christmas carol is represented by the photo above? Don’t put your guess in the comments! Email your guess to [email protected], for your chance at fame and glory.

Last week’s answer

Last week’s Christmas carol was “Emmanuel.” (Get it? It was a series of manuals, with the E manual emphasized!)

Last week’s winners

To be honest, I was beginning to despair when the first five answers I received last Wednesday morning had ALMOST the right answer but not quite! I admit, “Emmanuel” is not as well-known a Christmas song as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” which was the most popular answer. I was just about ready to believe that maybe this round of the game was unfairly difficult—but by the end of Day 1, four people had come through with exactly the right answer, restoring my faith in all things Christmas. The fifth winning answer arrived by noon on Day 2.

1. Robin Scheldberg was actually the sixth person to submit an email, but she was the first player with the correct answer. She sent an email at 10:14am Wednesday, with the subject line, “Very cute!” Robin works in the Personnel Department at Carl Buddig, and I grabbed this photo from her LinkedIn profile. I don’t really know anything about her, but judging from this photo, she’s a very patriotic individual, and I salute that. Congratulations, Robin!

2. Nancy Rejholec was our next correct responder. Nancy has embraced Facebook and other social media in the past couple of years as a way to interact with the world outside her apartment, where she is usually confined because of health limitations. While she agrees that her laptop and internet connection cannot replace person-to-person smiles, hugs, and laughter, she is grateful to have photos, videos, and conversations at her fingertips. Not only does Nancy benefit from being able to keep up with what is going on with her Living Springs Community Church family, but she also reaches out to others, blessing them with encouraging comments and inspirational emails. Congratulations, Nancy!

3. Karen Racek came through with the third correct response. Karen is a fellow writer with a deep faith and a consistent talent. I mentioned her in my Thanksgiving 2011 post, and it’s a good thing I did, or I wouldn’t have any kind of a link for her now! In spite of her amazing portfolio, her usual willingness to try new things, and her professed enjoyment of this blog, Karen has been reluctant to develop any kind of online presence. And I have agreed to remind myself to respect that choice. :) Anyway, congratulations, Karen!

4. Judy Alderden was the fourth person to email the correct answer. Judy has her own Designs in Stitches business, and she embroiders logos and messages on polo shirts, sweatshirts, baseball caps, tote bags—just about anything you can think of. She does quality work with a quick turnaround, and she’s very fun and nice too. Like Karen, Judy does not have much of an online presence (I could not even find a photo of her!), so for her link I will direct you to the blog I posted about my Jehovah’s Witness neighbor. Judy was part of the lengthy conversation that took place in the comments of that blog, and she referred me to a couple of books that have been a great resource for me. I’ll also include her business phone number, in case any of you need logoed apparel: Designs in Stitches, 708-895-1611. Congratulations, Judy!

And, drumroll please…

5. Marti Topp was the only person from last week’s top five to return this week and make it to the top five again! She wasn’t able to respond until almost noon on Thursday, and she wondered if she was too late. But because so many of the earlier responders went with “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” instead of the lesser-known “Emmanuel,” Marti managed to secure spot #5 in this week’s list of winners. Congratulations, Marti! Now the pressure’s on to maintain her reputation for accuracy and speed—will Marti be able to decipher the deep, hidden meaning of this week’s photo? Will she narrow down the possibilities and correctly determine the intended carol? Will she remember to email her answer on time? If so, not only will Marti’s name and photograph appear in next week’s list, she is also guaranteed the bonus prize, the LifeLines Story Starter Kit! Stay tuned as the yuletide drama unfolds….

Next week’s tips

Here’s some random information you might find useful as you’re strategizing about winning this week’s contest:

  • The first answer arrived in my email inbox at 8:03am last Wednesday morning. (It was the wrong answer, but it was nice and early!)
  • Two-thirds of the people who submitted an answer on the first day are LifeLines subscribers. Most of the rest came from Facebook.
  • Though 88% of responses arrived within 18 hours of the post going live, I continued to receive answers up to six days later.
  • The five winning slots were filled  within 30 hours of the post going live.
  • Only one player specifically mentioned working as a team to solve the puzzle. (Teamwork is perfectly legal—I’m all about community!)


“Guess the Christmas Carol” is a four-part series, and all players who make the list of “first five” responders at least three out of four times will receive a LifeLines Story Starter Kit, which includes a nifty padfolio, a hefty pen, and a generous 1GB memory stick.


