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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)

TITLE: Ready to Write
By Jennifer Reid


My desk has the usual clutter; gathered piles of unpaid bills, memos to myself and receipts of the latest purchases. The papers are easily piled into one big heap, which will annoy my husband terribly when he tries to tackle the finances later this week. Oh well, I think, I need to make room for the yearly effort of writing the Christmas letter.

I dig through the cupboard and find the boxes of cards I purchased last year during the Boxing Day sales. I have, once again, forgotten what I had chosen. Red stickers offering discounts upon discounts cover the boxes, I can barely see through to the cards inside. The picture is a traditional one of Mary cradling her newborn babe, Joseph standing watch, magi on their journey to worship and adore. It is the perfect family scene.

Armed with the cards, address book in on the desk, pen ready to address envelopes and stamps in a roll beside me, I face the computer screen willing myself to write a letter to include in the cards. I think of the year we have had and how, in a few words, to express our ups and downs to friends we rarely see. I want them to have a glimpse into our family life, to know how we are doing, to celebrate the growth of my sons and to enjoy the catching up with old friends. I like reading about others family life, so I assume others want to read about mine.

Now the pressure builds. To merely sign a card is too simple. To brag in a long letter about the perfect family is nauseating. How do I share who we have become? My mind wanders through the year. Lazy days and busy ones, teenage angst and preteen trauma, band concerts and sports defeats; all part of the every day experience. I reflect on the health and happiness of my family and then my mind goes to a different place. I wander down the street to families in my community whose Christmas cards will be different than mine. The teenager who ran away and eventually came back wounded deeply from the experience. The grandmother struggling to raise her grandson, knowing that she is losing him to a peer group she dislikes. The family who struggles with addiction and watches as it slowly lays waste to their lives. The sadness and pain of those I care for takes hold and my fingers freeze on the keyboard.

My sons, at their worst, are annoying. At their best they are caring, compassionate and involved in life. If I write, will it be just bragging? If I donít write, will it seem that I havenít taken the time?

I look at the Christmas cards piled before me, waiting to be signed. The vulnerable infant, thrust from heaven into a weary world. His motherís face alit with love. Love.

I slide the keyboard drawer in and pick up a pen. I carefully write out each personís name in the card. I say a prayer asking for Godís love to be poured upon them and I sign my name. No letter, no gift, no cute little Ďxí and Ďoí. They may never know what our year was like, but that suddenly doesnít matter right now. Now it is about them, not me. The card is my small attempt to say that I have not forgotten them, that their year may have been difficult but matter. They matter not just to me, but to the very One who matters most.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sonya Leigh11/13/08
I really like this...so thorough,very well written and developed from the beginning to the end, even though restricted by word count. I saved it to my favorites so I can remember why I should send Christmas cards, not out of obligation but out of love.
cindy yarger11/15/08
I love your conclusion. Seems a novel idea that the card should really be about the receiver and not the giver. Captures the heart of Christmas all over again. Well done and a delight to read.
Beth B11/17/08
Really enjoyed your well written story. Good ending! Makes one stop and think.