Advent Train Stories: The Most Precious of Gifts (CW)

[Back in May, I signed up to be a part of Ari’s Advent Calendar Story Train. I thought it was a fantastic idea because it would: (1) put a bit more pressure on me to actually write, (2) provide me with a diverse collection of stories to read, (3) allow me to link up with other bloggers who I have not met yet. This post is the product of that.]

Welcome to the Advent Calendar Story Train, where you can read through 24 stories under the theme ‘The Gift’!

(It’s basically an Advent Calendar of stories – a new one is ‘opened’ each day.)

If you have not read the December 14th story, you should. You will find a link to tomorrow’s story at the bottom of this post.

For a list and links to all of the stories, visit Ari’s site.


Barbara heard the coat closet door close in the hallway. “Where are you going?” she called out from the kitchen. She had been asking her husband to help her with the cooking the entire day, but all of his replies had been in the vicinity of ‘In a moment,’ or ‘What’s the rush?’

Even though they’d been fighting since that morning, Barbara still hoped that they could salvage the day and their marriage. It was Christmas Eve after all – the pinnacle of miracles.

“Shoveling,” Jack answered after a moment of silence. A part of him did not feel like replying, but the other – decent human being – part of him won the fight.

The front door opened and closed before Barbara could consider saying anything in return. She knew shoveling was just an excuse for Jack not to join her in the kitchen and face the issues. She sighed and chucked the tea towel she had been holding onto the counter. It landed among a variety of ingredients, next to a small, neatly wrapped-up box. At the sight of it, Barbara hid her face in her hands and slid down onto the floor.

In an attempt to turn things around, Barbara had thought that it would be a great idea for Jack and her to cook together like they did back in the day and then spend the following few days just enjoying each other and the food. But Jack only complained about the ‘amount of work’ that Barbara insisted on them doing. If it were only up to her, she’d just order a pizza and call it a day, but she was a wife whose marriage was falling apart and who wanted to do everything she could to save it. She could not help but sob.

The sound of the front door slamming shut prompted Barbara to quickly wipe away her tears. She had expected him to be gone for longer. Maybe it’s so cold out there that he just couldn’t stand it, she thought as she made her way into the hallway.

There, she saw Jack with a large box and a bow on it. He handed it to her without a word.

Barbara lifted her eyes up to look at her husband. He hadn’t gotten her anything the year before and she wasn’t expecting anything this time around, either.

“I found it on our doorstep,” Jack said before taking off his shoes and his jacket.

Barbara smiled. That’s cute, she thought. She had accused Jack many times in the past of not caring, not putting in the effort, and not wanting their marriage to thrive. Could she be wrong? Is he trying, after all? She began to feel hopeful again.

As she unraveled the bow, she wondered if it was the gold sequin dress she gushed over when they went shopping last time. He actually listened? Barbara pictured herself wearing the stunning dress to the office New Year’s Eve party.

But there was no dress in the large box. Instead, there was a smaller box.

Could it be the Louboutins I’ve been telling him about for years?

But again – there were no shoes, just a smaller box.

“Jack…” Barbara felt a mixture of frustration, impatience, and curiosity. The third box was small enough to contain jewelry. She let out a slight sigh. Such a cliche… Men buy women jewelry whenever they have no idea what else to get them. Barbara wished her husband was more thoughtful and intentional. However, she quickly chastised herself. It might not have been the dress she had wanted or the shoes, but at least her husband was making an effort and that was all she could have asked for.

As she reached for the final lid, Barbara held her breath. She hoped that was the final box.

“Huh?” The smallest box contained a black thumb drive.

“Who’s it from?” Jack interrupted the silence.

Barbara began to think that the present wasn’t from Jack after all. Maybe it was sent by a woman with whom Jack is having an affair? Without a word, Barbara grabbed the drive and headed for her office. Jack followed.

There, Barbara inserted the drive, and – after a few clicks – her mom’s face filled the computer screen.

“Hi, guys!” Barbara almost forgot how radiant her mother’s smile had been. “If you’re seeing this, it means that – one – I am dead… and – two – you guys are having issues.”

Barbara wiped a tear from her cheek and Jack embraced her. She couldn’t remember the last time he gave her so much comfort.

“Don’t ask about the logistics – it’s not important. What IS important is the two of you. Have a seat, make yourselves comfortable, and listen to what I have to say,” Victoria continued. “Hopefully, by the end of this, you both will agree to take your relationship to new heights.”

Jack pulled up a second chair and they both sat in silence as the video played on.

