Happy Wednesday, everyone! Christmas is around the corner! Hopefully you’ve been able to pick up the last of your gifts and check the last few things off your Christmas to-do list. As you know, there’s nothing I love more than a story (I’ve shared many with you over the past few months) so I thought I’d share a short Christmas story with you this week.
One of the first stories I ever wrote was called “A Promise Is A Promise”. I was about 8 or 9. It was for a story writing contest with a Robert Munsch theme, and we had to write something using the title of his book. I decided to write about the year we got my mom a bread maker for Christmas. And I know that may sound unremarkable . . . but the bread maker Christmas was, for me, the ultimate test.
When I was younger, I had a lot of trouble keeping secrets– especially from my mom, since I tended to relay every thought in my head to her. Every year around Christmas, my dad would take my brother and me to the mall and we would pick out a present for Mom. One year, we got her a pink pyjama set, and by the time she actually opened the gift she already knew what it was because I had given so many hints.
The following Christmas, Dad went on his own to get Mom’s gift. He said it would still be from all of us — from him, from my brother and from me — but that he thought it might be better if I didn’t know what it was.
“Please, Dad!” I begged. “I won’t tell Mom. Please, just tell me what we got her!” He looked dubious, but he eventually gave in. He told me we got her a bread maker — the one Mom had been talking about for months. He made me promise I wouldn’t say anything.
Easier said than done. There were still a few weeks before Christmas, and I was genuinely struggling. My usually chatty self had gone quiet as I tried to keep myself from blurting anything out. Every morning when Mom would serve me breakfast, thoughts would swirl around in my head. We got you a bread maker– the one you’ve been asking for! I know you’re going to love it so much, but I can’t tell you about it . . . I promised!
By Christmas morning, I could barely contain myself. I was the one who handed Mom the gift. “Open this one, Mum! I know what it is, but I’ve been keeping it a secret. Right, Dad?”
Mom’s mouth curled into a smile despite herself. As she peeled off the paper, I was jumping up and down. “It’s a bread maker!” she exclaimed in delight. Some of her enthusiasm might have been for my benefit. “It’s the one you wanted, right Mum? Do you love it? Are you happy?” I kept asking.
A few months after Christmas, I wrote about keeping Mom’s gift a secret for the Robert Munsch contest. It seemed to fit the theme of "A Promise Is a Promise" perfectly, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to reflect on what I learned. Mom sat down with me and helped me get all my ideas down on paper. I included all those morning breakfasts when I could barely contain myself; the moments when I had to leave the room to prevent myself from spilling the beans. I wrote about the satisfaction of finally seeing Mom open her gift on Christmas morning. I reflected on the experience . . . that no matter how difficult it had been to wait, it was worth it to see the surprise on my mom’s face. I reflected on how good it felt to keep my promise to my dad.
About a month after I’d submitted the story, my mom came down stairs to the basement where I had been playing with my friends. She’d just gotten off the phone with the contest organizers. “Melissa, you’re not going to believe this — you won!”
My story . . . about such a seemingly insignificant moment . . . had won. And my prize was being able to perform as an extra in the theatrical version of Robert Munsch’s A Promise Is a Promise. The night of the show, quite a few people approached me to say how much they liked the topic I chose for my story — how much they could relate to it or how they could feel my struggle. It was one of the first moments that a small moment in my life made an impact on a stranger. It was my first experience having a story “published” and I never forgot it. It was what made me fall in love with writing.
It’s amazing to me how small events can have such a huge impact on someone’s life. It’s amazing how we can choose new career paths, create long lasting friendships or discover new passions.
Do you have any Christmas stories that changed your life? Let me know in the comments below!
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