The Gift, (A Story)

I published this story several years ago in a serial version. This year I have decided to republish as a complete story in one post. I wrote this for my young  grand children. It is suitable for ages six through twelve. Feel free to print this and use it as a reader for your kids, or read it to them. The cartoons tell the story as well as the words so just looking at the pictures gives a kid the story.

The Gift
Chapter One

Tree Farm

“There is the farm,” said Morty to himself. “Look at all those trees.”

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He came to the sign: Covert Tree Farm, Christmas Trees for Sale. Morty slowed Sky-scooter, and made a sharp right turn into the opening between the trees. The gravel drive wound through a grove of spruce trees. The tall trees shaded the forest floor, and kept it dark. Occasionally, a bird flitted from tree to tree and sang a sweet song. A beam of sunshine peeked through. God is shining a spotlight on me he thought. The ferns under the spotlight were lime green surrounded by dark green in the shade.
“These twists and turns are fun,” he said to Sky. He talked to his scooter whenever he was alone. Morty steered through forest leaning one way, then the other. His curl swayed from side to side. He was anxious to find the perfect present for his Boss. An opening of bright light led into the meadow where the farmer lived.
He spotted the sign for parking, and another sign on the barn stated rules for cutting Christmas trees.

Arrival

Cut the tree at the ground.
Do not cut in the middle.
2. Use only the saw provided.
3. Bring your tree to the barn for wrapping.
Trees are $8.00 per foot.

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Morty grabbed a saw and jumped onto the hay wagon behind the tractor. A cow mooed, and the horse whinnied in the barn. Chickens wandered all around the barnyard pecking for seed. He sat and looked around while he waited for the farmer.

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Gosh, look at all those trees. They surround the entire pasture as far as I can see. He daydreamed as he sat waiting.

Farmer Jim raises trees. He sells some at Christmas, and takes the large ones to the lumber mill in the town. He plants replacement trees to keep the forest alive. It takes fifty years to grow a tree big enough to sell for lumber, and twelve years to grow a tree tall enough for Christmas.
Morty sat staring at the trees and talked to himself. I love coming to the tree farm. It is fun to explore the woods. The forest is beautiful, peaceful, quiet, and majestic. I talk to them and they talk to me. When we are alone I hug them.

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Farmer Jim had a secret grove of old trees. He never cut these trees nor did his father, grandfather, or great-grandfather. His great-grandfather told him that they were there when he came to the farm in 1875. Some of them were two hundred feet tall. Morty discovered the grove last year, and fell in love with the old trees. His favorite was over two hundred years old. It lived through much of the history of our country. The big tree was a teenager when the very first settlers moved to the valley from the east.

I have to find a tree to give to baby Jesus on his birthday. I will invite my friends to help decorate, and make it special. The hay wagon jerked forward, and broke his thoughts. He was on his way to find the perfect tree.

Chapter 2

Morty Pops the Question

Farmer Jim stopped in the field he was harvesting. Morty hopped off with the saw in his hand, and began to search.
My tree has to be perfect, he thought. It has to be shapely, and full with branches all around. It cannot be too big because my room is small. Morty wandered through the rows of trees. Most of them were already five to six feet tall. Many had bare spots, and deformed branches. With so many trees, picking the right one was not easy.
“They all looked perfect from the air,” he said out loud. “They looked beautiful, but at ground level, they all have defects.”
He stopped in front of a Blue Spruce to ask for help.

“Please help me find the tree I need,” he said to a tree. “I want one that is as tall as I am, but it can’t be too wide. My tree has to be shaped like a cone without bare spots. ”
“I was exactly like that three years ago.”
“So was I,” answered another spruce.
Morty kept walking up and down row after row of trees. He finally stopped in front of a very tall Balsam tree.
“Can you help me?”

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“What do you want?
“I’m looking for the perfect tree to give Jesus for Christmas.”
“I can see the tree you want from here. Follow this road next to me. Count off twenty rows, turn left, and count another five trees. There, in the center of a small clearing you will find the tree you want.”

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“Thanks,” said Morty. He took the Balsam’s directions, and counted as he walked. When he reached number twenty, he turned left and counted five more. There, in the center of a small clearing stood a beautiful blue-green spruce tree. It was perfect.

