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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Purple (11/05/09)

TITLE: Purple Christmas
By Michael Joshua


As she lit the purple candle, Lily said, “Mommy, tell me about grandma again.”

Cindy sat down at the dining room table, looking at the candle and said, “When I was just about three years older than you are now, I was at a friend’s house at Christmas. Everything was decorated in reds and greens. And I told my friend, your Aunt Gracie, that in our house, we decorated in purple for Christmas. Aunt Gracie just didn’t believe me, so we went to our house and there was your grandma putting out the wreath with purple ribbons on the door. As Gracie watched, my mom put the purple balls on the tree, and lit the candelabra with six long tapered candles in it. Also purple.

“Gracie was so surprised; she had never seen so many purple decorations before. But your grandma just kept pulling out more and more purple things from the Christmas box. A little wooden manger scene that she had spray-painted, the cotton tree skirt – that used to be white – now purple, the Santa figurine sitting in a purple sleigh, the strands upon strands of lights – each one purple.

“Grandma used to sing while she put everything out, her favorite Christmas carol was “Silver Bells” because it was your grandpa’s favorite song many years ago. She loved to sing that song; she would echo the phrases, like the choir does when that song is a part of the Christmas program at church. Each time the chorus would come around, she would get louder and louder. She told me that my dad, your grandpa, always said, ‘Anything worth singing is worth making sure someone can hear you!’ When Gracie left, she told everyone that we had a purple Christmas and it almost became a tradition at church. Every time someone found a new ornament that was purple, they bought it and gave it to your grandma.

“There were many different shades of purple. Some of the things were very old; grandma bought those years before, right after grandpa died. She decided that first Christmas that she was going to be different than everyone else. And purple was how she was going to be different. She had sheet music that she put out on the piano for show – with faded purple covers. There were three pillows that she put on the couch, they didn’t match the blue sofa, but she didn’t care. A purple welcome mat, which had faded to almost light blue with age, but grandma knew it started out as purple and that’s all that mattered. There was the big glass bowl that was filled up with purple marbles, sitting right in the middle of the coffee table. I remember when my brother, your Uncle Jerry, was four years old, he got a handful of those marbles and started to put them in his mouth. I never saw your grandma move so fast! She grabbed those marbles from him and moved the bowl to the top of the bookcase that year. When he was about seven, like you, she put it back on the coffee table. After all, it was only the first year for the purple Christmas, when Jerry was four. It was a hard Christmas for grandma, she missed your grandpa so much. With me and Jerry to raise by herself, it wasn’t very easy. In those days, mommas stayed home when the men went to work. Fortunately, she ended up taking the secretary job at church – running the bulletin every week and typing letters for the preacher. We used to help fold the bulletins, I still remember how the mimeograph ink smelled!

“Four years ago, when your grandma went to heaven, Uncle Jerry and I agreed to take turns with the purple Christmas box. This year is my turn.

“Now that you are seven, you get to take out the last item from the box and put it on the tree.”

With that, Lily reached into the big box and brought out a black display case. As she opened it and removed the Purple Heart, Cindy touched her fingers to her lips, then to the medal. She began singing “Silver Bells’ as her daughter placed the medal on the tree.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Aaron Morrow11/12/09
I really liked this entry, your details and litany of interwoven purple Christmas decorations was great.

I think a little more backstory regarding the Purple Heart would have added some punch for me, but overall great entry!
PamFord Davis 11/12/09
Oh what an awesome ending! Wow!
Philippa Geaney 11/12/09
I love the depth of family history offered to the child, in this story. How rich children are if rooted in such wonderful soil. I loved the individuality of the grandma. Viva la grandmas of this world!!
Barbara Lynn Culler11/12/09
Beautiful story!
Laura Manley11/13/09
Great story - held my interest from first word to last. I would like to have had you embellish the part about the Purple Heart. But I did enjoy the little twist there at the end.
Brenda Rice 11/15/09
I enjoyed your entry on Purple. Great story told in an interesting way. The ending was a little surprise and was also very touching. I love Christmas traditions.
I personally believe it is important to pass on traditions to those who are following us. Thanks for writing.