Story: It’s the Gift That Counts

By: Michael C. Keith


The best gift of all is money, because you don’t
have to wrap it.
   –– Curtis Blais

Every time a Christmas commercial for Mercedes, Cadillac, or BMW came on television, it boggled Barry Sudbury’s mind to think that there actually were people in the viewing audience who could cough up $100K for a present. Jesus, he thought, those damn cars cost more than my house. It filled him with envy and resentment that he could barely afford something from Wal-Mart to give his wife when there were individuals who had the wherewithal to spend more money on holiday gifts than all of his assets combined, including his retirement fund.

So you want a Caddy for Christmas, honey?” Barry asked his wife, who stopped her knitting to answer.

No, actually I’d prefer Jaguar” she replied, after a thoughtful pause.

They both chuckled, and Mabel Sudbury returned to the scarf she was making.

Really, how can anyone afford to give a luxury car as a Christmas present, for chrissakes?”

Well, those folks in the TV commercial can.”

They’re actors, Mabel.”

So, actors make a lot of money.”

But they’re not real people. You think if they had enough dough to buy expensive cars as gifts they’d be acting in stupid commercials?”

Maybe you’re right, Barry.”

Of course, I’m right.”

At that moment, the Sudbury’s doorbell rang, and Mabel went to answer it.

It’s Billy, sweetheart,” she called, finding her son standing before her.

What’s he doing here? I thought he was arriving tomorrow,” said Barry, rising from his recliner with a grunt.

Hello, Mother,” said Billy, wrapping his arms around her. “I came early to be here when the presents I bought for you and Dad arrived. They should be here any minute.”

Hey, Billy, you’re looking prosperous,” observed Barry, running his hand down the sleeve of his son’s black cashmere coat.

Yeah, it’s been a really good year for me.”

As the Sudbury’s were standing in the entranceway, a bright red Cadillac pulled up.

Oh, good, it’s here,” said Billy enthusiastically. “Come on.”

Barry suddenly stiffened as if jabbed with a cattle prod. “You mean you got us . . .? No way. Holy crap! Like those people in the commercials? Really . . . really?”

Huh, Dad? What are you . . .? Let’s get your present. I had it delivered.”

This is too much, son. You shouldn’t have . . .”

Billy led his parents to the waiting car and opened its door.

Thanks for delivering these, Hal. I couldn’t get to the store in time. You’re a true bud. I owe you.”

Wha . . .?” moaned Barry.”

What’s the matter, Dad? I thought you loved Hickory Farm gift baskets.”


Michael C. Keith teaches college and writes fiction.


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