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I can’t believe it, he thought. Morty was speechless. He walked around the tree, looking for bare spots; there were none.
“It is as tall as I am, and it is shaped like a perfect cone.” He circled the tree over, and over, looking, and thinking, this tree will make a perfect present for Jesus. He examined the tree from all angles. He couldn’t find a single flaw.
He finally broke his silence, and spoke.
“Hi, I’m Morty Angel, would you like to be my gift to Baby Jesus?

Chapter 3

The Deal

“I’m glad to meet you,” said the little tree. “My name is Connie, short for Coniferous. How can I help you?
“I want you to be my gift to Jesus.”
“I can’t do that, my work is to provide a home for the birds, and to shelter the rabbit that sleeps under my boughs. This summer, I had three families living in my branches. What will they do without me to shelter them?”

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“The Boss will take care of them,” said Morty, “besides, there are many trees in the forest to help them. It is a great honor to do something special for Jesus’ birthday.”
“What do I have to do?”
“Let me take you home and decorate you for Christmas.”
Connie hesitated a bit, “If I choose to accept, then I am giving myself totally to the Baby Jesus. I can only stay alive as long as the sap in my branches will hold my needles.”

“I know that,” said Morty. “I picked you because you are magnificent, and I want to please God’s Son. After we finish dressing you, I know you will make Jesus smile.”
“How will you decorate me?”
“I will lay strings of colorful lights on your boughs, and hang ornaments to reflect the light onto your needles My friends will string popcorn beads, painted pine cones, icicles, and snowflakes on your branches. We will put a crystal star on your top stem. You will look stunning. I’ll play Christmas carols to get into the spirit of Christmas. Then, after Christmas is over, I will use your branches to warm my house. Please do it.”
Connie agreed that pleasing Jesus on his day was important. He knew that Christmas was special. This was his chance to do something he could not do if he remained in the forest. If he stayed, he would grow big and tall and head for the sawmill.
After a long pause, Connie said, “It will be my honor to be your gift to Jesus.

Chapter 4

Getting Home

“This won’t hurt a bit,” said Morty. He pushed and pulled the saw back and forth through Connie’s sap filled trunk in rapid motions. Seconds later, Connie fell onto the spot where the rabbit huddled at night to stay warm. The empty birds’ nest clung to his branches.
Morty saw the rabbit hiding under a nearby tree, “Well, Mr. Rabbit, come home with me. I’ll keep you warm.”
The rabbit jumped out. “Will you take care of me the way Connie did?”
“Yes,” said Morty, “come with me.” Morty hadn’t finished talking to the rabbit when the cardinal, the sparrow, and the chickadee appeared from nowhere and circled around his head.
“Will you take care of us too?”
“Sure,” he said. “Come with me. We will have a great time.”
“Hold on tight, Connie, I have to drag you to the wagon.” They left a track through the snow as Morty pulled Connie behind him. They stopped in front of the tall Balsam for a rest. 
 “I can see that you found the perfect tree,” said the Balsam.
“Yes,” said Morty, “thank you very much. I couldn’t have done it without your expert directions.”
“Have a very Merry Christmas,” replied Balsam, “I wish I could be going with you.”
Farmer Jim came and found them. He helped Morty lift Connie onto the hay wagon.

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“I never thought about how I would bring a tree home on my scooter,” he said.
“Don’t worry,” said Farmer Jim, “I will help you get the tree onto your scooter. I have to help everyone who comes here. I have lots of experience with that.”
The tractor stopped in front of the shed next to the barn. Farmer Jim slid Connie into the wrapping machine, and pushed the button. A big wheel started circling around Connie. The noisy machine pulled cord around the branches, and squeezed them tightly into Connie’s trunk. When the noise stopped, Connie was much thinner than before.

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Morty carried Connie to his scooter, and just stared. He could not see how to load him. The compartment was only big enough to hold a picnic lunch and some tools. The scooter was smooth all over. It didn’t have anything sticking out to tie a rope around.

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“What am I going to do?” Morty placed the tree against the side of the scooter. “Nope, that won’t work,” he said. Next, he laid Connie onto the seat. He fit nicely along the top and hanging over the end, but Morty would have to sit on top of him to drive.

