Short Story: The Gift

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About this Short Story

Written by
Kenneth Steven

Narrated by
Helen McAlpine


The tale of a perfect Christmas.


  • 2099 Words
  • 95 Comments
  • 80% Community Rating
  • 29268 Views

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I know what it was I wanted to tell you about, it was Christmas. I call myself a traveller who never did, but my mother and father were both brought up on the road. It was my mother who wanted to settle, long before I was born. She’d lost my older brother to pneumonia. They’d been out in the west with the horse and cart one October, in a storm that lasted for days. Everything was drenched and frozen, and in the end, my brother died before they could get help for him. I think that was why they came to Dublin. I think that was it.

Well, I remember one year I was at school – I would have been six at the time. And the teacher was a Miss Munro, she was a spiteful woman. She was no taller than a pencil and the boys trembled in front of her. She should have been out breaking horses, not in…

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Red Barn Studios said "Editor's Pick - We recorded this a few months ago in the studio, and it was a great start to the festive season! Not only was it great fun to record, it is a beautifully written story which comes alive through Helen’s reading. The Irish narrative lulls the reader into a simpler time, where the true meaning of Christmas can be explored."
8 years ago

Minh Nguyen said "A nice story"
2 years ago
Eman Emy said "I really enjoyed this story"
3 years ago
Sam Loulou said "wow ; i ve just finished reading the short story it's stunning and i can't find words to express what i felt , it's quite touching . it's a journey of a child with his dad in a very unexpected time of year ,and a place too . i share the same feeling with a child , i mean the part when he misses his father so much and can't believe he is spending some time with him , i miss my dad though he is home with me , but i never had the chance to go on a journey with him , weird !! i had a good feeling though imagining that . and the second part when he felt so lonely at school and everybody was mean , my teacher was so mean that i wished mum or dad could save me from school for a while . this short story is so nice , well written and i had a very special time reading it ."
3 years ago
Iera Sya said "Not bad at all :)"
3 years ago
Ruhan Desai said "ok not bad"
3 years ago
Ananya Jain said "very nice"
3 years ago
Joss Matos said "Actually I am learning the English lenguage and listen this short stories is very good for me."
3 years ago
Will O'brian said "Loved it! I'd say more but I've go a deadline."
4 years ago
Sandra McLaren-stewart said "Beautiful Christmas story with great narration"
5 years ago
Catherine Williams said "I loved reading this story -so beautifully told, so touchingly haunting. Replacing the hardships of their life lived on the road through the perception of an innocent child made it ever so more. I kept wondering about the mother, knowing it would be she who would be the one to keep her family together. But somehow the story was complete even without exploring her role. It was a truly captivating story. Pauline"
5 years ago
Gamini L.w. said "Thank you for giving these stories in audio & text form. I recommend this site to all those who are engaged in learning English. -Gamini from Sri Lanka"
5 years ago
Patsy R Liles said "Listening to this in August fast forwarded me to Christmas, and the beauty of it that can be found in everything. Patsy R Liles"
5 years ago
Yogesh Chavan said "good"
5 years ago
Patrick Dumas said "A great story. It would be just wonderful on audio. Enjoyed it immensely."
5 years ago
Meg Malpass said "Just had to listen to it again. Fiona was right it is amazing when listened to. Helen does real justice to what is still my favourite story on Shortbread. Thank you."
6 years ago
Adam West Guest Editor said "Not sure why I did not leave a comment on this story when I read it months ago? Maybe I did not have enough confidence to convey my observations? Some wonderful parallels drawn, questions asked of the reader, in particular, exposing prejudice and a childhood tendency toward cruelty to ones peers. It would be a very harsh critic indeed who could find fault with your storytelling, Kenneth - many thanks, for a lovely piece, Adam"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you for writing now, Adam! Just to let you know, the story is now published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll) in case you'd like to find this and other work in print. Thanks once more - no matter how many books one may have in print, knowing that one's words are being found and valued means a vast amount."
6 years ago
Linda Vincent said "Kenneth - the gift is your writing - it reads like a fairy tale, simple and yet stunning"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Linda, thank you most sincerely for writing as you did - it's sincerely appreciated! Just to let you know, the story is now published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll). All best wishes for the year that lies ahead."
6 years ago
Allan Forsyth said "A very beautiful story - I so much wanted to be there in those woods, picking the mistletoe - lovely thought that we might not think we amount to much but we can all be kindled!"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you for leaving a message, Allan. Very pleased the story pleased! Just to let you know, it appears now in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll) in case you'd be keen to find it in print. Good wishes for 2012, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Olga Whittaker said "What a beautiful story. The ending brought me out in goosebumps. Thank you Kenneth."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you, Olga. The story is now published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll) in case you'd be interested in seeing it in print. With good wishes for 2012, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Rosemary Gemmell said "What a beautiful story, full of Kenneth's poetry, celebration of life and faith. Left tears in my eyes."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Dear Rosemary, thanks very much for leaving a message - it's good to hear from you. I'm not sure if you know the story's published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories', in case that's of interest. All good wishes to you for the year ahead! Kenneth"
