Today, I would like to share a Christmas story with a twist. I have written four books that are not run-away best sellers.
Surprise! This is the text from my illustrated children’s book ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A WISHMAS TREE. I decided to publish it here so that it will be read as was the intention behind writing it!
Feel free to share, print, distribute with mention of me as the author and the ability to order the book through Amazon (click through the illustration) and other online retailers. Thanks!
Myriam just loved Christmas time. From the beginning of December when all the kids in her class started making their lists of what they wanted for Christmas, all Myriam could think about was what Christmas looked like. The colours, lights and decorations excited her and made her feel light and happy.
This time of year meant that the stores would be bursting full of decorations and lights. There was nothing more beautiful than her own street filled with glowing colours.
Since it got dark so early now, Myriam would still be outside playing each evening as her street magically lit up, one house at a time.
Sometimes as she headed inside for dinner she would run up to her room first, open up her blinds and take in the view. The sparking lights and shapes fascinated Myriam.
Because of the position of her house, which was on a hill, she was able to see hundreds of homes, not just the very close ones. If she stretched her neck way to the left and pressed her cheek against the cold window she was able to peek at her best friend Alexa’s house.It was covered with pink and white lights that shone softly through the mounds of snow.
As much as Myriam loved lights and decorations what she absolutely adored the very most were the trees with hanging balls, tiny lights, and gifts underneath them. Presents were wrapped up in colourful paper with ribbons and bows and candy canes. This is the picture she kept in her head all year. It was the one that sparked her imagination. She was very curious about what all those gifts had inside. The bags would surely be easy to peek into, but she never dared look inside the ones in her classroom at school.
Still, what treasures were tucked into those beautifully wrapped shapes? She daydreamed often about the gifts but also about the trees. She wondered what it would be like to have her very own. What would it feel like to wake up on the 25th of December and see a beautiful shiny tree filled with unknown goodies underneath it?
Myriam would sigh quite loudly sometimes as she realized how hopeless her dream was. It was foolish to think that it could ever happen in her home. She would never get the chance to enjoy what so many others around her had year after year. But still Myriam dreamed.
She once tried to buy her own miniature tree at the store on a rare occasion when her brothers took her along.
She was told she could buy whatever she wanted with her five dollars! But when she reached for the little tree, they made it very clear—very fast—that she was not allowed. It just wasn’t fair! But she knew she could not argue with them. It was final. They made it clear that they would not let her take the little tree home. Ever.
Myriam’s brothers frightened her when they were like that. Quite a bit, actually. First of all, they were so big and loud, and even though most of the time they were nice, she was very careful how much she talked back to them. So many things seemed to be hidden from her since she was the baby of the family. Because of that, she often wasn’t told stuff she wanted to know. In her family, being a girl didn’t help either. As a girl, and the youngest by far, she felt like an only child.
Sometimes Myriam dreamed of what it would be like to live at Alexa’s house and be a part of her family instead of her own. She would quickly feel very guilty though and run to hug her brothers Yousef and Ahmad. They pushed her away and messed up her hair but she still knew that they loved her. They just liked to tease her and pretend that they were bothered.
Still they scared her that day in the store. She could see it in her oldest brother’s eyes. The reaction embarrassed her and made her mad. It took all of her will power to hide her anger but she did it. Myriam pretended not to care. It was the fastest and best way to make her pain and frustration stop.
Myriam knew her place in her family and had come to understand more than the rest of her family realised.
Yousef especially always, always warned her not to tattle tale on them, and she kept their secrets—most of the time. Once in a while she would forget it was a real secret and blurt out some stuff, but she was careful because she really didn’t want them to get into trouble. They would each be quiet and sad when one of the three got into trouble for doing something wrong. Right away everyone would head up to their own room and stay out of the way for a while. Myriam liked it when her house was happy.
It was for that reason that Myriam was even more upset when she accidentally overheard her parents angrily discussing the fact that she had asked for a Christmas tree. Her brothers had tattled on her! She still couldn’t figure out why since that wasn’t what normally happened at her house! And she certainly couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. Didn’t everyone love the glitter of the decorated lights under the blanket of white snow or lighting up the inside of a room or hallway?