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“I don’t like that either. I know, I’ll sit and hold him between my legs.” He held Connie upright between his arms. “That is worse because I can not see to drive with Connie in my face.”

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Farmer Jim finally came out and tied Connie to the seat.
“You will have to sit on him,” he told Morty.”
“Okay, but I don’t like it, come on kids hop on.”

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The bunny jumped on and huddled by his feet, and the birds found secret openings in the branches to hide in.
“I’ll go slow,” said Morty.
“Good, I don’t want you to lose me after all that fuss.”
Morty drove Sky-scooter slowly and silently. The only sound came from Connie. He was singing Happy Birthday.

Chapter 5

Reminiscing

The scoot home took a long time, and Morty deliberately kept Skye out of hyper-drive. He drove slowly to keep the little tree from tearing off. They talked as he drove.
“The farmer planted me as a seed eight years ago. I became a sapling quickly, and was transplanted into a new field.”
Connie jabbered away as Morty drove.
“Farmer Jim re-planted me again when I reached sapling stage. He put me into the field where his great, great, great, great-grandfather grew up. I went thirsty during the drought, and the hot summer nearly fried my needles. I liked winter best. I loved when the snow covered my boughs and they drooped to the ground.”
“I’ve been a Guardian Angel since the beginning of time,” said Morty. “My duty is to watch over Brad. I love watching kids the best.”
“My favorite job is to take care of birds. The cardinals and chickadees picked me this year. They built their nests deep in my boughs to hide it from predators. I couldn’t believe how many trips they made with string, and twigs from all over the farm. Red and Rosy Cardinal brought the pieces one by one, and Rosy wove them into place. She pasted it all together with mud from the pond.”

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“I loved to watch the Cardinals fly back and forth to feed their babies. They slept between meals, but made a lot of noise when they woke up. The kids chirped loudly until a parent came with food. One day, a cat came into my field. Rosy covered the nest with her body, and spread her wings to hide them. Red buzzed the cats’ ears to get his attention away from the babies. I dropped my boughs over the nest to give them more protection. Everything became very still while the cat was there. All the trees around me watched him stalk; his head was low, and his shoulders in a crouch. After what seemed like an eternity of stillness, the cat finally wandered off.”

Morty arrived home after dark. He untied Connie’s branches and set him upright into a bucket of water.
“Tomorrow,” he said, “I will place you into a tree stand, and dress you for the birthday party. Now it is time for all of us to rest.”

Chapter 6

Decoration

Early the next morning, Morty got up, brushed his teeth, combed his curl, and ate breakfast. It was time. He found the tree stand and placed it in the corner of his tiny room. Next, he placed Connie into the stand, and filled it with sugar water to give him strength while he was on duty for the party.

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“I have to play Christmas carols while we decorate.” He tuned in to the Choir of Heavenly Angels over his boom box to play carols just as he promised Connie.
Morty sang with the music. He joyfully strung the lights onto each branch, making sure that the spacing was even. The rabbit and the birds helped decorate by hanging the popcorn garland. The sparrow held one end of the garland while the cardinal held it farther down the string. The Chickadee held a third spot. They flew up in unison carrying the garland. Gently, they lowered the popcorn garland onto the branches. The beads came next. “I wish Brad were here to help,” said Morty. “His muscles would be a great with the heavy beads. They are too heavy for the birds. I must drape the beads carefully to make them look pretty.”

As he worked, he hummed Silent Night, his favorite Christmas carol.
“Sing with me Connie.”
“Si – lent night, Ho – ly night,
All is calm. All is bright.
Round yon Vir – gin Moth – er and child!
Ho – ly in – fant so ten – der and mild,
Sleep in heav – en – ly peace,
Sleep in heav – en – ly peace.”
They sang together as they worked.
“We have to finish decorating Connie so we can prepare for the party tonight.”
What a happy group they were. The Cardinals, Chickadee, Rabbit and Morty were all decorating the tree for Jesus.
“One last trick,” said Morty. “Birds, please carry the crystal star and place it on Connie’s top stem.”
He had one final ornament to place on Connie.
“You can be proud Connie. You are beautiful and will make Jesus happy on his birthday.

