Adam could barely see Grandpa in the falling snow. It was like looking through his bedroom window blinds.
Why did they have to go for a night hike anyway? Adam was already freezing.
On Christmas Eve he should be warm in bed. Not out here in the wild forest. Grandpa said a little walk around their wooded property would get them in the Christmas spirit.
“Besides,” he winked, “we might even see Santa."
"Wait for me!" Adam shouted. It was quite slippery in some spots. Pushing through the snow, his “RUMM! RUMM!” noises sounded like a snowplow.
The snowman shape that was Grandpa finally stopped. He pointed to the stars. “They’re watching over us," Grandpa said.
But Adam would rather be looking at a mountain of French Fries. And drink a cup of hot chocolate. Then play games with his racing cars.
He pretended to be a snowboarder when he suddenly slipped on the ice. Two little legs twisted into a spaghetti heap. In one desperate moment the slope turned into a toboggan slide. Down and down he went. Snow exploded in all directions.
Seven tumbles later Adam landed at the bottom of the hill. He was so surprised, he could barely whisper, "Grandpa."
Grandpa must still be on top of the hill. He probably is calling, “Where is my little grandson?”
What happened? Adam had been right behind him. How could he have disappeared so quickly?
He knew Grandpa would walk back and forth, until he was almost dizzy. But blowing snow might cover the boy’s tracks.
Now the sky turned blacker than a magic marker. And fluffy snow dropped like goose feathers from the sky.
Around Adam, rabbits began to stir, anxious to test the white carpet. Large snowshoe feet began to make trails for others to follow.
Adam watched from beside a tall pine tree. Floppy ears bounced as the animals raced around thickets of brush.
He tried to catch one that ran between his legs. Whoops, too slow. He tried chasing it. No luck, either.
At least moving around kept his feet warm.
A deer marched into an open field. Spikes on his head were like crooked fingers. He held his head proudly.
The moon shone like a flashlight on the animal. If only grandpa could see this, the boy thought.
Adam didn't dare move. The beautiful deer might hear his heart pounding. Clouds floated overhead. Stars twinkled.
Finally the deer leaped into the forest. His white tail waved goodbye.
Now Adam saw a bright light. Or was it a large star? He remembered the story of baby Jesus from Sunday school.
In the story, a brilliant star led three wise men to His birthplace.
Now the star was joined by a string of lights. It looked like a sleigh at the end. Could that be Santa and his reindeer? he wondered.
The lights seemed to dance back and forth across the sky. It was a real exciting sight for Adam. And now a new thought made his eyes sparkle. Did they want him to follow?
Yes, he would.
Oh my, Adam thought, he should be home in bed right now, if he expected any presents. “Grandpa please hurry and find me,” Adam wished.
He began to follow the lights as they moved away.
His tummy ached from hunger. If only he had a plate of French Fries, with lots of ketchup.
A coyote watched the boy cross a small ridge.
Up above, an owl hooted, announcing his nightly hunt. But this was not any ordinary night.
It was Christmas Eve, a time of peace.
A mouse scampered from under the shelter of a tree. His pencil-black eyes looked left, right, then up. Could that owl really be friendly? He wondered.
Adam also looked up. His feet continued to follow the lights. If it was Santa he hoped he had a huge bag of gifts. He wanted a big truck this year, for a big boy. And it should have a snowplow.
His legs were getting quite tired. Walking through snow was not easy. And he began to stumble over tree stumps, hidden under the snow.
Then he stopped and looked up. There was a brilliant flash. Adam waited. As if something good was about to happen.
And it did. He turned towards the sound of crunching snow.
It looked like a snowman had stepped from a stand of Spruce trees. And it headed slowly towards him.
One word filled the empty space in a little boy’s heart. “Grandpa!”
"Adam!” was the answering shout in the forest. Now snow went flying in all directions.
Man and boy were like two charging bears. They quickly wrapped arms around each other. Then Adam’s chilled face began to glow with warmth.
It showed his smile wide as the high sky.
"Hey buddy! It's Christmas!" grandpa said, looking at his watch.
“And you’re the best present ever,” Adam said. He gave his grandpa another big hug and pointed up.
"MERRY CHRISTMAS!" was spelled out in large letters across the sky.
A special message created by the stars, for a grandpa and grandson. It was almost as good as sitting by a cozy fireplace.
After a short time of blinking on and off, the stars seemed to vanish.
“What was that all about? Grandpa asked.
“Santa Claus has things to do,” Adam said seriously. “Let’s go home now.”
"I’m going to make the best snack ever,” grandpa promised. “Hot dogs, pancakes, chocolate milk…"
"AND FRENCH FRIES!!" Adam shouted.
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© Richard & Esther Provencher