Unpacking the Greatest Gift - Comparatively Speaking

Unpacking the greatest gift — comparatively speaking

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - greatest gift

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!





As usual, my mind jumps all over the place trying to find somewhere solid to land.

For example:

Do you remember learning the comparative and superlative at school?

great                    greater                 greatest

But what could be described as the greatest, indeed the greatest gift?

Muhammad Ali had no trouble in declaring that he was the greatest.

And ever since reading Charli’s post, I haven’t been able to get Whitney Houston out of my head.

According to liveaboutdotcom, Whitney Houston“has been cited by the Guinness Book of Records as the most awarded female performer of all time.” It appears that those awards were not enough. Perhaps had she been able to find that love, it would have been her greatest gift

Then there’s a chant I used to hear in the playground. A group of girls would gather and one would call out, “I am the greatest”. Others would respond, “No you’re not.” Then everyone would do a handstand. And so, it would repeat. I think whoever held the handstand the longest was entitled to call, “I am the greatest.” If only it were that easy.

I am the greatest - playground game

If one was to be the greatest at anything, would that be the greatest gift?

I’ve often said that a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts that a parent can give a child.

the love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child

It is one of the greatest gifts not only for the joy that reading can give, but even more because the ability to read is empowering. It enables one to fully participate in what societies have to offer, to navigate one’s way through our complex environments and seek knowledge for oneself.

If it is but one of the greatest gifts, what are the others, and is there one that is greatest of them all? Is it the gift of life? Of unconditional love? Of being accepted as you are? The most expensive car? The biggest house? The largest inheritance?

Was winning the World Heavyweight Championship the greatest gift for Muhammad Ali? The greatest number of awards wasn’t the greatest gift for Whitney Houston.

I think it’s too difficult to intellectualise. I’ve gone back to the concrete thinking of six-year-olds for my answer.

The Greatest Gift

The class was aflame with a mix of sadness and excitement.

“She’s is leaving.”

“She’s gunna have a baby.”

“I’m gunna bring her a gift.”

“I am too.”

On her final day, the children jostled to give first, hopeful she’d love their gift the best.

“Mine’s bigger than yours.”

“Mine’s better.”

“Mine’s the greatest.”

The children gloated and nudged each other as the teacher opened the gifts.

“How perfect.”

“This is great.”

“Thank you, everyone.”

Finally, Tommy edged forward. His hands were empty. He looked shyly into his teacher’s eyes and whispered, “I’ll miss you, Miss. You’re the best.”

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

53 thoughts on “Unpacking the greatest gift — comparatively speaking

  1. Prior...

    Well done Norah – so sweet – the gift of intimacy and being valued and appreciated –
    Then the gift of being a teacher – having students to miss and be missed by and then having a baby! Oh so many goodies here…
    Enjoyed your thoughts leading up to the entry.
    And just recently we were chatting about comparing and why many times there is no greater and greatest in certain areas.
    -/ I hate the parts of our culture that camp there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading so much wisdom into my little story, Yvette. I appreciate your thoughts.
      I agree — why do we need the greatest and the best? Why can’t we just be great?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. roughwighting

    Oh jeez. I got teary-eyed at the end of your story! Tommy – what a wise and sweet and loving boy you are.
    I really enjoyed your thoughts on “the greatest.” I think you’ve proven that ‘greatest’ is an empty word, because what is wonderful to some is not to others (for instance, I think the greatest dessert is hot fudge sundae, but I bet I’d get a lot of disagreements on that). 🙂
    A gift that goes on forever is the BEST (staying away from greatest). And as you say, the gift of teaching a child to read, and the gift of reading to a child – that’s a gift that keeps on giving her. his entire life. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Pam. ‘the greatest’ does seem hollow because it doesn’t really mean anything. Most things can’t be measured to find a greatest. Reading is a great gift that many of us take for granted.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Aw, your flash is so moving, well done! And of course I love your compilation of greatests. I like the one of the girls doing handstands best. Girls need encouragement to believe they can be the greatest. Unfortunately, as you say re Whitney, humans have a tendency to always want more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Anne. I’m pleased the flash worked. I wasn’t sure about the playground chant when I heard it, but I think it works because no one is the greatest for long. They all take a turn at some stage. I think the pressure of being the greatest must be difficult to bear. I’m pleased it was never an issue for me. 🙂



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