Friday Fictioneers–a group of talented writers coming together weekly to share 100-word stories based on a picture prompt.  Just read or be a part.  (Click on the little character to access all the stories.)  This week’s prompt is a holiday photo from Fictioneers hostess, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

A Made Man

Everything makes or mars us in some way. Which one depends on us.

They say after the first time, it’s easier; has less impact.  Not for me.  Family involved me and, even with family behind me, it was, and remains, difficult.

I’d noticed her before, around town.  When her family was chosen, I went reluctantly to their house that night.  Stomach churning, I rang the bell and stepped back to wait.

Her mother recounts yearly that the money meant a coat for her daughter, now my wife.  It became our family’s Christmas tradition.  The stories we hear bless us year-round.

The real story…One year early in our marriage, we decided there had to be more than just giving gifts to family and friends, so we asked our pastor who at church might need some help for Christmas.  We put the small amount of money we could afford in a Christmas card, drove to the house and, with trepidation, rang the bell.    The single mom told us every Christmas after that what it meant to her to be able to buy a winter coat for her son, a coat she wouldn’t have been able to afford.  It was a humbling yet wonderful experience that we continued yearly with different families.  May you bless and be so blessed this Christmas!

  1. Paul says:

    Beautiful. We give what we can, usually time, rarely money. Only because times are tough for us, too.

  2. billgncs says:

    my favorite gift we have ever given.

  3. boomiebol says:

    This is beautiful…God bless your heart

  4. Beautiful story. I love how the act of giving is difficult for him, how even with it being a family tradition, he still finds it difficult. Your story leaves me wanting to hear more of the love story between this man and the girl who would become his wife.

  5. what good and loving souls both of you are…

  6. Nice story and a beautiful tradition.

    • it’s really been enjoyable during the years. The first years, though, were always a bit difficult because we were never sure how our gift would be taken. After awhile, it becomes a habit, even if it’s not during Christmas and each gift, of time, money, place, help, enriches us as much as the recipient and has also lead to friendships that we value greatly.

  7. Your FF story and the following “real story” brought tears to my eyes. Oh, if only….

    • I’m happy the stories, fiction and real, touched you, Lora. I’m not sure what your “Oh, if only” refers to so I can only respond to possibilities. If you’d like to do something similar, you can, whether with money, time or even something homemade such as a basket of goodies or a basket of basic food essentials. An invitation to come over for tea/coffee and something to eat is easy to do, too. I hope that the “if only” doesn’t mean you need such help now, but if so, I pray you get it. Of course, there’s the possibility that none of these were what you meant, in which case I shall retire gracefully to the upstairs to get some work done. 🙂

  8. yepiratesays says:

    Beautifully done – I especially liked the last paragraph, which added a further dimension.

    • Thanks. I’m still hoping someone will pick up on the reference to the “made man” in the title and the paragraphs preceding the final one (in the story, not the real story). Perhaps I was trying to be too subtle in having the twist ending be a happy one.

  9. Sandra says:

    Beautifully done. Such a heart-warming take on the prompt.

  10. Dear Janet,
    What a beautiful weaving of fact and fiction. Well done as always. Now I can leave for work with a smile on my face.

    • Have a wonderful day and keep that smile, Rochelle. Thanks for dropping by this morning. I’m doing my morning rounds before heading down to do my weight-lifting, have breakfast and get some more work done. Now you have me smiling, too.

  11. claireful says:

    A very heart-warming story – the fiction and the real one.

  12. yerpirate says:

    Have been popping back to look at what you meant as the reference with ”made man” – think you went the right way with the ending – it was a nice twist.

    • A made man is a mafia man who wants to move up the ladder. That happens by killing someone. I was attempting to give the impression until the last paragraph that this would be a killing, but I think I didn’t manage to convey that.

      • yerpirate says:

        Ah..but you can only do so much with 100 words! You’d think I would know that, having written about a mafia hit for my story! I knew, really, that it was something like that, just couldn’t quite pin it – thanks!

      • I thought I’d do a seemingly bad story with a good twist ending instead of the opposite, traditional one.

      • yerpirate says:

        Yes – the good twist was very sudden. I liked it – not too soft or sweet. Quite natural almost, but not expected.