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Chapter  7

Final Touches

“Be careful with the tinsel, said Morty. “Hang each strand carefully. I don’t want Connie to look like the nest in the top branches.”
Morty placed a shiny gold ornament into the nest. As Red, Chick, and Spare hung the tinsel they chirped Silent Night. When the last strand was in place, they landed on Morty’s curl and admired their creation. Connie was an outstanding gift to the Baby Jesus on His birthday. Morty turned on the lights, and Connie came to life.
“I feel so wonderful,” said Connie, “you made me look beautiful. I hope Baby Jesus likes me.”
Morty handed the rabbit a bright red cloth, “put this around the tree stand to add the final touch.” Rabbit dragged the red cloth under Connie’s boughs where he had spent so many nights out of harms way, and worked the cover around the base.
“We have to put up the nativity next.” Morty pulled a small table to the tree. He wanted the nativity to be next to Connie where all of his friends would see it. Rabbit wiped the table clean, and covered it with Morty’s best tablecloth. The birds waited nearby. Each had a figure, ready to place. Morty set the stable in place.
“Okay, now you can finish by putting the figures down.”
Each bird hovered gently with a figure in its beak, and lowered it to the table. They handled each Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and all of the characters of the scene with special care and gentleness.
Morty put the last tiny white lamb down, “here you are little Shepard.” The nativity was complete.

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Chapter 8

Birthday Party

Morty’s tiny house glowed with the tree and the nativity. The birds sang in anticipation of the party. Morty and Rabbit danced a circle around the room.
“My friends Max, and Gracie are coming to celebrate,” he said. “They will be late. Gracie is with Ben, and Max is with Jenna. They must stay until the kids say their prayers, and are asleep.
When the guardian angels knew their kids were dreaming of sugarplums and fairies, they slipped away to Morty’s house.
Max and Gracie arrived with their halos turned on, and shining brightly. Their angel wings glowed and fluttered when they saw Connie for the first time.
“Wow, what a beautiful tree,” they said. “Jesus will love you Connie.” “I have a new tradition to share with you,” said Morty.
“What is it?”
“It is called breaking bread.” Morty gave Max and Gracie each a slice of unleavened bread He held his own piece up and stood in front of Gracie. “Hold your bread up like I am doing.”
“Like this?”
“Yes.” Morty pinched a piece of Gracie’s bread and said, “I wish you peace.” He tore another piece and wished her love.
“Now you do the same and make your own wishes for me.”
Gracie followed his example. “What a beautiful tradition. Where did you learn this?”
“On my last visit to heaven, Brad, Ben, and Jenna’s Grandma showed me. She asked me to keep the tradition going in her family.”
The three angels shared wishes for each other. Each of them broke bread from the other and made a wish with each piece.
When the bread was all gone, they made one final wish.
“Merry Christmas.”

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Without another word, Morty, Gracie, and Max, knelt quietly before the crèche, the birds, and the rabbit at their sides.
They said prayers for their children, for peace in the world, and for goodwill toward all men!

The End The Gift (A Story)

Osaka Gardens

When the newsletter came from my garden club, and I read the next meeting is a field trip to Osaka gardens I got excited. Japanese gardens turn me on. They are among the most aesthetic works of art planted. All things about the gardens promote peace, serenity, and well-being. The placement of rocks, the stones selected for grain and texture, the plantings, and the flow of water all lend to the experience. Since I had  never heard of Osaka Gardens I had to find it on Map-Quest. Surprise, the garden is a tiny dot inside a huge tract on the south side of Chicago called Jackson Park. As a kid of thirteen I went to this park many times by streetcar to drown worms. The lagoons were very accessible to fisherman, and they connect to Lake Michigan making them abundant in fish species. I kept my record intact, I never caught a single fish there, but I spent many happy hours trying.

The map program pinpointed the place exactly and the adventure began. Getting there after a sixty-three year absence made it more exciting. As it turned out, the map program and the GPS took the excitement out of the ride because I merely followed instructions and got to the exact place without a single wrong turn.

