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I wish you the best during these Advent and Christmas seasons!
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m sorry for knocking over the Christmas tree this morning. I was really upset and I acted like a little baby.
You asked me to show you I was sorry by explaining to you the true meaning of Christmas. Now I know what it is. I know people just say that sometimes. I know people say they learned their lesson when they really didn’t yet. But I have. I have learned my lesson. I know what Christmas is all about.
The thing is: you’re not going to believe my story about how I learned this lesson. I don’t even know if I believe it myself. It was a true Christmas miracle.
It all started when you left the room and I started cleaning up the tree. I was still pretty angry. I really, really wanted that new gaming system. I know I don’t have to tell you why. All the other boys in my class have it and I don’t. I didn’t think it was fair. I wanted it so badly and, well, you know what happened next. When we finished opening presents and I saw that it wasn’t there, I threw a little baby fit and knocked over the tree. No ten year old should ever act like that.
So, you were right to make me clean it up. “When we get back in this room, Jonathan,” Mom said. “You better have this tree cleaned up and there is no playing with any of your new presents until you can tell us what Christmas is supposed to be about!”
So there I was as angry as ever and pouting (again like a little baby) about how I was never going to get that gaming system. I was staring at the tree. There were ornaments everywhere. Tinsel covered the floor. The star had flown all the way across the room. I didn’t even know where to start. I kicked a few ornaments out of my way (Again, I’m sorry. I was still really mad.)
I picked up the tree and propped it up as straight as I could. It was a lot heavier than I thought. I’m the third strongest boy in my class, though, so I was fine. I had the tree up and sturdy again. Now, I just had to clean up all the ornaments.
This is where my story gets a little crazy. I’m recording this because if I tried to explain it, you wouldn’t believe me. Like I said before, I’m not even sure if I believe it because it is absolutely unbelievable.
When I picked up the first ornament to put it back up on the tree, our living room changed. I don’t mean it was like a little bit different. I mean the room completed changed. I wasn’t in the room anymore. In fact, I wasn’t in any room at all. I was outside. I was standing on a hill in the snow. It was coming down all around me and do you know what I saw standing there right in front of me?
A snowman. A snowman that looked exactly like the one I was holding in my hand. Only this one was bigger. It was bigger than me. It was a life-size snowman.
But here is the craziest part. That snowman–he started to talk.
“Hello Jonathan,” said the snowman.
I wish I could say I handled it well, but I didn’t. I freaked out. I turned to run, but I tripped on the snow.
“Are you alright?” said the snowman.
“Uh, um, I’m fine,” I said and I was. I wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t even cold. I should have been freezing but the snow didn’t feel cold at all.
“What is going on? Who are you?” I said.
“I’m a snowman, but I don’t have a name. You never gave me one. So, I’ll must go by Snowman if that’s OK with you,” said the snowman.
“What happened to my house?” I asked.
“Your house is just fine,” he said adjusting his black top hat with his stick arms. “You’re here to learn a lesson.”
“Are you going to hurt me?” I asked. (Remember I was still pretty scared.)
The snowman laughed and said, “Hurt you? Of course not. You are here to learn a lesson about the true meaning of Christmas.”
“Learn a lesson? You mean like my mom said?” I asked.
“Yes. You did a very bad thing this morning. You have a lot to learn about Christmas, Jonathan. I am going to be your first teacher,” he said.
“First? You mean there will be others?” I asked.
“Yes, of course! You have a lot of ornaments to put back on the tree and a lot of lessons to learn,” he said.
“You mean this is going to happen to me every time I pick up an ornament,” I ask.
“Why, yes!” said the snowman as if it was obvious.
“Let’s begin, shall we?” said the snowman. “I have something I want to show you. Follow me.”
The snowman sort of waddled his way through the snow. I started to walk along next to him as we made our way up the hill. There were a lot of trees around us but as we got to the top of the hill I started to recognize where we were.
“Hey,” I said to the snowman. “Are we in the park by my old house?”
“Yes,” he said.
You would recognize it, Mom and Dad. It was that park with the big hill by our old house. We haven’t been there in years. I was pretty young when we lived there.
“Look,” said the snowman pointing down the hill.
I looked and do you know what I saw? It was us! I saw myself as a little boy with both of you helping me build a snowman. I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was like watching an old video of our family when I was younger except it wasn’t a video. It looked real!
“What do you see?” the snowman asked me.
“It is me and my parents,” I told him. “I remember this. It was Christmas day in our old house. We woke up to a bunch of snow outside. That day we went down to the park and built a snowman together while it was still snowing.”
“And what do you remember about that Christmas?” asked the snowman.
“I remember . . . I remember being really happy,” I said.
“It was more than happy,” said the snowman. “It was joy.”
“Joy?” I asked. “Wait, is this my lesson?”
“Yes,” said the snowman. “Christmas is about more than happiness. Christmas is about the joy we share with others.”
“How are happiness and joy different?” I asked the snowman.
“Great question, Jonathan,” he said. “Happiness is short lived. Happiness depends on what happens. Joy does not. Joy is much stronger because it is built on the bonds of love we share with one another.”
“You mean my parents and I felt joy when building that snowman because we shared it with one another,” I asked.
“Yes, that is correct,” he replied.
“I didn’t feel very happy this morning,” I said to myself but the snowman heard me.
He said, “Yes, sometimes when things happen or, in your case, don’t happen, then it is hard to feel happy. That doesn’t have anything to do with joy. Whether you get the present you want or not, you can still experience the joy of Christmas.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” I said. “I still wish I got that game system.”
“Yes,” said the snowman. “We’ll see how you feel about that once the rest of the ornaments are back on the tree.”
His button mouth curled up into a smile and he started to fade away. Everything around us started to change. Where he was standing in front of me now stood our Christmas tree. I was back in our living room holding our snowman ornament.
I hung the ornament back up on the tree and looked around the room at all the other ornaments on the floor.
You probably remember what happened next because I yelled and went running out of the living room looking for you.
I saw you both in the kitchen. You were still pretty mad at me. I felt like I had been gone four like an hour, but it looked like you had just walked into the kitchen.
“Mom and Dad,” I said. “I can’t clean up the tree . . .”
But before I could finish, Dad, you jumped in and said, “You march yourself right back into the living room and clean up that mess you made. Like your mother said, you better be able to explain what Christmas is really all about when you are finished.”
“But I can explain,” I said. “Christmas is about joy. Our joy and the joy to the world and stuff like that.”
“Jonathan,” Dad said. “Go clean up the tree. Now.”
I knew better than to try to argue, but I didn’t want to touch another ornament again either. I listened like a good son and walked back into the living room where the tree stood and dozens of ornaments lay scattered all over the ground.
I knew that the snowman was probably right. He wasn’t going to hurt me and the other ornaments wouldn’t hurt me either. I mean, I couldn’t even feel the snow that I was walking on with the snowman. Still, I was pretty scared—just not more scared of what would happen if I didn’t clean up the tree.
So, I walked over to the next ornament, knelt down, and picked it up.
Suddenly, the room started to change.
The story continues next Friday! To read parts 2 & 3, make sure you subscribe to the Formative Fiction Newsletter.