One of my favorite Christmas stories came from my Great Aunt Ida who recounted a Christmas as a child, at the turn of the 20th century, when her mother was sick and there was no money for gifts or to buy special foods for the Christmas dinner.
My grandmother Esther who was the oldest child in the family, and like a mother to her younger siblings, had been sneaking down to the barn in the evenings and making straw ornaments for each of her siblings out of the new fresh golden straw. She was hoping to have some type of gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve for her younger siblings.
On that bleak Christmas Eve the neighbor from across the road came down their lane carrying a heavy sack….it was full of apples. Each child received their own apple and the rest were used for baking. Almost a century later, she lived to be 96 years old, Aunt Ida remembered with fondness and a sense of joy those special Christmas apples.
When I was a Christian preschool teacher. I would use apples in my Christmas story lesson plans. We would slice them and make Christmas wreath prints on paper with paint using the apple as a stamp.You see inside each apple is a star. You just have to know where to look.
I wrote this Christmas Story from the view point of an apple.
Pete the Christmas Apple
Once upon a time there was an apple blossom, who was called Pete.
Pete lived in a beautiful neighborhood—the orchard. Beneath his mother’s graceful green leaf covered branches, children giggled, laughed and played on the trees and amongst the pink, blue, yellow and lavender flowers. Nesting birds tweeted, chirped and caroled. This sweet symphony of spring was Pete’s borning song.
Pete came into the world as a cute dewy-eyed little bud. As with all living things, Pete blossomed as he grew. Pete and his flowering family and friends were so fragile, fresh and fragrant that people came to the orchard just to be near them.
Time passed quickly, in the orchard, and soon the wind had stripped away Pete’s downy white pedals, one by one—by one. Soon all that was left was a very little green Pete.
On a warm spring day, the golden sun looking down on the orchard and saw Pete. The sun liked what he saw. So he beamed a warm smile down to Pete. At first Pete would have none of it. He felt just fine hiding under the nearest big leaf. The warm-hearted sun, never gave up trying to be friends with Pete. The sun’s patience paid off and soon he and Pete were friends. Pete found himself actually looking forward to sun’s visits.
As with all living things showered with warmth, family, friends, laughter, light and love Pete thrived and began to grow—and so did all of his apple friends. Although he was still quite green, Pete wasn’t such hard sour little nubbin anymore.
During the summer, Pete changed. He now boasted a few apple freckles and rosy cheeks. In fact the more he played with the sun the rosier Pete’s cheeks became.
By September Pete and all of the other apples had been with sun so much that they were red all over—all the time. Pete liked being red for he was jollier, sweeter and shinier. Pete was one handsome apple!!!!
Pete, like all young apples, dreamed of growing up and becoming a healthy snack. Oh, the joy, of being an eating apple, in a pie, applesauce or juice. Those were the things a young apple’s dreams were made of.
Most apples get to be juice or applesauce. Some get to be in a pie. But, only the best become eating apples. There was no greater glory for an apple than to be an eating apple. Pete was certain that he would be an eating apple, because he was such a handsome fellow.
About mid-September the farmer came to the orchard. The farmer drove a little red tractor that pulled a old apple wagon. The apples were so excited, soon they would be picked. What a thrill it was to be a picked apple!
Finally, the day came when the pickers put the apple sacks over their shoulders and carried their three-legged ladders into the orchard. First the pickers always picked a peck of picture perfect apples—the eating apples. This was Pete’s moment to shine, and he did. Pete grabbed the nearest leaf and polished himself until he glowed. For he, and all of his family and friends, knew that he would be the first apple picked—he was a beautiful apple.
But, Pete wasn’t picked. Oh sure he was a little disappointed at first, but he would still get to be a healthy snack and that is it what, for an apple, it is really all about. And besides, he was too busy feeling happy for all of his eating apple friends. He waved and cheered as they rode away in the apple wagon behind the little red tractor.
The next day the picker people picked the perfect pie apples. The pickers came and left the orchard and still Pete was hanging on the tree. He wasn’t sad because like most of his friends, he was going to be juice or applesauce. Pete was determined to be the best juice or sauce apple he could be. Tasty delicious!!
Together he and all the apples eagerly awaited the pickers return. Pete and the rest of the apples laughed and joked their remaining hanging on the tree days away.