At the parking lot our members grouped and found Karen Szyjka waiting for us. This young woman sports the impressive title of Operations Support Manager, Department of Natural Resources for the Chicago Park District.  She explained her role as one of managing and maintaining the Osaka Garden and other Park District gardens in Grant Park. Karen was a fantastic tour guide. She told us about every aspect of the Osaka Gardens and the history of the place. Even though I have lived in the Chicago area all of my life I had never heard about the place. Yet, it came into existence during the Columbian Exposition in 1893.  During its lifespan the garden has gone through several reconstructions. The garden went into decline after years of wear and then needed reconstitution and refurbishing. The worst decline happened during the nineteen forties. Hello, I guess we were not very happy about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor.

Currently the garden is very happy, and Karen has made it her life’s work. She knows every tree, plant, rock, and pebble in the garden. She spoke to us with passion and excitement during her hour-long walk along the path winding around the garden. The views of the Museum of Science and Industry, the only building remaining from the Exposition and the World’s Fair, framed by the garden were astounding. My point and shoot camera did not do the views justice, neither did the photographer.

After the tour, most of our group stayed and picnicked along the shores of the lagoons watching the beauty around them. Peg and I escaped for a second adventure on our own. I decided to tour my boyhood neighborhood, and awaken some old memories. A wise man once wrote “you can never go back home,” and I will add “and you shouldn’t.”

If you get the opportunity to visit the Osaka Garden take it. If you are a garden nut or just a Chicago nut, you will love it.

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It’s Baaack!

This morning I awoke and peeked out he window at the 2013 Monet Vision. It looked the best it did all year-long. Bathed in white it looked better than the white theme I tried to make this year. For the past twenty years I have commented on the pussy winters we have had, but this year promises to become the winter I know and hate, . . er I mean love. When you live in Illinois you have to love winter or you are not worthy of living here.

This week we experienced the joy of breathing below zero temps and decided that Arizona looks pretty good. Then it snowed three times counting today. The first was a shoveler. That’s a powdery snow fall that is less than two inches deep and it is not worthy of wasting gas in the snow blower, so shovel I did.  The next day, it snowed again. Another powdery one inch not worthy of a blow job. In fact, because I had a doctor appointment early, it didn’t even get a shovel job. This morning when I opened the garage door there was nine inches of powdery snow in front of me: Hear that all you guys who moved to Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida? This was definitely worth a blow job. Except, my blower was not ready. I had it serviced, I had fresh gas, but I removed the blower-chute when I stuffed the machine into the trunk to take it for service. The winters have been so pussy, that I kept gambling on not needing to get it completely functional. It took fifteen minutes to install the chute and three pulls to get it going strong

Lucky for me the Frankfort snowplow had not yet come by to fill the driveway with a block worth of snow moving at forty miles per hour. My trusty Honda, inherited from my son who moved to snow-less Houston, moved right through the powdery stuff. The temp measured 31.4 degrees F at my front porch.

I had about 90% of the driveway completed when I noticed the snow was no longer flying out the chute. Instead, it packed into the chute and didn’t clean very well at all. The temperature was now above 32 degrees and the snow was, as we used to say as kids, “good packing.” That meant it is perfect for making snowballs and snow men.

It took about an hour to finish the drive and the walk in front of my house and the walks in front of the neighbors on each side of me. A few years ago, this would have taken me less than forty minutes and I would have had a great workout. This time, it took much longer and it tired me out completely. That is Nature’s way of telling me that the old bod’ ain’t what it was a few years ago. I guess it is the result of too many glasses of Cabernet and endless hours in front of the computer doing absolutely nothing.

After clearing the front, I tackled the patio to gain access to the bird feeders. There wasn’t a single dove, cardinal, or sparrow in sight. Must be the snow, I thought, until I heard the screeching call of a hawk. He sat in a tree observing the action around the feeders. I reveled at the sound of his call as he obstinately stayed perched and screeching high above me. I was shoveling a path around the post feeder and the hanging feeder at the window when I spotted Grandma Peggy peering out keeping the hawk under surveillance. Now that’s neat, a predator observing his prey while being observed by a constable protecting the prey. The look on Peggy’s face was enough to scare any hawk from the area.

I took some pictures with my phone and declared the 2013 Monet Vision had finally achieved a state of  beauty worthy of talking about. Remember, Churchill said, “never, never, never, never give up.” I’m glad I didn’t because the garden finally looks good.

