Decorating our Christmas Village was in full swing when Ms. Claus and I arrived that morning. Lights were being strung on all the buildings and the trees. Stars and snowflakes were hung on light posts. Gold and silver tinsel was placed on the surrounding trees.
“Beautiful job!” I told the elves as Anya and I stepped into the gazebo in the center of the town square. “This is putting us all in the Christmas Spirit.”
“Thanks Santa,” Lyra responded as she placed another strand of gold tinsel on a tree.
Carter gave me a quizzical look. “Santa, Lyra and I wondered why people put tinsel on Christmas trees.”
“Hmm,” I murmured as I stroked my beard. “I thought everyone knew.”
“Knew what?” Lyra demanded. “Elves know a lot. Is there something you’re keeping from us?”
When the elves overheard Lyra, they came over to the gazebo. “You never keep anything from us, Santa. What’s up?” yelled Carter.
I chuckled and led Ms. Claus over to a bench. “You’re right, I don’t keep things from you.”
I stood up and rubbed my hands together. “You know how I like stories, but this one I’ve never shared. So, gather round and let me tell you about the Christmas Spider, an old Eastern European folktale.”
* * * * * * *
A long time ago, there was a mother with two children, a boy and a girl. They always helped their mother and tried to do what was right. Unfortunately, this family was very poor. They lived in a small hut with dirt floors.
One Spring the children were running in and out of the house when they started yelling, “Mama, Mama, look!”
When their mother came over, they pointed to a small pine tree growing in the corner of their house.
“Oh my! I’ll get something to dig that up right away.”
“NO!” both children shouted. “Can we keep it?”
The mother thought for a moment. Since she was unable to give them much, she decided they could keep it.
Spring led to Summer and then Fall. On December 21st, the first day of Winter, the pine was a full-grown tree.
The weather was cold and snowy outside as the children played around the tree on Christmas Eve. “Look!” the boy said and pointed to a small brown spot on the tree. His sister smiled and together they called out, “Mama, Mama look, there is a spider in the tree!”
The mother inspected the pine and found the spider crawling back and forth across the tree. “I hate spiders!” she responded and grabbed the broom to get the spider out of the tree.
“No Mama, can we please keep it? The spider’s webs look beautiful on our Christmas tree.”
She thought about it for a while and agreed. “Alright my little spider. This Christmas Eve you get a pardon. Stay in this tree and don’t go anywhere else.”
The spider did not pause and kept weaving beautiful webs while the children watched until it was time for bed.
On Christmas morning, the mother got up, and put a log on the fire to warm the house. She started heating water to make breakfast and turned to look at the tree. The morning sun shone through the window and cast a beautiful glow on the Christmas tree.
“How lovely,” she murmured. “The morning light is making the spider webs look like gold and silver threads.” She smiled and turned to prepare a warm breakfast for her children.
A little while later, the mother heard her children yell, “Merry Christmas Mama!”
As she turned to greet them, she saw her children’s eyes grow large. “Mama, look at the tree,” they shouted. “There’s gold and silver thread on it.”
The mother slipped her arms around the children and gave them hugs. “No darlings,” she explained, “that’s just the light shining on the spider webs.”
The children shook their heads, “No Mama, look closer!”
When their mother examined the pine, she gasped at the sight of beautiful silver and gold threads adorning the tree. “It’s a Christmas miracle!” she shouted. “The spider has rewarded us for your thoughtfulness.”
The three of them gazed at the tree in wonder and felt the magic of Christmas fill their hearts with love.
The mother smiled at her son and daughter. “Together we’ll gather some of the thread and exchange it at the market today for food and more wood. After Christmas, I will weave and spin the silver and gold thread and buy warm clothes for the winter and perhaps a tasty treat for all of us.”
The children laughed and hugged their mother. Together the three held hands and danced around the glistening tree. When the spider peeked out from behind a pine branch, they cheered.
“Thank you for your kindness” the mother announced. “You are always welcomed in our home.”
The next year on Christmas Eve the spider returned and wove its magical webbing around the tree. The beautiful silver and gold thread again shone brightly on Christmas morning. The family was never poor or hungry again.
* * * * * * *
“But what does this have to do with tinsel?” several elves hollered.
“Well, you see other people heard about this magical Christmas Spider, and they tried to get Christmas spiders of their own. They would take ordinary spiders and put them in their trees. But things did not go as they expected. None of the spiders were magical Christmas Spiders.”
“But they liked the idea of the Christmas Spiders and the beauty of their webs so much,” Ms. Claus explained, “that they began hanging artificial webs in their trees. “
“I bet that’s why we have tinsel today!” an elf shouted from the back.
“That’s right,” Anya responded. “Also, in many countries, like Ukraine and Germany, they make beautiful beaded Christmas Spiders and hide them in their trees. Traditionally, the first person to find the spider will have good luck throughout the year.”
I grabbed Anya’s hand to help her up. “So, there you have it. You now know why people hang tinsel on their trees.”
As the elves all began to go back to work decorating the village, I could hear several of them talking about hiding spiders in the trees for Christmas.
“You do realize, Santa,” Anya whispered as we watched the elves working and singing carols, “they don’t need Christmas Spiders. The elves bring all the magic we’ll ever need to our village every year.”
Notes From Santa
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. Stories are posted on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, except December. Santa’s next story will be posted on Saturday January 6, 2024, unless Ms. Claus decides to write a story. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until the next time . . .
To read more stories told at the North Pole please check out:
The Nutcracker – November 25, 2019
The Christmas Goat – July 13, 2020
Magic Beans – June 21, 2021
I Think We Can – February 1, 2021
The Gingerbread Girl – January 21, 2023
Polar Pete’s Tail – September 16, 2023
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