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With tears streaming down his face, Corey threw his arms around his father and said, “It’s Dad: the greatest gift of all.”

The Greatest Gift Of All

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By —— Bio and Archives December 6, 2018

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The Greatest Gift Of All
[Author’s Note: Kaitlin Childress, Macey Clarkson, Irene Fondren, John Harkins, Eulita Mack, Michael Parker, Lonna Pearl, Miranda Satchell, Jacob Surrette, and Abby Williams, students in Reed’s Creative Writing class, wrote this story.]

While sipping a cup of coffee at the top of the stairs, I heard little feet pitter-pattering into the living room where a Christmas tree was surrounded by beautifully wrapped gifts. Dawn was just breaking and my grandson Corey was already up. I sat quietly, watching his excitement. The scene reminded me of a Christmas morning, long ago.

The year was 1984. A heavy snow piled almost to the windowsills, and flakes continued falling. The Christmas tree, like the one now below me, was decorated with bulbs, candy canes, flashing lights, and an angel, watching from above.

One gift stood out from the rest: a long, slender box wrapped in shiny red paper and a huge bow. It contained a Daisy Red Ryder BB rife, a gift my son was hoping for above all else.

His love of guns grew, and upon entering the military, his marksmanship skills earned him a position with an elite sniper team. On this Christmas morning, as my grandson unwrapped gifts, my son was in a faraway land, fighting to preserve America’s freedom. Although he is a skilled, fearless warrior, I couldn’t help but worry about him.

As I watched the beautiful scene unfolding below, I marveled at its uncanny resemblance to that Christmas long ago. If only my son were here, I thought, cherishing these moments with his son, as I did with him. In his last letter, he hinted that he might be able to come home for the holidays, but couldn’t be certain.

Corey needed help unwrapping gifts, so I went downstairs. One of them held his attention — a long, narrow box just like the one my son once opened. When I snipped the ribbons, he did exactly what my son had done – tore off the wrapping paper with eagerness and excitement.

Joy filled his eyes: It was his father’s Daisy Red Ryder BB rifle. Often I had seen him slip into his dad’s bedroom and stare at it with admiration, as it stood alongside other rifles in a locked gun case. He knew that, as a boy, his dad had treasured the little rifle, and had taken such good care of it that it still looked brand new and worked as well as ever.

Even though Corey was thrilled, I could still detect deep sadness in his eyes, and my heart felt heavy for him. More than anything, he wanted his dad home for Christmas … and so did I.

“Look, Grandpa!” he shouted, “It’s Dad’s BB gun, and now it’s mine. I’m so happy. I just wish Dad could be here to show me how to shoot it. That would be the greatest gift of all.”

As the two of us kneeled beside each other, admiring the gift, we suddenly felt a tap on our shoulders, and then we heard my son’s voice as he said, “Merry Christmas!”

With tears streaming down his face, Corey threw his arms around his father and said, “It’s Dad: the greatest gift of all.”

Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran (Vietnam Era), former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer and ginner, author, and retired college teacher. His short story anthology, Boss, Jaybird And Me, is available at (telephone: 662-236-2262). His latest collection of faith-based short stories, entitled One Hundred By Five Hundred, is also available at Square Books (telephone: 662-236-2262) and at To receive Reed’s free weekly newsletter, send an email address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).