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‘Tis The Season

Poor Martin has gotten stuck doing last-minute Christmas shopping this year. His task is to get this year’s hot ticket item, Mr. Giggles—a stupid stuffed animal with tie dyed fur that literally just giggles when you squeeze it. But it’s what his son Jackson wants, and the wife has made it Martin’s mission to get it—even though Jackson already has more than enough presents any five-year-old could ever need.

But this hadn’t been a good year for the boy. His grandmother—Martin’s wife’s mother—had passed away two months prior. She was one of Jackson’s most favorite people, and Christmas was THEIR holiday. She would always buy Jackson the gift he wanted most, wrap it in a special red wrapping paper, and surprise him with it after he thought he’d already opened everything. Now, it was Martin’s duty to get the amazing gift that so called out for the boy’s affection.

Like every other year, when it comes to whatever the big toy is, there’s never enough to go around for everyone. Martin had been to three different stores with no luck whatsoever on finding the elusive Mr. Giggles. And with it being Christmas Eve, his chances of finding one was getting bleaker with every passing minute.

Martin was prepared to give up, head home, and take a browbeating from his wife for not getting the toy sooner—even though she only told him about it a couple of days ago. But then, out of the corner of his eye, he caught an image that gave him a small sliver of hope. As it turns out, what was probably the last Mr. Giggles in the tri-state area, had somehow fallen behind a pallet of a less popular toy. He could not believe what he was seeing; his Christmas prayers had been answered!

Martin grabbed the lonely Mr. Giggles doll and made his way to the registers as quick as he could—before any other customers realized what he had. He was in no mood to fight off rabid shoppers after a whole day of searching for this toy. Now, here it was in his hands. Martin gave it a quick squeeze and it let out a cheerful giggle. Just as advertised, he thought.

Heading for his car, he thought he was home free. But these things can never be easy and inevitably, Martin ran into trouble. It wasn’t a physical kind of trouble, but more of an emotional kind of beating he was about to take. A few cars away from where he was parked, there was a mother consoling her small child who appeared to be around the same age as Jackson. She was telling her daughter it was alright if they couldn’t find a Mr. Giggles doll today, they would get one at the beginning of the new year when the toy came back in stock.

This did not seem to comfort the little girl in any way as she continued on crying in the back seat of the car. Martin tried not to give this much thought, but couldn’t help feeling sorry for the small child. Before he realized what he was doing, he found himself walking over to their car—Mr. Giggles in hand.

“Excuse me miss, I couldn’t help but overhear you were looking for one of these.” Martin hoisted the toy out of the bag and held it in front of the little girl. Her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “Here, take it.”

The woman, in shock, stammered before collecting her thoughts and declining the act of kindness with obvious reluctance. Martin insisted, though. Even going as far as telling her how his son was getting too many gifts as it was. The woman hesitated but was ultimately coerced into accepting the offer—not by Martin’s words, but rather by the gleams of joy in her daughter’s eyes.

Martin wasn’t looking forward to explaining to his wife what he did. Fortunately, by the time he made it home the rest of the family was already asleep—making it easy for him to slip into the house without having to speak to anyone until the next morning. Christmas morning.

Jackson made quick work ripping open his presents. After a whirlwind of excitement, the boy settled down beside his great mound of toys, clothes, and whatever else he’d received. But there was an obvious look of disappointment that had washed over his face. Without a word, Martin and his wife both knew why the boy had opened his presents with such fervent energy.

It looked as if there was to be a slight sadness in the air for the rest of the day, but then Martin noticed something sticking out from behind the Christmas tree; a metallic red sheen from what looked to be an edge of a wrapped box. It was another gift! One Jackson, in all of his enthusiasm, must’ve missed.

“Jackson, you forgot one!” Martin shouted in excitement.

The boy scampered over and quickly carried the box to the middle of the living room. Neither Martin or his wife recognized the wrapping the paper at first; it wasn’t any of the kinds they used this year. But it quickly dawned on them who the present was from. But how could it be?

Jackson tore the present open and before Martin was able to see what the gift was, the boy squealed in delight—which was followed by a familiar, cheerful giggle.

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If you enjoyed this, check out these other great short stories!

Artificial Escape

A Meaty Situation

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