FF – The Christmas After

I’m not sure about this week’s story. I wrote a 200 word version and have edited and reworked it so many times, I can’t tell if it loses the point. I’d love to hear your feedback, good and bad. And apologies in advance for using the C word when it’s barely even October!

Image copyright: Roger Bultot. So much to see here, but this is the story that stuck.

The Christmas After

That first Christmas after Mom left, Shannon knew things wouldn’t be the same. Last year, she’d got a big doll’s house with only a small tear in the wallpaper. Her one-legged Ken carried Barbie across the threshold and Dad had made little furniture out of cardboard boxes.

There was no big gift this year, but Dad appeared at the door holding a folded square of paper. “Christmas a little lean this year, Bubblegum” he said.

In Dad’s shaky handwriting, the note said “IOU: One afternoon window shopping”.

“Thanks!” she said, trying to mean it. “I only got you a hug.”


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41 responses to “FF – The Christmas After

  1. Great riposte from Shannon

  2. Methinks Shannon is a plucky kid and her brave spirit helps keep her Dad going.

  3. Ha, I have a similar tale of woe this week, not enough words! If you hadn’t added the disclaimer, though, I wouldn’t have known you’d had such a task cutting it down. Everything essential is there. A sad story but Dad is very lucky to have such a brave and uncomplaining daughter.

  4. Dear Jen,

    Such a poignant tale. Shannon is a quick thinker, isn’t she?



  5. Perhaps they rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. I think it worked well.

  6. Aw. While I can see this as a longer, more detailed story, it really packs a punch just the way it is.

  7. WildChild47

    It’s such a crazy, amazing image – it deserves more than a “100” — too much to see and imagine; I too had a wicked time editing, stripping back, because there is so much to capture, translate. That being said, I think your story stands strongly on it’s own. Finely tuned line, like “Last year, she’d got a big doll’s house with only a small tear in the wallpaper. Her one-legged Ken carried Barbie across the threshold and Dad had made little furniture out of cardboard boxes.” is damn perfect. It tells a complete tale – of all that’s running through their lives. And the ending, is perfect. It speaks about the parental longing, the sadness, and the daughter’s torn desire of wants and selfishness, while still trying to be supportive and understanding.

    To be honest, I think this is a good story.

    • Thank you, Wildchild. I’m glad that line got to stand – I wanted to show that they had never had much, but to Shannon this still feels like a truly barren Christmas. And I’m pleased you like the ending, it was one of the hardest bits of the edit, because I had so much to say about how both characters reacted to the note!

      • WildChild47

        I can appreciate what you’ve said 🙂 sometimes 100 words just isn’t enough, but with the wrangling effort, we can work something out. It’s a great practice, editing back. I’ve even deliberating taken a 500 word piece and cut by 50s right back to a 25 word blurb – talk about really learning to manipulate how things translate! Cheers! Hope you have a great rest of the week. 🙂

  8. michael1148humphris

    I enjoyed reading this, a hug in my view is worth a thousand presents

  9. You did such a good job with this story. OTOH it’s the saddest Christmas *ever* but at the same time it solidified the bond between the child and her father even stronger than it already was.

  10. So sweet.
    Great gifts.
    Covid has dampened festive spirit. But, thankfully, the love & hearty wishes are still alive.

  11. That’s a terrific story. The energetic editing only shows in the sense that the story is perfectly formed. I really admire the way you told us about their poverty even when mom was there, by describing the small defects in the dolls’ house.

  12. A great story and nothing was lost in the telling. Well done.

  13. This is sweet. I love one-legged Ken carrying Barbie over the threshold. Very imaginative.

  14. A touching tale, I thought her reaction to Dad’s modest offering was delightful.

    Here’s mine!

  15. Bear

    That was… can I say my childhood? I never really had “christmas” as most people think of it, not until I married. And oh, how my inlaws are sooooo greedy. It’s destroyed the holiday for me and I don’t look forward to it anymore. I’d much prefer if I could go back to that childhood and see it as a celebration of God’s love for his children… and not the tinsel, glitter and greed that it’s become. Sigh…..

    • I’m sorry to hear your contrasting experiences of Christmas have you Sighing, Bear. I think the idea that Christmas is ‘the best’ or ‘happiest’ time of year is such a bad one. It just puts pressure what should be a more quietly happy occasion. There’s a place for all kinds of celebration if we take the pressure off.

      • Bear

        Indeed there are, and Hubby and I have chosen that route the last few years and are happier for it… even if it means we don’t visit family.

  16. Yep. I can feel that. Well done.

  17. Wonderful story, and perfectly edited (I feel the pain though, mine had 170 words in the beginning). I love the details about the much-loved broken toys and the sadness and love between father and child come through clearly.

  18. I think you captured the spirit of Christmas as much more than just a pile of gifts.
    Well done.

  19. methinks, more important is that they each other.

  20. i mean, they still have each other. 🙂

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