The Perfect Gift: A Short Story

It’s from last year, but I thought y’all might like reading this again while I’m a bit busy with family stuff.  Enjoy!

Margaret Alexandria Houston sat on her sofa looking over her To-Do List.  It was her first Christmas home in ten years.  This year, Alexandria wanted to make sure everything was perfect.  She had been planning what to get everyone in her immediate family and her extended “family” for months.  Peter Zeidrich, her uncle that was more like a brother, had suggested that Alexandria was taking gift giving a little too seriously.  Alexandria had practically bit his head off.

Peter was a man.  Alexandria was pretty sure that excluded Peter from being an expert on giving gifts.  For Hans Zeidrich, her grandfather that was now raising her, Alexandria had developed a roll of film.  Alexandria had found it while cleaning her mother’s room.  Mary Zeidrich had been murdered when Alexandria was six.  Technically, Mary wasn’t Alexandria’s mother, kinda like Hans wasn’t technically Alexandria’s grandfather.  Mary and her husband were Alexandria’s first foster parents.  Had Alexandria’s birth father and mother ever given up rights, Alexandria would have been adopted by Adolph and Mary.  But Margie Houston had never given up rights, and she had hinted enough that she knew who Alexandria’s birth father was that the courts felt the man had been named.

Alexandria shook her head.  She didn’t care about Margie or the first man to abuse her.  Alexandria cared about Mary and Adolph.  They were her parents as far as Alexandria was concerned.  Mary had left one last gift to the family as far as Alexandria was concerned.  The Sunday before she was murdered, Mary had insisted upon the family taking pictures together.  The Zeidrich Boys had balked, but in the end they had agreed.  Mary had never developed those pictures.  Alexandria was shocked to find the studio in town could develop the pictures.

The pictures were the last ever of Mary alive.  Hans had adored his daughter-in-law.  He loved her as though Mary was his own daughter.  Karl Bob, Adolph, Big Otto and Lars Zeidrich were in the pictures beside Mark Jones (Hans’ adopted son) and their sister, Sadie.  Karl Bob, Big Otto and Lars were lying beside Mary in the family cemetery.  Yet, through the pictures they were almost brought back to light.  Playing football with their nieces.  Eating Sunday Dinner with the family.  Playfully rough housing with each other.  The pictures were exactly how Alexandria remembered her family.

For weeks, Alexandria had spent hours a day painstakingly turning the loose photographs in to a scrapbook.  There had been a few times she had hurriedly thrown a blanket over her coffee table in an effort to hide her work.  It never failed that the moment would be before any pictures had been tacked down.  Alexandria would have to redo the layout.

Yet, Alexandria was convinced that the scrapbook would be the perfect present for the man who had gone out of his way to bring a girl who wasn’t really his granddaughter back to his house.  Now, Alexandria’s To-Do-List was finished.  Hans’ present had been the last thing on the To-Do-List.

Smiling, Alexandria set the list on the coffee table.  With all of the presents bought or made and wrapped, Alexandria could enjoy her first real Christmas since Mary’s murder.  The sixteen year old smiled at the thought of having Christmas once more.

PS: While you’re trying to find that perfect gift for your friends and family, might I suggest checking out the following websites?  Full disclosure that these are people I know, so I’m sending you to friends.  But, they are all “small businesses,” and you’ll feel good about feeding starving artists and writers.

Lisa’s Urban Nostalgia: Great almost Victorian-feel handcrafted jewelry and creative prints featuring old pictures.  You’re sure to find something for the women on your list!  Or check with Lisa for a custom order.  http://etsy.me/eM0xoz

Tiger Eye Designs: Another great handcrafted jewelry store!  Sherri’s jewelry is made of natural stones.  Agate, jade, Mother of Pearl, jasper and other stones are lovingly crafted in to beautiful jewelry while Sherri is in a good mood to pass on positive energy to the recipient.  And Sherri does custom orders, too.  http://bit.ly/fmnDNh

Marmeaux: A friend of my sister’s growing up, Margot is starting an Etsy Accessory store.  Right now, she just has handcrafted scarfs for around $10, but she’s sure to add more.  http://etsy.me/e1EvI3

Cathy Kennedy Stories: Cathy is a newly published children’s author.  Her first book, THE TALE OF OLE GREEN EYES is available for purchase on Amazon and B&N, but Cathy is selling autographed copies for $7.99 each.  Seriously, what kid doesn’t want an autographed book for their collection.  Totally cool!  http://bit.ly/fRuFPf

Oh, and since I didn’t tell anyone I was doing this, don’t let the gals know.  Please?

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