Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)
TITLE: Habakkuk Understands Me
By Sheri Gordon
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What? I hit the up volume button on the remote. “That’s right folks, only 63 days ‘til you’ll be preparing Christmas dinner and needing, yes needing, one of these Auto-Meat Glazers. Whether you’re basting a turkey, ham, lamb, roast, or tofu-something, this Auto-Meat Glazer is a must-have. Simply attach it to the top of your oven, select your glaze setting, and let it go. Your meat will receive a perfectly-timed spritz of a delectable brown sugar, honey, apple, or buttery glaze…with no worries from you. But that’s not all…if you order now you’ll also receive three, yes three, free cans of foamy oven cleanser.”
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled.
Okay, so those aren’t my words…but that expresses precisely what I’m experiencing at this moment. I just happen to be studying Habakkuk (3:16) while sort of watching the shopping channel. Hey, give me a break…I’m a “newbie,” as I’ve heard people in my Bible study refer to me, and I haven’t quite conquered my “worldly addictions.”
But back to the problem at hand…only 63 shopping days ‘til Christmas! I grab my scheduling calendar, hit the mute button, and begin running the numbers…
Take out the weekends, because I refuse to shop on weekends, and that leaves 45 days. Subtract Thanksgiving—although I have been known to frequent KMart on Thanksgiving morning—and we’re down to 44. Eliminate the three days before Christmas because we’re visiting our son, and I’m at 41. Take away another three days for which I have prior commitments, and I’m left with only 38 shopping days. Except…maybe I can sneak in one day while at my son’s, so I’ll give myself 39 days.
I glance at the television. I don’t need to hit the un-mute button to know that I have less than two minutes to take advantage of their wonderful offer—the second-by-second countdown is flashing in neon green on the left side of the screen, while an annoying Santa Mouse Christmas countdown clock is displayed on the right. I momentarily panic, watching Santa Mouse rapidly approach 62 days Eastern Standard Time. But not even the three free cans of foamy oven cleanser are enough to entice me on this one.
Back to my math...
Okay…so…five people times four gifts each in our family—that’s 20. And five stockings, which are mostly filled with candy but usually include three smaller gifts, adds another 15. My extended family has seven adults, at two presents each, and six kids with three packages apiece, for a total of 32 gifts. My husband’s family, who only get one present each because they’re well, uh, weird…totals another 15. And my four best friends make a grand total of 86 presents to buy.
Relax, breathe. Okay, 86 presents divided by 39 shopping days is…2.2 presents per day. Very doable.
Oh wait, I forgot to factor in baking day and dress shopping days (plural), plus wrapping day, Christmas card day, decorate the tree day, and miscellaneous parties. Oh drat, and Bible study…but maybe I could skip that to get some shopping done. And the babysitting I signed-up for at church…what in the world was I thinking?
I start penciling in on my scheduling calendar. If I don’t plan out every day between now and Christmas, something won’t get done…and that would be disastrous.
Taking into account the additional commitments, I do some quick calculations. With only 63—I look at Santa Mouse on the screen—augh, 62 days ‘til Christmas, I have to purchase 3.7 gifts per day!
“Oh sweet J…”
I catch myself as the Item of the Day changes on the screen.
25-Piece Advent Nativity is splayed across the bottom of the television monitor. I turn up the volume.
“Twenty-five separately numbered pieces made of pure resin. Start with the stable on the first of December. Position the palm trees on December second. Watch with delight as your children add to the nativity scene each day—placing baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas morn. Discover the real meaning of Christmas—all for three low monthly installments of $39.99 each, plus shipping and handling. Hurry folks, Santa Mouse is ticking away. Capture the true Christmas spirit before they’re all sold out.”
I reach for the phone, but look back at Habakkuk instead.
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:18)
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