Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)
TITLE: The Scarlet Letter
By Craig Lankford
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Given our relationship, I wouldn't expect to hear from him. It is so bad that he wouldn't even send the proverbial holiday fruitcake . . . even if it were poisoned. We haven't spoken in years and the last "chat" we had bordered on a nuclear holocaust. I suspect he occasionally kept in touch with my wife, Beth, however, she never mentions it. I don't even hear from him on Father's day, why would he send a card? The envelope was a bit fat, like there was something in it besides a card. It is probably court summons with him suing me for ruining his life.
Beth came by and put her hand on my shoulder. She looked at me in silence. Our son was not a topic for discussion under any terms. She simply told me that she leaving to do a couple of errands. She gave me a peck on the cheek and I watched her walk out the door. I turned my attention back to the letter. The letter stared back at me from the kitchen table.
Ben is a lot like me . . . too much. He looks, acts and talks much like I do. He is every bit as stubborn as I and he has my temper as well. That is the reason we got into the arguments that cut our ties. He and I are lousy pen pals. I rarely commit anything to paper and he had always followed suit. It is a labor for us to sign a check . . . . or a greeting card. Maybe his wife put him up to it, or forced him to sign it. But the handwriting on the outside of the envelope was his too. Not even his wife could strong arm him into doing that if he wasn't willing. Maybe he did it knowing that I would feel stymied by this whole situation. I should just throw the stupid thing away. I won't let him bait me like this!
I picked up the letter and moved towards the garbage can but, it opened. A couple of pieces of paper fell out. I stiffly bent over to pick up this trash. I looked at them. The pieces of paper were colored construction paper and had crayon drawings on them. I recognized the name of my grandson, but who were the other two names? Could he have had two more children? Could it have been that long?
I slowly drew the card from the envelope, sitting back in the chair. On the outside, the card was your typical Christmas greeting card. The inside was filled with my son's handwriting. There wasn't a bit of white left inside.
Against my will, I began to read. It simply began with, "I'm sorry." Concisely, he put the bottom line up front. He regretted our fights, especially the final one. He mentioned he had become a Christian and it had radically changed both his life and thinking. While he didn't agree with everything I said, he felt such differences weren't worth the fights and hoped for my forgiveness. Christ's forgiveness in his life made him seek healing between us. He mentioned the verse about raising children in the way they should go and in their old age they will not depart from it, but, that between then, many wander like the Hebrews in the wilderness. He did have two more children, twins. A family photo was included. He felt there was too much to say for just a card.
I stared at the letter, speechless. Ben was right, there wasn't room to say everything that needed to be said. However, in his few words, even in simply sending the card, he said a lot. I kept rereading the note. My vision blurred as my eyes watered. Um, allergies. I can't tell you how long Beth was gone shopping, nor how long she was standing there before I noticed her return. She knew, something had changed. Putting things in writing does something to our words.
It looks like I need to write a Christmas card. I have a lot to say. I better get started.
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