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Barbara J. Baldwin

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   Recent stories by Barbara J. Baldwin
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In Search of the Perfect Gift
By Barbara J. Baldwin
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Sometimes the best gifts have no price tags.

As numerous people converged on the single checkout lane, Carolyn began putting her purchases on the counter.

“Oh, dear,” she mumbled, realizing she was missing a key item on her list.
She didn’t notice that Holly, the only cashier, was anxiously looking back at the line of people behind her.

“Ma’am, if you forgot something, perhaps we can put your other purchases aside so I can help the next person in line.”

Carolyn looked around, unaware that she had been holding everyone up. “Of course.” She rapidly scooped the glittering boxes back into her basket. “I’ll just go see if I can find that one last thing. I simply can’t do without it.”

She turned her cart around and headed toward the back of the store. She glimpsed the line of customers. It would seem a tremendous number of people had found this unique store, which specialized in all things happy and joyous for the holiday season.
Carolyn glanced at the shoppers’ carts as she hurried along the line.

Almost everyone had a twinkling box that contained just what she was looking for. In this day and economy, she supposed it wasn’t unusual for people to buy a little extra portion for the holidays when they could find it. This particular store, tucked in a small strip mall at the edge of town, was the only place she knew that had all the items she wanted for her Christmas gifts.

She slowed as she came to the "cherish" aisle. Among the different size boxes of affection, a small television advertised "cherish" with a short video of an older couple, celebrating their 75th anniversary. How many people could cherish and hold each other in reverence for that length of time?

Next to "cherish" was a whole section of "belief"; more than should be there at this time of the shopping season. The aisle was almost dark; the boxes dull and lifeless on the shelves. Didn’t people believe anymore?

Thinking over the latest news and the stories her friends had told her, she understood how hard it was to believe. One friend and her family had lost their house; another had lost a job and still another had recently lost a parent to a crippling disease. It was no wonder people quit believing in good things happening. Even though she already had a box of "belief", Carolyn put another in her shopping cart. Her friends needed it.

She turned down the next aisle, not because she needed anything but she couldn’t resist the children she heard. As she walked slowly among the happiness and laughter holograms, she was caught up in their merriment. Regardless of where they were from -- and it looked like there were children from all over the world -- they played as if they had not a care in the world. Perhaps it was a case of innocence; that small children could forget about the cares of the world and be themselves – happy and carefree, if only for a short time.

Finally Carolyn came to the aisle containing the item she had forgotten, although how she could have, she really didn’t know. As she gathered up box after box of "hope", she counted her blessings. "Hope" contained the joy and faith of the season. When mixed with love and the belief of good things to come, "hope" made a powerful mixture that could not be denied.

"Hope" helped people survive the day to day trauma that at times was overwhelming. They found hope in family ties, church and community efforts.

As Carolyn hurried back into line, she realized she wasn’t the only one hoping for the best. Glittering and twinkling boxes of love and faith, among other wishes, had brought these customers to this magical store and each and every basket glowed with light.

Customers had a special look about them. Eyes twinkled and lips tipped up in various stages of smiles. Every person’s face held a memory from some past, happy holiday.

Carolyn wished, that regardless of the problems people faced, her small gifts would help them have a better holiday.
Along with Carolyn, I wish you and your family the best of the holidays with gifts of...

Belief
Happiness
Laughter
Blessings
Joy
Love
Merriment
Faith
Cherish
Hope



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Reviewed by P. G. Shriver 12/17/2014
What a sweet little story! May your holiday be filled with all of those, too! Thanks for sharing. I wish there really was a store like that...
Reviewed by Ronald Hull 12/14/2014
Faith, Hope, and [Charity] are the stalwarts of this interesting little story. Just in time for the Christmas celebration. Everyone should shop for these items instead of "bargains."

Ron


Books by
Barbara J. Baldwin



Indigo Bay

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Song of My Heart

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How Far Will You Go?

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Pebbles in a Shell --Now Available in Ebook

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Christmas Quilt Anthology

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Voice of a Soldier

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A short story of mine was included in an anthology of short fiction by fourteen of Port Town Publishing Company's authors. It is out of print and no longer available except as a do..  
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