Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas! Here is a Christmas treat...

“The Star on Pebble Stone Avenue” 

The leaves, the crisp air, the breeze, and the acorns were all gone. Autumn was gone. It left behind winter, a cold, bare season. The only thing to be hoped for on those icy days was Christmas.
The Public H.C. Harris House for Orphans was full of enthusiasm. Everyone was looking forward to the holidays. The orphan girls dragged down from the attic boxes of all shapes and sizes filled with holiday decorations. The orphan boys tried to prop up the eight-foot-tall pine tree in the parlor.
Alas! This was no ordinary pine tree. This tree was to be decorated by the girls with homemade ornaments. It would be lit up with candles. A silver star made of shiny paper would top it. This was a Christmas tree!
No one is sure how it became a tradition, but it had been a tradition in The Public H.C.Harris House for Orphans as long as the old servants could recall, that who ever found the silver star first in the boxes would be the one to put it on the top of the tree. The children were now searching wildly.
“Mr. Harris, Junior, I found it! I found it!”screamed a little girl named Flora.
She waved the star over her head. The boy behind her patted her back and murmured his congratulations. She beamed. 
“Good job, Flora! You have found it,”declared Mr. Harris Junior giving one of his rewarding smiles.
Mr. Harris, Junior, did not smile often. When he did, he looked happy and friendly, otherwise, he gave people the impression  he was a stern, angry man. This was not all together true. Mr. Harris, Junior, had taken lead of the orphanage after his father died because he had seen it as his duty. He had come to love the children; although, no one knew it. He hardly knew it himself. The man was sensible and fair. He was warmhearted. Of course, he could be stern when it was necessary, but more often than not, he seemed sterner than he meant to be. Of all his faults, like everyone, he had many, his worst was not smiling enough.  
The girls were covering the tree with ornaments. They hung tiny bells.  Then they wrapped ribbons around the tree.  The boys brought the string of gold beads and draped it over or under each branch. An older girl came holding the candles and bade everyone to hang them on the tree. The little children proudly hung up the ornaments they had made. During all this, Flora protectively hugged the star in her arms and watched the decorating earnestly. Mr. Harris, Junior, picked her up. He walked to the tree, and lifted her higher and higher until she could reach the top. Her eyes shining and her face glowing with pleasure, Flora placed the silver star on the top. She gazed at it for a moment.
“What does the star mean, Mr. Harris? What does ‘Christmas’ mean?”asked Flora softly.
“Christmas is all about having a good time. The star is a tradition!” Mr.Harris, Junior, laughed and placed her back on the floor. 
At that moment a visitor appeared in the door way.
“Merry Christmas, darlings! Remember me? Mrs.Cream! There is frost on the windows! I came to bring your Christmas presents and take one of you to my house for the holidays!”announced Mrs.Cream.
Every child raced to her and formed a sloppy line. Flora was at the end. When Flora received her present, Mrs.Cream urged enthusiastically,
“Here is the last present I have. Open it, dear!”
Flora obeyed. Once opened, she stared at the gift dolefully for a moment. It was a plastic toy truck. The other girls got dolls, but she had received the last present. 
“Christmas is the best time of year! It is about family. All of my presents are special because of the people that gave them to me! Without my family, Christmas would have no purpose in the end.”Mrs.Cream cried,“Were you saying something, dearie?” 
“Thank you for the gift.  Did you mean that the reason...”Flora sighed“...we celebrate the holidays is because of family?”
“That is what Christmas is all about!”Mrs. Cream stated.
Flora slipped out of the parlor. She trudged toward the school room. The house was shabby and old. The floor boards whined against her light step. She tried to tiptoe into the school room as quietly as she could.  There she slipped onto the window seat to think. 
What does Christmas mean? Is it just about family? I have no family! Does that mean Christmas is only a holiday for people who do? If Christmas is just about having fun with your family what is the point of us orphans celebrating Christmas? We are all alone. 
Curling up in a ball to stay warm, Flora pressed her nose against the frosty window pane. 
I have nothing ... except a silly truck. That present is not special. It was not meant for me. 
“Flora! You are crying!”gasped someone from above her.
Flora peeped up. She saw her teacher, Miss Molly. Flora wondered what to say.
“I like your sweater,”she commented absentmindedly.  
“I love dressing up for the holidays. My sister gave this to me one year for Christmas,”said Miss Molly with a little laugh.
Miss Molly loved to laugh. Once she had told a friend it was her favorite thing to do. It was. She was hardly ever glum.
Now she stared at Flora, and her smile faded away. 
“Teacher, is Christmas about family? Is that the point of it? What about me? I do not have a family, I am all alone on Christmas!”Flora whispered.
Miss Molly frowned, “No, you are not! Christmas is about Jesus who came to Bethlehem as a baby. He was born in a stable, and the only crib He had was a manger. You have Jesus. That means you are never alone. He came to us as a child...”
“So He could die for us, Teacher? Christmas is celebrating His coming?”Flora looked overwhelmed. 
“Yes, He came to the earth for you even though you live all the way down on Pebble Stone Avenue in a big orphanage. He loves you. The wise men followed a vibrant star to see the baby King. They knew it was no ordinary star and they were right!”Miss Molly grinned.
“Then that is what the star means! The star on the Christmas tree! Then Christmas is for everyone. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, dear Teacher!”sang Flora as she covered the teacher with kisses, and Miss Molly giggled.
Flora skipped back to the parlor. She stared up at the silver star. Her eyes sparkled as she thought to herself, The star of Bethlehem led the wise men to Jesus. Thank you Jesus, for coming to die for me. 
  Fall was gone. Snow, whirled around outside. The few people who went by Pebble Stone Avenue would often catch a glimpse of a Christmas tree through the front window of  The Public H.C.Harris House for Orphans. Somehow, it looked significant; And those who stared long enough just might have caught a glimpse of a silver star.


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