  13. Cindy Marsch says:

    Nice story, Janet, the real one especially, though I love the romantic turn of the fiction one. When we were newlyweds we got an envelope with $50 in it one day, and it was SO much appreciated. We, too, try to find someone every year or so to give something to personally–someone who has a special need. This year we’re helping a family add two Chinese orphans to their number–it is so exciting!

    And thank you for your generosity to our own family a couple of years ago. We will always appreciate it in the years to come. 🙂

    Here’s my story:

    • It was our pleasure, Cindy. The giving, no matter the season, is a blessing; to be able to have enough to share is wonderful and you don’t really have to have much in order to share. The personal sharing is especially rewarding, even though we give to a number of charities. I’m happy that both our girls sponsor a child through Compassion International. Megan initially sponsored a girl in Indian who was only a week younger than she and Megan was even more blessed to be able to visit India on a Compassion sponsor trip and meet “her” girl. (And she paid for that trip herself. Good stuff.

  14. rich says:

    well done. blessing back at you.

  15. Bless your heart, Janet, for writing this uplifting story, and for living the story. You must be a caring and generous person. Thanks for visiting my story and the nice comment. Ron

  16. Abraham says:

    This story is very good.
    We usually do not know in advance what ‘small’ acts of kindness may lead to in future.

  17. This story is at the heart of everything…Giving! That makes many souls complete. Thanks for sharing and may you continue to enjoy the true fulfillment that comes with giving!

  18. Dear Janet,

    Let me say first that your tale brought mist to my eyes and made me smile. I felt your loving spirit suffused all through it and if pressed I would say it is your best ever becasue of the message it contains and the way you wrote it. I followed the thread in the comments re your title and went back to reread the story to see what you were trying to convey. Upon reflection, you almost nailed it, so much so that I am going to inch out on a limb and tell you where it went south (for me). It was the line, ‘when her family was chosen..’ Had you used a sentence identifying her in the singular, your readers might have made the connection to the sinister you were trying for. I offer these thoughts becasue I think you will see what I mean. Even without anyone making that connection, your story was solid and moving to experience. One of the best I’ve read in a long time and perfeect for the season.



    • Doug, don’t ever feel you can’t give me constructive criticism. Any time you feel it’s needed, go for it. I want to improve my writing.

      I paused over that same sentence many times before publishing and kept it because of the family reference (“The Family”) and probably because I was thinking of our actual experience. I couldn’t figure out a good way to work in a godfather, either. 🙂

      I’m thankful, however, that even though I missed one aim (that of having a story that sounded as though it were going to be bad and then had a good ending), I at least hit the mark with the story’s overall feeling.

      Thanks again!

  19. A perfect example of what Christmas is about!

  20. Russell says:

    I appreciate a good twist as much as the next guy, especially if it’s ice cream, but this story is so good and heartwarming it didn’t need a Mafia Don to choke the tears out of me. Beautifully done, Janet.

  21. Excellent. Your title with the mob implications of being a “made man” really sucked me in to reading the first part of the story as meaning he had trouble getting used to being a hired killer and especially being tasked with killing a young girl.

    And then to realize that instead he’s talking about the stress of personally delivering charitable gifts – well, the relief was overwhelming, and I’m VERY impressed to see that the beginning of the story reads perfectly either way!

    • Sharon, you just made my day! You’re the first person who read it the way I meant it to be read. I’m very happy it worked either way but totally chaffed that you “got it. “. I wish you could see the big smile on my face. 🙂

  22. brudberg says:

    Wow, and it is not just about money, it’s about taking the time. And it is difficult to give, and it’s difficult to accept. Well told

    • You’re right. Many people, especially those of an earlier, do-it-yourself generation, can’t accept gracefully, which is more difficult in many ways than giving gracefully. Seeing what’s in the heart usually makes the entire process easier and to be seen for what it is–an act of love and an acceptance of that love. We always just told people to pass it on. If you feel you have to pay it back, it’s not a gift, it’s a loan.

  23. Joyce says:

    What a beautiful way to share a beautiful real life experience. Wonderfully told. I grew up in a minister’s home and my husband was licensed as one after seminary and we have seen the ways in which our help and ministry to those less fortunate have had a profound effect on us as well. Christmas will always be first about the greatest gift ever given us, and the way we can give back to another in need. Thanks for sharing and also thanks for reading and commenting on my stories.

