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#44541 - 12/20/05 09:10 PM and the winner is
Dotsie Offline

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland

That's right. Wait 'til you read her story. The queen won the November/December Writing Contest by sharing a Christmas memory. Here you go. It will also appear in the OUR VOICES section of BWS.

The Christmas I Learned to Love

I was furious, but in my defense, ten years old. I can still see the blue skirt in my mind. It was such an ugly thing.

There it was … the largest box under the tree. The largest box with MY name on it! I just knew it was the beautiful, soft white coat I had asked for earlier that week. With growing anticipation and excitement, I slid my chubby fingers under the tape and with a “slit, slit, slit,” I had the tape and paper off both ends. I did notice the extra tape which meant Mother had probably caught on to my present “previews.” But even knowing this, I was still determined to see what was inside. They were my presents, so why not open them a little bit before Christmas? Where’s the harm? I always told myself I would act just as surprised come Christmas morning.

I sat there in shock and disbelief. What I pulled out was the ugliest skirt I had ever seen. It was black and blue plaid, was this coarse, natty material, and weighed a ton. That was why I though it was a coat. I wanted to tear it into shreds. How dare they! Did they really think I would go out in public wearing something that resembled a rug? Had my parents lost their minds? This monstrosity also had pleats. AND…even worse, it was homemade. I was devastated. I wrapped the ugly thing back up and slid it back into its place of prominence under the tree. So much for Christmas, I thought.

That night I went to bed full of resentment. I laid there thinking about all of the things I had done the past month to be a “good” girl. And all for this? One lousy present and it was something that would make me look stupid? My thoughts were evil ones. Then I heard voices coming from the living room and it sounded like arguing. I tiptoed to the closed bedroom door and leaned in to hear what the fuss was all about. I heard my Daddy raising his voice in anger and bitterness, which was totally out of character for him. I was shocked and didn’t dare breathe; I had to hear what was being said on the other side of the door.

“I feel like a failure! I wanted the girls to have such a great Christmas this year honey, but there just isn’t any work out there. Construction work is down everywhere, and I’m lucky to have brought home the money I did. I feel so bad for our girls. And for you. I have nothing for you. I’m so sorry!” I could almost feel Mother’s arms going around him as she said, “James, you know that family is the most important thing in this world, and look at what all we have now! We have our home, our health, and these wonderful five girls, and each of them has a gift under the tree. Our dear friend Lida Mae had lots of material left over from her other customers so she made a skirt for each of the girls for free. You cannot help it if you’re out of work. It will turn around, you just wait and see. Honey, I love you, and you ARE my present. Now, let’s pray together, okay?” And then I heard my parents lift their voices to God in thankfulness for all that we had, and for the ultimate gift, Christ, His son, who died for our sins.

I never told my parents that I overheard their conversation that night. As a matter of fact, I’ve never told anyone, until now. When I opened the large box the next morning, it was with much tenderness. It wasn’t with the furor I usually displayed getting to the prize inside. I was savoring the moment, full of love and new understanding of the sacrifices my parents made for me and my sisters, and also knowing that ultimately, every sacrifice was for us, their beloved children, and our well being. Just like God.

As I opened the big box, I remember thinking this was the most beautiful skirt I’d ever seen in my life. I hugged it, and held the skirt close to my heart. It became a symbol of my parent’s devotion and love for me, and for each other.

I grew up that Christmas. I learned a lot about what matters, and what doesn’t. I had been given the gift of understanding … and for the first time in my young life, I understood love.

#44542 - 12/20/05 09:22 PM Re: and the winner is
countrygirl51 Offline

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 221
Loc: Clifton, Ks. USA
This is a lovely story. How fortunate for you that you did open your gift early, and that you did overhear their conversation. How much sadder your parents would have been if you had shown your earlier disgust at the homemade skirt in front of them! I think God had a hand in making sure you heard them talking. This story has a lesson for all of us. Sometimes circumstances are not what we believe them to be, and gifts can come in unexpected shapes and forms.
Merry Christmas JawJaw!

#44543 - 12/20/05 11:06 PM Re: and the winner is
Eagle Heart Offline

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 4876
Loc: Canada
What a beautiful and memorable story! Thank you for sharing in such a way that put me right there under that tree with you. I felt the disappointment and the anger...and then felt the tenderness and understanding too. It made my eyes leak, and my heart rejoice. Thanks JJ.

#44545 - 12/21/05 01:43 AM Re: and the winner is
Evie Offline

Registered: 08/27/03
Posts: 791
Loc: Nipigon, Ontario Canada
awesome...........Merry Christmas [Smile]

#44546 - 12/21/05 02:23 AM Re: and the winner is
Pam Kimmell Offline

Registered: 01/27/04
Posts: 1423
Loc: Warrenton, Virginia
JJ what a magnificant touched my heart as indeed YOU have so many times in so many ways. What a wonderful gift you received in actually hearing your parents that night - you learned a lot about them, yourself, and faith itself. A tender tribute to the season, and a Christmas story that's truly "all about love".

#44547 - 12/21/05 04:12 AM Re: and the winner is
jawjaw Offline
Da Queen

Registered: 07/02/03
Posts: 12025
Loc: Alabama
I thank you all. God has continued to give me humbling experiences on an "as needed" basis, but this lesson was one I'd never shared before now. I appreciate your comments!