When she heard her parents speaking with harsh tones, she quickly closed the door and ran back downstairs. Her brothers were way too busy playing video games to even notice how upset she was with them. Suddenly she felt alone and sad.
She had heard Alexa’s name. Did they think that Alexa was bad? Myriam just loved her best friend so much, she couldn’t stand it if she was going to be forbidden from playing with her. They told each other everything. They always had lunch and played at recess together. Sometimes they joined other girls, but the best times were those times when they linked arms and strolled around the school yard just talking. They even played at each other’s houses, which was so much fun!
Alexa’s house was so magical at Christmas time because there were decorations everywhere and the lights on the tree did light tricks. Sometimes the lights flashed slowly, sometimes quickly and sometimes one at a time would light up. There were at least eight different things they could do. It was magnificent.
After the disaster of her brothers ratting on her Myriam confided in Alexa. Just as she expected, Alexa came up with an amazing plan. She was so smart!! She always got the right answers in class and so it was no surprise that Alexa had a plan. She found the solution to Myriam’s problem! Alexa said nothing could go wrong.
Myriam knew what they were planning to do could get her in a lot of trouble at home. Myriam decided that it was worth it. She rarely got punished for bad behaviour because she worked very hard to please her parents and to follow all the rules. That was why, just this once, she was going to go against her brothers’ and against her parents’ wishes too. She was going to get a tree before Christmas morning! A mini-tree, where she could place the presents she was going to wrap!
She and Alexa planned to hide the tree very carefully inside her closet where no one would find it. She had already started to work on making small gifts that she would tuck under it. There was nothing inside except for air and wishes.
Myriam, who listened more than she spoke, knew just what wish she would give to each of her family members and, of course, to Alexa. She thought of an extra, especially long and special wish for her best friend.
Every time she had a few minutes alone, and when she was certain she would not be disturbed she worked on her secret stash of presents. Carefully, she tied them up with little pieces of ribbon and filled them with the best wishes she could think of. Mama’s wish was easy but she had to think harder for the others. For Yousef she wished his favourite soccer team would win the World Cup this year. For Ahmad she wished he would pass his test for his driver’s license. And for her father she wished that when he went to the doctor next time his blood pressure was normal. She knew he worked so hard to take care of his health.
Everyone in the house knew how much she loved crafts and she kept her craft kit really close by and filled it whenever she could with all kinds of paper and strings and bows, ribbons, glue, scissors and every kind of button she could find. Her button collection was so large that she needed two containers for it. She had giant stickers and markers that had a big end and a small one.
Myriam’s pencil crayons were always sharpened and ordered according to her favourite colours. The supplies were as plentiful as her imagination.Her mother complimented her on the beautiful things she made. Her mother’s favourite were the boxes. The tiny boxes she could never make enough of.
Finally her chance came to buy her little tree. Myriam knew she could always count on Alexa. They went together with Mrs. Berra, Alexa`s mom who didn’t find anything suspicious at all about Myriam`s desire to buy a tree. She even helped her pick out the best one. It was the one with just a few branches to the left, many branches on the right, and which came to a perfect peak on the top. Mrs. Berra was a very nice lady. She was always smiling and talking fast, almost as fast as Alexa.
The tree was the perfect size. Myriam sneaked it up to her bedroom when no one was looking. Mama was in the kitchen cooking, Baba was in the den, watching TV, and Ahmad and Yousef were, as usual, playing on their computers. Myriam and Alexa worked quickly together to find the perfect hiding place.
That night Alexa stayed for dinner and the two of them giggled and blushed and whispered their way through the meal until Mama’s special desert was finished. “Do you think they’ll let me keep it?” asked Myriam.
“Of course, how could they not? It’s loveable, unforgettable, inexplicably superb,” giggled Alexa.
