There once was a little boy who had never had a tree for Christmas. In fact, his family had never even celebrated a Christmas. His Papa worked hard in the bush all day and his Mama laid poorly in bed, never having fully recovered from his birth. His two brothers and sister looked after the farm and the house. But no one took much time for the little boy. And no one paused much for play or for holidays.
When the little boy was about nine years old, he decided that Christmas should come to their house.
He went out to the bush after his Papa had left and, with a borrowed hatchet from the wood shed, he chopped down the most perfect evergreen tree he could find. With all his might he dragged the tree through the snow to the door of the little cottage.
Much to his dismay and jeering laugh of his brothers and sister, the little boy discovered that the tree was too big to fit inside the little cottage.
The taunts reached the poor mothers ears and she raised her frail body out of bed and in a thin shawl made her way to the door. She saw her youngest son, red faced, trying to hide his frustration. In her strongest voice, Mama took charge.
She instructed the older boys to trim down the tree and help her little son bring it inside. And she instructed her daughter to do an extra sweep of the cottage, and to use some sugar in the flour to make a special batch of sweet biscuits for their breakfast in the morning to celebrate Christmas, for the first time.
All the noise had also awakened a small spider who had been trying to find warmth in the depths of the tree before it had been chopped down in the bush. And she hid deep inside the boughs to avoid being seen and swept away.
By now all the children where feeling some excitement. Mama pulled out some ribbons from her sewing basket and had the children tie them to the tree because they had no money for any kind of decorations.
They couldn’t wait to see Papa’s face when he came home that night, but Papa worked too late and the children sadly went to bed and fell asleep.
The spider carefully crept out of her hiding spot in the still of the Christmas eve night. Oh how good the warmth of the little cabin felt after being outside in the cold. She crept up and down the tree on her strings of silk, looking over the new bows that had been added and admired them greatly.
Early the next morning, the family woke up and saw the tree covered with cobwebs. The little boy was so disappointed at how dusty the tree looked, and where he had hoped to see surprise and joy on his Papa’s face, he saw a look of confusion over the tree in the middle of their house.
A tear escaped down the little boys cheek and landed on a web just as his sister opened the windows. And the first rays of sunlight touched the tear and the webs and turned them into gold and silver strands that sparkled.
The tree looked even more beautiful than even before.
Papa finally understood, and putting his heavy worn hand on his little sons shoulder, he wished his family a Merry Christmas morning.
The family ate their breakfast together that morning, and even mama made her way to the table with papa’s help.
The family found that they all quite enjoyed each others company. And they all agreed that they were a rather richly blessed family and promised that the best gifts they could give each other was their love and time together.
There are many European stories of the Christmas spider. But I based this story on a personal family story of my grandfather as a boy bringing home the family’s first ever Christmas tree, that was indeed too big to get through the front door.
My husband who has a Germany family background remembers hearing the story about the spider and her webs being turned into tinsel by Santa.
And our little spider picture is made from a walnut basket given to me by a close friend and a vintage spider brooch pin I inherited from my grandmother when she passed. Christmas is about miracles and family and love that we should share all year around. So I hope this story inspires my own family and maybe yours!