    • Thank you, Joyce. I think often the greatest effect, at least in a non-material sense, is on the gift giver. I’m so psyched for Christmas now and on finding someone who needs some help this year. (I already have someone in mind and I can’t wait to get to it!) Happy you came by and talked for a bit.

      • Joyce says:

        My pleasure too. My husband and I give monthly to Samaritan’s Purse (Franklin Graham’s minsitry) and to some others the same way, but I remember the joy we got more when we filled the boxes for the Christmas Shoe Box gifts for Samaritan’s Purse. So much fun, but there are always agencies and ways to give back. That is the joy and meaning of Christmas and I wish you and yours too, a very blessed Christmas.

      • We have a number of ministries we support year-round but one big Christmas (and birthday) joy comes each time one of our Compassion children send a picture of all the things he or she got with the only $20 we sent! It’s an incredible feeling of joy. $20 here buys not much of anything but $20 in India buys an unbelievable amount. We’re all so blessed here.

      • Joyce says:

        That is so true. We also support Terry Law Ministries who who founded World Compassion Ministries and is now run by his son. We get updates on his work and it breaks it down to showing us where ever donated $ goes and which country or people is being helped. Yet, when we see the catastrophes that hit the U.S. like Katrina, and super storm Sandy there are ways and places too to help those people. There is always need and always a people in need where ever we are, but yes, we as a nation and people are still the most blessed of any other.

  24. Debra Kristi says:

    Beautiful story. I love hearing things like this. When I was growing up my church used to have a program that let us provide something for the less fortunate at the holiday time. My kids’ school now has something they call the Angel program. I think all programs like that are wonderful. Even if you can’t afford anything, just giving of your time to help in someway is a wonderful way to give. Thank you for sharing. Your story warmed my heart.

    • We did Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program at our former church and that was great. Our current church runs a food pantry and the last few years, we’ve (we as in people from the church) have gotten a gift for each child of those families. Opportunities abound, that’s for sure. I loved the story today of the Secret Santa who passes out hundreds of hundred dollar bills to people, often victims of Sandy. He hoped it would inspire others.

  25. elmowrites says:

    I must admit the true version of this story worked more for me than the fictional one, which seemed a bit disjointed and confusing to me. I love the sentiment though, and kudos to you for your kindness at Christmas.

    • In the spirit of the Fictioneers, or at least some of them/us, I’m sorry it wasn’t good for you. :-). What I tried to do or rather, the way I tried to do it, was what was confusing/disjointed, but I’m glad enough of the sentiment came through for you. Hope you get lots of sleep tonight and give your little guy a hug from me.

  26. vbholmes says:

    I think it would be very difficult to turn such a feel-good story into a a hard-boiled saga–it has such a wonderful message, it should be enjoyed as it is. That said, your first couple of sentences did set your desired mood–

  27. I love this! Your character and your family live the dream. Thanks for sharing — I’ll be showing this to the kids in the morning.


  28. writeondude says:

    That’s a wonderful tradition. Well done.

  29. claudia says:

    I loved this story and can see lots more to be told with it. The whole Christmas story told here in only a few words and with charcters you want to know more about.

  30. JKBradley says:

    We do the same sort of thing now and again. Find a family in need, find out how many children and what the need, and we get them what they need, and a couple of items that they just might want as well. I’d rather do that than, well, many things.

  31. Bumba says:

    Well told story. And then the narrative was very moving.

  32. What a sweet story, Janet. At first I thought it was going to be something scary but you brought out the goodness in people instead 🙂

    • I’m glad you thought it was going to be scary because I was trying to have a supposedly scary story with a happy ending instead of the more common opposite. Only a few of you got that but evidently the story worked anyway, so that’s good. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to read, like and comment.

  33. Lovely little story which really hits hit the mark with the prompt.

    I only hope the young girl he met wasn’t a Republican!

  34. tedstrutz says:

    Lovely story.. Both.

  35. Shannon says:

    You guys are great examples of generousity for me and Megan. It makes me really proud to be your daughter 🙂

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