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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Reason for the Season of Christmas (12/04/08)

TITLE: Under the Tree
By Karlene Jacobsen


The gifts were wrapped, and placed carefully under the tree. My tired bones ached and begged for me to allow them a respite from all the preparations of the season.

My husband implored me to come to bed hours ago, but he had to know I just could not. “It’s for the children.” I reasoned. “Christmas is for the children.”

He sighed wearily as he turned and trudged up the stairs to our room. I waited silently as his heavy footsteps slowed and softened until at last there was nothing. He was in bed. I resented him for that; he just did not understand what Christmas was all about apparently.

One day, our children will be grown and gone with their own families. Christmas will be over for us. You’ll see…I promised the chair that once occupied my husband as though he were still there listening.

I feverishly went about baking cookies for Santa, wrapped every present in shiny silver, red and gold, followed by intricate bows on each package. I made sure the candies were made, ambrosia salad and pistachio pudding. The kids just love those and their colors were just so festive. The ham and turkey were dressed and ready to go in the oven come morning.

Pride filled my heart. I scanned the room before turning out the lights. The children will be so happy when they see all that I’ve done. Dan will be sorry one day that he was not here helping more. I just know he will.

The stairs mocked me when I pondered the climb. Deciding against it, I turned to where the recliner welcomed me with open arms. I fell into it gratefully and allowed my eyelids their rule as they sealed shut for a much needed midnight nap.

“You don’t remember, do you Sarah?”

“What? Who are you? What do you mean?”

“Sarah, I miss you.”

“How can you miss me, I don’t even know you.” I searched about, seeing no one. The voice was familiar, but I’m sure we’ve never met.

“I’m over here, Sarah…” I followed the voice. I searched and searched. Becoming frustrated, I decided to give up and go back to bed. “Sarah, I miss you.”

My eyes fell on the nativity beneath the tree. There they were, that little family, the wise men, the shepherds, and all those little animals, all present and accounted for. My gaze moved from them to the figure of a man standing just beyond a cross. Was he crying?

I knelt down to get a closer look. “Sarah, I miss you,” he said.

“I don’t understand. I’m right here…” I began then realized I had been preoccupied with activity and forgot about him. I began to weep. “I’m sorry, I’ve missed You too. Please forgive me.”

“Mommy, what are you doing?” Tommy, my six year old stood over me, hands on his hips.

I ran a hand through my hair, rubbed my eyes and struggled to sit up. “Why?”

“You were sleeping under the tree!” His tone took on that of a prosecuting attorney.

I glanced around, trying to get my bearings straight. Apparently he was right. “I don’t know how I got here.” I confessed.

“Mommy loves Jesus!” my two year old exclaimed her finger pointing at my hand where I was holding a figure of Jesus tightly.

“Yes I do. And do you know why?” fully awake now, I realized why I was laying under the tree sleeping.

“Why?” I heard Dan louder than the children.

“Well, it was because of Him that we celebrate Christmas. He came to earth to redeem us from sin and give us life. No one really knows what day He was born, so we celebrate on this day. His birth isn’t the end of the story; would you like to hear all of it?”

“YEAH!” They all shouted. Dan brought over his Bible and read the story from Luke and told of Jesus death and resurrection.

He finished, closed his Bible and looked over at me, eyes glistening. “So, Christmas still for the children?”

“No, it’s for all of us.” I walked over and wrapped my arms around his neck. “Thank you for your patience.” There we held each other as we watched the children tear through their presents.

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This article has been read 833 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 12/11/08
I wept. That should give you a clue as to how well you did in your entry. Very touching, very well done, and right on target. To create tears in the eyes of a reader at the end, my friend, THAT is the sign of a Writer of great merit! Kudos!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge12/11/08
Beautifully done! Powerful message.
Teresa Lee Rainey12/16/08
This is really, really good. I felt happy tears threatening when she awoke with 'baby Jesus' in her hand. :)
Carole Robishaw 12/16/08
This was a very good reminder of how we get so wrapped up in wrapping up that we don't think about the why's or the how's, just the what's. Thanks
Betty Castleberry12/16/08
I like this very descriptive line: “You were sleeping under the tree!” His tone took on that of a prosecuting attorney.

Good message; nicely done.

Connie Dixon12/16/08
I loved how the voice brought your mc back to her senses and back to the true meaning of Christmas. It's so easy to get "caught up." We learn 2 very important lessons from your story. Nice job!
Pamela Kliewer12/16/08
Thank you so much for this. Well done, great message. I love that her husband was patient with her. He realized what she was doing, but he didn't pressure her. I like how it's implied that he prayed for her.
Jan Ackerson 12/16/08
You have some really good bits here, the sort of phrases that make me sit up and take notice.

I was a bit perturbed by the husband--since he was the one who knew what Christmas is really all about, why was he so passive about it? It didn't seem patient to me, but as if he'd yielded to his off-track wife.

Excellent writing, and very thought-provoking.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/16/08
I loved the story of your mc's "awakening" to the true meaning of Christmas.
Lyn Churchyard12/17/08
Loved it! You've given us a timely reminder about what the season of Christmas is really all about. It's true; we rush about a lot of the time and exhaust ourselves when we should be savouring the joy and promises of Christmas.
Leah Nichols 12/17/08
Wonderful! I loved it....very poignant. I'd be surprised if you didn't place. :)
Sharon Kane12/17/08
A lovely story, with a very powerful awakening in the MC.
I read what you said on the bulletim board about the husband. I think you draw out well that sometimes it is only the Holy Spirit who can get through to us; we can be so deaf to other messengers. But, it can also be read that Sarah 'wears the trousers' and the husband is a bit hen-pecked and has settled into a weary attitude of 'anything for a quiet life'. In this way I can see why you are getting mixed feedback on this point! Don't let that distract you overly much though. The story is very moving and you make the point so well that Christmas is not first and foremost for the children, but for JESUS. And particularly that he wants to fellowship with us. Well done!
Catrina Bradley 12/17/08
I love your MC's "conversation" with Jesus, and her realization that she had forgotten Him amongst all the hustle & bustle. I noticed a couple of tense shifts, and time-line issues (e.g. the first paragraph says the presents were wrapped, but then later she wraps them). The story ends well, and I really enjoyed it.