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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)

TITLE: Too Quiet
By Scott Sheets


"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. O what fun it is to ride on a- Watch out!"


I don’t have enough fingers to count my failures as a husband and a father. I suppose most people would actually classify me as a ‘good’ family man. I make a decent living and provided my wife and kids with the necessities, plus some little extras now and then. A few years ago, we even splurged and did the Disney thing. It was the first flight for Seth and Julie and by the time we landed the entire flight new about. No, they didn’t scream through the entire flight or anything; they just informed every passenger that they passed on their way to the bathroom. Seth did let out a scream at liftoff, but not out of fear. He thought it was a roller coaster or something and held his hands up for most the ascent.

Those are just memories now. I wish they were all good, but I had a way of ruining family outings. Seth wanted me to go on the Matterhorn just one more time. It wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I was tired and ready to go. He kept begging and begging until I lost it- right in front of Mickey himself. Needless to say, we made a bee line for the exit and finished our ‘fun-filled’ day.

It seems like I’ve always been too tired. When Julie would ask me to dance with her or play Barbies, I would offer my standard, "Not now honey, Daddy’s busy."

"Okay, Daddy," she would say and skip off to her room with her half naked doll secure in her arms.

Was I really that busy? No, just lazy.

It didn’t end with my children. I managed to exercise my inadequacies as a husband, as well. Carol has never asked for much from me. She never longed for a fancy home or excessive gifts; just time together. The little things mean so much to her. Last summer, we headed out for a camping trip and the truck broke down five miles from the campground. I was livid. I planned on trading that money pit in at the end of the summer, but thought we could manage one more trip in it. Wrong again. The transmission completely went. So we’re sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck, and Carol’s in the camper whistling away and fixing some lunch for us. She didn’t care where we were, as long as we were together. I admit the time passed quickly as ate and played Skip-Bo on the dinette table.

She just loved family time. Christmas was just such a time. On Christmas eve, I would haul the artificial tree out of the attic long with boxes of decorations and Carol and the kids would get to work. Julie loved tossing the tinsel on the tree and watching it shimmer in the light. Seth loved the lights. He would walk round and round as Mom helped guide the strands onto the proper branches. Glass balls, angels, and the star on top were each placed with care and joy. But not this Christmas. I had a better idea.

I figured we’d forget the whole quaint traditions and have some real fun-a Christmas ski retreat. Sure, I was the only that skied, but the others could learn. For once, we were going to do something I wanted to do. Carol gave in and figured at least we’d be together. So off to Aspen we went.

Carol’s amazing. As we drove that Christmas eve night, she started singing carols with the kids to pass the time. Light snow began as we navigated the mountain passes, and grew heavier the further we drove. The edges of the road blended with the shoulders making the road challenging to see. It seemed pointless to stop however, with only seven miles to go, but I should have. The snow now blurred my vision, the road was unidentifiable, and a sharp curve was up ahead.

She had just started singing Jingle Bells when it happened. That stupid tree. One solitary evergreen in the midst of a clearing. If we had only missed it and slid off the road into the snow it would have been fine. But that didn’t happen. The car slammed into the tree that Christmas eve night and…

It’s so quiet around the house now.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Celeste Ammirata10/19/08
Oh, this is sad. I noticed a few typos, but this is very well written. If only people would take the time to enjoy their blessings while they still have them. Poor Guy, I bet the house IS quiet.
Ellen Dodson10/19/08
Unexpected convicting ending. You engage your readers with some humorous images (love the half naked Barbie). Several typos, as I'm sure you already know. Mine had some too.
Yvonne Blake 10/20/08
Nooooo! So sad! Good descriptions of family life, but I still can't get over the shocking ending. Well written.
Gregory Kane10/23/08
I could really dig the reflective writing style - helped me slide right into the narrator's mind. And what a perfect ending!
I didn't care so much for your Jingle Bells opening. It works on a second read but it left me confused the first time round.
Bless you.