6 years ago
Kirsty Pilcher said "PS....the end brought tears to my eyes .....mmmmm really sweet...."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thanks, Kirsty! Happy New Year to you! Kenneth"
6 years ago
Kirsty Pilcher said "I have read this Friday story - 24 hours later! - in Hawii and it brings a sweetness and innocence to mind. Which to me is the true meaning of Christmas. A really lovely poignant read....thank you Kenneth and Happy New Year everyone wherever you are.....! x x x"
6 years ago
Gerry Smyth said "This was a real story, a pleasure to read. Gerry Smyth"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thanks, Gerry. Just to let you know, the story appears in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll), in case you'd be interested in seeing it in print. Good New Year wishes, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Kathleen Lawrence said "A beautiful story indeed. The characters are memorable and the theme endearing. Thank you for a lovely reminder of the real meaning of Christmas. It will always be one of my favorites."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you, Kathleen - if I didn't say so already! I may have mentioned that the story is now published in my collection 'The ice and other stories' (Argyll) in case you'd like to see it in print. Good wishes to you for 2012, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Lou Willis said "This is the best story I have read in a long time. The first person perspective is perfect. I have not listened to it. My only advice would be to go a little easier on the 'was' verbs. Other than that a very strong, visual story employing all the senses, gets to the meat of the story quickly, adds a delightful element of 'the fairies' and of course the theme of love and family. Very sweet story of belonging and where we fit in the grand scheme of things, a universal thread in all of us. Thank you."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you, Lou! Just to let you know for interest's sake, the story is now published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll). Good New Year wishes, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Meg Malpass said "Still my favourite story on Shortbread. Read it first over a year ago and was so impressed by the writing and the story of the simple life. Thank you for sharing."
6 years ago
Meg Malpass replied saying "Thank you, will do. Happy New Year."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you, Meg! Just to let you know, the story is now published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll) in case you'd be interested in finding it in print. Good New Year wishes, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Mary Ridley said "I've just read this story and dont want to listen to it as I have her voice in my head and to hear another voice would spoil it for me. I'm still lost in this story, Thank you"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thanks so much, Mary. Can I let you know that the story's published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories'. Happy New Year!"
6 years ago
Suzanne Mays Guest Editor said "I once read (and don't remember who wrote it) a good short story is read in an hour and remembered for a lifetime. I put this one on my list. Thank you."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you, Suzanne! Can I let you know that the story is published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories'? Happy New Year!"
6 years ago
David Green said "Perhaps I am the most critical of readers here - I do not offer false compliments. This story deserves the highest praise and I have read it more than once."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you, David! Can I let you know that the story appears in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll). Happy New Year!"
6 years ago
Laurentia Stanley said "Helen's reading of this story so brought it alive. I felt like I was there with Moiree and her Dad. Thanks Kenneth and Helen. Rounded off the day and year beautifully."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thanks very much, Laurentia! The story comes from my collection 'The Ice and other stories', in case you want to find it in print! Happy New Year, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Ann Brixey said "The story just flowed, it was touching and poignant. Beautifully written, it is a tribute to the season, a real keeper to be re-read each year. Great job Kenneth."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thanks so much, Ann! Can I let you know that the story appears in my collection 'The ice and other stories' (Argyll). Happy New Year! Kenneth"
6 years ago
Heidi-jo Swain said "I have only just discovered this story through the Friday e-mail and I can honestly say that it is the most beautiful contribution I have read since joining Shortbread earlier this year. Its warmth and gentle telling is superb. I could smell, touch and almost taste every delightful word. I will certainly be reading it again. Thank you Kenneth."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Many thanks, Heidi-Jo! Kenneth"
6 years ago
Heidi-jo Swain replied saying "You certianly can - I have made a note of it! Happy New Year to you."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Hi Heidi-jo! Thanks so much for your comment! Can I let you know that the story appears in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll). Happy New Year! Kenneth"
6 years ago
Ken Mcbeath said "Great story. Ken McBeath"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Many thanks. For interest's sake, the story comes from my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll) in case you'd like to find it in print! Happy New Year! Kenneth"
6 years ago
Pat Wright said "Thank you! Such a beautiful story."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thanks, Pat! The story actually comes from my collection 'The ice and other stories' (Argyll) in case it's worth finding! Happy New Year - Kenneth"