*** 45 minutes later ***

The recording ended and Barbara was sobbing. Not only was she happy to see and hear from her mother, but she also felt renewed hope for her and Jack’s marriage. They held their hands the entire length of the video and Barbara was able to feel Jack’s heart again – something she had not done for a long time.

“Let’s go cook some delicious food and talk,” Jack proposed.

Barbara nodded and led the way.

As they began to organize the scattered ingredients, Jack noticed the small gift on the counter.

“Open it. It’s for you,” Barbara said, steadying herself against the kitchen island.

Inside the box, Jack found what looked like a plastic thermometer with two pink lines in its window. He looked at Barbara for confirmation.

“Merry Christmas?!” She wasn’t sure how he’d react.

“We’re pregnant?!” Jack yelled out, swept Barbara off her feet, and spun her around.

They spent all evening cooking, talking, and laughing.

“Best gift ever,” they both agreed.


Thank you for reading today’s story. The next one will be available to read on December 16th, titled “Kōsetsu“.  The link will be active tomorrow when the post goes live.

If you missed yesterday’s you can go and read it here.


“Write a story inspired by the word ‘gift.'”
– prompt used for this CW piece.
[Source: Ari’s Advent Calendar Story Train]


P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post so that I can get an alert and check out your piece. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!

Stay golden,

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57 thoughts on “Advent Train Stories: The Most Precious of Gifts (CW)

Add yours

    1. Thanks for imagining, building, and starting this train! I enjoyed writing the story as well as reading the other installments. Like my cheese calendar, I think the other stories might have to wait until January when I get back into town. It will allow me to prolong the joy!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Aw… How sweet! What a lovely mother, knowing what it would take to draw the two of them out of themselves. And the “gift”! That explains the weepiness. 😉
    The Advent Train sounds like a great idea. I’m in the middle of telling a story, but I suspect it’s a little too long. “Mr. Walker’s Miracle” is excerpted from my book “VISION” but was originally a Christmas story. (Hint: the “miracle” might not be what you think…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some mothers just have that Holy Spirit sense honed in on more than others. Don’t you think?

      I’ve been out of town spending some quality time with family so I am behind on blogs, but I look forward to reading your story soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sniff sniff. Waaaaaah.
    Since Covid, my hubby and I spend nearly every waking moment with each other. He works from home in his office; I work from my office. At the end of the day, we go watch TV and both play our games on our phones. We don’t have to talk; just be. 45 years together now.

    Liked by 1 person

                    1. I’ve pretty much run dry of draft posts that can be quickly shuttled into my almost-empty schedule. And as the crunch point on the move is fast approaching, I may go quiet for a while (especially as I may not have Internet access immediately after the move).

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite the emotive holiday story.. But I want to know the logistics 🤣🤣🤣 was the mum an international spy sending recordings from the dead… Was she really dead hmmm 🤔
    All’s well ends well
    Happy holidays

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahahah! You crack me up!

      I’m starting to think that maybe I wouldn’t mind writing as a freelancer for a living. As of late, the only stories I write are for some sort of submission (either CG1 or this train). I’ve gotta come up with more of those!


  4. I recall an idea a friend had for a website. Through it, you would create a “dead man’s switch” which, if you didn’t return yearly and reset them, would trigger — sending out notifications to those on your list.
    That and the fact that very soon (now?) one will be able to train an AI to act and speak as a departed loved one. Even create a version of yourself who you can vest with the Ghost of Christmas Past spirit, visiting your descendants when you’re gone.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have a similar ‘dead man’s switch’ on my blog; a post that is scheduled to be published on my birthday†. Each time that day approaches, I reschedule it for the following year; rinse and repeat until my time runs out, whereupon the post goes live and those who give a shit about it will know why there are no more wibblettes.

      † for no other reason than that’s a day I’m unlikely to forget

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Heh, I thought about it in the past since I’ve talked about this with you and some other bloggers. I think I even started the post – the intro stated that I might be dead… or I might have just forgotten that this post is being published, so please give it a week or so before confirming I am no longer here. There’s not such a date that I’m sure I would remember to unpublish/re-schedule. But maybe…

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The AI definitely is an interesting idea. I thought of writing a book in its place, but… ultimately, I don’t think I’m that interesting and would have hated for the book to end up in the trash. So, a year or so ago, I started writing down things that I think are very important. I do that rarely (since not everything that is important is REALLY important). Hopefully, with it being a short read, I can pass on a part of me.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy New Year!
      Yes, I’ve been busy but, for a change – I’ve been mostly relaxing for the past few weeks. It’s been blissful. Maybe that will allow me to restart things. Hopefully.
      Good to see you! I appreciate you checking in 🙂


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