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

TITLE: Maddie Makes Cards
By Nancy Jo Wilson


Maddie was ready. Before her on the table lay everything she needed to make the best Christmas cards ever. She would craft them, fill them with clever hand written messages, address them and actually mail them. This year she would not feel guilt as she received those cute cards with everyone’s family picture on the front. This year she would meet her friends, family, and, most importantly, her husband’s congregants with her head held high because she had fulfilled her Christmas obligations.

She’d started in October by confirming that all the addresses in her book were current. Good thing, too, Aunt Holly moved to Pittsburg three years ago and Maddie still had her listed in Orange Park. She’d congratulated herself on catching a possible faux pas that could have derailed her plans.

Then she’d gone to an intensive weekend seminar on embossing and card making. Gary, her husband, was not overly thrilled with paying for a hotel so that Maddie could learn to make something they could buy at Wal-Mart for less than five bucks. He didn’t understand. A pastor’s wife had to meet certain expectations. This year everything would be perfect, to make up for all the years she had failed. When she returned home with six prototypes, he merely raised an eyebrow and said with his usual dry wit, “At that price, they should be edged in gold.”

She’d cleared her calendar for the entire day. Now, she had eight hours to do nothing, but cut, glue, and write. She set the mood by lighting a cinnamon candle and putting some Christmas music in the CD player. She cranked up the tunes and started to crop.

She proceeded with extreme care, making sure that everything was flawless. Ribbons were expertly tied and glued in place. After a couple hours her back was aching, but her stack was growing. There were cards of green, red, and blue adorned with trees, angels, and starbursts. She imagined people’s expressions as they opened these gems. She could hear them saying, “Wow, I had no idea Maddie was this talented. We should ask her send out the invitations for the annual bake sale.”

When she broke for lunch, she counted her cards and compared them against her list. She was horrified to find that although the day was half gone, she’d barely completed a quarter of the necessary work. “How can that be?” she moaned.

She immediately set back to work, ignoring her rumbling stomach. She also abandoned her notion of cleaning up as she went. Soon the table was littered with bits of paper, ribbon, and glitter. When the mess got in her way, she simply raked it off onto the floor.
Her care in setting the embossing powder slipped and she smudged more than one card. She grunted in frustration as she made replacements, resenting the wasted minutes.

She hardly noticed when Brandi, her cat, wandered into the room. A dangling ribbon tempted the feline and she perched on her haunches batting at the silver material. Maddie yelled and swatted at her. As she did, Maddie hit the open vials of embossing powder with her arm and sent them flying. The black, gold, and silver dust covered the table, the floor, Maddie, and Brandi. Brandi, startled by the ruckus, ran away. Multi-colored paw prints snaked down the hallway.

Gary came home to find his dining room a Technicolor nightmare and his bride hysterical. “It’s all ruined,” she moaned.

He reached for a card and gently shook off the powder. “See, easily fixed.”

“I’m the pastor’s wife. They’re supposed to be perfect.”

“Exactly, you’re my wife, not the congregation’s. I don’t want Susie Homemaker. You bless me everyday with your smile and heart of service. You do more for this church than anyone knows. You sing, plan, teach Sunday school. That’s what matters to me, not whether or not you mail out Christmas cards. Here, let’s see what we can salvage.”

They saved more than Maddie thought possible. With Gary’s help, she was able to get all the cards in the mail the next day. Despite all he said, she felt better knowing she had done it right this year.

When Christmas cards started arriving and she opened each with joy, unburdened from the guilt she’d known in seasons past. One afternoon, her mailbox was stuffed with cards. She pulled them out eagerly, only to recognize her own handwriting. Each one was stamped, “Return to sender. Insufficient Postage.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan11/13/08
Oh boy, how I love the humor in this one. You made me laugh so many times. :)
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/16/08
Oh, poor Maddie! She had it so wrong but she sure was committed to her misconception. I'm not sure if I should laugh at her or cry for her. Well told and a different approach to the topic.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/16/08
I love the irony in your ending. Your story makes an excellent point, too.
Joanne Sher 11/17/08
hehe - what an ending! I could feel her desire for perfection, and her frustration and triumph as she finished. Great characters!