The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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These are my mother's memories of Christmas as a child. She spent her Christmas Eve's with her family. One of her family's Christmas traditions was playing the game Yankee Swap.

The smells of delicious food cooking combined with the smell of the pine roping lingers through Catherine’s home on Christmas Eve. She sits around the TV with her sister and brother watching “A Christmas Story” with the crackling sound of the fire in the background. Catherine hears the loud, piercing sound of her door bell ringing and sprints to the door. Her and her sister greet their Nana and Pops with excitement followed by the rest of her extended family. Catherine loves the company of her family and the holiday spirit that Christmas brought with it.

Catherine, her siblings and cousins come back into her living room and gather around in one big circle. Now this is where the fun of the night begins. In the middle of the circle there are presents— some big, some small, some wide, some thin. They are preparing to play Yankee Swap, a game in which everyone opens a gift and can decide to keep it or swap it with another that has already been opened. 

Catherine has the first move and goes immediately for the big box wrapped in shiny red paper with a huge white bow on top. Catherine convinces herself that she has picked something good. She shakes it a little bit and puts her ear to the box. In the box she finds roller blades. Catherine shouts for joy, she is beyond excited about her brand new pair of roller blades. Her cousins begin to take their turns, while she prays that no one takes her roller blades. One by one each of them takes their turn picking out a gift from the middle of the circle. So far Catherine is in the clear and continues to hold on tight to her roller blades. It is now her brother Rob’s turn. Rob very much enjoys pushing Catherine’s buttons, as any older brother would. Rob steals Catherine’s roller blades in exchange for the pair of socks he picked from the middle of the circle.

  “NOOOOOO!!!” Catherine screams. The roller blades were all Catherine ever wanted in life and now they are gone and Christmas is ruined. Catherine was so bitter and full of spite, but then remembered an important rule to the game. Because she was the first one to pick a gift, she would be the last one to steal the gift. It came to the time where it was the last person to go. It is now her turn to steal a gift. And lo and behold, she snatches the roller blades back from her brother and hands him back the socks he once had. Catherine is impressed with herself for remembering this important rule, while Rob is left dumbfounded. Christmas is no longer ruined and Catherine smiles as she walks up to her room with her brand new pair of roller blades.

The Shiny Red Box

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