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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)

TITLE: Weren't No Christmas Like 1979
By Teresa Lee Rainey


It was ’bout midnight on Christmas Eve of 1979. The ride home from Granny and Grandpa’s was takin’ forever. Least it felt that way to me.

We had been celebratin’ Christ’s birth all day long. I was frettin’ on how Santa would leave my presents if we weren‘t home when he got there. We didn’ have no chimney.

‘Fore I could ask Daddy to hurry up, my stinkin’ little brother, Bubba, curled up in a ball with his head on my side‘a the seat. He wouldn’ move for nothin‘, so I sprawled on top’a him. Bubba must’a been real tired ‘cause he never moved a muscle. My eyes were wore out, so I let’um close and started thinkin’ on our day.

We had got up that mornin’ and rushed around gettin’ our ugly, green station wagon loaded with food and presents. When we finally left, Bubba started singin’ “Randolph , the Bowlegged Cowboy” at the top’a his lungs. Right ‘fore I punched him so he‘d hush, Mama and Daddy started singin’ too. There’d be a whuppin’ waitin’ for me if I punched him then, so when they got done with his song I started singin’ “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

When we finally got to my Great Granma’s, there was food and people everywhere. After huggin‘ Granma and Great Granma, I wiggled through Mama’s brothers, sisters, and all my cousins to get to the Christmas tree and find a spot for all the gifts I was carryin‘. When I dumped the presents and turned back around, I thought there weren’t no tellin’ how we all squashed into that itty-bitty house. I started tryin’ to figure how many’a us there was ‘til Daddy was ‘bout to say the blessin’ and told me to hush up.

After dinner, us younguns kept bouncin’ off the walls ‘til them grown-ups finally let us open our presents. Course, soon as we opened’um they shewed us outside. We didn’ care ‘cause that’s where we wanted to be anyway.

Mama hollered for me and Bubba when it was gettin’ dark. We whooped for joy the whole time we were runnin’ to the wagon. Mama let us keep carryin’ on ‘til we were pullin’ onto the highway. That’s when she turned around and fussed that she didn’ care how excited we were ‘bout gettin’ to Granny and Grandpa’s ‘cause we were gettin’ on her last nerve.

We barely had time to get done with “Over the river and through the woods” ’fore we saw Granny wavin’ from her front porch. I knew my Granny’s arms were the first place I was headin‘. Mama went on inside with the women folk to get supper ready whilst Daddy found a spare rockin-chair by his brothers.

‘Fore I could get done huggin’ Granny, my cousin, Billy, was darin’ me to climb the magnolia. Course he knew Mama weren‘t gonna let me climb in the dark. Even though I was Granny‘s only granddaughter, I could climb higher than any’a them boys.

My favorite part’a the night was when Aunt MaryLou read the Christmas story. When she read ‘bout Baby Jesus, it’s like I was right there. . .

I woke up on our couch that Christmas mornin’ to the smell’a Mama cookin’ biscuits. From the pile’a presents under our Christmas tree, I knew Santa had figured his way in. It was time to open them gifts and I couldn’ quit grinnin’.

When Bubba started stackin’ presents up with his name, my grinnin‘ stopped. I thought I’d been a good girl, but there was only three’a them gifts for me. “Only sissies cry,” I told myself, but it was real hard not to.

Those rotten tears snuck on out’a me when Daddy told me to go to my room. I couldn’ figure what I’d done wrong. ‘Fore Daddy could see me cryin’, I did like I was told.

I didn’ never figure openin’ the door to my bedroom would be like openin’ them pearly gates’a heaven. Behind Mama was the prettiest off-white and gold trim canopy bed. There was a matchin’ dresser and make-up table too! There was even a pretty pink bedspread with matchin’ curtains! I couldn’ believe my eyes!

Mama nearly fell over when I ran and straddled her. She said my hollerin’ nearly deafened her too. Still, I figure there weren’t no Christmas like my Christmas of 1979.

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This article has been read 675 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mary Alice Bowles11/24/08
I could feel your happiness in your 1979 Christmas..

I feel tuned in to all that family love..LOL

When my 14 grandchildren come for Christmas and bring their parents...LOL
I feel the love bouncing off the walls!

Have a Happy Christmas, 2008!

Marijo Phelps11/24/08
Loved the "English" - surprised me that she was a she - can't imagine going several places for one holiday - guess our family was smaller. You took us there!
Catrina Bradley 11/24/08
The dialect really adds to this story and I think you did a great job with it. I got confused as to the timing, but that was my fault - I missed the little word "had" early on. I was also suprised to find out the MC was a girl - I don't know if you did it that way on purpose or not, but if I'd known earlier on I would have pictured HER differently. I like the ending and her surprise gift. Nice writing!
Holly Westefeld11/24/08
I see the strength of this story as it's atmosphere. Your MC seemed to have an authentic child's voice.
In my opinion, which is by no means expert, the conflict was nominal and was resolved too quickly. If this is a true reminiscence, that's fine, but if it is fiction, grabbing the reader with conflict earlier in the story might take it to a more engaging climax.
Sharon Kane11/25/08
When I first saw this it didn't grab me. The opening line wasn't very strong and I looked down and saw the word Bubba, and didn't bother reading. But when you asked for comments I decided to have another look.
You did a very good job of creating an authentic child's voice, and the descriptions are very atmospheric. I thought there were one or two adult turns of phrase though (e.g. bouncing off the walls) which didn't fit with the voice.
The ending is lovely, but I agree with a previous commentator that somehow the suspense doesn't build up early enough for the climax to reach its full potential.
Honestly... no it doesn't stink! Let's both keep experimenting and honing our skills.
Leah Nichols 11/26/08
Nice job on the dialect....sounds rather authentic! Since I knew it was you, I assumed a girl MC, but it wasn't obvious for most of the piece. Your buildup to the final gift was drowned out in all the different scenes....for Challenge writing it's better to focus on one scene and describe it fully. I did enjoy reading this piece; it's a nice recollection of events. Good work!
Marlene Austin11/26/08
Since most of my family talk with a strong southern accent, I wouldn't need your written clues to the wording - that's the way I would read it anyway! lol You had me wanting to give the MC a hug as she watched her brother stack up all his packages. Then being sent to her room, with TEARS, - beastly! I was delighted she had such a wonderful surprise. You really did an excellent job capturing this setting. :)
Loren T. Lowery11/26/08
I liked this and think it could be developed to even greater potential. Personally, I would have done away with the dialect and told the story simply, keeping the wonderful reflective manner it is presented in. There were a lot of "sub" stories going on and the original story could be strengthened by focusing more on that. What is evident, too is the love this family shared!
Joshua Janoski11/26/08
I personally liked the accent. I felt like it might have been overdone in spots, but it kept me engaged in the story, and I could hear the little girls voice in my head as I read.

A lot is going on in this piece. At times I had a hard time keeping track of it all. I think that taking one or two events and focuses primarily on them would help avoid confusion. Of course that is only my opinion. I still think this was a cute story, and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.