Thursday, November 22, 2012

Third Strike Christmas by Brian C. Ricks

Excerpt from Third Strike Christmas

Kevin was on his third strike this Christmas, and he knew he was in trouble. He blamed it on those charming jewelry commercials that start airing after Thanksgiving. It’s early Christmas morning. Prince Charming and Perfect Hair are sitting under a large tree in their freshly pressed red pajamas. It looks like all the presents have been opened, but no—Prince Charming whisks out a small box with a red bow. Perfect Hair’s eyes glimmer. Charming opens it. Hair gasps. They hug. Then they kiss. 365 more days of marital happiness are guaranteed because Prince Charming brought out the perfect present on Christmas morning.

For twenty-five years Kevin was indoctrinated with the idea that Prince Charming husbands always produced the perfect surprise on Christmas morning. No worries, he mused as December approached a few months after his wedding. I can cook up that perfect open-gasp-hug-kiss moment easy. 

Deeply in debt for dental school, he and his wife Katie stretched their budget and gave themselves twenty dollars to spend on each other. The visit to the jewelry store and the chuckle of the employee—Son, we don’t sell anything for less than two hundred dollars—had left him stumped, but nonetheless confident.

His break came two weeks before the big day when Katie ripped her favorite A-line dress with her violin case after coming home from church on Sunday. Kevin didn’t know what exactly made a dress an A-line, but he hatched a plan. Kevin had a sister in town who owned a sewing machine—he and his sister would make a new dress for Katie.

The good news was that Rachel, his sister, knew what an A-line dress was and had a pattern. The bad news was that twenty dollars didn’t go far at a fabric store. Kevin managed to get the very end of a roll that was mispriced and, with the help of two coupons and a growing line of increasingly impatient holiday shoppers behind him, he was shooed out of the fabric store with enough fabric for the dress.

At least, he thought it was enough fabric. Rachel said two yards wasn’t enough to make a skirt, not to mention a dress. Nor did she seem to think that one hundred percent wool was the right fabric. But Kevin was insistent that they try—It’s our first Christmas, we have to try!—and they spent a whole afternoon sewing. They had barely finished the bodice when Kevin had to go, but Rachel promised she could finish it on her own.

Two days before Christmas Kevin picked up the already wrapped dress from his sister. “It turned out beautifully,” Rachel insisted. “Katie will love it.”

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