Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)
TITLE: The Perfect Present
By Randi Heald Cheek
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I awake early to greet the day, walk to the window to view the sleepy sky, the empty streets and the blinking of hundreds of Christmas lights.
I watch the snow fall, a soothing feeling engulfs my soul; this scene, reminiscent of the spirit of Christmas.
I dress warmly; I toss my scarf around my neck and walk out the door.
I am in pursuit of the perfect present for you.
The wind whips my face as I walk through the still empty streets.
The sound of snow crushing beneath my feet is the only sound to be heard.
I walk slowly past the store windows, desperately seeking a present for you.
Many windows look much the same, jewelry that sparkles with each ray of light that pierces the glass of the window. Fashions, always a favorite this time of year, but not the present I had imagined for you.
Crowds are beginning to fill the sidewalks and the stores. Each person carries their share of Christmas packages.
The cold has cut through my very being; I stop in a familiar coffee shop.
My hands and face sting as the warmth of the coffee begins to thaw them.
The coffee shop is filled with people, each complaining of the cold.
I over hear two women talking. The conversation is much the same as all others around me. The women are complaining about buying someone a present for Christmas.
“After all, she does not spend that much money on me!” a woman spat.
“I hate this time of year, why, I wish I could bypass Christmas!” another added.
Tears fill my eyes as I listen; I quickly scoop up my coat, scarf and gloves and tuck them under my arm.
I toss money on the table and quickly exit the shop. On the side walk, as the door closes behind me, tears begin streaming down my face.
My heart breaks as I realize that the spirit of Christmas has long been forgotten.
Tears flow with each step that I take; pain grips my side as I gulp the cold air into my lungs. I bend, put my head down and place my hands on my knees.
As I feel the pain subside, I slowly erect my body. I look around me; it is quiet here, no one at this end of the street.
Before me is a small quaint shop. I walk to the window and peek inside. My breath forms a mist on the glass. I slowly brush my glove on the mist to unveil the contents of the window.
Inside the display is a manger, sitting upon carefully placed straw.
There are miniature replicas of Wise Men, Mary, Joseph and a tiny little blanket.
There is no baby in the manger.
Curiosity leads me inside the store. I hear the tune of a familiar Christmas favorite, Silent Night.
The smell of incense fills the room; there isn’t the usual Christmas décor of blinking multi-colored lights or Christmas trees.
I walk carefully to the window display but am startled by a rough voice behind me.
I turn to face an elderly man who, in my childhood memory, resembles Santa Claus. He is dressed in brown tweed pants and a gray flannel shirt.
Silently, he stands in front of me.
I stutter as I begin to tell him about you and that I was looking for the perfect present.
As I continue speaking, I express my desire to find a meaningful gift.
As I finish speaking, I look directly at him and beg for his help.
The expression on his face softens as if a dream has been realized.
Tears well in his eyes, and then he reaches out, takes my elbow and leads me to the door.
As he opens the door our eyes meet and softly he says, “You have the PERFECT present.”
As he closes the door behind me I walk to the window. In moments the man appeared behind the glass. Carefully, he reaches into his pocket and gingerly unwraps a replica of the baby Jesus. Tenderly, he places the baby on the cloth in the manger.
Turning slightly behind him, the man reaches for a sign.
Above the scene he hung the sign and turned it to the glass.
The sign read, “The Perfect Present, Love”
Love, which in its truest expression, began in the manger.
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