The snow falls softly past my window, and the glow of the pale winter moon glistens the mounds of white with glitter. I press my nose against the glass and huff my breath on the surface to sketch a Christmas tree shape in the fog. My warm fingers are just the right size to bulb the tree with perfect little circles. I trace a careful star on the top with my pinkie and then step back to view my drawing.
“It’s perfect,” I whisper. I lie down and prop my pillow just right so I can drift off to sleep, looking at my Christmas tree. It’s eight days until Christmas, and still, we have no tree in the house, I worry. A giant yawn interrupts my thoughts and I close my eyes.
The next morning, the vanilla scent of waffles makes my mouth water. I take a sip of milk and clear my throat.
“Mom, you know how many days it is until Christmas?”
“Sure I do.”
Mom reaches up to switch on the radio, and Bing Crosby’s rich voice pours over us like creamy velvet. Mom turns to smile at me as she flips the hot waffles onto a plate.
“Here you go, Wendy. Hurry and eat now. We’ve got shopping to take care of today, and the bus will be at the corner in half an hour. Lots to do…lots to do!” she laughs.
I gobble down the syrupy waffles and run to brush my teeth. Mom is waiting for me in the hall with my red coat and black fur muff at the ready, and we race out the door, laughing like best friends. The bus is just pulling to the curb, sloshing the melted snow on our boots as we approach.
“Morning, Miz Taylor…got the whole bus to yourselves today. How ‘bout that?” says the driver. He winks at me and I feel my cheeks flush. We choose a seat near the front so we can hear the carols on the radio. I just know this will be the day…the day we go to the Christmas tree lot next to W. W. Grant’s to get our tree…I just know it!
Mom and I stroll up and down the aisles in the stores all day, picking out our presents for Daddy and buying a sweet Jingle Bell pin and pink sweater for Grandma. As we leave Kresge’s, Mom turns to me with a smile and says, “Now. Time for a happy surprise. Are you ready?”
“Oh yes, Ma’am!”
Her eyes dance merrily as she grabs my hand and we start down the street. Yes! We’re going toward W. W. Grant’s…it’s got to be the tree, but I pretend not to notice where we’re headed.
The packed snow squeaks under our feet as we hurry along. I hear the sounds of music coming from the public speakers: “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style…in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas…” I skip a step or two in happiness. We round the corner and Mom stops in front of the Central Diner.
“We’re going to have dinner out this evening! Isn’t that a nice surprise?” she laughs.
I glance down the street at the tree lot, and my heart sinks. “Sure, Mommy.”
I stifle a sigh and go in ahead of her to a booth close to the window. At least from here I can still see the trees. While I nibble my grilled cheese, I watch family after family choose their beautiful trees while the children laugh and prance around their happy prizes.
Finally, Mom says it’s time to go, and we make our way to the bus stop; my heart is heavy as we retrace our steps home. Lights twinkle in our neighbor’s windows; their trees cast shiny glows on the snow as we pass by. I sigh.
“Go on in, Wendy. I have all these packages to handle,” says Mom as she opens the door to our house.
Inside, Grandma and Daddy are smiling at me…and in the corner…by the fireplace, glitters and shines a perfect Christmas tree! I laugh out loud and run to Daddy who lifts me up to put the star in place on top. His cheeks smell like Old Spice as I press my face to his, and on the radio, Bing sings “round and round the Christmas tree, presents hanging there for you and me…lights all shining merrily, Christmas a week away…”
“Silver Bells” and “Round and Round the Christmas Tree” by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston
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