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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)

TITLE: One Giant Step
By Verna Cole Mitchell


It was Christmas morning, and Jenna was lying on the floor in front of the tree while she waited for the rest of the family to wake up. Just thirteen, she was boldly stepping away from childhood and tiptoeing into becoming a young woman. Dreamily, she watched the twinkling of the tree lights that she had turned on when she came downstairs.

The knowledge that her heart’s desire was about to be fulfilled had kept her awake. Jenna had been hinting for several months, more than hinting--declaring, that what she wanted most in the world was a dainty feminine watch with a stretchy band . Her mom had even told her that this was not a present beyond the family’s less than ample means. She picked up a small box wrapped in sparkly paper and imagined that it was hers, though it had no name on it.

With her brown eyes half closed, Jenna traveled on wheels of memory to five years earlier, when she had wanted a bicycle for Christmas. Although Dad had told her that times were hard and money was short, she had still hoped. Then when Christmas morning had come, and there was no bicycle, her sunny nature had departed to leave behind a sullen pout.

She had been so unhappy that she’d tossed aside the new Bible story book, in spite of how much she loved to read. As for her new doll, she and her big brother had ripped off its arms and legs and head to use the firm rubber body as a football. An unfortunate misplaced kick had landed their makeshift football in the sewer.

She had barely tasted the feast her mother and grandmother had worked so hard to prepare, even though some of her favorite things were on the table, especially her mom’s chocolate cream pie. Her grandmother, usually her staunch ally, had said, “Young lady, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. I never got such nice presents when I was a little girl.”

Then in the afternoon, when she had seen her parents standing at the living room window, she walked over to see what they were watching. Standing beside them, she saw a man jump out of a pickup truck and lift a beautiful blue bicycle out and roll it up to the porch. Her excitement had been overshadowed by the shame she felt from her bad behavior.

Jenna’s reverie was interrupted when her mom and dad came into the tree-lit room, along with an excited chorus of chatter from her siblings. She waited quietly while the younger ones opened presents. Then her dad handed her the little package she’d already seen and smiled his sweet smile. “I hope you’ll like it,” he said.

With trembling hands she tore open the wrappings and found a little box. Not even glancing at the writing on the box, she lifted the lid and prepared to gush over her present. She was stunned when she saw the big round face of a Mickey Mouse watch. Jenna felt like a grapefruit had lodged in her throat, and she couldn’t swallow. She knew her beloved dad had done the shopping, and she thought he had understood that she was a young woman now. She had an image of herself, walking into her class at school with a child’s watch on her wrist. .

As she recalled the way she’d acted when she hadn’t received the bicycle that long-ago Christmas morning, she determined that the tears filling her eyes would not spill over, and though he had disappointed her, she would not hurt her dad’s feelings. With her head bowed and eyes downcast, she dutifully thanked her parents for the gift.

Laying another present in her lap, Dad said, “Jenna, it looks like I got the packages mixed up. That watch must be for your little sister; this one is yours. With not quite the same enthusiasm as previously, she unwrapped the package and again found a little box. When she opened it, there was a heart-shaped, dainty feminine watch with a stretchy band. Then she could let the tears fall, pretending they were happy tears. While she hoped the fun-loving Dad, who had always been her hero, would never know the depth of the disappointment she had suffered, she felt like she had taken a giant step into womanhood.

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This article has been read 976 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 11/21/08
Wonderful descriptions. I could feel Jenna's emotions so clearly.

It might be me, but I got confused at the end. Why was she disappointed if she got the watch she wanted, even though she got the wrong box at first? Maybe I am reading it wrong.

Your language was quite poetic and lovely.
Holly Westefeld11/24/08
You did a great job of putting me inside Jenna's head and heart, sharing her victory of maturity. This was one of my favorites in Masters this week.
Dee Yoder 11/24/08
I've had moments that I regretted, too. And they sure know how to come back and haunt me...don't you wish we could turn back the clock and take away those moments when we acted ungrateful and immature? Wish I could say that I totally outgrew that little girl--but sometimes, I still disappoint myself with my selfish attitude. Lovely story.
Teresa Lee Rainey11/25/08
I love this. Having been very much like Jenna, I felt her anguish. :)
Catrina Bradley 11/25/08
I was so proud of Jenna, swallowing her disappointment when she got the "wrong" present (was that a joke on her dad's behalf?), AND recognizing her step into growing up.
Laury Hubrich 11/26/08
This certainly was a giant step in the maturity of this young girl. Very good story:)
Loren T. Lowery11/26/08
I think we have all been in Jenna's shoes at one time or another, but not all of us learned the lesson. I can see and understand your title more clearly now and I think your message is a fine example of how one can handle the ups and downs in our lives. IMHO, we need more example like this.
Betty Castleberry11/26/08
Jenna did indeed take a giant step. This was sweet, and conveys a good lesson, too.
Pamela Kliewer11/26/08
Great read. I really enjoyed this. Growing up is hard... but oh what a joy it is when we recognize a step of growth.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/26/08
Great lesson in a tender story.
Joshua Janoski11/26/08
I like the lesson you conveyed in this story about learning to be content and thankful for everything we receive.

I too got a bit confused at the last few sentences. It did seem like she was still disappointed after receiving the more feminine watch, but I might have been reading it wrong.

Regardless, it was a good story with a good lesson. Thank you for sharing this.
Shirley McClay 12/13/08
I have been in a similiar position and understand her emotions totally. It takes a while for that hurt to go away even when it has no reason to be there anymore. Been there... way too often.

Beautifully written.