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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)

TITLE: "Shiny, Happy America"
By Coleene VanTilburg


She looked up at me, eyes glistening a little, as she had been reading my essay; her smile lighting up an already beautiful store.

I was in a small flower shop, scavenging for the magazine in which my essay had been printed. There were actually five of the magazines sitting on the shelf next to the counter. Together, we leafed through the pages to find my story, the first one unsuccessfully because some pages had been torn out. In the next one though, I found it on page 42 and she asked if she could read it before she offered me the magazine.

She was a beautiful Asian girl named Jennifer, probably in her late twenties or early thirties. I complimented her on her shop, and the displays of Christmas arrangements, wreaths and decor. She seemed more interested in finishing my article. When she was finished, she looked up at me and smiled again and nodded her head as to give me that conveyance of sympathy and then she shared with me her "Christmas story."

She touched her head and then her chest as she said, "I have memory right now, I do not think of for long time. In my country when I was little girl, we get old Christmas card(s)." She proceeds to be very animated with her hands as she described the cards. "You know...the card come already used...somebody already read them and they have writing in them for someone else... then we get card in Taiwan. We get from relative in America...many shiny Christmas card(s). We don't look at writing, just picture on front. Picture so 'shiny and happy', these American Christmas card(s). As children, we love the shiny cards of America. It was favorite thing. These were our Christmas gifts from America...the place we go someday. This is what we think is America. We love the shiny card(s) and would look at pictures(s) for long time thinking about America.

Jennifer holds her hand out as if holding something and rolls the other hand on top as if doing a hula dance, but she is imagining holding the Christmas card and rubbing her hands over the shiny, happy, sparkly picture of life in America. She touched her head again, her smile never leaving her face and thanks me for sharing my story and bringing back her childhood memory. I realize she is now living the shiny, happy Christmas card in America.

I left the shop with my magazines but a head full of thoughts of shiny Christmas cards and shiny Americans. Corporate America will not be as shiny and happy as in years past. This last weekend, smoke filled the sky as I watched neighbors being evacuated and shiny beautiful dreams disappear within minutes as the devil winds whipped up. For some, our recent election may be a discouragement to our hearts. Is America still a shiny, happy place? As you take out your decorations this year, shake up the snow globe and watch it. Think of each iridescent snowflake floating down representing God’s continued blessing on your life; each one created uniquely for you. The blessings are there, but we may need to shake and reflect; an attitude check.

This Christmas, let your life be a shiny, happy Christmas card; where someone may rub their fingers across and sense that one card, One Life, One Gift, can make an eternal difference in someone’s life; a life in need of hope this Christmas season.

Psalm 4:6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good? Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord."

Psalm 68: 2-4 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful."

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Member Comments
Member Date
Dolores Stohler11/20/08
This is an excellent devotion and I love Jennifer's story. I believe though that it might have been more effective if you hadn't changed the train of thought to current events, just tied the story in with the Bible verse. But good writing!
Jan Ackerson 11/20/08
Jennifer's memory of
Christmas cards was very interesting, and could be expanded to make a lovely story all by itself.

I didn't understand why you used the (s), especially in dialogue. If she said "cards", then a simple s by itself to make the plural would suffice.

Your title is a great hook--very intriguing.