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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home for Christmas (11/20/08)

TITLE: I'm Dreaming of a "Pottery Barn" Christmas
By Kristen Hester


I looked around my living room and then glanced down at the open Pottery Barn catalog. Why did a string of Christmas Cards hanging from the mantel look sophisticated on the glossy pages, but resembled a pre-school craft project when I attempted it? I ripped down the cards in frustration and, in defeat, placed my sparse ten-year-old plastic garland along the mantel. I added a few dented candles and pine cones and then hung the stockings. I stepped back to look. Blah. It looked the same as it did every year.

I thought of the house I visited last night. My husband’s boss had our family over for dinner. In Pamela Mason’s house we were greeted with a crackling fire that blazed in a huge fireplace. Gold monogrammed stockings hung from a mantel lined with real greenery and adorned with lit gold candles. Fearful a flying football would topple a candle and burn down our house, I had never even lit my candles.

“Mom,” my son, Bradley, called as he burst into the room, leaving a trail of glitter behind him. “Look what I made you.” My kindergarten Picasso proudly displayed a...um...well, I wasn’t sure what it was, but I had a feeling he was going to want it hung on my Christmas tree.

“Oh, beautiful,” I said as I reached for it, sinking my thumb into a glob of wet glue and glitter.

“It’s the star of Bethlehem. I want to put it on that tree,” he said as he pointed a sticky finger at my beautiful eight-foot, pre-lit evergreen with perfectly positioned and coordinated ornaments. “Not the kid tree.”

“Of course, sweetie,” I answered, surrendering to his innocent blue eyes. I was weak. Every year it was the same. When the kids requested that their decorated toilet paper rolls and fun foam ornaments be hung on the living room tree, rather than the one I put up just for them in the playroom, I always obliged. I was fearful a denial would crush their little spirits and begin a chain of events that would somehow hold me responsible for them one day living in a cardboard box.

I helped Bradley hang his star front and center on my tree and recalled Pamela Mason’s twelve-foot rotating tree graced with large golden ornaments and sighed.

My covetous thoughts were interrupted when Bradley noticed the unpacked box that held our nativity scene. “Hey, it’s the manger scene! I want to find Baby Jesus.” He ran to the box and started rummaging through shredded newspaper.

Nathan heard his younger brother and joined the search. “I bet I can find him first.” Both boys speedily unwrapped the figurines, revealing a headless shepherd, a three-legged lamb and a one-winged angel. It was the boy’s favorite Christmas decoration, and it was well worn in contrast to Pamela’s costly Llardo nativity scene.

My husband came in the room. “Awww,” he said as he wrapped his arms around me. “This room looks great.”

“You’re just saying that,” I replied doubtfully. “It’s nothing compared to the Mason’s house.”

Three sets of male eyes stared at me in disbelief.

“Are you kidding? Our home is way better,” Nathan said.

I wasn’t really surprised that my men wouldn’t prefer the magazine-perfect house to ours. And even I had to admit the atmosphere had been a little tense at the Mason house. When Nathan spied the three-foot white statues of Christmas carolers, my motherly instinct recognized the visions of storm troopers dancing in his eyes. I quickly informed my little Skywalker they were carolers, not Empire enemies and confiscated the light saber he had hidden under his shirt. The Mason house was not decorated for active and imaginative little boys.

Threats of coal-filled stockings and bribes of ice cream cones had been issued to ensure my rambunctious off-spring didn’t do too much damage to the elegant home. They’d been on their best behavior, but looked miserable most of the night. Then there was the awkward moment when Nathan grabbed Mr. Mason’s hand anticipating a pre-meal blessing. Evidently, thanking God for His provisions was not a Mason family ritual.

Yes, I thought with satisfaction, our home was way better than the Mason’s expensive home.

“I have Jesus!” Bradley suddenly yelled out, victoriously holding the tiny ceramic figure in the air.

I smiled at Bradley’s words. Who needed Pottery Barn? We had Jesus, and that’s all our home really needed for a perfect Christmas.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Catrina Bradley 11/28/08
YES! I'd prefer this Christmas home to the Mason's myself. I love the end - he has Jesus, and that's better than perfect Pottery Barn decor.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/28/08
I love this heartwarming account, delineating the difference between a house and a home. You can have Pottery Barn anytime.
Connie Dixon11/30/08
I agree, I would much rather spend the holidays in your home rather than the Mason's. Loved your reference to the therapy-laden future of our offspring. "Ain't that the truth!"
Dianne Janak12/02/08
yes, I could totally relate to the temptation to covet, only to realize things were much better at home...it's sad how many things can put us under unnecessary pressure ... you caught this well on paper. Great writing!
LauraLee Shaw12/04/08
(clears her throat and throws a nudge with the elbow)
Sheri Gordon12/04/08
Congratulations on your EC, Kristen. The message is so simple, yet so powerful. I love how you intertwine subtle humor throughout. And, as usual, your MC's voice is excellent. Wonderful job.
Teresa Lee Rainey12/04/08
I tried commenting on this the other night and my computer froze.

Big Pottery Barn 'magazine' fan here. That caught my eye right away. Love to try to mimic the rooms, but never quite get it :)

This was so very good. I loved all of it; especially the ending. :)
Carole Robishaw 12/04/08
This really was good, and, yes, a home with Jesus is WAY better than a Pottery Barn heartless home. Congrats! Great story.
Pam Carlson-Hetland12/04/08
Excellent, as usual, Kristen! And again, right to to the heart of the matter. I loved the "I have Jesus" exclamation. We can all get trapped in the wrapping of the season. Thanks for un-wrapping the real gift. Good job, my friend!
Diana Dart 12/04/08
Perfect. I could really feel the MC's "dilemma" - what she so wanted to create and admire versus what beauty and blessing she had. Love the boys - the injured manger scene made me giggle! Great story with such a genuine feel to it.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge12/04/08
What a powerful message delivered in a practical way everyone can relate to. Well done...congratulations!
Beth LaBuff 12/04/08
Fantastic ending...congrats, Kristen!
Peter Stone12/06/08
Great point you are making there, Kristen. I've had a similar experience myself. Perfect conclusion with the, "I have Jesus!"