THE CHRISTMAS TREE
“Andi?” six-year-old Hannah asked. “Can you tell me a winter story?”
“All right, Hannah,” Andi said. “How about a Christmas tree story?”
“Oh, yes!” Hannah said.
It was December 4, 1877. I was already up and dressed when Mother called me down for breakfast. As I ran out of my room, I thought about sliding down the banister, but when I saw it I decided not to because I might land funny and be sore.
“Morning, Mother!” I said as I ran into the dining room.
“Good morning, Sweetheart,” she replied.
“Where is everyone?” I looked around the quiet dining room.
“Chad and Mitch had a few things they needed to take care of, and Justin is resting. He woke up with a fever,” said Mother.
“Oh,” I said quietly. “Where's Melinda?”
“She's still in San Francisco with Aunt Rebecca, remember?”
I nodded, a little embarrassed for forgetting where my own sister was, but then I smiled, remembering how I ditched that trip. As much as I loved Aunt Rebecca, I would rather spend my time looking for a Christmas tree, which is what we were doing today.
After breakfast Chad and Mitch got back. Everyone said good-bye to Mother and off we went into the beautiful, snow-covered Sierras!
We were headed toward the mountains, but it still seemed so far. After a while we started seeing animals. As much as I loved animals, I was eager to see snow!
Soon I started to get impatient. Would there be snow? I voiced my fears to Mitch, but he assured me there would be snow.
Later in the day we were finally in the snow! It was beautiful the way the light bounced off the snow and made it glisten like crystals. We got out to eat the packed lunch Mother made for us.
After that we started looking for a tree. It was dark in the forest where the trees loomed over us, casting their shadows on the ground.
As we walked I would say, “Oh, Chad, look at this one!” or I would say, “Can we please get this one?”
But he replied, “No, Andi, it's too tall” or “It's too wide.”
“Hey, Andi,” Chad shouted as he scooped up a pile of snow, “Catch!” He threw a snowball straight at my face. When it hit me I laughed. I scooped up snow to throw one back, and so did Mitch. I laughed some more. Soon we would have Chad covered in snow!
Who knew picking out a tree would be so much fun?
Once we found the tree we hauled it back to the wagon. As we loaded it Mitch started talking, and what he said surprised me very much. He said, “Hey, Andi, why don't we stay for a little bit, since we won't be here again for a year.”
“Oh, yes, Mitch!” I said. “Is it okay with you, Chad?” I was afraid he would dash my dreams. But then he surprised me too.
“Sure, little sister, since we got this tree in the wagon we have time,” he answered.
“Yay! Mitch, Chad, can we play hide and seek?” I said, thrilled at Chad's answer.
“Okay, Andi,” Mitch said, “as long as you don't go out of the clearing.”
“Okay, Chad, can you be ‘it’?”
“All right, I'll count to thirty,” Chad said.
I ran off and so did Mitch. The clearing we had parked the wagon in was huge, but it didn't satisfy me, so I just ran straight out. I thought about what Mitch had said, but I figured I could go back after a while.
But as I wandered farther and farther into the woods I started to realize the sense in it. After a few minutes I decided to turn back, but then I realized I didn't know which way the clearing was! It was obvious that I was lost.
I sat down next to a log and cried. I yelled for Chad and Mitch, but they didn't answer. I kept crying. But then a Bible verse popped into my head, Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
After that I pulled myself together and thought about what to do next. Then I remembered that I could ask God for help, I could pray. So I did, and when I finished I felt peace.
After a few minutes of trying to figure out what to do I heard someone or something coming through the trees.
“Andi,” I heard a voice yell. It sounded like Chad!
“Over here!” I yelled back.
“Oh, Andi, thank goodness you're all right!” Chad said when he saw me.
“Yes, I am all right. A little cold, but all right. I am so sorry for going out of the
clearing. I'll listen next time,” I said frantically, not knowing what he would do.
“That's okay Andi,” he said, “everyone makes mistakes sometimes. But for now, we better get you home.”
Later that day, after explaining to Mother what had happened, we all decorated the tree and had hot chocolate. It was definitely a fun day.
“Hannah? Are you still awake?” Andi asked. When there was no answer, she smiled, turned out the light, and left the room. As she walked down the hallway she ran into Betsy, her other niece.
As Betsy walked up to her, she said, “Oh Andi, I have been looking all over for you. Can you tell me a Christmas story?”
“What's so funny?” Betsy asked.
“Nothing, Betsy. Sure, I'll tell you a story. As long as you promise not to fall asleep.”
“I promise!” said Betsy.
So Andi started telling the same story she had just told to Hannah less than five minutes ago.
She didn't mind at all.