Not sure what to put on top of your tree? Here’s how one family started a new tradition in my story, “The Christmas Tree Topper.”
The Christmas Tree Topper
by Natasha Wing
At Christmastime we have a family tradition. Papa strings the lights on the tree, then Mama and I hang the ornaments. When we’re done, Papa adds the final touch to the top of the tree – an angel.
Papa climbs the ladder. “Hand her up,” he says.
Mama carefully opens the angel’s box. “Oh, no!” she cries.
“What’s wrong?” asks Papa.
“The angel’s face is broken,” says Mama.
Papa climbs down the ladder and inspects the angel. “It must have gotten crushed in the box.”
Mama brushes a tear from her eye. “I picked her out at my favorite department store when I was a little girl,” she says.
I look at the top of the tree. It seems so empty.
Papa asks Mama, “How old were you when you picked out the angel?”
“Eight, same as Anton.”
I see a twinkle in Papa’s eye.
“Maybe it’s time to start a new tradition.”
Mama smiles at me. “Anton, would you like to pick out a tree topper?”
I nod excitedly.
“We’ll go shopping tomorrow,” says Mama.
When I go to bed I lie awake and wonder. What should I get? An angel like Mama’s? A star? A snowflake? Or maybe a Santa Claus.
The next afternoon we go to a crafts fair.
There are lots of angel decorations at the fair. There are angels with golden hair. Angels with silvery wings. Angels with harps. Angels with lighted halos.
“Do you see any you like?” asks Mama.
“Lots of them are pretty,” I say, “but I think I want a Santa Claus.”
Mama is quiet.
“Are you mad I’m not getting another angel?” I ask.
“No,” says Mama. “My angel was my symbol of Christmas. You have a different idea of what Christmas means. Get something that’s special to you.”
She checks her watch. “Let’s go to the mall.”
At the mall there are Santa Clauses everywhere! Santas on wrapping paper. Wooden Santas from different countries. Dancing Santa toys. Kids having their picture taken with Santa. My head is swimming with Santas!
After seeing so many of them, Santa doesn’t seem so special anymore.
We go home without a tree topper. Our Christmas tree still waits to be crowned.
That night at dinner, Papa says, “Are you ready for me to put up your topper?”
“No,” I mumble.
“We don’t have one yet,” says Mama.
“Anton! What are you waiting for, Christmas?” teases Papa.
“I was thinking maybe a snowflake,” says Anton. “All my Christmas books show houses covered in snow.“
“Snowflakes are pretty,” says Mama.
I frown. “But it never snows here so that seems silly to have a snowflake.”
Mama starts to clear the table. “Do you want to see the Christmas lights? Maybe that will give you an idea.”
We walk through the neighborhood looking at everyone’s decorations. We circle the block then stop in front of our house. Our Christmas tree is lit up in the window. But the top is still empty.
“Did you get any ideas?” asks Papa.
“What about a big candy cane,” says Mama. “You love candy canes.”
Candy is delicious. But it isn’t what Christmas is all about.
“How about some hot chocolate while you think it over,” says Mama. She snuggles with Papa, with me in the middle like a hug sandwich. I look up at their smiling faces against a sky full of twinkling stars. I feel so warm and happy inside.
“I know what I’m going to put on our tree!”
“What?” asks Papa.
We go inside. I cut out a cardboard star and decorate it with glitter. Then I glue my favorite photo of Mama, Papa and me on it.
“What’s this?” asks Mama as I hand her my star.
“It’s what’s most special about Christmas,” I say. “Family!”
Papa puts the topper in place. My heart swells with joy.
Mama sighs. “This is the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had.”