Finally, the farmer came to pick the sauce and juice apples. As each apple was picked Pete hollered and cheered. At the end of the day, the little red tractor and apple wagon left the orchard, Pete smiled and waved good-bye to the last of his apple buddies. Pete was left all alone in the orchard with just the sun.
When the farmer never came into the orchard again, Pete knew that would never be a healthy snack. He would not be a pie, applesauce, juice or an eating apple. Rotting on the tree that was the grim future that awaited the handsome Pete.
The weather was turning colder, Pete’s mother, the apple tree, had started her long winter’s nap. The sun, too, spent less and less time each day with Pete, he had other places to go and new friends to visit. Pete had to get used to spending more and more time without his mother or the sun—alone in the dark.
One afternoon the north wind entered the orchard. He was a cold-bitter-brutal bully, who teased and tortured Pete. The north wind blew away the very last of the green, gold, red, orange and purple leaves that Pete and sun played hide and seek amidst. He left Pete with nothing.
Just when Pete thought things couldn’t get worse, a sinister little villain showed up in the orchard—Jack Frost. He was a miserable little pest, the nasty runt, for he enjoyed giving everything a nip. Who would ever want to be nipped by Frost? Pete didn’t like this Mr. Frost fellow, wanted nothing more to do with him and plainly told Jack so.
Then on one especially cold afternoon, Jack announced with glee that he was expecting a visit from a special friend of his—snow. Pete knew all about snow, his mother tree had told him. Pete knew that his mother and all of the other apple trees always slept whenever snow came. When they woke up, after snow had left the orchard, there were never any red apples left on any of their branches.
For the first time in his life Pete was really afraid. There he was left all alone waiting to see what happens to a red apple when snow comes to the orchard.
That night after the sun had left, it became cool and quickly grew colder. Pete heard a soft whistling sound like tiny violins being played by the stars. The north wind, was coming and snow was whistling with the wind.
Snow when she came was soft, gentle and drifted dreamily down past Pete. She was silly and tickled his nose. Pete watched snow’s graceful dance with the north wind. They twirled and swirled together doing a white winter wonderland waltz. Pete was tired after all of his worry and became very drowsy. His eyelids became very heavy and Pete fell into a deep sleep.
When he awoke he was in not in the orchard anymore. He was inside a house. A strange house, for right in the middle of the room there was a pointy tree with a gold star on top. There were other stars and they were everywhere, and of every color. Not in the night sky above, but hanging, blinking and sparkling from the tree.
Colors, Pete had always loved colors and there were colors everywhere. Above, below and on all of the funny looking apple crates called presents tangled in the shiny grass, ribbons, on the ground under the colorful tree. This may not be the orchard, but it was beautiful.
Then, Pete saw him. The jolly old rosy fellow who was smiling at him. “Hello Pete, my but aren’t you just the handsomest, finest, reddest and most delicious apple it has ever been my pleasure to meet! I’m so sorry that you had to feel sad and scared when you were left alone in the orchard. You were never really alone, you know, I was always there watching over you. You see, when all of the other apples were picked, you were left behind for a very special reason.”
“You see Pete, at the very center of every apple is a star.
At the very center of every Christmas is a very special star—the Star of Bethlehem.
Long ago, that star shone over a very humble stable. There on the very first Christmas baby Jesus was born. Pete, tomorrow, on Christmas Day when it is time for a healthy snack, your star will remind little boys and girls of the most important Christmas gift of all—gift of baby Jesus, God’s only son. Your star, Pete, will remind the children of the Star of Bethlehem.”
Santa gave Pete a quick polish with his soft red mittens until Pete glowed. Then, Santa gently placed Pete into the top of stocking hung by a fireplace with care. Santa whispered, “Pete, tomorrow on Christmas Day the children’s mother will show them your star, and teach them about the star of Bethlehem and the birth of the baby Jesus. After all I am just a messenger of his joy, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. The mother will help her children save the seeds from your star and they will plant them in the spring. You will grow into a beautiful apple tree. Then, someday I will come to your branches during your winter nap, just like I did tonight to your mother’s, and pick another handsome apple on this special night.”
“Pete you are a Christmas apple!”
To find the star inside the apple…slice the apple through its middle.
Merry Christmas!!!! The END.