Story Shots: Presents

A new year means a new us, right? Except that, well, even we can’t help but miss a deadline every now and again. But don’t worry – we didn’t forget you, our readers. While we didn’t get you anything in December, we did get write three Story Shots for your enjoyment around the theme of presents. It’s really our belated holiday gift to all of you.


My mom always had a special way of presenting Santa Claus. We did the traditional setting out of cookies and milk, and I ran to bed trying to fall asleep early so Santa would visit sooner. As would always happen, I would wake up randomly in the middle of the night, climb out of bed, and see the toys Santa had left me. They were always unwrapped and sitting by the fire place (or wherever Santa entered when we moved into a house with no fireplace). That was how I knew they were from him.

From a mother’s point of view, this was brilliant! You see, I often had to wait for my grandma, be it my dad’s in Georgia or my mom’s in California, to come over before we could open presents, let alone stockings. This was because my grandmas often had items to put into my Christmas stocking as well and wanted to be present for all the present opening. So, Santa’s toys were the toys I could play with until the family was all together. As you can imagine, this kind of dedication by my mom had me believing in Santa Clause for a longer time.

Then the day came that I knew the truth. I wasn’t mad that mom “lied” to me because honestly, I didn’t see it as a lie. She was embodying and enacting the holiday spirit through this “Santa Clause” guise and I completely understood. What did shake me, however, was the following Christmas.

Post-Santa epiphany, I woke early in the morning as usual. But when I walked out to our living room, there was nothing there. I looked around the tree and behind the furniture and found nothing. I stayed awake in the living room until my mom finally woke up to find me visibly upset in the corner of the room.

“There’s no Santa presents this year.”

“Well, you know I’m Santa, so I figured you wouldn’t want presents from him anymore. I thought you would just want to open more presents.”

“Oh. I guess that makes sense.” It wasn’t so much that I liked having presents to play with before my grandma came over (though it was certainly a bonus), but I liked the feeling I got when I saw presents left out. That, to me, was Christmas: knowing my mom took the time to save something special for me every morning, no matter how small it was, so that I could believe in Santa and the Christmas spirit.

“Mom? Could you maybe still do Santa gifts?”

“Really? But it won’t be the same, will it?”

But it did. And it continued doing so well into my undergrad. Now that I’m married and live with my husband, the Santa gifts have officially stopped, and I find myself struggling to find that true Christmas spirit at times. Sure, we are creating new traditions with each other, which are also very precious to me, but the feeling the Santa gifts brought me is a hard one to recreate. Unless…I become Santa for my family as my mother did for me.

– Nicole Embrey


A thank you note:

To Sunny—thanks for covering me with fur and yowling “Sister Christian” at two in the morning.
To Mom—thanks for your infinite assistance and love. I am a terrible person.
To Gary—thanks for always giving me the best gift: cash.
To Dad—thanks for usually being late too so I don’t feel like such a loafer.
To Asa—stop spending so much money on me.
To Grandma and Grandpa—thanks for carefully gift wrapping even a bag of Oreos. Score!
To the U.S. government—thanks for freedom of speech and, you know, the food stamps that one year.

Love,
Missy Lacock


Family is an obtuse word around the holidays – who has one, and who needs one anyway? It’s just us – sisters. Besides, what do we care for winter holidays? We’re atheists.

She insists that she’ll wait until Christmas to open her presents.

I’m going in for surgery on the fifteenth. Who knows if I’ll survive to see the twenty-fifth. I’ve never had surgery before. It wasn’t anything major – but the fear was still present.

“Are you sure you don’t want to open this stuff now?” I ask on the thirteenth. I’ve already made all my purchases. We had gone to dinner that night to celebrate her birthday – which was on the nineteenth. I wouldn’t be able to go out and eat for a while and I had to fast on the fourteenth to prepare – the thirteenth was the last day I could be up and about and celebrate, for certain.

“Okay, fine.” Her boyfriend is over and hands her a box. She rips it open. “Oh, socks.”

I always get her socks. It’s been a present I’ve gotten her since she was born. She likes socks. When she was thirteen, I hid her first cell phone in a pack of socks and called it. In the middle of her birthday party filled with friends, she dug through her socks and answered the call. I almost put it in a pack of underwear but I changed my mind to socks since she liked those anyway.

She opens the second box. “More socks.”

We don’t have central heating and she works on her feet all day at Starbucks. Socks are really useful.

Her boyfriend hands her a smaller box.

“OH! I’ve wanted one of these. Dylan look – when it melts, it has a skeleton inside. We have to get a cool plate to set it on so it can melt onto it.” She sets the candle down on top of the microwave and goes in for the last, large box.

Our cat is pushed aside so it can set in our large, ugly, fake leather chair.

“Is this a beauty box?” She starts opening it up.

“Yeah, from a vegan company,” I respond.

“Oh wow, there’s so much stuff in here!” She starts pulling out items.

I don’t care about makeup – I rather oppose the industry. I refuse to buy something that tells me looking human is looking ugly and that I need to paint myself to be acceptable.

“This is a lip scrub you guys!” Her uninterested boyfriend and I nod.

“Oh I like this color!” She pulls out a lip gloss.

“This deodorant smells like vanilla and roses. It’s so nice!”

She continues exclaiming and pulling out small and large items for the next five minutes.

Presents are over. Dinner has been had. I sleep at night knowing that the holiday was mostly over and there wasn’t much left to come. I just had to survive the fifteenth and recover.

– Amanda Riggle

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