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2013 Monet Vision in December looking at the waterlessfall

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The Hawk keeps surveilance

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Snow Angel

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2013 Monet Vision in December looking at the bird tower

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Grandma Peggy keeps her eye on the hawk

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Front Drive

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Walkways

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My flag Flies Everyday

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2013 Monet Vision September reference

The Gift-Part 8-Birthday Party

The Gift-Part 8-Birthday Party

Morty’s tiny house glowed with the tree and the nativity. The birds sang in anticipation of the party. Morty and Rabbit danced a circle around the room.

“My friends Max, and Gracie are coming to celebrate,” he said. “They will be late. Gracie is with Ben, and Max is with Jenna. They must stay until the kids say their prayers, and are asleep.

When the guardian angels knew their kids were dreaming of sugarplums and fairies, they slipped away to Morty’s house.

Max and Gracie arrived with their halos turned on, and shining brightly. Their angel wings glowed and fluttered when they saw Connie for the first time.

“Wow, what a beautiful tree,” they said. “Jesus will love you Connie.”

“I have a new tradition to share with you,” said Morty.

“What is it?”

“It is called breaking bread.” Morty gave Max and Gracie each a slice of unleavened bread He held his own piece up and stood in front of Gracie.

“Hold your bread up like I am doing.”

“Like this?”

“Yes.” Morty pinched a piece of Gracie’s bread and said, “I wish you peace.” He tore another piece and wished her love.

“Now you do the same and make your own wishes for me.”

Gracie followed his example.

“What a beautiful tradition. Where did you learn this?”

“On my last visit to heaven, Brad, Ben, and Jenna’s Grandma showed me. She asked me to keep the tradition going in her family.”

The three angels shared wishes for each other. Each of them broke bread from the other, and made a wish with each piece.

When the bread was all gone, they made one final wish.

“Merry Christmas.”

Without another word, Morty, Gracie, and Max, knelt quietly before the crèche, the birds, and the rabbit at their sides.

They said prayers for their children, for peace in the world, and for goodwill toward all men!

The End . . . MERRY CHRISTMAS BLOGGING FRIENDS

The Gift-Part 7-Final Touches

The Gift-Part 7-Final Touches

“Be careful with the tinsel, said Morty. “Hang each strand carefully. I don’t want Connie to look like the nest in the top branches.”

Morty placed a shiny gold ornament into the nest. As Red, Chick, and Spare hung the tinsel they chirped Silent Night. When the last strand was in place, they landed on Morty’s curl and admired their creation. Connie was an outstanding gift to the Baby Jesus on His birthday. Morty turned on the lights, and Connie came to life.

“I feel so wonderful,” said Connie, “you made me look beautiful. I hope Baby Jesus likes me.”

Morty handed the rabbit a bright red cloth, “put this around the tree stand to add the final touch.” Rabbit dragged the red cloth under Connie’s boughs where he had spent so many nights out of harms way, and worked the cover around the base.

“We have to put up the nativity next.” Morty pulled a small table to the tree. He wanted the nativity to be next to Connie where all of his friends would see it. Rabbit wiped the table clean, and covered it with Morty’s best tablecloth. The birds waited nearby. Each had a figure, ready to place. Morty set the stable in place.

“Okay, now you can finish by putting the figures down.”

Each bird hovered gently with a figure in its beak, and lowered it to the table. They handled each Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and all of the characters of the scene with special care and gentleness.

Morty put the last tiny white lamb down, “here you are little Shepard.” The nativity was complete.

To be continued . . .

The Gift-Part 6-Transformation

The Gift-Part 6-Transformation

Early the next morning, Morty got up, brushed his teeth, combed his curl, and ate breakfast. It was time. He found the tree stand and placed it in the corner of his tiny room.

“Stand straight Connie,” he said as he filled the bowl with sugar water to give Connie strength.

“You have an important duty ahead.”

“I have to play Christmas tunes while we decorate.” Morty tuned in to the Choir of Heavenly Angels over his boom box to play carols.

Morty sang with the music. He strung the lights onto each branch, making sure that the spacing was even.

