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

TITLE: It's A Wonderful Feeling
By Dolores Stohler


It was a sparkling fresh day in December. Snowflakes danced and swirled about her head as nine-year-old Crystal whirled through the yard in a state of ecstasy. Oh, how lovely it was to be outdoors! Snow was her favorite thing. She lifted her face to catch the soft, cool flakes on her cheeks, then exulted in the feel of the wind lifting her long pale blonde hair off her shoulders and blowing it about.

Her sitter was all wrapped up in watching TV and hadn’t seen her sneak outdoors to play in the snow. The forbidden exercise made it all the more precious to her now. While her family was spending the day shopping for a tree and gifts for the family, Crystal was left at home with a neighbor. Baby sitter indeed! She felt much too old for that.

“Crystal,” came a sharp voice from the window. “Get in here this instant! You know you’re not allowed to be outdoors alone.”

Gone was her joy in the snow. Crystal ended her dance through the growing drifts and stuck her tongue out in rebellion. Then she lay down in the fluffy white stuff and made a snow angel. It was great until strong hands grabbed her arms and jerked her to her feet. “Come on, girl” came the voice of Emma, her neighbor. “You’re going inside with me.”

When Mother gave birth to her years ago, the family rejoiced in the entrance of a girl to their family of three boys. But joy turned to gravity when they learned she was legally blind and might never be able to see more than the blurriest of shapes. The birth defect meant special schools for their little girl and close supervision when she was out of the house. Crystal felt pampered but yearned for freedom--freedom to do more things with other kids her age.

Indoors once more, Crystal lay on her bed and contemplated all the things she wasn’t able to do. She could hear the TV but couldn’t see the picture. It was useless to try to draw a picture. Barbie dolls meant nothing to her because she couldn’t see how pretty they were. Sighing now, she wondered what her family would get her for Christmas. More clothes and CD’s probably. What she’d really like was a pair of ice skates and some ballerina slippers. Her only friend, Laurie, was taking ballet lessons and she was blind, just like Crystal.

The days passed swiftly, with cookie baking and Christmas pageants and decorating the beautiful tree. It smelled strongly of pine. Then Christmas was here and Crystal awoke to hoots of excitement as her brothers raced downstairs to see what was under the tree. She found her robe and made her way slowly down the stairs to join in the family fun.

As she expected, there was a new sweater in a box. Pink, her mother said, and she pressed it to her cheek, remarking how soft it was. The CD’s came next and a furry stuffed animal. But suddenly there was another furry something brushing against her legs, demanding her attention. She reached out a hand and tentatively touched the ear of what felt to be a large dog. Caressing the soft head, she exclaimed, “Mom, Dad, you’ve finally got us a dog!”

“Not just any dog,” Dad said proudly. “He’s a specially trained guide dog. His name is Pal and he’s all yours, Crystal. On Monday his trainer will come and start working with you two so you‘ll get used to one another. Once you’ve learned the ropes, you’ll be able to go out with him and go anywhere you want.”

Crystal’s arms went around Dad’s neck, while tears stung her eyes. Then she hugged her Mom and, last of all, a great big hug for Pal. She felt the dog’s wet tongue on her face and sighed with contentment. This was going to be the best Christmas ever!

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This article has been read 556 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Teresa Lee Rainey11/21/08
Love this story from the very beginning. Such a pretentious, yet adorable, girl. I love how her disability didn't stop her one bit! :)
cindy yarger11/23/08
I liked this. You stated her frustrations well and addressed both the issues of "safety" on the parents part and the longing for "independence" in the child. Very good.
Deborah Porter 11/27/08
Dolores, in case you don't see the Highest Rankings each week, I just wanted to let you know that you did very well in the Challenge this week. Even though you didn't quite make it into the winners' circle, you made it into the highest rankings for Level 3, placing 8th for the level. You also made it into the Highest Rankings overall, placing 32nd out of all the entries for the week.

The competition is always extremely intense in Level 3, so well done. Keep up the great writing.

If you would like to check the highest rankings for yourself, you can see them here:


With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)