The Official Writing Challenge
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The ending sure wasn't what I expected! I sympathize with your MC - if her brother had suggested a different charity, Toys for Tots maybe - I would have been disappointed at her choice. But she's right - planting trees at Christmas? :)
It's an interesting comundrim, what to do about those more needy than ourselves at Christmas. We know that Mary and Joseph were poor when Jesus was born as they presented the poor person's offering at Jesus' dedication. Likewise Jesus when older relied on the generosity of various sponsors, notably a group of women. But did Mary and Joseph manage to claw their way out of poverty once they had settled in Bethlehem? I don't really know - I dare say their sudden flight to Egypt left them in dire need and that the gifts of the Magi came in very useful then.
At the end of the day Shannon chose well - the joy of giving is designed to be more meaningful and satisfying that the mere act of receiving.
Very thought-provoking, and a captivating read. I also didn't expect the end. Wasn't sure where it was going, but I liked it.