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Magnolia Quarterly

Winter Contest 2016 - 17 "Christmas Shopping"



A Very Special Day of Christmas Shopping

Henry Heitmann – Fort Myers Beach, FL


As a long-retired senior citizen, I have spent many winter seasons living in the South. Recently, however, my mind drifted back to a Christmas shopping trip that I took with my mother when I was about eleven years old. It was on a brisk New York morning, before the advent of shopping malls. It had snowed the night before, and the snow crunched beneath our feet as we walked along. We stopped to buy chestnuts from a street vendor, whose weather-beaten fingers peaked out of his cut out woolen gloves as he nimbly picked the nuts from the glowing charcoals. We studied each holiday decorated store window as the sound of Christmas music from store radios filled the air. We bought steaming containers of hot chocolate from the corner candy store. It was then that I saw my Christmas present sitting in the window of a small shoe store. White buck shoes were in fashion at the time, but these were special because these were beige.

I don't think I ever wanted something so badly. We went inside. They fit perfectly. It didn't matter that the gift was not a surprise. It didn't matter that it was not a toy. It mattered that my mother let me choose my own gift. It mattered that we shopped together, holding hands. It mattered that it is the only Christmas shopping trip that I remember.



The Re-gift

Victoria Fannaly – Ponchatoula, LA


I needed a small gift for a friend in the hospital, so I bought a fruitcake on sale. The tin box had a spot where the red was missing, so I patched it lightly with nail polish and stuck a bow on top. Delighted with my bargain gift, I presented it to my friend who seemed pleased to get it.

A few days later, I had a dinner party. One of the hostess gifts I received was a fruitcake with my nail polish repair near a bow that was different than the one I placed on it. The fruitcake inside was still in the factory seal. There was no obvious connection to my sick friend, so how many times had it been around to come back to me?

Luckily, I had to bring a gift to exchange for the altar society meeting. Leaving the bow on top, I passed it on, glad to be free from the boomerang present. It only took a few days before I got it back at a garden club meeting. Same cake, same repair! Obviously, my friends hated Christmas shopping as much as I did. The cake gave us all a respite from having to find a small gift.

I was tempted to save it for next year’s shopping nightmare, but it would just come back. I ended the cycle and served the accursed cake for Christmas dessert. Generously doused with rum and topped with whipped cream, it was amazing!



Shop Til You Drop

Richard Sponaugle – Alexandria, VA


I’d spent 80 dollars on my soul mate

The best cuts of beef for my dog Kate

Now time is short and I’m low on grub

So I stop at local Dollar Shrub

Here’s something nice for my lovely boss

Dented cans of stale tomato sauce

There’s a perfect gift for my spouse so dear

A plastic Rudolph the Blue-Nosed Reindeer

Termite-ridden wood for my brother

A Tiny Tim CD for mother

What’ll I get for dear old father?

He’s been dead 12 years – why bother?

Oh by this kid’s game sure looks like fun!

A Texas Chainsaw puzzle for my son!

All this arduous Christmas shopping

Leads to all that New Years swapping

All this Christmas shopping Christmas shopping

My body and brain are stopping stopping

I wake up screaming

I was only dreaming

I’m in an alley with a drunken mouse

Too much Christmas shopping cost me my house.



Shopping For Christmas Trees

Carolyn Files – Oak Ridge, LA


You have to see it to believe it. People actually return Christmas trees if they don't look just right in that lovely bay window. The window that has an eight-foot clearance but "Honey" wanted a big tree this year, a ten-foot tree. Well, Honey, it ain't happening. So the tree comes back, and a shorter one is found.

Then there are the arguments, well let's say heated discussions. Whether to flock a tree or to get a green tree. A truly hard decision. Okay, Honey has decided on a flocked tree. NOW... Do we want light, medium, or heavy flocking? Medium flocking is decided on, and customers will pick up the tree. When customers come to pick up the tree, Honey thinks the flocking is too heavy and Dear thinks there isn't enough flocking. And this couple isn't exactly in the newly-wed category.

The not-as-young-as-we-once-were category has a problem with downsizing versus wowing the grandchildren. Believe me, trees add to Christmas, but the kids want the presents UNDER the trees. Do we want fat, or do we want tall? Depends on how much furniture you want to move.

The put-the-tree-up-Thanksgiving-afternoon shoppers have gotten their tree and are good to go right after the turkey and dressing are cleared off the table. These are the folks who take down the tree right after Christmas dinner. Huh, what's Twelfth Night? Beginning of Epiphany?


Christmas Shopping

Sherryl LaPointe – Gulfport, MS


There are few things more exciting than Christmas shopping: the smiles, the music, the friendliness of everyone, even strangers. No matter the age and no matter the budget! In fact, sometimes, a tight budget adds to the excitement: finding the perfect gift at the perfect price. I know I see things through rose-colored glasses, but it is still that way to me.

The best part of “Christmas shopping” is not in the stores. I have to shop in my mind and spirit for the perfect Christmas/birthday gift for Jesus. The fact that we are really celebrating Jesus’ birthday is often forgotten. Many give gifts in his name to churches or charitable organizations. Sometimes, they have birthday cakes for Him. But on my birthday, I’m rather disappointed if the only gift I get is for someone else: a pig for the poverty-stricken in Africa, a donation to the local homeless shelter, or something similar.

One year, I promised to spend more time with Him in prayer and Bible reading. It took two years to get that gift right. Another year, I promised to work on my writing, not just do it haphazardly. Every year, I try to find something new. It’s something just between Jesus and me: not to be shared with anyone else (until now). But I want His birthday/Christmas to be special. That’s why I spend so much time and thought shopping for this one special gift.


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