When Joey woke up, he ran across the bedroom and pushed his sleepy face against the icy window. Oh, yes! It had snowed! With all his might he had wished for snow before he fell asleep, and now the bird feeder had a mountain of snow on the roof. He jumped up and down with joy! He dashed down the hall to his parents’ bedroom, but suddenly he flew to a stop. How silly! How could he forget that he shouldn’t come crashing into their room? Quietly he opened the door. His mother smiled at him, and gave him a big hug.
Joey had a secret. He could hardly keep it to himself, but he pressed his lips tightly shut. He must not let his secret escape. His mother mustn’t know.
It was time for breakfast and school. School? How could he wait a whole day before working on his secret? It would be such a long day! But it had snowed, and he needed snow to make his secret work. As Joey got ready for school, his father walked in with a huge armful of firewood. He looked funny with the fresh snow stuck to his bushy beard.
Two days ago, Joey’s father had told him there wasn’t enough money to buy a Christmas tree – a Christmas without a Christmas tree? He would buy one! That was his secret! But he needed money to buy a tree. He was too young to work in a store, and too small to shovel snow out of long driveways. Then he had a great idea. He thought of Mr. Kowalski who sold Christmas trees at the corner store. Maybe he would pay him to clean the snow away from the trees. The next day he raced to the lot to ask Mr. Kowalski. Sure! Together they planned Joey’s secret.
Joey liked Mr. Kowalski. He wore a funny hat in the winter with three furry flaps tied together at the top with a fat, red shoelace. Whenever Mr. Kowalski saw Joey he would call him “my little man.” Joey didn’t like Mrs. Kowalski. She had a big wart on her nose and looked mean. She never smiled at Joey or called him “my little man.”
But Joey had to go to school today. Maybe if he wished as hard as he had for snow, there wouldn’t be any school. He knew that was silly. Mrs. Brown had been reading the Christmas story every morning after recess. The class was very quiet today as she read about an angel who came to Joseph in a dream. Joseph didn’t understand why he and Mary were chosen by God to be the mommy and daddy of baby Jesus, but the angel told Joseph to trust God. He would take care of them. Joey thought that was nice, but he couldn’t wait to get out of school. When the bell rang, Joey rushed home.
Later Joey found Mr. Kowalski, wearing his funny fur hat, selling Christmas trees. There were so many beautiful tall trees. Around the lot, strings of red and blue lights flashed on and off. At the back beside the bigger trees stood Joey’s secret – a little tree with a broken top and a crooked stem! It was all he could afford. He ran to his little tree and moved it deep into the corner. He didn’t want anyone else to buy his tree. In the store, Joey had to reach around Mrs. Kowalski to get the snow shovel. She looked mean.
Above the lot Joey saw a big sign with a picture of a little drummer boy standing beside baby Jesus sleeping in a manger. Joey was so happy! Just like the little drummer boy who gave his gift of music to baby Jesus, he would give his mother a special gift. Every day he shoveled snow, and every day he made a little more money to buy his tree.
The day before Christmas, Joey rushed to the tree lot. He was so excited! He could buy his tree today and decorate it with the silver stars his teacher had helped him make. As he ran to the back of the lot, his money grasped tightly in his fist, Joey skidded to a stop. He looked everywhere. His heart began to thump faster. No! No! His little tree was gone! Someone had bought his little tree! He trudged home crying. He couldn’t think of anything else but his tree. Tomorrow it would be Christmas. The little drummer boy had a gift of music for baby Jesus, but he had nothing to give to his mother. He was so tired and sad! He went to his room and cried himself to sleep.
‘Let earth receive her King!’
Suddenly, Joey heard music and saw flashing lights! He looked up; it was night time. He ran to the window and in his front yard Christmas lights flashed on and off. He pushed his face as close to the window as he could. Was he dreaming? But there were Mr. Kowalski’s Christmas trees dancing in a circle with the strings of flashing red and blue lights swinging between them, laughing and singing as they skipped through the snow! Something moved inside the circle! It was the little drummer boy beating on his drum and beside him in the snow stood a tiny manger. In the manger, on a big pile of straw, lay baby Jesus.
Slowly, the Christmas trees stopped dancing, but the lights continued to flash on and off in the dark. The trees stood tall and proud in a circle around the drummer boy and baby Jesus. Slowly they bowed their heads toward the centre until their tops nearly touched in the middle of the circle. As they bowed in worship to baby Jesus, the little drummer boy began to play his song of love. Joey stared. As he looked around the circle, he saw a tree that didn’t quite reach the middle. His heart skipped a beat. The top of the tree was broken. It was his little tree! Yes! It really was – his little tree worshipping baby Jesus with the tall, proud trees. One by one, the trees straightened, and moved into a long line with the strings of red and blue lights swinging between them – flashing on and off – and marched back to the Christmas tree lot to the beat of the drummer boy. The little Christmas tree came last. It was having such trouble walking with its crooked stem.
When Joey woke up in the morning, he immediately thought of his dream and ran to the window – no lights, no trees, only more snow. He suddenly remembered it was Christmas! His heart ached. It was supposed to have been such an exciting day with his gift of love for his mother – his little Christmas tree – but he didn’t have anything. Sadly he walked into his parent’s bedroom. As he came in, his eyes popped out of his head! Was this another dream? No! At the foot of the bed stood the most beautiful Christmas tree he had ever seen! It had a broken top, a crooked stem, and it was full of silver stars.
Gifts of love
Joey’s father gave him a big hug, and wished him a Merry Christmas. Mrs. Kowalski had found his little Christmas tree and had brought it to his house on Christmas Eve after he had gone to bed. Because of its crooked stem, the little tree had fallen behind the taller trees.
Joey rushed to the bed and hugged his mother. He did have a Christmas tree for her after all! He did have a gift of love for his mother! But he never forgot that it was mean-looking Mrs. Kowalski, with the big wart on her nose, who had found his little Christmas tree – and made it the best Christmas ever!