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

TITLE: Lord, Not Another Shop-Vac Christmas


It’s my fault—hands down—no one to blame but me. I was the one who said, “Felix, instead of an engagement ring, let’s buy a Serta mattress, so when we get married, we’ll have a deluxe pillow-top upon which to rest our weary bodies.”

“Colleen,” answered my Professor of Economics to be. “You are a breathtakingly practical girl. I knew the moment I set eyes on your intact earlobes—you were the one.”

Our first Christmas as man and wife, I asked my bow-tied, but-not-yet-tenured-professor, if we could scrape funds together and purchase a shop-vac. The sump-pump in the basement of our saltbox was temperamental and I felt sheepish continually borrowing the neighbor’s.

For our second Christmas, we purchased a deluxe rotor-tiller complete with useful attachments for breaking up the backyard clay.

On our third Christmas, I opened a juicer that was guaranteed to run so cool as not to destroy live vegetable enzymes I’d harvest the following summer.

With each Christmas I felt Felix’s admiration intensify. Grain grinders, canners and miniature chicken coops were the tools I utilized to perfect the art of self-sufficient-homemaking.

Practical, down-to-earth, and logical, were the endearments that caressed my unadorned ears.

I knew the reason for the season, and it didn’t include wanton, wasteful, commercialism—even after he earned tenure.

And wasn’t I proud of my humble, noble wants.

Then last Friday, two weeks before Christmas, a foolish longing burrowed itself into my heart. I was brushing my teeth with my homemade spearmint toothpaste, when I had to do a double-take at the medicine cabinet. It looked like I was wearing earrings. I leaned over the sink assembly, relieved to find two perfect teardrop water marks. I leaned back out until the orbs were again settled just below my earlobes.

Well, aren’t those pretty.

“What’s that, Colleen?”

Had I spoken aloud? I wet the bottom corner of my robe and rubbed away the offending image. It didn’t help. Dangly, shimmery drops pervaded my thoughts the rest of the day and then day after day.

“Felix,” I said, a week later, after awakening from a dream where my high school had just voted me: Most likely to have holes in the head. “Are we philosophically, diametrically opposed to ear piercings . . . or is it just our personal preference?”

Felix lifted up onto his elbow. “That’s a strange question.”

“What if Daria wants pierced ears?”

“She’s ten months old—it’s a little early to be worrying.”

“So, it would worry you?”

“Let’s hope she’s as level-headed as her mother.”

That day we were pelted with an ice storm—the kind that crystallizes the world. Diamonds waltzed from every window. The verse about not worrying what we wear came to mind. There weren’t any lilies left, but the bare willow tree branches hung low, weighted with beauty. Did wishing for a glimmer of my own make me a shallow sellout?

“Isn’t that lovely?” I pointed to the ice-encrusted woods backing our property.

“It truly is,” said Felix.

“No wonder diamonds are the most precious stones.”

“You know, we haven’t settled on this year’s Christmas present.”

“Really?” He’d made a leap from diamonds to Christmas presents. Promising.

“You suggested a trash compactor or an industrial compost bin. Both excellent ideas.” He kissed my lips. “You’ve always been breathtakingly practical.”

My spirits crashed through the floorboards and smacked headlong into the sump-pump.

Christmas morning arrived, but we stayed in our posture-pedic positions until Daria demanded, “Ma, Ma, Ma . . .”

“The house smells so good,” said Felix, as we headed down the hallway.

“Cranberry Harvest. Bread machine—Christmas ’06.

He laughed.

Minutes later, the three of us sat cozied-up in the living room. Daria unwrapped the lone gift from under the miniature tree we would plant in the spring. “Bay-bay, bay-bay,” she said, poking the baby’s shiny eyes.

Felix and I would shop for our trash compactor after Christmas—to get the best deal.

“That just leaves this.” He pulled a box from his robe.

“Earrings?” I blurted.

“Nooo—you don’t have pierced ears.”

With a flourish he parted the hinged lid. There sparkled a bouquet of diamonds embedded into a white-gold wedding band. “But it’s so impractical,” I cried, instantly becoming a weepy, slimy mess.

