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

TITLE: The Gift Unacknowledged
By Catrina Bradley


Shawna casts her eyes around the den. Her in-laws are surrounded by the aftermath of Christmas. Crumpled wrapping paper and discarded ribbon litter the carpet. Blinking lights reflect off bent boxes. She would have been reminded of her Christmases past, except for the downcast expressions on the faces of her new family. Where are the smiles? Where is the joy? It’s Christmas Day, for crying out loud. Your savior was born this day for you! Her own joy fades; her smile wilts.

Her heart snaps in two when she hears a niece exclaim, “Where’s my Hannah Montana Malibu Beach House? I specifically asked for a Hannah Montana Malibu Beach House and I didn’t get it.” The little girl’s face is all apout, the stack of opened gifts in front of her ignored. Where is gratitude? Where is contentment?

She wants to weep as she witnesses the children greedily salivating over the cash and gift cards they’d received. “I got $75 cash, and $50 in cards What’d you get?” “No fair! You got more than I did!”

Only leftovers remain of the feast her mother-in-law had spent days planning, preparing, and cooking, and the Christmas china has been washed and put away until next year. The tree is forlorn, bare of the presents so carefully selected and wrapped in the preceding weeks. Along with the food and the wrapping paper, it seems all joy has departed from the house and the holiday.

Shawna’s heart cries out to the One she knows must share her sorrow.Father, my Father, what have we become? What have Your children done with Your Son? Forgive us. Convict us.

The angel humbled himself before God, prostate with grief and with expectation, the confusing combination of emotions causing him anguish. “My Lord, surely the end is near. I’ve witnessed such a maligning of Your gift. A travesty. Your people have forgotten their Creator; they are ambivalent toward their Savior. They’ve made a mockery of the day they themselves chose to celebrate His first coming. His second coming cannot far off, can it? Surely You will call Your children home soon?”

God sadly shook His head. “If only it were so, but, alas, worse is yet to come. You must remain vigilant at your post. Guard the woman. Protect her from our enemy.”

Shawna fakes a yawn and rubs her right eye as a subterfuge for drying a tear. A comforting arm drops over her shoulders. She turns to look into the eyes of her husband and meets sunshine. She reaches for his hand and closes her eyes.

Thank You, Lord, that I am not alone here in my love for You. Thank You for the gift of Life, the gift of Love…the gift of Your Son. Help me remember how precious Your gift is, and most of all, help me share it with those I love.

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This article has been read 997 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marlene Austin11/24/08
A beautiful message, beautifully written. :)
Gregory Kane11/25/08
This is so good, an excellent commentary on society's focus on the gift received rather than the love given. I liked the sudden aside into Heaven as it gave your story that unique twist that made it rise above other more predictable commentaries. Yet I wasn't entirely convinced by the Father's reaction. How many times must our eternal, all-knowing God have shaken his head at our selfishness? It seemed to evoke a sense of surprise in God when a token of weary acceptance might have served better. Ponder it. But nevertheless a definite pleasure a read.
Joanne Sher 11/25/08
Just beautiful. I love the "angelic interruption." An excellent reminder and commentary on our culture.
Teresa Lee Rainey11/25/08
Truly felt for your MC in the first part of this story. Could see what she saw through your words and felt her disappointment.

For some reason, I lost that intimate connection with the heavenly scene. Maybe something to do with the focus being shifted from her troubled family to a larger world view? Then again, that's just my opinion.

Otherwise, I love the story and very much appreciated the ending.
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/25/08
Your title expresses your story perfectly. I love your endin, where the shared appreciation of God's gift shines. This is a story to convict and to remind of where our focus for Christmas should be.
Leah Nichols 11/26/08
I liked it. Great message....wonderful writing. Well done!
Loren T. Lowery11/26/08
Loved this line, especially, "She turns to look into the eyes of her husband and meets sunshine. She reaches for his hand and closes her eyes."

And I really, really liked the message and seeing that others still believe! Loren
Betty Castleberry11/26/08
You did a great job reminding us what the season is really all about. Love the glimpse into Heaven as well. I enjoyed this read.
Chely Roach11/26/08
Fantastic piece...What a somber commentary on "the body". Sad, but true.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/26/08
Very well written message!
Joshua Janoski11/26/08
It is sad to see what Christmas has become to so many people. This story is a very important reminder of Who we need to focus on during the holiday season.

The POV shift confused me for a moment, but then I was able to catch on to what was happening.

I think this is a message that needs to be heard. I appreciate you sharing it.