Tag Archives: Christmas gifts

The  Christmas Gift  –  by A M Smith ©

This short-short story was my entry to our Writers’ Circle monthly writing exercise.  The prompt was, “underneath the Xmas tree…”  which starts off  the story. Read on!  

Underneath the Xmas tree lay the long box, the contents of which would end my marriage, remove that which I held most dear. I didn’t know it at the time of course, and hindsight is hardly useful after the event.

I noticed Pam’s expression when she spotted the long box  under the tree on Christmas Eve. She looked at the box, and turned to me with an odd expression. A mixture of despair and anger, I suppose.

“If that’s my gift,“ she said slowly, pointing at the box, “you obviously didn’t buy me perfume, like I asked you to, did you? You just don’t get it, do you?” she snapped, and left the room, slamming the door behind her.

Women! What can I say? I was accustomed to her seemingly eternal disappointment. I shrugged, and went outside to brush stray leaves off my front lawn. Although small, it was perfect in every respect.  Edges neatly trimmed, grass evenly mowed; glowing  emerald green, despite the deepening dusk. I surveyed it with pride, and felt my customary  warm glow of satisfaction.

Christmas Day came and went. Pam’s  lukewarm reception of  her Christmas gift  was unsurprising. I can’t bear wasting money, and perfume – I ask you? An   overpriced product with over-elaborate packaging; a few squirts and it’s all gone. Whereas the new Hoover I bought  her for Christmas would last us for years. A five year guarantee on the motor, the latest technology, light and easy to handle, and only a subdued hum when you switched it on. I gave it a trial run on the lounge carpet. It worked like a dream, as I knew it would.

Returning to work after the Christmas weekend came as a relief. To say the domestic atmosphere had been  frosty would be an understatement. But I bore it with my accustomed cheerfulness. These things are sent to try us, as we all know.

I walked briskly from the station, down our street towards home, a nice cup of tea, and then some  lawn maintenance – the perfect end to my day.

Hello, I thought, what’s a taxi doing outside our house?

And: why is there soil on the pavement outside our property?

   And then: What’s the new Hoover doing on my  lawn? why is my long extension cord running out  through the lounge French Doors?

As I hesitated by our gate, trying to make sense of  these unusual  factors, Pam burst out of the front door, wearing her coat, and yanking her biggest wheelie suitcase behind her.

She pointed to the Hoover in the middle of my lawn.

“Seeing you’re so keen on the Hoover and your bloody lawn, I thought I’d put the two together and make life absolutely marvellous for you – now you can Hoover your lawn and have the most perfect grass in the world!”

I stood there gaping.

“Watch!” she commanded, abandoning her suitcase, marching onto my lawn – in high heels,  in high heels! How could she? My lawn …

Pam grabbed the Hoover, kicked the start button and it purred into life, moving smoothly and efficiently over the grass.

“See?” yelled Pam. “The perfect combination  – you and the Hoover on your ruddy lawn. Now it can be spotless. You love spotless, don’t you?  And don’t worry about  the grass mucking up the Hoover engine, I’ve taken care of that too, don’t you worry!”  She shot me a malevolent glare as she barged through the gate, wrenching  her suitcase into the waiting taxi,

How could the Hoover operate on grass? My grass! My precious lawn! I rushed over to the Hoover and suddenly it hit me.

Astroturf .








Filed under SHORT-SHORT's


Christmas in the post-War United States

Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The dog helpfully tidied up the leftovers in the kitchen and was spectacularly sick on the hall carpet.

Meanwhile 12 year old James polished off the sherry trifle and the dregs of everybody’s wine glasses and was spectacularly sick en route to the downstairs loo.

The twins plugged in their new PlayStations, which blew the Christmas tree lights which set off a chain reaction and tripped the mains, and in all the excitement nobody realized the deep-freezer in the scullery needed switching on again. Twenty kg of thawed deep frozen fish is a very un-festive event indeed.

Grandpa George had words with George Junior because he wanted to watch the cricket and George Junior wanted to watch the World Darts Champs.

George Junior gave me a new Hoover for Christmas despite my hints about wanting a season ticket to the Artscape Ballet.

Little Amanda was devastated to discover that Father Christmas is actually George Junior, and George Junior equally devastated to discover that there is no sporton any channel after 1700 on Christmas Day. This gloom was only surpassed by his expression when he opened my gift to him – well, I thought he’d enjoy The History of Rugby, in two de luxe volumes; he’s always saying rugby is his substitute for religion. Will I ever get this gift thing right?

Aunty Joyce carefully refolded 53 pieces of Christmas wrapping paper because we should all re-cycle dear and didn’t really enjoy the December Hazel Nut Loaf as her turkey substitute – you know I never eat garlic dear, but never mind.

Uncle Basil broke his front tooth on the R2 coin inhis Christmas pudding, there’s a break-in next door while the neighbours are on holidays, and all three of my credit cards have broken the records, broken their limits, and I’m a broken woman.

But you know what? The thing that breaks my spirit completely is the grim knowledge that next December we will do it all again!  VOLUNTARILY. Can someone please explain that to me?





An e-mail is currently doing the rounds, suggesting that this year we support local businesses in our area and give vouchers for six haircuts, or monthly car-washes, or deliveries of fresh flowers or home cooked meals at intervals throughout the year. All of the above are useful, thoughtful ideas, and should bring joy to the suppliers in our neighbourhood (if not to the recipients).  BUT …but … but … what about the wrapping paper? What about the ribbon?  What about the  gift tags?  What about the mysterious lumpy parcels in that tantalising pile under the Christmas tree?  Or the feverish search through drawers and cupboards to find out where your present is hidden?

What about the annual haul of hand cream, bath salts, soaps, lotions, that will last you throughout the year and provide a few on-the-wing birthday presents later in the year? I mean, where would our houses be without that annual soap-on-a-rope?

And what will Aunt Bessie do without her annual pile of carefully hoarded Christmas wrapping paper, which she takes home and irons to remove the creases, and thriftily re-uses next year? “We must all re-cycle, you know” she reproves us every 25th December.

And I would miss going to the shops and seeing the decorations, the Father Christmas cut-outs. I would even miss the sound of BoneyM carolling out in the malls.  Don’t tell anybody, but I enjoy BoneyM at Christmas time.  My favourite radio announcer hates them with a passion and says so every year at every opportunity – must say I’m curious to know why he harbours such an undying hatred, but I guess we’re all entitled to our little quirks.

My favourite Lit blog, The Millions recently posted an article titled “Gifts Writers will actually use” which sets us straight on the fact that writers don’t want any more journals, notebooks or fancy pens.  What we really would like is booze, chocolates, pre-cooked meals, and the latest novel, which we’ve been too busy or too broke to buy.  And what we probably desperately need  are Yoga lessons (to take out the kinks from too much sitting & typing), a dog (to get us out into the fresh air – the theory is that walking leads to inspiration) and a new dressing gown, for those days when we sit for hours, welded to our keyboards, unwashed, uncombed, dressed in our old disgusting dressing-gowns.  So there you have it.

Actually, I’d happily settle for the book, food, and booze – but nicely wrapped, please! I’m a sucker for tradition.

A merry Christmas to you all, and Bah! Humbug! to gift vouchers for car valet services and haircuts!  Bring on the tinsel!


Filed under PRESENT & FUTURE