Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)
TITLE: To Dad
By Yvette R
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In the end I bought blank cards from the craft store. Not the boxed kind with either the over-zealous Santa, or the frozen nativity scene on the front. Those are the guilt cards you buy to cover for those who reminded you of their existence by unexpectedly sending you a card of their own. Instead I bought the recycled kind: ones that are pale and rough; that have been through so many washes that no memory of what they once were remains engrafted in their fibres. The kind that will absorb your ink and words so deeply that they seem made for you alone. And in the end that is what I wanted: something made for you alone.
There is a type of intimacy in making someone a card: in starting with nothing but a folded blank sheet, and impressing upon it the colours of your personality, and the words of your heart and mind. It is a relationship in the making: the crafting of two very different lives into one fragile creation that is to hold the love and hope and expectation of both the sender and the receiver. It is a lot to ask one small missive to do: to be the carrier and the keeper of the bond between us. Yet as I rest the faceless card atop the solidity of my desk, I know there is no better way.
It’s been years since I have sketched or painted; years since I have taken the time to create something uniquely mine for someone else. The pencil lines are pale across the paler page, and as the simple shape takes form, the memory takes form too. We used to search endlessly for these, you and I. We’d run our fingers like delicate combs through the sand, or patiently tread across stone-drenched shores, seeking our special treasure. Sand dollars, they call them, but you and I know their real value. They are so fragile, so easily fractured and broken, that to find one whole and undamaged is to find a miracle itself. And yet somehow one of us would always be triumphant, and we would laugh and admire it for the miracle that it was: a beautiful message of the Christmas story, a fragile bond between father and daughter.
As brush strokes replace pencil, and the sweep of watercolours washes a distance shore across the page, I recall those Christmases we spent together, exploring the lagoons where you spent your youth, and took me to spend mine. The winter stripped trees outside slowly disappear, and I am once again a child, listening to the gulls and smelling salty agapanthus air. You were younger then too, dark hair blowing in the wind as we stood upon the rocks and watched the boats sail carefully by; and I wish that I could paint it all into the fabric of this card, but instead I paint a simple sea behind an unbroken sand dollar, and know that only you will understand that there is no better image of Christmas for you and me.
As I set the card aside to dry, I wonder if this childishly painted card will paint for you a broader memory just as it does for me. I want you to remember and to smile; to hold this card in your hands and know that as we were then, so we will always be. I want to put it into words, to carry all that lies within my heart into this simple card for you; but I know, even as I pick up my pen, that there are no words to say all that I want to say. And so the hours slip away, and small boats of crumpled pages sail across my silent desk before I carefully pen my Christmas card to you.
It will leave for you tomorrow; travel two continents and an ocean; and arrive with one perfectly whole sand dollar and one miracle of love…a card uniquely ours, and made for you alone.
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