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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)

TITLE: It's the Thought That Counts
By Debra Martinez


“Have a wonderful holiday season,” Jill quoted aloud, bobbing her head side to side in rhythm as she read from the back of what seemed like her ninety-third try at Christmas card selections dug from a huge bin at Sav-Lots. Tossing back the colorful cellophane-wrapped box, she admitted defeat and moved her cart on toward the grocery section of the giant store.

Talking as though her best friend Sammie was beside her, she continued her diatribe on the current state of her favorite holiday. “Every one of those boxes may be politically correct with their namby-pamby wishes and snowmen and elves prancing across their covers, but seriously. How can you have a wonderful holiday season without the Reason for the Season? Honestly.” She subsided in disgust.

Just a week ago during their regular Thursday night dinner, Jill had bitten into the stuffed crust of her favorite pepperoni pizza and blurted into the steady stream of conversation bouncing back and forth across the large round oak table, “Why don’t we just do cards this year?” The recent decline in her 401-K and shortened hours at work had weighed heavily on Jill as she had pulled out her organizer to look over her Christmas list, the names of the very people she sat with now.

Catching her curve ball first, Joe, her brother, and husband of best friend Sammie, responded, “Great idea, kiddo. And we could even attach coupons for special services. Like, I could detail your car. Once!” he threw in quickly, watching her eyes open in pleased speculation.

“For Christmas, you mean?” Sammie wasn’t quite as quick on the uptake. “Hmmm. I like it, I think. I like to bake. I guess I could do cookies. Yeah….and they make adorable plastic gift bags these days that I could use to attach them to my card. That’d be easy and good.”

Before she knew it, Jill heard every person at the table come up with a clever way to invest time and energy into excellent Christmas remembrances that could replace the gifts that they could all admit often missed the mark, often becoming a part of their re-gifting stash.

However, no matter how much she stewed, Jill, the copy-editor and budding author, could think of nothing other than a card to share with those she loved.

From the first moment that cinnamon and cedar smells hit her memory banks, Jill always succumbed to the warm feeling that had hit her hard at age twelve. The first Christmas after asking Christ to rule her life had also been the time that she was selected to play Mary in her little church’s children’s cantata. She could still see the hurricane globes in front of each stained glass window, cradled in fresh cedar branches, the candles inside flickering like starlight. Though her knees had grown stiff as she caressed the Babe in the manger, she had sat enthralled, listening to the choir singing the story of His birth, knowing that she would spend the rest of her life savoring the joy of the birth of her Lord. This year would be no different.

It was later that night that she had her “Aha” moment. Legs tucked under her on the sofa, covered in a warm red and green afghan, she leafed through a Christmas catalog that had arrived in the day’s mail. As she read each blurb beneath the perfect gift, she realized that she had the talent necessary to make her Christmas cards just as unique.

Days later, Jill prepared to mail her self-designed Christmas cards. Each one contained a one-of-a-kind heart-shaped design, the center containing a delicate manger. Each one contained a sentiment written by Jill just for its recipient, noting the date that each had accepted Christ, making Christmas real in his or her life. Tucked inside each card, Jill had placed a laminated bookmark, created to offer a service to the receiver. Unlike the others’ coupons, this service could not come from Jill. No, it was a gift of grace that had been offered and accepted by each individual at a time that was right for each: the gift of eternal life. Adding a cinnamon-scented sachet packet, Jill wondered if all noses were programmed as vividly as hers.

“Here’s hoping that your Christmas is filled with all of the joys of the birth of the Christ Child. Welcome Him. Forever, Jill.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart11/15/08
What a beautiful and unique idea. Very thoughtful, love it!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/15/08
Many great ideas here for a year when everyone is struggling...time to get back to basics!