The best Christmas gifts - short stories online
Danny and Ken had been fighting all day and I was tired of their skirmishes. I raised my voice because I could bear it no longer, loudly and firmly said to them, “ If you don’t behave yourselves you are both grounded, for the whole week”. Danny was in high school and Ken was still in the third grade. The boys never got along with each other, each would take turns to irritate and anger the other. I was at my wits end trying to teach them that as brothers, they needed to love and look out for each other. My words fell on deaf ears. Danny was a strong, young man, sixteen years old caught up in his teen world of music, friends and fun and wanting to be left alone. Ken would do all he could, to irritate Danny and get his attention, but he would often end up pinned against the wall, crying out for mercy.
Danny was a quiet child, very secure and happy until Ken was born. Ken was born a good eight years after Danny, being the youngest in the family he got all the attention. Danny resented Ken and had become a bit reclusive in those years when I was busy with Ken, a little baby. That was when the rivalry was born. Danny would never share his toys with his baby brother and Ken would make it a point to cry and throw a tantrum until he got Danny's toys. It was Danny who was always scolded, asked to grow up, behave and share.
I always believed Danny would understand that we loved him as much if not more and change as he grew up, I thought that he would learn to love his kid brother, but that was not to be. The boys were very talented, Danny was a musician and a writer, while Ken was a dancer and an actor, they were naturals. Ken was more flashy and hogged the lime light, while Danny often receded into the corner. Ken was more sought after by everyone, he could charm a bird off the tree. This made Danny more jealous and tease his kid brother whenever he got a chance to or thought I was not watching.
Christmas was just a few weeks away and I was busy with many things. The shopping, the cleaning and preparation were all taking its toll on me. I was stressed out. That was when I warned the boys that they would be grounded. The boys knew it when I meant something, they sensed that I had had enough and Danny cooled off. That evening I took the boys to church and the pastor told a story of two brothers and how they celebrated Christmas, trying to get each other something valuable. He spoke about the difficulty and pain they had to go through to get that gift for the other.
Back home I was engrossed in my work, that I did not realize that the house had become awfully quiet. Sensing the difference in the atmosphere I peeped into their room to find the boys sleeping together on Danny’s bed. Ken was holding his brother tight. I wondered what happened to bring about such peace. I was just too happy and decided to let peace reign.
The next day I had spent the whole afternoon cleaning the garden statues, tired I sat under the beautiful Jacaranda tree, raining purple flowers on me and surveyed my work. Satisfied with what I saw, I took a few moments to relax when Danny quietly crept from behind my back and called “Mom” in small voice. “What is it Danny? what do you want?” I asked.
“Mom, could I help you with some work around the house?” asked Danny. His question baffled me.
Was I dreaming, I wondered, but his sincere face and eager eyes made me say, “Yes son, I would love you to clean your room.”
I was pleasantly surprised and shocked that he did not come up with his, “No, not that mom!” instead he walked back into the house quietly. I got busy with the dinner and other things and it did not strike me that the usual fighting and skirmishes had stopped. I walked into the boys room casually to get the ladder that was stored away there, for want of space and found the room neat and tidy. Even Ken’s bed, which was a perpetual mess, (we could never get him to clean it or even keep it tidy) was clean, there was something happening here, I thought.
The next day after the boys came back from school I served them an evening snack, it was their special brownie pudding. The boys polished off their plates and went into their room and closed the door.
I was worried; I called, “Danny, what are you doing?” Pat came the answer, “I am studying for my test tomorrow”. I found Ken sitting at the table quietly, drawing a cartoon character. That evening I told my husband Ron, about the strange happenings at home. Ron was curious to find out what was going on, but like me found nothing wrong. Our greatest fear was the boys had broken some expensive thing or lost something that was going to cost us a packet, we were already on tight budget for Christmas, but nothing was amiss.
Glad to have peace at home and with Danny often helping me around the house I was more relaxed. Ron and I decided to gift the boys to something very special that Christmas. Danny had always wanted an expensive bicycle while Ken had asked me for an expensive watch, which I had declined right away. That night packed and put away Ken's gift and got our neighbor to keep Danny’s cycle for a couple of days, until Christmas morn. We thanked God from our heart for our wonderful family.
On Christmas Eve, before going to Church we quietly left Ken’s gift under the Christmas tree. We also left a message for our neighbour to put Danny’s gift in our balcony. The children were excited as always to look for their gifts under the tree, but they were never allowed to open them until Christmas morn. Ken was excited with his gift and was running around showing off his beautiful watch, while Danny looked disappointed, but never said a word. He had not found his gift under the tree. Danny quietly went to his room and brought out a huge package. On it was written, ‘With love from Ken and Danny to Mom and Dad’. Ron and I were excited to open the gift and see what Danny and Ken had got for us, this was the first time we got a gift from the boys. Ron ran to the Christmas tree to get the key to Danny’s bicycle, but Danny insisted that we open his gift first.
In the package was the most beautiful gift of all, Danny had made a beautiful photo-frame with cardboard and had decorated it ceramic flowers he made, Ken had painted it beautifully in vibrant colors. In the the photo-frame was a beautiful picture of the four of us and under it were the words, “Dear Mom and Dad, we love you and we want you to know that you are the best parents ever.’ With tears running down our eyes we hugged our boys, because they were our greatest gifts, God special gifts to us. Danny was quite excited to see his bicycle, but I think he understood the true meaning of Christmas and this cycle wasn't as important to him now, he had changed in the last few weeks. This was the first of our most beautiful Christmases ever!