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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hum (06/06/13)

TITLE: The Perfect Gift
By Melissa Johnson


It took a little effort and creativity to open the door into the house while balancing the last of the packages from the mall, but he managed to get in without dropping a thing. He smiled as he moved aside to let the door swing shut, feeling a bit victorious at accomplishing this feat.

His smile faded quickly, though, at the sound that traveled to him from the dining room. It wasn’t the sound of paper shuffling or things being moved around, it was the happy tune that his wife hummed as she sorted packages and wrapping paper that made his heart ache.

Every Christmas they went through this same ritual. First there was the shopping. Always a lot of shopping. The money they spent did a number on his blood pressure, but he had learned long ago that arguing with her was pointless. The hard work involved in replenishing the bank account was nothing in comparison to the hard work involved in soothing over her wounded feelings.

And every year she insisted on purchasing not only expensive gifts, but the top of the line in whatever it was that she decided everyone wanted. That was a big part of the problem. SHE decided. She didn’t ask anyone what they might want, or maybe even need. She just thought she knew. And, oh, how they would appreciate what she did for them! They would be so grateful to her for that perfect gift! At least that’s how it played out in her mind. And many of their friends were impressed and grateful, but those most important to her did not feel that way.

Unable to have any children of their own, gaining the love of their four nieces and two nephews had become almost an obsession to her. The kids had loved the extravagant gifts when they were young, but as they grew their wants and needs changed. She never sat down and just talked to them. She didn’t get to know them. She didn’t know what they really needed or desired. She thought she did. But when her generous gifts failed to deliver to her the appreciation and adoration she felt she should get, her feelings were hurt. Deeply.

He stood by the door listening to her happy humming. The burden of the packages in his arms went unnoticed due to the burden on his heart. How tired he felt at that moment. He knew how hurt she would be again. He knew how much energy it would take to try to help her. He just did not want to fight this battle alone anymore. How he loved her and how it hurt that he couldn’t help her.

In that moment the words of Matthew 11:28 went through his mind. “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He nearly lost his balance at the words that brought such welcome relief. He’d forgotten. He’d forgotten to turn to his Heavenly Father.

It was almost with giddiness that he set the packages down and headed for the bookshelf in the living room.

“Are you bringing those presents in here?” She called to him.

“Nope!” He answered. “But I am bringing the perfect gift in there.” Bible in hand, he headed for the dining room. He did not realize he was humming.

Matthew 11:28 NIV

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Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Rice 06/14/13
You did a good job with your MC. I understand how he feels.
I like his solution, too.
Beth LaBuff 06/17/13
My heart ached for them. Your ending gives me hope that they can work through this.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/18/13
I really enjoyed this. I think a lot of people could identify at some level with your characters. One thing I might suggest would be to give them names to help the reader comment the characters more. Also, together have quite a few lines that start with the word she. Try mixing up the sentence structures a bit. You nailed the topic. I thought it original that, in the beginning, the humming was ominous, but at the end, it was joyful. That is a great allegory for Christians.