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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: Relative Strangers
By Mo


Why do I bother? Dana wondered.

She was writing out Christmas cards, 100 of them. Their printer was acting flakey so she was addressing all the envelopes by hand. The far away ones will get there late, again, she thought.

Chase’s parents have been gone for three years now, almost. At what point do I stop sending cards to their list? She’d done it for them before they passed away, too.

It doesn’t take that long, she reminded herself. But with her little ‘helpers’ distracting her, it took longer than it could.

It’s just once a year… They’ll get a kick out of seeing how the kids have grown, won’t they? Some will. And it’s a nice reminder of his parents... She always signed Chase’s name first for his people’s cards.

Maybe next year I’ll cut my list. Course, that’s what I said last year.

Dana mailed the cards two days later, after dropping off the older kids at school.

The following day Chase got a call from an old friend. Dana was resting while the little ones napped. She was listening to Chase’s side of the conversation. Must be… Linda? She always calls him. He should call her some times…

Course, she doesn’t like me either,
thought Dana. The last time she called and Chase wasn’t home, she pretended to have a bad connection so she wouldn’t have to talk to me. At least I think she faked it. The line was perfectly clear on this side.

...It’s not my fault he stopped calling her all the time once he started seeing me. I never told him not to call her. I
like her, more than his other friends…

His aunts don’t bother talking to me anymore either. Not that we ever understand each other well. But now they don’t even try. The last time I talked to them, I even had trouble understanding their accent. It had been so long I could barely figure out what they were saying, and then trying to answer them…? I hate small talk -- even in English!

...None of his friends or family likes me, not the ones I’ve met anyway... I even disappointed his parents… But I did give ‘em grandkids. I
know they loved them!

…God, I know this is a minor thing, but please give me some sign that I’m doing the right thing with all those cards…

The sound of the phone had woken the kids. So much for nap time… Dana had closed the den door, but it didn’t help. The kids weren’t going to sleep now.

She took the twins downstairs. Dana sorted through the mail, looking for Christmas cards. Oh good, they’re still alive, she thought as she put aside a card from one elderly couple, friends of her in-laws.

She liked the picture cards best. She loved seeing how the kids changed from year to year. Course, some aren’t even hand signed... And we don’t get as many as we send, but that’s ok. Some of them are just too old… It’s the connection that’s important, isn’t it?

There was a card from her father-in-law’s… cousin? She had added a note at the end, If it’s not too much trouble, please send…

Hah! I already did it! thought Dana. She was feeling proud of herself, a little too proud. The kids’ picture card was en route to her already. – That relative was on her list. She knew her name, if not their precise relationship to her.

…please send a picture of the whole family, wrote the relative.

Uh-oh. I thought I’d already done it. But I haven’t. …She probably just wants to see Chase. She can’t ask for a picture of just him and the kids... She doesn’t really want to see a picture of me, does she?

Maybe I’ll get a good family picture on Christmas Eve or Christmas day that I can print up for her… If I’d had a decent recent family picture, I would’ve included it with my email Christmas card. -- At least that one went out on time…

Still, the relative’s request made Dana feel better. Maybe they didn’t all hate her. Most of them had never met her, and probably never would, but… I guess it is worth the trouble. It really isn’t that much of a bother. And obviously some of them do appreciate it.

Dana smiled, thinking of her little prayer, Thanks God. That was fast!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sandra Petersen 01/18/07
I like the way you let the reader 'hear' Dana's thoughts all through this narrative.

When I was a newlywed, I thought I needed to send Christmas cards to everyone who had given us a wedding gift. Most of them were friends and family of my husband. I remember wondering the same things Dana did.

Good job. Thanks for sharing.
Jan Ackerson 01/18/07
Good job--really cute title--and there's a larger application to all writers, not just of Christmas cards--why do we bother? But then something happens to confirm what we're doing has value...
julie wood01/18/07
I enjoyed reading this (though it put me to shame because this past year I sent no Christmas cards at all!). Very realistic portrayals of family tensions--I could feel with the narrator in the turmoil of her thoughts. Clever title, too!
Julie Arduini01/18/07
A fun read, boy could I relate!