Related posts


[Story Break]
Guess the Christmas Carol – 2

This week’s carol

Can you tell what Christmas carol is represented by the photo above? Email your guess to [email protected]. (Don’t put your guess in the comments—you’ll ruin it for everyone!)

Last week’s answer

Last week’s Christmas carol was Deck the Halls. (Get it? It was a picture of Halls cough drops on my deck!)

To be honest, it was a little difficult to identify three winners from last week—mainly because there was such variation in how people followed the directions! So, to accommodate the confusion, I’ve decided to expand the list to FIVE winners. Here they are, along with explanations of how they won:

Rebecca Holwerda with Candidate Mitt Romney
1. Rebecca Holwerda was the person whose answer I became aware of first—she stopped me in the hallway Wednesday morning and shouted, “Deck the Halls! Is it Deck the Halls? Is it? Am I right? Is it Deck the Halls?” Now, submitting an answer in person like this is not necessarily against the rules, though some may consider personal proximity to be an unfair advantage. And Rebecca did follow up her verbal response with an email, though she sent it to the wrong address. So I’m giving Rebecca credit for both enthusiasm and promptness, but not attention to detail.

Jim and Roseann Grutzius
2. Jim Grutzius was the first person to submit an answer electronically—but he posted it in the comments, which was definitely against the rules! So when I saw it there, I unposted it, and then I emailed Jim to let him know he needed to submit his answer via email, which he did. My mom made the same violation—and the same correction. So I’m giving Jim Grutzius and my mom shared credit for eager participation and quick corrections. And I’m extending them a little grace because I know they are not savvy internet people, so it’s pretty impressive that they’re playing the game at all. Mom, I won’t post your photo, but here’s a link to my last Mothers Day blog, which is one of my favorites.

Julie and Kurt Benda
3. Kurt and Julie Benda actually sent the first response by email, as instructed. So they get credit for being the first contestants to not only Guess the Christmas Carol but also Follow the Instructions. Plus, I feel I should give Julie extra credit for inspiring this fun series. Last December, she gave me a copy of an article from the Chicago Tribune about a Warrenville couple who send a Christmas card every year that includes a challenge to guess a Christmas message pictured on the card. People actually request to be on this couple’s Christmas card list! And they stay home to wait for the mail in order to be one of the first 10 recipients to call or email the couple with the correct answer—even though there’s no prize! So thanks, Julie, for giving me that article, and congratulations on being counted among the first winners of this contest.

Joan Schutt
4. Joan Schutt was the second person to follow instructions and email her correct response. I’m not exactly sure where she came across this blog (perhaps on LinkedIn?), but I did notice that she has now subscribed—twice!—probably in an attempt to ensure that she makes the list of winners every week, thus securing her reputation as a Clever Christmas Caroler. Joan is the Event Planner for Providence Life Services, so I’m including a link to the Events page of the Providence website. Congratulations, Joan!

Marti Topp
5. And Marti Topp followed just a few minutes behind Joan with a correct, emailed response. Marti is a financial-type person with an organization called The Helpful People, which I know nothing about, but it does sound like a very friendly place. Congratulations, Marti!

Now, none of our winners submitted their own photo or link, probably because in their eagerness to respond they completely forgot about the celebrity that goes with being involved in a high-stakes, fast-paced, world-renowned contest like this. Or perhaps they assumed I would notify them of their victory ahead of time, so they could then reply with their own JPEG and URL. But, frankly, that’s a little too high-maintenance for me. So the photos and links you see above were selected by me and gleaned from the internet without anyone’s permission. It’s a good thing I’m trustworthy. Winners, if you don’t like the photo and link I’ve chosen for you, feel free to email me replacements.

Next week’s winners

The fun continues next week, and I will announce five winners again, but this time I don’t know how lenient I will be with people who don’t follow the instructions. I’ll repeat those instructions here: EMAIL your answer as soon as you can to [email protected].

Insider information: These blogs are all scheduled to post at 6:30am each Wednesday, so they are available for viewing then. I try to remember to post a link on my Facebook pages around 7:00am, and some people become aware of them that way. If you subscribe to this blog, you receive an email alert each time a new blog is posted, but sometimes you might not receive that email until 7:30am that day.

This is just information. Do with it what you will. I’m just sayin’.


“Guess the Christmas Carol” is a four-part series, and all players who make the list of “first five” responders at least three out of four times will receive a LifeLines Story Starter Kit, which includes a nifty padfolio, a hefty pen, and a 1GB memory stick.



Other Christmas posts: