DAy 121: A Martial Arts Christmas

A Martial Arts Christmas
Matt Zurbo


Annie was picked on a lot.

“It’s not fair,” she would pout. No matter how much she wanted… “I just can’t fit into this group or that!”

So she tried martial arts.
“I don’t need a team for this,” she said.

Much to her surprise… SHE LOVE IT!
“Why?” her mum asked.
“I dunno,” Annie replied. “There’s no noise when I’m doing it.”
(Happy, racing home in martial arts clothes to Mum.)

“Just this sweet silence.”
(Determined expression as she competes.)

(Training alone.)

Mum was impressed, and took Annie to three lessons a week.

Soon, December came around. Annie was getting very good, but frustrated.

Martial arts are a discipline. She wasn’t meant to just go around chopping people, no matter how much, at times, she wanted to!
(Other girls making fun of her.)

She couldn’t USE it for anything!
(Other kids building tree house. Flying homemade kites. Building billycarts.)

So Mum said: “Why not find a way to use it for Christmas?”

Annie thought about that all night.
(Lying in bed, awake.)

And week…
(At training.)

And month.
(Pacing in circles.)

Finally, she said: “Mum, Christmas is tomorrow, and I still don’t know how to do what you asked.”

Mum sat Annie down, and spoke from the heart.
(Annie on Mum’s knee.)

“Annie, there’s a lot of noise around Christmas. A lot of pressure at times. It’s up to you to figure out what matters, and what does not.”

Annie (practiced her martial arts and) thought hard about what Mum told her…

What doesn’t matter about Christmas? What a strange idea!

Decorations, fat men in red and white suits, counting presents, awful songs.

What does matter?
Giving, good will… family.

“Mum,” Annie said. “I need to go somewhere on my bike!”

And she rode to the lot beside the pine plantation behind town.
(Small pines growing wild next to big, regimented pines from the plantation.)

Annie’s family had never had a Christmas tree. She was going to use her martial arts to cut one down and give to mum.

Annie focused.
Got her breathing right.
Waited until she felt centred… and…!

(Annie chopping at tree with hand.)

Tree 1, Annie 0!
(Annie in pain, holding hand.)

She tried for hours!

The plantation owner was drawn by all the noise.
“Let me cut it down for you,” he offered.

“NO!” she panicked. “Thank you, though.”

Finally, Annie’s hands and feet were blue. She felt like she’d failed. She just wanted to cry and cry.

“Psst…” her Dad whispered. “Let me give you some money to buy Mum a gift.” 
But Annie was determined!
“No! Thank you,” she whispered back.

“Your present might be late this year, Mum,” she said.

Every day after summer school, before her martial arts classes, in the mornings of her days off, Annie would go to the pine plantation, find the tree, and let loose her training.


Each day, sore and blue, she would return home.

But, each day, her hands got harder, her skin tougher. Her aim sharper.

Until, finally, some time mid-March… CHOP!
(Annie felling the tree.)

(Annie dragging her Christmas present/pine tree home.)

“Merry Christmas, Mum. Sorry it’s so late,” she said.
(Standing in doorway with tree.)

Mum smiled.
(A tear falling from her eye.)
Oh, she smiled!

Her daughter was not a quitter. She was disciplined. Thoughtful. She cared. She knew what didn’t matter – dates. And what did – love.

“This is the BEST Christmas present I’ve EVER been given,” she sighed.

And Mum and daughter put up their tree… in mid-March!


The End

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