|Thank you for agreeing to have your work evaluated by the contest. I like to divide my reviews into two sections, my reaction as a reader and my advice as a writer. As always, this is your work—and you’ll know best if any suggestions fit the mood of the piece.
as a reader: I can feel for the universality of the situation. Here is a Mama who is concentrating on the minutia of Christmas that she doesn’t pay attention to her children who are the ones the presents are for. By concentrating on the physical aspects of her love, she forgets to show love, and I think that’s a feeling that anyone can empathize with.
as a writer: I think the biggest note I have for your story is the names. I totally was getting all the kids confused. I know that it’s cute to have every child named the same letter (and it’s referenced in the story with the candy cane thing), but in a short story, especially one this short, it makes keeping track of them confusing. Especially when it turned out that the girls were Jenny, Jamie, and Josie, three names that even have the same structure and feel to them. I realize that they are different ages, but I had a hard time figuring out which one was which.
Related to that, I wasn’t sure of the significance of some of the rings. I understand Josie’s first real ring and even Jonathan’s Ring of Power, but I wasn’t sure what to make of a dentist’s ring—is it something that she got for being good at the dentist? And what’s a diaper ring? I had some really odd images going through my head there, which I think would be fixed by a short description of what those rings mean to the mother or the children—like the one you gave when you described Josie’s ring.
Another question I had related to the fact that in Jeff’s note, states that he had some help from the kids in the quest of the day. If that was so, I am surprised that there wasn’t more consciousness on the kid’s part as she finds the rings. A pointed hint from one of them that she needs to move the coffee pot or some stifled giggles. Kids, especially kindergarten ones, have a hard time with keeping secrets. If they didn’t know/help hide the rings, how did they help?
Finally, a logistical issue. It felt like she was finding the rings over the course of unrelated chores throughout the day—and yet she found them all and in the right order. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but I did notice it and it felt contrived.
I think this is a sweet story that made me smile. Nicely done.
Thanks for writing.