It was just after the first real snow of the year. A couple of wet inches, which might be gone by noon or may last all winter, greeted us. It sure was pertty, that untracked white. I smiled at the sight, though dreaded the cold winter ahead.
A chill ran through my bones as I thought of last winter. Not everyone lives through winter, see? At least not out beyond the frontier. Yeah, it was pertty an’ all, and I was as happy as the others, but…
“I say winter is here, no matter the calendar tells us. Let’s get our tree today,” Pa said as we stood around gaping the changed world.
The young‘nes whooped.
My mind went back to that cold, earthen mound.
“Oh, what fer?” I asked.
I remembered Christmas in Illinois and the days we actually had real gifts. Now it was all just stuff Pa made and all. The young‘nes didn’t know no better. And this year, of all years…
Pa frowned his earth stopping frown.
“Toby, you’ll know better. We will celebrate the Christ child just like them in the city.” His voice change to a whisper. “Just like your Ma always did.”
I dropped my head and looked at my feet. He just let out his “hurmph” and headed out for out special tree.
I followed the others into the woods, but soon went my own way.
I was about to turn back and find the others when I saw it, like an angel stepping into the light.
For a moment I thought of Ma and the rock hard, cold ground I had to dig last winter. Pa said she was an angel now.
I followed the light and found that it wasn’t an angel, but a small pine, covered in sparkling snow, like a queen robed in diamonds.
I was struck by the beauty. This royal tree couldn’t come to our small, dirt-floored cabin. It weren’t fitten.
But then in the light I did see Ma in that tree. It was meant to be ours. Didn’t we deserve a visit by the angels this Christmas?
I called louder, “Pa!”
“What is it now, Toby?” I could hear him crunching through the snow to reach me.
“I think I found our tree.”
He frowned at me as he emerged from the woods, and followed my finger. His face softened into a smile. There was a tear onn his stony face. Did he see what I saw?
That was the year we brought the light into our cabin. Although there were no gifts under the tree, the tree itself was a gift. Later, it gave us the gifts of warmth and light, burning with the most fragrant scent imaginable.
Ma might have been gone, but she was with us one more Christmas in that tree, bringing light to our dreary lives once again.
Yes, I am on a blogging break, but I had to write a story :) And, yes, a little early for Christmas… This was written for Sue Vincent’s writephoto challenge. Her photo is at the top of the page and her key word the week was “light“.