To read Part One, click here.
To read Part Two, click here.
As the gold and silver ornament rolled to a stop near the front door of the Frederico home, Baby Frederico noticed a glimmer…or was it a spark….jump from it. It couldn’t have been a glimmer, thought Baby Frederico. There is no sunlight; it’s dark now. No, it had to be a spark, or something like it, because it was as though the light was coming from somewhere INSIDE it. Baby Frederico reached down to pick it up, but the old man stopped him.
“No need to do that son. These little things get away from me all the time, that’s why Bear is here. Bear, you know what to do.”
Baby Frederico watched as the old black dog slowly pulled himself up from where he had been resting and went to the little ball. He lay down right in front of it, and then let out a simple but very forceful breath of air from his nose. The ball jumped so quickly that Baby Frederico wasn’t even sure it had really jumped. Then, as though it had been commanded to take action, the ball rolled right in the front door of the house.
Baby Frederico started to ask the old man if he had seen it all, too, but he had already followed the ball inside. The old dog was close behind.
When Baby Frederico walked into the house, he could not believe what he was seeing. It was as though someone had dumped hundreds of glimmering gold and silver and blue and green and red and orange and purple ornaments right in the middle of his living room. The countless ornaments shimmered so brilliantly that Baby Frederico had to cover his eyes as he adjusted to the light.
The old man breathed a sigh of relief as he surveyed the incredible scene.
“Well, looks like our job is nearly done,boy.” He patted the old dog as he spoke and then knelt down and picked up one of the glowing balls and looked it over.
“Yes, these will do nicely,” said the old man. He then turned his attention to a bewildered Baby Frederico. “Here’s what will happen. At midnight tonight, every single one of these ornaments will make their way to the homes you listed on this piece of paper.” The old man pulled a familiar piece of notebook paper from his shirt pocket. “Your home, Mr. Frederico, is their headquarters. We heard your wish, and then we read it on this piece of paper, and these little guys will stop at nothing to make sure it’s resolved. Do you understand?”
Baby Frederico was stunned as he spoke, “Understand? I’m not sure I do. Do you mean these are for everyone? I mean, for everyone around here?” He paused before he asked the only real question he had now, “And where did you find my note?”
The old man laughed, “So many questions for such a little green guy. Here’s what you need to know, you asked for some help in bringing a little light to some darkness. We heard the request and we aim to please. And…we’ve waited so long for anyone to ask it, we decided to do it up a little bigger than you were thinking.”
As the old man spoke, it all came back to Baby Frederico. He had been at school and had been frustrated that one of his friends had been so upset about something, but wouldn’t tell him what was wrong. He had even left school early and Baby Frederico was worried. The troubled day continued as another friend cried about being bullied in the hallway near her locker. Someone had told her she looked funny and, when she cried, several others taunted her all the way to her next class. At lunch, Baby Frederico sat with another friend who had lost his grandfather the week before and missed him. Another wasn’t sure that his family would have enough food to make it through the weekend. Another was worried that their electricity would be cut off soon, and it would be a bitterly cold evening ahead for her and her family.
In the last hours of that terrible day, Baby Frederico sat at the top of the stairs in his quiet and warm little home. He was full of concern and anxious about what to do about it. He could smell the sweet honey roast that his Momma Mia was cooking. He heard his Papa Frita playing Christmas hymns on his old accordion. The house was full of peace and full of hope and full of joy…and full of light. But what about out there, thought Baby Frederico. What about out there, where it’s dark?
It was then that Baby Frederico made a list of all the people who were troubled that evening in his little town. He hoped and wished for them something, but what? He continued to write until his family called him to dinner.
Baby Frederico was still lost in thought, when the old man spoke again. “You remember now, don’t you? It was a long list, that’s for certain. But it was our kind of list, and we knew we could help. These ornaments you see here will go out tonight accompanied by as many trees as we can fit on that old red truck out there. I’ll drive. Bear will keep watch. And you will navigate. Each home gets a tree and each trees gets an ornament. The ornaments will take care of the light, which will in turn take care of the darkness. We should be done by morning.” The old man then turned to address the room, “Let’s go to work!”
As if on cue, the ornaments sprang to life and rolled toward the truck. Dozens of beautifully shaped evergreens stood at attention in its bed, and each ornament found its place among their branches.
What a night it was! Baby Frederico and the old man and the old bear of a dog and the ornaments and the trees visited homes across the town. Front yards were given one tree and one ornament.
But the most exciting event of the night would occur just as the old red truck and all its passengers pulled away from the darkened homes and their quiet front yards. With a whispered whistle from the old man, the ornament would glow a brilliant, sparkling light and the tree would come to life. The darkness was immediately erased and each little home would begin to glow in the warmth of its new light. The event repeated itself over and over again throughout the night. Baby Frederico was mesmerized by it each and every time.
“The Giving of the Trees,” the old man announced as he pulled the old red truck to a stop near the mailbox outside the Frederico home. “This event shall from this day forward being called ‘The Giving of the Trees.’ It shall be a tradition and it shall continue.”
Baby Frederico stood silently at the window where the old man sat with his old bear of a dog in the old red truck. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“What do I mean? What do I mean? Let’s see, you old bear of a dog. How shall we explain such a thing?” The old man scratched his chin and wrestled with the idea for only a moment before continuing. “Baby Frederico, when you wrote that list of troubles it went straight to the heart. Anywhere there is darkness, that darkness will tell its occupants that nothing, and I mean nothing, can dispel it. Nothing can take its place. Nothing can outwit it or conquer it or erase it. Nothing. Nothing at all. But, and this is a secret that should really be no secret at all, that’s just not true. Darkness lies. Light comes, even in the magic of a little tree ornament or on a piece of notebook paper, and the darkness has no choice but to leave. Light comes and something about that light brings a glimmer, a ray, a spark to its occupants. It brings an idea or a challenge or a plan or a dream…and it never lies. Now the trees, and those little ornaments, all of it just points to something greater, something that is full of hope and full of joy and full…of light. And the darkness, well, it cannot remain.”
Baby Frederico could feel the bitterly cold wind begin to rise across the wheat field just behind him. The temperature began to wrestle with the wind and snow began to drift at the fenceline. He could hear his Momma Mia call for him from the front porch of their home. He peered across the lawn to where she was, just for a moment, and then turned. The old red truck and the old man and the old bear of a dog were gone. A gold and silver ornament was all that remained in its place. Baby Frederico picked it up and it began to spark. Somewhere deep inside it, it began to glow.