The late afternoon sky loomed heavy with a kitten gray pallor; the kind common just before a heavy snowfall.
Mattie, Paul, and their son Luke ventured past the clearing into the stand of fragrant pines at the back of their property. Paul gestured toward a well-shaped tree and smiled. “How about this one?”
Mattie turned her head to one side and squinted her eyes. “Do you think it’s too big? They always look smaller out here.”
Luke danced about, his breath making tiny puffs in the chilly air. “I want a big tree, Mommy.”
Paul smiled. “I think we can fit it in.”
Mattie conceded. “Ok. A big tree it is.”
Luke clapped his hands. “Yea!”
The young father ruffled his son’s hair. “You and Mommy go on back to the house. I’ll cut the tree and bring it home in the pick up.”
“I want to help you cut it, Dad.”
“Not this time, Son. Besides, Mom needs your help baking those cookies for our tree trimming party.”
Mattie reached for her son’s hand. “Yes, I need an official cookie dough taster.”
Luke’s pouting was brought to an end when fat white snow flakes started falling as they walked home. “Snow, Mommy!”
Mattie laughed. “Yes. We picked the tree out just in time.”
Mother and son hurried to the comfort of their house. The big farmhouse kitchen was brightly lit and welcoming. Mattie mixed cookie dough while Luke looked on. She measured the ingredients and let him put them in the mixing bowl.
The first batch was ready for the oven when Paul opened the front door. “I need some help here.”
Luke jumped down from his stool and ran to help his father. He held the door open while Paul pulled and twisted the tree to get it inside.
With a final tug, the tree popped through the threshold, a fine dusting of white clinging to its limbs. As he righted the tree, something fell from the branches. Luke bent down to pick up the concave mat of twigs. ‘’Look Dad, a bird’s nest.”
“Yup. That’s what it is all right.”
Luke scrunched his face into a somber frown. Then, to his father’s surprise, a tear fell down his son’s cheek.
“What’s the matter?”
“The bird won’t have any place to live now.”
Paul’s face softened. “I imagine the bird is gone for the winter. It doesn’t need its house right now.”
“But my teacher said some birds come back to the same nest every year. The bird that built this nest won’t have a house.”
Mattie stood in the kitchen doorway watching her son. She spoke. “Luke, I think the bird will be all right. God will watch over it, just like he watches over us. When the bird comes back next spring, it will build a brand new nest in a different tree. God gave birds something called instinct that helps them know what to do. God would never forget his creatures.”
The little boy studied the nest. “Can we put this back on the tree?”
Paul looked at his wife. “Mom?”
“That’s a great idea. We’ll put it right in the front where it can remind us that God never forgets about us and always loves us. In fact, he loved us so much that he sent his son to us. That’s the real meaning of Christmas, Luke.”
Luke walked over to his mother. “Here,” he said, holding the little nest out. You take care of it while Dad sets the tree up.”
She hugged her son. “I’ll take very good care of the nest. You should pick the spot on the tree where we put it, though.”
Luke grinned, exposing a gap in his mouth where he had recently lost a tooth. “I should pick the spot cause I’m the best cookie dough taster and the best Christmas tree decorator in the world.”
I'm so glad I came calling to thank you for your comment on my "Twilight" story, and discovered this touching jewel. I just love this, Betty! You wove in the meaning of Christmas so naturally, just the way it should always be! Thank you, dear gal.