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

TITLE: The Eve of Forgiveness
By Deborah Ann Belka


It was a long hard day for Callie and it wasn’t even close to being over.

She still needed to stop at the mall and pick up a few more gifts, get the kids from the sitter, make some sort of dinner, get the clothes from the washer into the dryer, and then wrap, wrap, wrap.

The rush hour traffic wasn’t helping her time management skills. She was already running late thanks to her hard-nose boss, Graham, who had no sympathy for her plight of being a single mom on the eve of Christmas.

“I still need to get that report from you Callie,” Graham bah-humbugged from his office. “When will you have it done?” Callie didn’t bother to answer, the slamming of her hand on the stapler was her signal that it was on its way.

Upon arriving home, she put her purse and the mail on the catchall table and made her way into the kitchen.

“Shall we make our Christmas Eve dinner special?” The kids all agreed and were eating mac and cheese within minutes.

Callie shuddered at the thought of what great memories these were going to be for her kids.

“Yes, mother always made dinner on Christmas Eve,” they would tell their own families. “A delicious one pot feast from the traditional blue and orange box!”

After promising the children that indeed Santa would fly to their roof and find his way down the make believe chimney and cram gifts for them under the tree, she got them into their bath and beds within a reasonable hour.

Callie too, was tired and was ready to retire to the couch. It was where she slept since he left them. She could not bear the coldness of the bed sheets that he once kept warm for her.

She pushed the thought away, she didn’t need the ghost of Christmas past to visit her tonight, and headed towards the kitchen to make some tea.

After filling the pot with water and taking out her cup, her thoughts turned back towards how he had betrayed her and the kids. She could and would never forgive him.

The kettle started whistling as if blowing off the steam that had been building up inside her all year and she angrily took it off the range and poured the hotness into her cup.

She grabbed the mail and took it with her to the couch. As she began to look though the cards and letters, she began staring in disbelief – at the familiar handwriting.

Callie started spewing off more vented up steam, declaring to the ghost of Christmas present, “How dare he send us tidings of good cheer?”

But, for all the Christmas futures, she thought it was best to open it, not wanting to be known as the real scrooge, at least not for the kid’s sake.

The front of the card simply said, “Merry Christmas,” how original she thought. As she unfolded the card, she pictured words like decking halls, joyful caroling, sleigh bells ringing, and the likes.

But, the following words caught in her throat and like a lump of coal sank to the bottom of her stomach.

In this season of giving
Don’t forget to give the gift
Of forgiving

You don’t need to box it,
Wrap it, or tie a bow on it
All you need to do
Is to bestow it

For like the birth
Of our Precious Savior
It is the gift
That goes on forever . . .

Please call
I love and miss you


Callie knew there was no greater gift that she could give her children.

Hello Jim,
Fine. . .
Their fine. . .
Yes, I got it. . .
I see. . .
Would you like to . . .
No, it’s not mac and cheese.
But, there are some leftovers.

Hanging up the phone, she held the cup of warm tea to her chest and felt something stirring deep inside her soul, something she did not think she could ever feel for him . . . forgiveness.

That night Callie slept in her warm bed and had visions of how the kids would react when they saw what Santa bought them, and what they would think when they saw what the love of Christ brought to all of them that night.

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