The girls were happy to have this time together especially because Myriam thought she might not be allowed to play with her best friend anymore after this despite Alexa’s confidence that everything would go well.
In just two days it would be the twenty-fifth of December.
Myriam and Alexa just barely had enough time to finish their task. The tree was safely in closet behind a box of old clothes. Little gifts were hidden right behind the cardboard box that held the tree. They had wrapped the cardboard with colourful paper and fabric and then stapled the edges with great care not to wrinkle the surface. They carefully tucked it into place.
The two friends parted with a bigger than usual hug that night. Alexa was going to her grandmother’s home for the holidays. It was a time of celebration for her family and Myriam wished her extra wishes as she presented the prettiest of all the fancy boxes to her friend. She knew that Alexa desperately wanted a puppy to take care of. Maybe, just maybe, her wish would come true! Together they had already chosen a boy dog name and a girl name. They had even decided when to feed and walk the dog. They had done all the planning just in case Alexa got her wish.
The next day was a simple one. Myriam checked her stash in her closet before going to bed.
She looked forward to awakening in the morning, and while all the rest of the house was still sleeping she imagined giving out the tiny presents that were filled with unique wishes. When Myriam finally closed her eyes that night she fell asleep right away.
She woke up early in the morning as usual. But this morning felt different! Her excitement took over her worries of the previous day and she ran to the closet.
A look of horror spread across her face as she saw the empty spot where her tree was when she had gone to sleep just a few hours ago! Where could it have disappeared to? Maybe she had gotten up in the middle of the night and placed it in a better spot…? Myriam searched deep into the closet and everywhere in her room. There was not a shred of evidence of the tree or the presents. How could they just vanish?
Myriam had no more time to think. Her father was calling her to come downstairs. One thing for sure, she was not going to keep her baba waiting. He was not always very patient and expected her to go immediately when she was called. Myriam did not question her parents, and today was not a good day to start. She put on her calm face and headed for the stairs, pretending it was just like any other day. Inside her chest her heart was pounding really fast. It felt like it was going to pound right out of her body.
As she reached the top of the stairs she smelled familiar cooking scents rising up from the kitchen. It was a bit unusual because her mother normally didn’t start cooking until much later in the morning. The aroma was unmistakable. It was a mix of coriander, saffron and cumin and something else that she did not recognize. Why had her mama started cooking so early in the day? Her plan to be up before everyone else had not worked out well at all. She prayed that her tree had not been discovered.
Sheepishly she crept down the stairs. As she rounded the corner of the spiral in the staircase she couldn’t help but to clap her own hand over her mouth. A squeal escaped from her throat and wild delight took over her as she absorbed the beauty of what she saw at the bottom of the stairs.
Her high pitched yelp sounded like an excited puppy. Her family were all smiling at her, the kind of smile that started with the heart and then moved to the mouth and then reached the eyes that now watched her with love as she descended the stairs.
Myriam ran excitedly to the tree, calling for her parents and brothers to come closer and receive their wish gifts.
She felt like she would explode with pride when she saw appreciation in the eyes of her family as she gave them the gifts. Each one read their wish aloud. It almost looked as if they would cry. Mama read her wish twice. “Mama, I wish your mama will get the special permission she needs to travel and visit us soon. I know you miss her and love her as much as I love you.”
Myriam accepted their thanks and to her complete delight was given her very own wish box from each of her brothers! Myriam’s own wish had just come true. The tree that she had so secretly arranged in the closet sat in the main hallway of their home for even visitors to see and admire!
The remainder of the day contained all the magic of Christmas. Not the store bought kind but the best kind, the type that was filled with love and glittering warmth and sparkling wishes. She was surrounded by the people that meant the most in the world to her.
All five of them laughed and teased their way through their turkey dinner, licking their fingers and praising Mama for all her hard work. She had prepared three different deserts and special tea with lots of sugar and thyme in it. It was served in tiny glass cups that fit Myriam’s small hand perfectly. The table cloth was snowy white and red candles were lit. They used the best dishes and shiny cutlery. It was set up the same way for Eid, which was the most important Muslim celebration, and for family birthdays. Extra touches like the delicate lace table cloth and silver salt and pepper shakers made it so elegant and yet so cozy.
