“The Gift” is such a short story that this review, or, more accurately, this glowing recommendation, will be short too. “The Gift” tells of a man and a woman who are taking their first space flight with their little boy on Christmas Eve. He had hoped for a tree and presents, and his parents got him a tiny tree – but the gift exceeds the family’s weight allowance and the tree is not approved, so they have to leave tree and gift behind.
The rest of the story is the father’s solution to how he can give his son a Christmas Tree in space. I dare say no more. If you don’t get choked up at least a little then your soul is dead. Not that I’m judging you.
“The Gift” is a beautiful example of how a writer can accomplish a great deal in just a few words. Every word counts – so we care about the family, we have some idea of what their world is like, and the story has visual and emotional impact.
As a tree-hugging atheist, I find the solstice holidays to be meaningful because I’m drawn to the reoccurring themes of renewal of light, celebration of nature, and giving to others that appear across so many cultures. I can’t think of a much more pagan way to celebrate solstice than to bring a tree inside and decorate it, hang lights all over the house, and celebrate re-birth. And I have to confess that I’m pretty into that gift thing, too.
“The Gift” gives the reader a deep sense of veneration and wonder without being specifically religious (other than references to the holiday as “Christmas”). And it gives a deep sense of generosity and kindness, in showing how the other passengers participate in trying to create a special experience for the child. It’s a beautiful story and an exquisite example of writing craft. And it’s so short you can read it in less than five minutes – handy for when the holidays are not so much a time of wonder and veneration but a time of busy, busy madness. It’s a little hit of serenity and joy.