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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)

TITLE: Uncle Orie and the Christmas Star
By Susan Gurney


I’ll never forget the Christmas Uncle Orie put a lighted star in the top of a tree by the road. Now this tree was no little sapling of six or eight feet—it was a towering giant of seventy feet or taller. Uncle Orie decided if he was going to put up a Christmas star he’d better do it right and raise it high. People would see the star clearly as they drove the road, and his family could still see it shining brightly from their house a quarter mile down their private lane.

Aunt Neve—being the nervous type—didn’t really want Uncle Orie shimming up and down that immense tree, especially with the way the wind could whistle through the exposed top on an early December day, but just the same, she thought it would be nice to have the Christmas star shining way up there. She imagined Christmas Eve would be extra special that year, what with all the kids coming home for the holidays, and her Momma coming from down the road along with her brother, Bill, and his young family. How all their eyes would all shine when they saw the glowing star. What did it matter that besides them, only about a half dozen families living beyond them up the main road would ever see the star as they passed by!

Uncle Orie didn’t seem to mind heights, and with his small, wiry build he could climb like a monkey so getting to the top of the tree wasn’t the problem for him. The problem came with getting the star up there, too. The star was made of large Christmas light bulbs strung to a framework of light wood, but to be big enough to be seen from afar, the thing fully assembled couldn’t help but be huge, heavy and difficult to maneuver. The task seemed impossible when you then considered winding those five star points through innumerable branches. I honestly don’t know how Uncle Orie did it. Did he have help? I don’t even know that. According to Aunt Neve, the process of getting the star to the top of the tree was such an ordeal she didn’t even want the tale repeated in her presence! To this day I’ve never heard the details. I don’t even know how they kept the thing lit night after night, except I suspect Uncle Orie had wired it somehow into the nearby electric cattle fence.

In spite of the anxiety the installation had produced, Aunt Neve was so proud of the star, she invited her co-workers and people from church to drive on out the five miles or so from town to see her husband’s amazing accomplishment. Uncle Orie basked in all the adulation, although--since he wasn’t a church-goer—the attentions of the church people made him a bit uncomfortable.

As Christmas Eve neared, a big wind suddenly blew in and set the tree with its lofty star waving frantically. Throughout the day the nervous couple kept a protective eye on the star. The wind died down and all seemed fine. Just after dark Uncle Orie flicked the electric switch in the barn to send power to the Christmas star. Before he had time to admire his handiwork again, however, Uncle noticed headlights coming down his lane. It was the pastor, his wife and their four young children to admire the Christmas star in all its glory. Uncle Orie ushered the family into his home while Aunt Neve rushed about settling the six visitors in the living room.

“Well, we were out viewing Christmas lights and we just had to come see the lit tree in your field that we’ve heard so much about,” said the pastor.

“Oh, yes, the Star,” exclaimed my aunt with pride.

“Star? What star?” said the pastor. “I was talking about the Cross in top of the tree by the road. What a testimony! Indeed, if it weren’t for the Cross the Manger would be meaningless…”

Both Aunt Neve and Uncle Orie gave one another a bewildered look, then as one they rushed to the window and gazed out at the distant tree. Sure enough, where there should have been a star, there was now the doubly bright figure of a cross.

Uncle Orie shook his head in wonder. “The wind—the wind must have torn the string of lights loose from points of the star, and now the lights are hanging in the shape of a cross!”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Gregory Kane10/20/08
Great description of uncle Orie clambering up the tree. I could imagine the wind howling through the branches.
I would have been inclined to make more of the symbolism of the cross and the pastor's visit so as to give your story a stronger sense of contrast. But otherwise well done.
Lollie Hofer10/20/08
What a delightful character you hve created here, along with a great ending. Well done.
Chrissi Dunn10/21/08
A great reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. Well done!