#44548 - 12/21/05 04:16 AM Re: and the winner is
yepthatsme2 Offline

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 816
Loc: Fredericksburg, Va.
Wonderful memory...thought I was the only one to open presents before Christmas.
Makes me wonder about those saddle oxfords I received many years ago.

Thanks, for sharing your heart.

#44549 - 12/21/05 06:26 AM Re: and the winner is
LSmith5434 Offline

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 370
Loc: Washington State
What a beautiful story. My eyes are leaking to.
I call it a true Love Story!

#44550 - 12/21/05 07:35 PM Re: and the winner is
NHJackie Offline

Registered: 09/22/05
Posts: 868
Loc: Merrimack, NH

Your story is wonderful. And you wrote it so beautifully.

#44551 - 12/21/05 07:58 PM Re: and the winner is
chickadee Offline

Registered: 09/26/04
Posts: 3910
Loc: Alabama
Beautiful...just beautiful.


#44552 - 12/22/05 08:57 AM Re: and the winner is
DonnaJ Offline

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 1076
Loc: Ohio, USA
You made me cry. But that's a good thing, 'cause I loved your story. Congrats on your win. You're always a winner in my book. Love ya, girl!


#44553 - 12/22/05 01:49 AM Re: and the winner is
chatty lady Offline

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 20267
Loc: Nevada
JJ this brought a tear to my eyes and such a good feeling to my heart. Wonderfulfully written!

#44554 - 12/22/05 02:30 AM Re: and the winner is
AvalonBlondi Offline

Registered: 11/07/05
Posts: 1096
Loc: West Chester ,PA
JJ...your story is the definition of Heartwarming...Congratulations on your win...and for sharing your heart with us....

#44555 - 12/22/05 09:16 AM Re: and the winner is
meredithbead Offline
The Divine Ms M

Registered: 07/07/03
Posts: 4894
Loc: Orange County, California
Kleenex time...

What a beautiful story! Congrats Jawjaw on an absolutely wonderful memory. [Big Grin]

#44556 - 12/22/05 12:26 PM Re: and the winner is
Searcher Offline

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 645
Loc: boise
What a heart-grabber!!! No wonder you are who you are - and I'm with Countrygirl - no accident, this.....

What a very special way to deeply understand who your family was and who you are. Talk about a Christmas Miracle! The Miracle of deep love, sacrifice, hope, and encouragement all rolled into one little ugly skirt!!!

And a great read, JJ. Thanks and congrats - and treat us to more!


#44557 - 12/22/05 11:22 PM Re: and the winner is
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Wow! No other words to describe the story.

#44558 - 12/22/05 11:33 PM Re: and the winner is
TVC15 Offline

Registered: 09/03/04
Posts: 2538
Loc: North Carolina
I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading your story, not only because I felt like I was there with you but also it reminded me of a far away Christmas when I too received nothing but handmade gifts.
And I wish I still had them!

#44559 - 12/23/05 12:21 AM Re: and the winner is
starting over Offline

Registered: 06/30/05
Posts: 383
Loc: Illinois
I don't know who wrote this but I am still drying my eyes. What a truly wonderful story with just the right message. Thank you for sharing!

#44560 - 12/23/05 02:31 AM Re: and the winner is
ladybug Offline

Registered: 09/22/05
Posts: 1402
JawJaw, congratulations on this very beautiful story. It definetely was deserving of the honor of winning!

#44561 - 12/23/05 04:24 AM Re: and the winner is
Searcher Offline

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 645
Loc: boise
oh by the way, I kept thinking your story reminded me of something else and couldn't think what. Now , I remember, "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry. His story , in content, was no different from yours - (you could use just a "little" counsel to get to HIS perfection, but hey, we all need to start somewhere ---LOL, and most assuredly meaning myself, as I am the lowest of the low and glad to be there)and I , personally, take this to heart. JJ, you have been an inspiration to me on this most eventfull holiday of my life...........Thank you and your most wonderful of parents........

Wishing you and yours all the wonders of your parents' dreams and the security of them as well..........


#44562 - 12/24/05 09:19 PM Re: and the winner is
Doctor Karen Offline

Registered: 07/14/05
Posts: 99
Loc: San Francisco
JawJaw, Thank you for sharing such a touching Christmas memory. It reminded me of a truly beautiful teal and black pleated wool skirt and matching scarf that my mother made me when I was in junior high (all the rage in 1956!). She was quite the seamtress and and made all my clothes when I was growing up.

I even remember the blue and red gingham dress with its white pique yoke and three shiny red buttons when I was four! I was sad when she started working more and I had to buy store-bought dresses that looked like everyone else's.

Every dress and blouse and skirt was a gift of love from a mother who was a single parent almost from the day I was born, who could have wallowed in unhappiness, but instead made our lives the best that they could be. She even supervised the construction of a brand new home for us when we lived in Colorado Springs. A supermom before her time.

This is my first Christmas without her...but my home is filled with her embroideries, beautiful reminders of her talent and her love. My comfort is that she is with our Lord and organizing all the angels in heaven. How that little 5'3" woman could get things done!

#44563 - 12/25/05 04:11 AM Re: and the winner is
Thistle Cove Farm Offline

Registered: 01/01/04
Posts: 678
Loc: Tazewell County, VA, USA
What a lovely story, JJ. Thanks for writing it.

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