Home > Columns > Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth > The Gifts by Kidd Wadsworth

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She placed the three gifts on the mantle, each beautifully wrapped: one in gold foil paper with a white ribbon it’s bow a dove, the second in green and white striped paper like a mint candy cane was topped with a green paper pine tree, the third in classic red and white Merry Christmas paper was adorned with three large red bows. Otherwise, the room and house were undecorated. She couldn’t bring herself to carry all the boxes of ornaments and lights down from the attic. Mike used to that. He would shout, “Ho, ho, ho and where’s my hot toddy!” Christmas decorating had always begun the same way with Mike carrying box after box down the stairs and her in the kitchen juicing lemons and then screaming, “I forgot to buy bourbon!”

By the time she returned from the store, he’d have the tree up, Christmas music playing, and strings of lights spread out on the floor. “Did you buy replacement bulbs?”

She turned on the gas fireplace. It was cozy room—a lonely room. She pushed down the yearning inside of her soul. “Don’t go there,” she whispered.

She bulwarked heart with memories of other Christmases. Presents and more presents, how rich her parents had been. And each Christmas morning ended the same way, with wrapping paper strown about and delicious smells of ham wafting from the kitchen, and presents, so many presents and not a single gift she liked: clothes, all in shades of navy and mauve, clothes she would never wear, high-heeled shoes that hurt her feet, make-up—didn’t her mother ever look at her face? She didn’t use makeup. At her church they had a Christmas tree with tags on it: stuffed animal, girl’s coat size 8, mittens, boy’s backpack, etc. Surely her Christmases were like the Christmases of those children. All the gifts bought by people who didn’t know them, who didn’t really understand them. Year after year, she slowly learned. Don’t get your hopes up. No one knows you. You are their daughter, but they don’t see you.

Now twenty-eight years old she understood. She had reconciled her expectations to the reality of the world. It was impossible to really know another human being. So, every Christmas she bought herself presents. All sorts of wonderful things like copper cookie cutters and an antique bookshelf. She cooked what she loved including pumpkin pie with extra cloves. She never offered anyone a slice of her pumpkin pie. That would have been cruel—too, too cruel.

And every Christmas she put Mike’s gifts back up on the mantle and dreamed of what could be inside. Their first Christmas together he had stormed out when she refused to open his present. “Please understand, I just can’t be disappointed anymore. What we have is so special, I don’t want to damage it. I can’t bear knowing that you’re the same as my parents. That you don’t really get me.”

He had come back, of course he’d come back. He’d held her.

The next Christmas she’d put the green and white striped present on the mantle, and their third Christmas the present with the red and white Merry Christmas paper. By then Mike had adapted. He brought home hundreds of small things for her. A new mixer, he’d gotten her the red one to match the paint she’d picked out for the kitchen walls. A cup holder for her car that expanded to hold her giant coffee mug. Caffeine and cloves, yup! He was Santa all year long.

“Someday you’ll trust me,” he’d said. “Someday, you’ll open the gifts.”

But that someday didn’t come—no one is supposed to die at twenty-six. She looked up at the gifts on the mantle. “The last two probably just have rocks in them to make them rattle. I mean he wouldn’t keep wrapping up stuff knowing I wasn’t going to open the presents.”

She turned away and turned back again.

“My memories are all I have, Mike. I don’t want to find out that it wasn’t really as good as I thought it was. I don’t want to know that you were only human. You tried hard. I know you did. And this way, I can keep on pretending that you loved me, that you really understood.”

She sipped her hot toddy.


This is the beginning of a story I’m considering for the Bethlehem Writer’s Group new anthology. By the way, did I mention the Bethlehem Writer’s Group’s short story contest is now open for submissions? Click here for details: https://bwgwritersroundtable.com/

Kidd Wadsworths Stories

Author Bio
Author Bio
Kidd writes to bring to life our magical, fire-breathing world. She believes we are super heroes. Its time we put on our capes.
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Kidd writes to bring to life our magical, fire-breathing world. She believes we are super heroes. Its time we put on our capes.
  • DT Krippene says:

    A heart wrenching story of someone who believed you can never really know “another human”. How many people do we know in our lives who are troubled with inability to trust. You’ve certainly captured it in your tale.

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