Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)
TITLE: Lost and Found under the Tree
By Gregory Kane
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The police were less than helpful. There had been eight similar incidents during the early hours. On each occasion the thieves had only taken Christmas presents. The police suspected that they would try to return some of the items to the bigger stores using forged or stolen receipts. The rest would probably be sold privately through eBay. But a few of the gifts, sadly, would be judged not to be worth the effort and would be chucked in a landfill somewhere.
Fighting back the tears, Vera and Frank Williams began the thankless task of itemising what had been taken. They knew what they had bought for their children: some Bratz dolls, a Lego car racing set, and for their teenage daughter the latest model of iPhone. Plus an odd assortment of books, chocolates and stocking fillers. Frank had bought Vera a pair of sexy silk baby-doll pyjamas but he hadn't yet decided whether he was going to provide details of this to the police. And of course they would have to contact the various aunts, cousins and grannies to find out what they had sent. Suddenly the reality of what had happened hit home and Vera burst into tears.
That was how their kids found them: in a heap by the base of the ransacked Christmas tree, clutching one another through sobs of deep-felt anguish. Sam had been the first to awaken that morning and Frank and Vera had immediately sent their children next door while they called the police. But a neighbour can only show so much grace and consolation on Christmas morning and eventually they wandered back home. Lisa, the teenager, folded her arms round her mother's heaving shoulders. Sam jumped none too gently on to his Dad's back. Soon the whole family was seated by the Christmas tree, weeping softly over the injustice and cruelty of it all.
It was Sophie who began to redeem the tragedy. "You know, I've got plenty of dolls already," she said.
"That's right," agreed Lisa. "My old phone's really just as good as that one we lost. I can text my mates and listen to my music. What's much more important is that none of us were hurt."
"Yeah," cried out Sam. "That's what we learned in Sunday school, how Jesus had no sooner got his presents from the wise men than his parents had to pack everything up in the middle of the night and flee to Egypt. But at least they was safe. That's what Mrs Clark said, and she should know."
Out of the mouths of babes and infants! Suddenly Frank found himself choking back the tears. "That's really sweet," he said. "Come and give me a hug."
The next hour was spent in reminiscences and affirmations of family love. Each in his turn spoke of tokens of love given and received during the previous year. Eventually they pulled themselves up off the floor and started to get ready for church. But not before Sam burst out with "Guys, this has been my best Christmas ever!"
Later that day the police called with good news. A tip-off had led them straight to the thieves. It would take a few days to sort everything out but their Christmas presents would eventually be returned. Frank thanked the officer and hung up. At one level he wasn't that bothered. As a family they had discovered something much more precious. Every Christmas after this they observed a new tradition. The gifts stayed safely locked up in a storeroom while the family spent Christmas morning seated round the tree. They swapped fond stories of the year gone by and reminded one another of the inestimable value of love.
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