The rabbit and the birds helped by hanging the popcorn garland. The Sparrow held one end of the garland while the Cardinal held it farther down the string. The Chickadee held a third spot. They flew in unison carrying the garland. Gently, they lowered the popcorn garland onto the branches. The beads came next.

“I wish Brad were here to help,” said Morty. “His muscles would be a great help with these heavy beads. They are too heavy for the birds. I have to drape them carefully to make them look pretty.”

As he worked, he hummed Silent Night, his favorite Christmas carol.

“Sing with me Connie.”

“Si – lent night, Ho – ly night,

All is calm. All is bright.

Round yon Vir – gin Moth – er and child!

Ho – ly in – fant so ten – der and mild,

Sleep in heav – en – ly peace,

Sleep in heav – en – ly peace.”

They sang together as they worked.

“After we finish with Connie, we can prepare for the party tonight.”

What a happy group they were. The Cardinals, Chickadee, Rabbit and Morty were all decorating the tree for Jesus.

“Almost finished,” said Morty. “Birds, please carry the crystal star and place it on Connie’s top stem.”

“Now, for the final touch, we have to hang the tinsel. It is a great job for birds,” he said.

All three birds began immediately, and carried tinsel like they carried grass to build a nest. They hovered above a branch and carefully lowered the silver strands down.

“You can be proud Connie. You are beautiful and will make Jesus happy on his birthday.

To be continued . . ..

THE GIFT-PART 4-Getting Home

THE GIFT-Part 4-Getting Home

“This won’t hurt a bit,” said Morty. He pushed and pulled the saw back and forth through Connie’s sap filled trunk in rapid motions. Seconds later, Connie fell onto the spot where the rabbit huddled at night to stay warm. The empty birds’ nest clung to his branches.

Morty saw the rabbit hiding under a nearby tree, “Well, Mr. Rabbit, come home with me. I’ll keep you warm.”

The rabbit jumped out. “Will you take care of me the way Connie did?”

“Yes,” said Morty, “come with me.” Morty hadn’t finished talking to the rabbit when the cardinal, the sparrow, and the chickadee appeared from nowhere and circled around his head.

“Will you take care of us too?”

“Sure,” he said. “Come with me. We will have a great time.”

“Hold on tight, Connie, I have to drag you to the wagon.” They left a track through the needles on the ground as Morty pulled Connie behind him. They stopped in front of the tall Balsam for a rest.
“I can see that you found the perfect tree,” said the Balsam.

“Yes,” said Morty, “thank you very much. I couldn’t have done it without your expert directions.”

“Have a very Merry Christmas,” replied Balsam, “I wish I could be going with you.”

Farmer Jim came and found them. He helped Morty lift Connie onto the hay wagon.

“I never thought about how I would bring a tree home on my scooter,” he said.

“Don’t worry,” said Farmer Jim, “I will help you get the tree onto your scooter. I have to help everyone who comes here.  I have lots of experience with that.”

The tractor stopped in front of the shed next to the barn. Farmer Jim slid Connie into the wrapping machine, and pushed the button. A big wheel started circling around Connie. The noisy machine pulled cord around the branches, and squeezed them tightly into Connie’s trunk. When the noise stopped, Connie was much thinner than before.

Morty carried Connie to his scooter, and just stared. He could not see how to load him. The compartment was only big enough to hold a picnic lunch and some tools. The scooter was smooth all over. It didn’t have anything sticking out to tie a rope around.

“What am I going to do?”  Morty placed the tree against the side of the scooter. “Nope, that won’t work,” he said. Next, he laid Connie onto the seat. He fit nicely along the top and hanging over the end, but Morty would have to sit on top of him to drive.

“I don’t like that either. I know, I’ll sit and hold him between my legs.” He held Connie upright between his arms. “That is worse because I can not see to drive with Connie in my face.”

Farmer Jim finally came out and tied Connie to the seat.

“You will have to sit on him,” he told Morty.”

“Okay, but I don’t like it, come on kids hop on.”

The bunny jumped on and huddled by his feet, and the birds found secret openings in the branches to hide in.

“I’ll go slow,” said Morty.

“Good, I don’t want you to lose me after all that fuss.”

Morty drove Sky-scooter slowly and silently. The only sound came from Connie. He was singing Happy Birthday.

To be continued , , , ,

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