6 years ago
Valerie Ball said "What a gift to end the year - thank you Kenneth. A story of simple yet rich sentiment and delightful descriptions: 'listening to the leaves...' 'I could feel his laugh...' 'his brown eyes shone like river stones...' 'our breath fluttered about us like scarves...' to me, perfection. I wish I had written it x"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you so much, Valerie! Just to let you know, the story is now published in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll). Happy New Year, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Roger Noons said "Most enjoyable, thank you. I had a lot to do with urban travellers in the 1970s and 80s, but never saw much of the rural side of their life. This appealed to the romantic in me and at the end it left an upbeat glow. Some delightful expressions and phrases. Well done!"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thanks, Roger! Just to let you know, the story appears in my collection 'The Ice and other stories' (Argyll). Happy New Year! Kenneth"
6 years ago
Iris Woodford said "its simplicity and energy were superb. Well done, Helen and well written, Kenneth."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thank you, Iris! Just for interest's sake, the story comes from my collection 'The Ice and other stories', in case you'd like to find it in print! Happy New Year, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Dick Sawdon Smith said "Now that's what I call a story but haven't we had it before? Dick Sawdon Smith"
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "It has been on before, but thanks for listening again and for leaving your message. The story comes from my collection 'The Ice and other stories'. Happy New Year, Kenneth"
6 years ago
Steve Douglas said "I think this is brilliant, and great to see it's still being read and circulated, for I see it's been on Shortbread a while. Charming tell told with great craft and attention to detail - I especially liked the idea of wanting to stay on the van looking at the stars as well as wanting to reach the destination. Thanks."
6 years ago
Kenneth Steven replied saying "Thanks, Steve! Just to let you know, the story appears in my collection 'The Ice and other stores' (Argyll). Hppy New Year, Kenneth"
6 years ago
David Sharp said "That was really was quite enchanting, would love to explore more of this setting of gypsy mythology in the modern day."
6 years ago
Meg Malpass said "Still a beautiful story even in February. Thank you."
6 years ago
Mark Patrick said "When I was reading this, I couldn't help hoping every word of it is true. Charlotte said it - Magical."
7 years ago
Charlotte Wemyss said "Lovely story, it couldnt be anywhere else but in Ireland. I rated it "great" all the way through. I loved the cosiness throughout - included in the religious element - as well as the bond between Father and daughter. A truly magical Christmas Story. Thank you."
7 years ago
Patsy R Liles said "Patsy Liles: There is a certain sweetness in this story that touches one's heart. A father and child looking for something together. I am sure the memories of my own father will remain strong with me for many days to come. Thank you Kenneth Steven, for The Gift. -- Patsy"
7 years ago
Diane Dickson Guest Editor said "A beautiful atmospheric tale and quite superb writing. Another Friday gem. - Diane"
7 years ago
Patricia Fitzsimmons said "As a child I was extremely close to my father and it was so enjoyable to have him show me the simple but important things in life. Thank you Kenneth for your great intuition into a small girl's mind and her excitement in being able to share with her father"
7 years ago
Hilde Tipton said "You story was a gift to me - I especially enjoyed listening to it in the Irish accent of the narrator. Very well done, author and narrator alike."
7 years ago
Holly Moon said "Nicely written; I love the style and the subject matter."
7 years ago
Angela Redman said "I really enjoyed this story and I loved the writing style. Many thanks"
7 years ago
Tim Porteus said "A wonderful story, truly wonderful, bringing out the real magic of such special times...and so beautifully written."
7 years ago
Irene Brown said "This was delightfully read and written, cleverly covering the Nativity, the Passion, original sin and the interdependence of humanity all in this one wee gem! It made me recall my first view of mistletoe growing when I thought it was birds' nests."
7 years ago
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Susan Donim said "This story is becoming somewhat of a Christmas tradition for me! Last year I listened to it while wrapping up all my presents and this year I had it on my ipod while Christmas shopping. It's a great story to listen to when doing all those commercial Christmassy things, as it helps to keep you in the spirit, and to remember those things that really matter around this time of year. Excellent Christmas audio."
7 years ago
Ravi Kaul said "Really impressed with this!"
7 years ago
This comment has been removed; this user is no longer a member of Shortbread.
This comment has been removed; this user is no longer a member of Shortbread.
Lianne Mccarthy-shirey said "I so enjoyed this story, Kenneth. What a joy to read, and the addition of the wonderful narrator, it made me smile. Thank you!"
7 years ago
Natalie Mckay said "This story is very very good ,well done :)"
7 years ago
Sobani Devika Priyadarshinie Iddamalgoda said "Very, very good."
7 years ago
Lillian Harris said "This story is a little treasure."
7 years ago
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Terry Collett said "Very fine work."
7 years ago
Mohamed Saqr said "nice story - it's so nice sotry"
7 years ago
Alex Mcnee said "Great - This is a great story. I really like the bits about the teacher! :-b "
7 years ago
Gordon Forrest said "The Gift - Excellent Christmas tale with a lovely Irish lilt."
8 years ago
Terry Collett said "Classic. - Very good story and fine reading."
8 years ago
Karol L May said "Beautiful! - I loved this story. Beautifully written, it is a perfect Christmas story."
8 years ago
Jane Townsley said "excellent - full of imagery, and very well expressed. Loved it. "
9 years ago

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