Following lunch they all went to the front sitting room. A room usually reserved for visitors and special occasions. Myriam was so honoured that her family made Christmas day a special occasion, even though they did not celebrate Christmas. She knew they were doing it for her alone but also saw how how much they were enjoying the day too.
The silky comfort of the overstuffed couch waited for her as she raced to get the middle of the it. She wanted to be sure that she got to sit beside both brothers on this day. When they were all seated they practically filled up the whole sofa. But this didn’t bother Myriam. She liked getting all squashed and comfy.
Together they turned their heads toward Mama who began the evening prayers. Normally they all took part in evening prayers. Today was different, though. Today they read the Koran and found the part about Christ Jesus, named Isa in Arabic, and the part about Jesus’ mother, Mary, who is called Maryam in Arabic.
Myriam was presented with her very own Koran, one that her parents had kept in a beautifully crafted wooden box since the day she was born. She was thrilled to get such a grown up present.
Carefully she opened it to the third Sura so she could follow along with the story her mother was telling.
Myriam felt wonderful and warm inside that whole afternoon. She was so grateful for her parents’ understanding and kindness.
And then suddenly, Myriam knew, just knew, why…why she loved Christmas so much! It was because she was named after Mary who was mother to Jesus! Only the spelling was a little different. The need to celebrate his birthday was a part of her! The stories at school of baby Jesus were all true stories. Maybe the Christians were not so different after all…they had the same God. They just had a different way of naming him! It was the same God that sent Isa (Jesus) to the people to help them and to pass on his message and teach them through words and actions how to live a good and happy life and care for each other and the world that was around them!
That night Myriam’s parents gently tucked her into bed. They both looked proud of their youngest child’s determination to accomplish something that was so important to her.
As Myriam kissed them goodnight and thanked them for the day she sensed that her father wanted to say something. She had felt that all day. Myriam knew Baba was making a big compromise by allowing the tree. She knew how important it was to him to make sure that they followed family traditions and maintained their own religion and culture.
She decided to be brave and ask him why he looked sad when they had spent such a wonderful day together. “Are you angry, Baba, that I was sneaky about buying and hiding the tree?”
Her father looked at her with soft surprise on his face. “Even though I am not comfortable, hayati, with having a decorated Christmas tree in the house, and I need more time to get used to the idea, I admit it looks very pretty sitting in the entrance way. And I enjoyed the day we spent together.”
Myriam felt so grown up as she listened to her baba talk to her so honestly. “Baba, would it help if we called it a Wishmas tree?”
Myriam watched as the sadness in her baba’s face was replaced by a booming laugh, and she prepared herself for the bear hug she could see was headed her way.
“Yes!” he laughed. “It most certainly would! I have wanted a Wishmas tree ever since I arrived in this country but it took you to bring it to me. Thank you for your understanding and respect Myriam. Thank you.”
As Myriam wriggled her way out of his crushing hug she laughed along with him.
It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
She closed her eyes and looked into her future. Next year they would have a tree again. She knew. Next year there would be different wishes, but the family tradition of Wishmas would carry on. She pictured her own children gathered around their decorated wish tree, the turkey dinner with all the aromas filling the house and the special room put aside for special days like this one. The table that held the special book would have a red cover, and the prayer beads would hang over the edge and the crescent would catch the light. In her mind, she decided they could all take their tea into the front room if they promised to be very careful. Myriam also decided that her family’s Wishmas tree would be full sized next year with as many lights and decorations as could fit on it, without it tilting over…
She imagined until she dozed off. Her smile stayed on her face as she fell into a peaceful and happy sleep.
Lesley Fletcher is a writer (freelance, books, content, lyrics,stage plays) as well as a visual artist specializing in monoprinting. To learn more about her please visit the tabs here on WordPress or her website at http://www.LesleyFletcher.com