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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: This Christmas
By Alice Zvacek


When the Christmas music started on November 1st, I wondered what I was going to do. How was I going to make it through this Christmas? I was so mad at Don! Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year and now along with everything else, he took that away too!

First I had to try to explain to an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old that their father had someone new in his life and was moving far away. I talked to him about trying to find a way that Natalie and Emily could spend some time with him over Christmas break. He said that Gina would be too far along and wouldn’t be able to fly. He said that it was so hard to have the girls come clear to California for such a short time. He has to be in New York for a business conference in June, and he will pick them up and take them back with him for a couple of months then. What was I supposed to tell them that didn’t make them feel like an after-thought?

I was able to tell them truthfully that they were too young to fly to California alone and that I didn’t have the money to take them, and with Gina pregnant their Dad couldn’t leave her to come get them. The girls were sad but were somewhat happier when I told them that they would be able to play with the baby when they went in June.

Then one night in November, Natalie was talking to Don’s mom and started screaming! “Mom, you won’t believe what Nana said!” The only words I could really understand were girls’ night. I finally shushed her and took the phone. “Helen, what is she screaming about?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to do something special this Christmas and have a girl’s night slumber party -- Karen and her girls, Jenny and the twins, your girls and you. Just us girls! I was thinking about doing it on the 23rd if that would work for you. I know Karen is through teaching then, and I thought you probably had Christmas Eve off. Do you think that would be ok?”

“Helen, I think the girls will love it! You don’t need me to come though. I can just drop them …”

“Now, you listen here Katherine Jo, you are still a part of this family! My son may have taken leave of his senses and moved clear across the country, but I didn’t. I may have a new daughter-in-law, and I’m learning to live with that, but I will not lose you!” I quickly agreed knowing how much the girls would like it, and it felt good that I was still wanted.

The girl’s night out turned out great! I had always been close to Karen and Jenny, and it was nice that the relationship was still there. The girls loved the spa treatments, the baking, the movies, the staying up late. They loved everything, and all of them announced that we have to do it again next year!

My family had talked about doing something different for Christmas last year after the kids tore through their presents in less than fifteen minutes. My mom told us on Thanksgiving about her plan. We spent yesterday afternoon baking cookies and making fudge and candy and then went to church together last night. We had brunch today and spent much of the afternoon carrolling at several police stations, fire stations, and hospital emergency rooms. We took each place a goodie tray. We were just trying to thank them for giving up their Christmas Day to make sure everyone was safe and cared for. I don’t think they were used to having people do nice things for them on Christmas Day. After the carrolling we came back to my folks and opened the few presents that we had for each other. We drew names and Nanny and Pops gave everyone a gift. My girls were so excited, and we were so busy being kind to others, that I didn’t have time to be sad.

When I tucked, Emily into bed tonight she said “Mommy, I really had fun today. I wish Daddy could have been here to have fun too. He really missed out!”

She was so right, but I didn’t, and Christmas is still my favorite time of year!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/09/08
Sad/happy Christmas story--I liked the relationship between the narrator and her ex-mother-in-law.

Carolling is almost an afterthought here, so it may be marked down for being on topic. Still, it's a well-written and strong entry.