“Colleen—make no mistake—you’re breathtakingly practical, but you’re also my exceedingly exquisite and kind-hearted girl.”

“Ooh,” I cooed, feeling released from hyper-practicality.

“Ooh,” Daria cooed—making a grab for my newly acquired bling.


That didn’t bode well.

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This article has been read 953 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/20/08
I LOVE the voice of this witty story! And the ending is word perfect...Daria's going to give their practicality a real challenge, isn't she? Cute title--sounds like the lyric of a great country song.
Marilyn Schnepp 11/21/08
Cute, practical and ever-so-true to those economical folks that practice what they preach. We sure could use some of this in our world today! Eh? Brilliant writing, as usual; and very unique and creative, which is your cup of tea, as usual. Kudos!
Catrina Bradley 11/21/08
I love it! Especially the last line. Very well worded, and the professor/husband's practical personality came through in his dialog. Great entry!
Joanne Sher 11/24/08
Excellent characterization especially - and that ending is perfect. Fun piece.
Marlene Austin11/24/08
Wow, I was really caught up in this character's life and emotions. Great job. :)
Sharon Kane11/25/08
Brilliant writing, (as usual!) The characters were expertly portrayed. I do think there is a small corner in every woman's heart, even the most practical and the most self-sacrificing women, that needs to be soft, feminine and cherished. It was gorgeous that her husband cottoned on to this just as the yearning was awakening in her.
Lynda Schultz 11/25/08
This was a delight to read from start to finish. Well done.
Betty Castleberry11/26/08
What a fun read to start my morning off! I love the voice, and the ending is priceless. Good for little Miss Daria.
Teresa Lee Rainey11/26/08
This was so much fun. Really enjoyed from start to finish. :)
Dee Yoder 11/26/08
Her new bling, indeed! Inside every female chest, beats the heart of a diamond lover...whether she knows it or not! At some point, there is always an "awakening"! LOL.
Loved this light-hearted and totally fun-to-read story.
Marijo Phelps11/26/08
Very delightful! I can totally relate and now have the diamond eternity righ to prove it!!
Loren T. Lowery11/26/08
Loved this and saw a bit of myself in it from time to time. Isn't it strange when you try not to think of something, you see fragments of it everywhere? Maybe it is God's way of trying to tell us something; and maybe blings are not such a bad thing after all.
Pamela Kliewer11/26/08
Love it! You brought tears to my eyes with the end... her husband surprising her like that. :)
Carole Robishaw 11/26/08
What more can I add? This was great writing, and a terrific story.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/26/08
Well done Lisa--well done!
Chely Roach11/26/08
This was AWESOME...what a perfect title, and great characters. Loved this =)
Joshua Janoski11/26/08
I really love your writing style. I guess it has just the right amount of humor and sarcasm to really appeal to me, and you manage to inject it in almost all of your challenge entries.

I kind of sensed the ending to this coming. I wasn't entirely sure if he would end up disappointing her with another practical gift or if he would break down and buy her something nice, but I leaned more towards the nice gift as I kept reading,

Thank you for sharing your fun sense of humor with all of us.
Leah Nichols 11/27/08
Ha! That's so me, but I do have pierced ears. Two holes, in fact! Excellent work - a well-deserved win!
Dianne Janak11/27/08
This made me want to laugh and cry at once.. I can identify with the whole piece... CONGRATS on a much deserved win!
Leigh MacKelvey11/27/08
Now I'm hooked on your writing. Love the style. This one was really cleverly written. Congratulations on your ribbons!
Sonya Leigh11/27/08
Lisa, Congratulations on your wins--what a cute story--you know how I love your writing. Thanks for being there as a great example.
Connie Dixon11/28/08
Loved the creativity of your story and the practical vs. sentimental. There is certainly room for both. Congratulations!
Sharlyn Guthrie11/30/08
Excellent entry! You played with our emotions a tad, but in the end, hubby turned out to have the right stuff. Congratulations on your EC!