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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)

By Kristen Hester



Someone was stealing my Christmas joy, and it wasn’t the grinch.

“How many more?” Even from the top of the attic, I could hear the irritation in my husband’s voice as he waited for me to hand him down the boxes of Christmas decorations.

“Just a couple more,” I claimed for the third time. Math had never been my strong suit, but even I knew we were way past “a couple” by now. I moved to where the ceiling peaked, the only place I could stand up fully, and stood and arched my back. My blood pressure rose as I glanced around the messy attic. We’d only been in our house for two years but already the attic was full of clutter and chaos. It’s where I stuffed things when I didn’t know what to do with them. Instead of taking the time to make a decision, I’d just chunk the unwanted items up in the attic. Out of sight, out of mind.

“How much longer?” My husband’s voice jarred me back to the task at hand. I ducked under the air conditioning duct and grabbed the last box. I pushed it across the attic floor and then strained as I lowered the box to him.

Two hours later, I sat in the middle of my living room surrounded by boxes, tissues, ornaments, and tangled Christmas lights. After what seemed like hours, I finally untangled a mass of lights, strung them on the tree and then learned only half the strand worked. The longer I searched through the disorganized boxes, the more frustrated I grew. What should only take a few hours was going to take all day. The worst part was I only had myself blame. Present Me was angry at Past Me.

333 Days Ago

I stood in the middle of my living room and spent a long, last minute admiring my beautiful Christmas decorations. A strand of the Christmas tree lights had gone out the night before, but everything else still looked beautiful. They looked so good, I almost hated to take them down, but the empty boxes were waiting in the hallway. I thought that I should take pictures so it would be easier to duplicate the decorations next year.

My thoughts were interrupted by a ringing phone. “Hello?”

“Susan, this is Beth. I know Jim is working today. So is Bob. I also know our kids are at an all day youth event at the church.”

“Yes?” I said suspiciously. I knew my best friend was leading up to something, and I hoped it was good.

“There’s a 3:30 showing of Dreamgirls. Let’s go.” She sounded like a teenager planning to skip class.

I looked around the room. I had to have the decorations down today because my husband and I were taking one of his clients to dinner at six. Tomorrow my daughter had an out-of-town basketball tournament. I had church meetings all day on Sunday and I started back to work at the school where I taught on Monday. I looked at my watch. It was 1 p.m. If I hurried, I could get it done.

“I’ll meet you there.” I was ripping the lights off the tree and tossing ornaments in the boxes before I even got off the phone.

1 year in the Future

I climbed down from my attic and looked at the box of Christmas decorations my husband had stacked neatly in the hallway. Each box was clearly labeled with printed labels: guest bathroom, living room mantel, living room tree, playroom tree. I smiled as I opened the box labeled living room mantel. Laying on top of the carefully wrapped items was a picture of my decorated mantel. Last year it had taken me hours of rearranging to finally remember the way I liked it. This year it would be a breeze.

I wrapped my arms around my torso and squeezed.

“What are you doing?” my husband asked when he walked in the room. I’d been caught. My face turned red as I admitted the truth.

“I, uh, was just giving myself a hug. I did a very good job packing up the decorations last year.” This year Present Me was very pleased with Past Me.

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This article has been read 960 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Wilber01/10/08
Hey, you managed to get both meanings of the phrase in one story! I can identify with 333 days ago me. Maybe I should go repack those boxes now. ;-) LOL
Sara Harricharan 01/10/08
Heehee! This was cute! I liked the line with the present me being happy with the past me. THAT was just perfect!
Patty Wysong01/10/08
You've been spying in my attic! LoL. Your lesson came through loud and clear. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/10/08
A great lesson is "packed away" neatly in this well written story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/10/08
A great lesson is "packed away" neatly in this well written story.
LaNaye Perkins01/10/08
I loved the comparisons of past, present, and future.
Great writing.
Lynda Schultz 01/10/08
Yes, I know the feeling! I'm always in too much of a hurry to take the stuff down—the following year I always regret my haste. Good story and a happy ending is always great. Love that last line.
Sheri Gordon01/11/08
Oh, I love this. And this is exactly what I meant to do this year -- but didn't. Great illustration of the topic.
Rita Garcia01/11/08
WOW! You hit the topic from both sides, now that's masterful!!
Joanne Sher 01/12/08
Creative and fun take on the topic. Definitely a lesson for us. Enjoyed the read.
Catrina Bradley 01/12/08
Perfectly on topic, and a great read. I love the self-hug, and the order of the three parts, putting the present first. Very good!
LauraLee Shaw01/13/08
On the surface, this piece seems simple, but I know that 333 days from now I will still remember it. Wow!
terri tiffany01/13/08
Good opening sentence. Great voice and you wrapped it up nicely:)
Sharlyn Guthrie01/14/08
I like the snippets over three different years. Very creatice, and a good illustration, too.
jodie banner01/14/08
I'm going to take me tree down today. Thanks for the reminder of what next year will be like if I don't get to it and my husband does it himself.
Betty Castleberry01/14/08
Love the Past Me and Present Me comparisons. I'm pretty disorganized about things that are only used once a year, so I could relate.
Really fun read.
Ann Renae Hair01/14/08
My basement is like this attic! I sure hope I can recall these lessons come spring when we heave-ho! Love how you hit both sides of this topic. Excellent.
Catherine Pollock01/14/08
For unoriginal written Wednesday night, this was very well done. You definitely managed to take both treks with this story, and it worked.
Jan Ackerson 01/14/08
Hey, no fair peeking into my life!

This was every bit as clever as I've come to expect of your writing. The "present, past, future" device was done very well, and was a creative way to approach this topic.
Janice Cartwright01/14/08
Kristin when I read your stories I always feel like a 'person.' (as in the tailor in fiddler on the roof) I think that's your secret of connecting with your reader. Really great job and I'm crushed green that you did it at the last minute.
Holly Westefeld01/14/08
Light-hearted on the surface, but it hits home because so many of us do this. One of these years...
Temple Miller01/14/08
Like "A Christmas Carol," I loved the present, past, and future. You fulfilled the topic beautifully. Plus, you gave me a great idea for next year! I loved it.
Dee Yoder 01/14/08
I've always said I was going to take a picture...but NO! I didn't do it again this year! Love this story and the character-especially her "self" hug. Ha! You packed the topic up as neatly as the boxes in your story!
Hanne Moon 01/16/08
Oh my...I think that's what my attic looks like!! ROFL Brought home a good point! The only thing I can say is that the transitions from past to present to future were a little awkward. But all in all a good story! Thanks for laugh (and a good look at myself!)
Loren T. Lowery01/16/08
Clever, with just a hint of Heloise in there for good measure. A didactic lesson we all can learn from...if I can just fine my camera, some paper and a marking pen...and oh, is that the doorbell I hear ringing?
Great job!
Tim Pickl01/16/08
What a cool idea! I like this story....perhaps this will be a 'leap year' Christmas for the readers who take this idea to heart!
Beth LaBuff 01/17/08
Don't you love it when things are organized. I enjoyed this! Great writing as usual! :)