Molly waited for me outside the Macy's dressing room as I tried on another outfit. It seemed tough to pick out the one that looked perfect on me. Our annual Christmas party was coming up at the office in one week and I wanted something to make me dazzling. Outshining the other women would be the highlight of the evening.
After one glance in the mirror, it became clear I'd finally selected the winning ensemble. Out I stepped to ask my best friend's opinion. Around and around I spun, displaying every angle of the glittering red dress which hugged my curves. If this hot little number didn't make me the center of attention, then nothing would. I smiled, daydreaming about my grand entrance.
"What do you think of this one?"
Molly's face drew into a frown, yet she changed it to a grin. "You'll be the life of the party, as always."
"I can't wait to wow everyone this year!" I exclaimed, proud of my brilliant sense of fashion.
"Yeah, well, the girls are waiting for us over at Cafe Du Monde. So, we need to hurry."
"They can hang on a few more minutes while I check out. Rushing is not my thing."
"This is Jenna's birthday celebration," Molly reminded me.
"Oh, no! I forgot all about that. I'll have to find her a present."
Gazing around the room, I spotted a blue cardigan-style dress. It wasn't anything fancy and the price tag met with my approval. Jenna would never know that her outfit cost less than mine. With any luck, she'd wear that plain garment to the party. Since she was my only real competition, it proved in my interest to influence her choice.
"This should do the trick," I announced, holding the sweater dress up.
Molly shook her head. "Tina, you'd really give that drab thing to her for a gift?"
"I don't want her upstaging me at the Christmas party. Alex will be there and I need his focus to be on me, not Jenna. She keeps trying but she won't get him."
"Do you really like him? Or are you playing one of your games?"
"I always win. Whatever I go after is mine."
"You only want him because you know Jenna likes him. That's cruel...and selfish. Don't you ever think of anyone besides yourself and your overinflated ego?"
My mouth dropped open at her words. I had no ready response to offer her. She'd called me on my self-centered nature; exposing my flaws. What could I say in my own defense when we both knew it was true?
During the dinner, I barely said a word. In my mind, I kept replaying what Molly said. No one had ever pointed out my bad behavior before and I suddenly felt so exposed. Peering around, I wondered if the other girls shared the same opinion.
All the times they'd had a boyfriend stolen by me or been passed over for a promotion that I'd gotten. My whole life up until now revolved solely around me. I'd thought I must have the best while others got only crumbs. Remembering long ago lessons from Sunday school, I felt very ashamed; regretting my actions. How could I make amends and redeem myself?
Silently, I prayed, "Lord, please forgive me for my thoughtlessness. I want to be a better person. Show me how to change because I don't know what to do. In Jesus' Name, Amen."
All at once, the answers came to me. I thought of a man in town who'd recently been laid off from work. He and his family were struggling financially. Most likely, they didn't have enough money to enjoy a decent Christmas. If only someone cared enough to show them Christ's love.
I excused myself and hurried out to the car. Putting the package I'd been planning to give Jenna on the backseat, I grasped the Macy's bag containing my dress. Then, I headed back inside.
Approaching Jenna, I held out her gift. "Happy Birthday!"
She accepted it and began removing the bag. Her eyes lit up when she saw the garment it contained. "It's gorgeous! Thank you, Tina."
"You're welcome. Wear it to the Christmas party. Alex will love it."
Molly gave me a shocked, yet pleasant expression. Maybe she realized that even I could have a change of heart.
After exiting the restaurant, I made two stops. One was to a department store to buy gifts and the other was to a supermarket to purchase food. I took everything home to wrap the presents. Then I arranged the fixings for Christmas dinner inside a large basket.
Driving to a certain house, I formed a plan. I didn't wish to receive the credit because it was God's idea. He wanted to bless this family through me. This was the most important thing I'd ever done. No one would know who did it and I wanted it that way.
When I arrived, I parked some distance away, loading the parcels onto a little red wagon. As quietly as possible, I crept to the front porch, leaving the items there. Then I rang the doorbell, before scurrying behind a bush to observe.
A light came on, illuminating the porch. The family came out to investigate, discovering the gifts I'd left for them, along with a note that read, "For you. Merry Christmas and God bless."
They rallied around the wagon, marveling over the packages and food basket. I could hear the happiness in their voices. I could see the excitement on their faces. This brought a feeling of peace to my heart that I'd never known before.
Once they'd carried everything inside and the coast was clear, I strode toward my car. How many years had I wasted just thinking of myself and my own needs?
It seemed more fun to do good deeds for other people. I'd finally learned what the true spirit of the season was all about. Giving, loving, and sharing oneself with other people just like Jesus did, over two thousand years ago.
A feeling of exhilaration flowed through me. I knew this would be my merriest Christmas yet.
Text: Melissa Monroe
Editing: Melissa Monroe
Publication Date: 12-03-2013
All Rights Reserved
This was written for an Ego contest on another website. However, it evolved into a Christmas story.