Monday, November 05, 2007

The Giver

***Don't worry Invisible Friends--part 2 of the animals in the Land of the Flowered Bed will be continued tomorrow. But first, a new tale....

She worked tirelessly for days, her eyes critiquing the smallest detail, the tiniest feature. It was almost her favorite time of the year, Christmas. For this one day, she prepared the whole year. While Santa had an army of elves to help, she only had her two hands.

Christmas had always been her favorite time of the year. She loved the bustle of the season, the spring in people's steps, the kindness in the air. However, over the years, she had been fighting a feeling that kept creeping up in the back of her mind. As celebrations turned from family to gifts and the bustle turned into a forced march, she wondered if anyone understood the true purpose to gifts at Christmas.

"It's beauty, you see," she had explained to some passing butterflies one time. "It's the fact that you cared, the fact that you thought to get them something they might enjoy."

"What if it's not the perfect gift?" the butterfly inquired, opening and closing his wings patiently.

"There is no perfect gift," she said forcefully. "That's the point. Every gift, even if thought in a flash of brilliance at the last possible moment, is a great gift."

The butterflies were reluctant. "That's not what we see," the butterflies said, pointing to a bustling shopping center below. "That woman there, for instance? She's furious her daughter didn't get her a painting she wanted for Christmas. She got her a cheap lamp instead."

"It's not about the cost," the other butterfly said quietly. "Her daughter worked hard to find that lamp."

The girl said nothing, tearing into a new pile of gifts. There was always work to be done, always gifts to be made. She worked through the night until her eyes felt like sandpaper and her mind felt like mud. Then she collapsed into a pile of gifts, dreaming of new gifts to make.

When the day came, she arranged the gifts carefully. She had created thousands and thousands of sunbeams, wrapping them in shreds of clouds and the sighs of the wind. She directed her cloud over a particularly stormy city, and began to happily drop her sunbeams down to the sky below. Sticking her head through the soft cloud, she eagerly watched the people's reactions.

To her dismay, many ignored the sunbeams filtering through the clouds like small explosions of light. While a few merely glanced up, others walked by as if nothing had happened at all. A few clapped their hands in delight, only only one or two shouted in excitement.

The girl was crushed.

"It's happened," she said hollowly, clutching her chest. "The butterflies were right. They don't care. People don't know what true gifts are anymore. All they want is store-bought...crap!"

Broken-hearted, the girl crawled into a pile of sunbeams and cried herself to sleep. She lay there for days, staring hollowly at the sunbeams around her. Down below, the town's sky turned darker and darker. Rain poured for days, and the harsh wind whipped around buildings and people. The butterflies watched in despair as the town began to become a desolate landscape of ice and bleak landscape.

"They need you," the butterflies whispered as they fluttered around the girl who was still buried in the pile of the sunbeams. "They need your gifts. They need a cheery Christmas."

"They don't care," the girl's voice was empty. "Like you said, it's not the perfect gift."

"But a few people loved it!" the butterflies argued, touching her cheek gently with their wings. "Several enjoyed it!"

"Why should I work all year when only a few people care?" the girl spoke bitterly. "Only a few people understand the true meaning of a gift. They all think they do, but they don't. Only a few understand the beauty, the glory in it."

"Then show them," the second butterfly whispered, landing on her nose. "Give them the gift of knowledge of the beauty you can share. Teach them."

The girl sat up, knowing the butterflies were right. She gently sent the pile of sunbeams into the wind, watching them float down to Earth. To her amazement, a miracle occurred.

"They're smiling!" she said, astonished. "They're laughing and cheering! They are enjoying the sun!"'

The butterflies smiled and landed on the girl's shoulders as they watched the town erupt in celebration. This year, it seemed, the town gave the Giver a gift.