Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)
TITLE: Empty Greetings
By LauraLee Shaw
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Long since those days. Now a phone call from any of them on special occasions would have to do. Sometimes, she felt horrible lonely, but she’d always argue away the self-pity. I want my kids to be happy. They’re just busy, is all.
She heard a knock on the door, realizing that she’d been too lost in her daydreams to notice the postman walk by. “Here’s your mail, Ms. Dodd. Have a nice day, okay?” he yelled from outside, then waved as he passed the front window.
Mellie gave him a wave back along with a wrinkled grin mouthing the words “Thank you.” She shuffled over to the front door and picked up a good handful of mail—a magazine of coupons, the utility bill, and three personal letters. Probably more Christmas cards, she guessed and hoped at the same time.
Making her way to the kitchen table, she took her letter opener and opened the first one. “Oh, it’s from Renee,” Mellie said, her eyes sparkling with delight over her grandaughter’s family photo. “A beautiful bunch.” She picked up her magnifying glass to get a closer look. Eyeing the youngest great-grandbaby, her heart ached to scoop him up and rock him in her arms. She couldn’t believe how much the other three had grown, the tallest looking old enough to drive. “Renee looks so happy. So does Don.”
I’m going to call them, Mellie decided, acting on the impulse of her elation. As she dialed the first number, she had second thoughts. What if they’re busy? “I don’t want to disturb them.” She hung up the receiver, thought it through, then picked it up again.
“Hello?” It was one of the kids’ voices.
“Uh, hello?” Mellie stuttered, surprised to hear an answer. “Which one of my great-grandkids is this?”
“Ha, gotcha! Just kiddin.’ We’re not home right now, so leave a message after the beep.”
“Hello?” Mellie asked, as she heard a high-pitched beep through the earpiece. Confused, she hung up the phone. Maybe it was supposed to be a joke or something. “Wasn’t very funny, though,” she mumbled to the faces on the card, longing to hear the voices that lay mute behind the frozen smiles.
Mellie’s heart sank further as she opened the next envelope. It was from her lifelong friend Lucille. “Lloyd had a slow and painful death,” the handwritten portion of the card read, “but I’m thankful for the 59 years God gave us together.” Sorrow-filled, Mellie remembered the year she had lost her Paul—and the loneliness that filled her the Christmas following. I’ll call her later. Note to self: “Call Lucille.”
Balancing the teeter-totter of emotions, Mellie trembled with excitement as she opened the last envelope decorated with her daughter’s handwriting. The picture on the front was a glittery manger scene, but she flipped past it without pause, hoping to find a personal message on the inside.
“Hi Mom, I miss you. I’m planning to visit you sometime soon after the holidays. We’re getting ready to host a party for Jeff’s company, as well as having a few of the kids (it’s still okay I call them that, right?) home to stay for the week of Christmas. How are you? You’re going to be with someone at the church again, I hope? We’ll be sure to call and sing you a carol. You are so very loved, Mom. Merry Christmas.”
Tears spilled onto the kitchen table. “What were you expecting, Mellie? A surprise visit or something?” Wiping away the sobs, Mellie fought her emotions with prayer. Lord, I don’t want to be a bitter old woman. Keep me focused on You this Christmas—a love that keeps giving, not expecting.
In her spirit, the Lord had already answered her plea with His gift of peace. She didn’t waste another moment wishing. Mellie added her daughter’s card to the rest of her season’s greetings, then picked up the phone. “Hello, Lucille? It’s Mellie…I got your card…”
Acts 20:35b (NIV)
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