Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)
TITLE: Forever and Ever, Amen.
By Patty Wysong
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Yes, this husband of mine was a Christmas gift from my father. What's that? You mean you've never received a husband as a gift before? Well, all I can say is, be thankful! Once you receive him as a gift, there's no getting rid of him. He's in your life forever and ever, amen. And I know what I'm talking about!
All I wanted for Christmas that year was a word processor. Yes, that was a long time ago, when those things were not your common household appliance. Still, a girl's allowed to dream, isn't she? So when dear ol' dad sent me to the office that Christmas morning to get my gift, I was sure I'd finally struck it lucky and hit the mother lode of Christmas gifts.
The hallway was short and I made fast work of it, my fingers itching to caress my new toy, my mind whirling with the hours of potential delight with such a machine at my fingertips. Never mind about the time it would save me as I slaved over all those college projects and papers I was wading through—those would almost be a delight with that new word processor. Almost.
The office door was closed, and I paused there for a brief moment to take a breath and try to appear cool and composed, but inside I was screaming. Open the door already!
My hand wrapped around the cold doorknob, my fingers almost white with the will power to slow down. I turned the knob and pushed the door open, but the shade was pulled and the lights were off, so I still couldn't see anything.
Ha! They're just trying to be tricky and prolong this, I thought. I reached in and groped for the light switch but that switch was in an odd place and it took me a moment to locate it. I wanted to see, and get my hands on, that word processor so badly I could almost taste it. When I finally felt the switch, I flipped it on impatiently and nearly jumped out of my skin.
Sitting there, in the desk chair, in the dark, was a man. A man with his hair sticking up at odd angles and big smile beneath his beard.
I clapped a hand over my mouth, but, I'm embarrassed to say, not before a shriek slipped out. Once I was confident no more hidden girlieness would slip past me unaware, my hand slid down to make sure my heart was still where it belonged. I just knew it was beating out of my chest like you see on the old cartoons my dad and I were so fond of.
The man just sat there grinning, as if he found me highly amusing. “Merry Christmas,” he finally said in a rough morning voice. And my knees turned to jelly.
“Phil! What are you doing here?” I tried to bluff my way out of my faux pas.
His laugh rumbled from his red checked flannel. I loved that flannel on him. He had told me he couldn't come for Christmas, but here he was.
He shrugged as he gave me a hug. “Work was canceled at the last minute, but I can leave if you want me to.”
“Oh, no you don't!” I pulled him into the living room to confront my smug-faced dad. “And you didn't tell me!”
Dad just laughed and pointed out the living room windows. I turned and looked. There sat a red pick-up that I hadn't noticed in my headlong rush to get to the Christmas tree that morning.
I looked at Phil, in his red checked flannel, and knew I was sunk. Not only was he not a word processor, but he was a man and I thought I was done with men. I tell you, I was doomed.
It's been twenty years since that Christmas, and I have to admit--but certainly not to him!--that he's still the best Christmas gift I've ever received, and I've received some good ones since then. Especially from Phil.
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