Home Read What's New Join
My Account Login

Read Our Devotional             2016 Opportunities to be Published             Detailed Navigation

The HOME for Christian writers! The Home for Christian Writers!
The Official Writing Challenge



how it works
submission rules
guidelines for
choosing a level


submit your entry
read current entries
read past entries
challenge winners

Our Daily Devotional HERE
Place it on your site or
receive it daily by email.



how it works   Submit

Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: It’s Christmas Day (in the present or living memory) (11/27/08)

TITLE: Red and Gold
By Chely Roach


It was either going to be the best Christmas morning ever, or the absolute worst.

As the alarm chirped, Glen rolled over and stared into his wife’s sunken eyes. “It’s going to be okay, Bev. They’re teenage boys; they’ll understand…”

With a submissive tear adding to the pool on her pillowcase, she nodded and smiled, “Merry Christmas, Glen.”

“You, too, Sweetheart. God can bring good out of any tragedy; this is no exception.”

Bev laid her head on her husband’s chest, and was lulled back to sleep by the cadence of his heartbeat. In seven fleeting minutes, the persistent snooze alarm roused them to their feet.

As Bev passed the living room on her way to the kitchen, she paused as she eyed the tree. In all their years, it had never looked so barren underneath. There were several gift baskets and brightly wrapped gift for the extended family that they would see later that evening, but the packages of red and gold that were usually spread to the walls were not there. Instead, one red and one gold envelope rested in the branches. In the years past, she and Glen would rise hours before sunrise to arrange their sons’ presents under the tree. When Jeremy, their oldest was born, they started the tradition of wrapping all his “Santa” presents in red foil paper. Two years later, they assigned baby Jacob gold paper. Those gifts never had name tags; each child knew which was theirs and who it was from.

They all loved this tradition, but for Glen and Bev, this year it imploded and devoured itself.

She sighed and moved on to the kitchen, where Glen was starting a morning fire in the sitting nook. Bev poured two cups of coffee and preheated the Viking oven for the cranberry scones she has waiting in the fridge. As the sun rose above the tree line, she could hear movement upstairs.

“They’re up.”

Within ten minutes, the scones were filling the open kitchen with their aroma, and the boys descended down the kitchen staircase with bed-head and smiles. “Mornin’! Merry Christmas, Kiddos.” Glen gave them both hugs and mussed their already mussed hair.

“Smells awesome, Mom,” said Jeremy.

Jacob just put his arm around her waist and gave her a sheepish look as she pulled the baking sheet from the over. Bev glanced at Glen, who took the lead. “Sure, boys, go on in the living room.”

Glen and Bev followed them into the formal living room, where the perfectly decorated tree loomed twenty feet high in front of the towering windows. The boys froze in shock. The absence of red and gold looked uncharacteristic under their familiar tree.

The envelopes still lent a glimmer of hope to Jeremy and Jacob, who slowed knelt at the edge of the skirt.

Both boys opened their envelopes and absorbed the front. They were handmade from construction papers; Jacob’s had a childlike drawing of Christmas tree, and Jeremy’s portrayed a stick figure nativity scene in red crayon. As they opened them, several photographs fell into their laps. Mostly were pictures of kids they didn’t know. Just as Jemremy appeared to be forming the question on his lips, he saw the last picture. It was a plump tree covered in paper ornaments and garland, and underneath were at least fifty red and gold packages. In silence, Jeremy and Jacob glanced back and forth from the photo of the gifts to the card. The inside of each was inscribed with dozens of children’s signatures, and also in crayon, “Thank You, and Merry Christmas from the Evangelical Children’s Home!”

Jeremy looked up at his parents, who were tearfully anticipating their sons’ reactions. “I feel like such a tool.”

“Oh, Sweetie,” Bev sighed, “We have so much. Our home, our family. We didn’t tell you this, but Dad and I were at the mall during the stampede that killed that man. The crowd surged forward when the doors opened and we were violently forced through. I was so scared, but then I felt the softness of that man under my feet as I was pushed over him. Dad and I pleaded for his life, but no one listened. They were blinded by their greed. When we finally got out to the car, we cried, prayed, and asked for forgiveness for our own greed. We don’t want to perpetuate that in you two…anymore.”


“Yeah, Jacob?”

“This is pretty cool and all, but I was wondering…will I still get birthday presents?”

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.

This article has been read 743 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 12/04/08
This recent tragedy should cause us to stop and think about our values, shouldn't it? The ending was a bit jarring but I suppose, typical of a kid. Nicely done.
Sharon Kane12/05/08
You certainly know how to keep the suspense going right to the end! I liked the last line, it made me laugh, and stopped the story from being too sugar sweet, reminding us these were still people, not angels.
Gregory Kane12/09/08
This is a very pleasing take on Christmas morning. I don't know that my kids would have been so generous, although we have taught them over the years to clear out many of their old toys just before Christmas and pass them on to others in the community where we live in Africa. This helps to remind them about the joy of giving and to put the receiving of presents into context.
I really do like your story and I particularly appreciate the way in which you portrayed the emotions of the parents in all of their uncertainty. My one reservation would be that the children didn't get to choose themselves to give to those in the orphanage.
By the way the humour in your last line was perfect
Catrina Bradley 12/09/08
At first I thought they had financial troubles, so no presents. I like your ending better. A very moving story, and so well written!
Karlene Jacobsen12/09/08
I remember the year the home behind us burned on Christmas Eve. My 2 children at the time were complaining about what they didn't get.
I came unglued.
It's sad that it takes a tragedy like this to bring us back to what's really important.
Great story!