Community Stories

All I Got For Christmas - Writes of Winter

December 20, 2023

The Red Deer Arts Council and The City of Red Deer are pleased to announce the winners of the Writes of Winter contest!

We invited Red Deer writers of all ages to share with us a tale of winter and/or the holiday season in Red Deer, under either Poetry, Short Story (Fiction) or Short Story (Creative Non-Fiction) categories.

Winning story – Best Short Story - Non-Fiction

All I Got For Christmas - by Jock Mackenzie

As a kid, Christmas was the big one. One Christmas in particular stands out in my memory – not clearly enough that all the details remain, but the essence of it will never be forgotten. I was about seven. Christmas morning had gone pretty much as all the others had. Our stockings had contained significant little treasures as well as the traditional Mandarin orange and nickel in the toe, the grandparents’ gifts had been opened first from those under the tree, then the others, and finally the biggie – the one from Mom and Dad. When I opened my present, I was shocked and amazed. This was it? Just one six-gun with imitation pearl handles (actually white plastic with a black, raised Texas longhorn’s head). The gun opened at the top. It was too big for my hand and was hard to twirl. I don’t remember what Rob, two years older, had received or what Laura, four years younger, had been blessed with, but I felt cheated. How could they do this to me? Sure, it was a nice gun, but this was it? I’d been good, really good lately. And all I got was a gun. Then the guilt began to set in. How could I be so ungrateful, so selfish, so self-centered? Didn’t I have a wonderful life, good food to eat, warm clothes to wear, a nice house, and so much more than those poor children in Africa. I looked at my dad, sitting in the big, dad’s chair. He was drinking his usual frothy eggnog that Mom made for him every morning all year round. “Do you like your gun, laddie?” “It’s great, Dad. And it opens up and you can see where the bullets should go. It’s a bit too big to twirl but I’ll grow into it.” “Well, I’m glad you like it. We weren’t sure what to get you this year. Say, would you mind going downstairs and getting another log or two for the fireplace?” Of course, when I got down to our unfinished basement, the brand-new bike was sitting out in the middle of the floor with a bow and card with my name on it. It was easily the best present I’d ever received. It was a Raleigh, three speed, with hand brakes. It was blue and white with chrome . . . and I felt awful. How could I have thought all those things? Soon, the thrill of the bike overcame the other feelings which, for the time, were set aside. It’s been a long time since that Christmas, and my children are now older than I was then. I remember that day with its mixture of emotions. Every Christmas since has been wonderful in its own way. I guess that Christmas was wonderful too; I had received a better gift than the gift itself.

Thank you to Jock and all Red Deerians who submitted a story to the Writes of Winter contest! To read more story submissions, visit the Red Deer Arts Council’s contest page. You can also find out how to submit your own entry to the “Winter Blues” category, due January 15, 2024.

Enjoy reading the top stories on coffee cups at Café Millennium (4909 49 St) through December 22.