One December afternoon, a family was bringing home their Christmas tree with much excitement and to-do.
Their tree was as perfect as a Christmas tree could be, with a fat, round body and thick, full branches. It was a happy looking tree for a happy looking family and they were sure it would look beautiful in their house.
They carried the tree in from outside, set it up in its stand, and stood back to admire it as the branches dropped and its full gorgeous form was revealed. As they’d expected, it was a perfect addition to their Christmas decorations and already they could imagine how much it would sparkle and shine when covered with ornaments and lights.
But as they were admiring the tree, one of the daughters noticed something funny hanging from one of the lower branches. “What is that?” she wondered aloud, and stooped to get a better look. She laughed when she realized what it was: a miniature slug, just barely the length of her smallest fingernail, dangling from the branch.
The slug was very cute, and looked rather confused that its tree was now in some strange human house, but it was after all just a slug. The family didn’t want it in their house, where it might crawl on the floors or the walls or the furniture, spreading its slimy trail all about. And so they took a moment to look at it and laugh at it, and then the daughter brought the tiny slug outside and set it free in the garden.
And so the little slug curled up in the shrubs, cold and alone.
Two weeks later, and the perfect little tree was covered top to trunk in Christmas ornaments galore. White lights sparkled on its branches while glass balls and homemade crafts brought colour and life to its form. The family was quite proud of this wonderful tree and liked to admire it at night when it was all lit up.
There were presents under the tree now, in anticipation for Christmas day. There were red and gold bows, curled ribbons, and patterned paper, all carefully put together to create the perfect Christmas look. And there had already been plenty of eager guessing and box-shaking.
But on Christmas Eve, when the house was quiet and lit only by the brightness of the Christmas tree, the daughter was still for a moment. After so much shopping and wrapping and baking, she was happy to think of simpler things—of how pretty the tree was, and how quiet the house could be when all were asleep. She knew Santa Claus would be coming tonight, in the most silent hours of the night, and that many houses would be lit with cheer when the morning came around. But right then, in that stillness, she couldn’t help but think of the slug.
She didn’t know why she thought of it, or what was the point of thinking of it, but she thought of it nonetheless. It had been a very cute slug, and had seemed so comical dangling from the branch like that. She wondered if it was alive. Had the cold gotten to it? For a moment, her stillness turned to sadness.
But that thought, that simple reflection, had sparked something.
The daughter went to bed after that, turning off the tree’s lights and leaving the house to darkness and silence. But out in the garden, in the earthy warmth of the shrubbery, something stirred within the tiny slug who had been abandoned there so many days ago. He knew not what the feeling was, and couldn’t have guessed that it was the feeling of being remembered. But he felt it, clear as day, and he felt a part of himself—a warm, happy part—crawl out of the garden and into the house.
And that small part of the slug crawled up onto the tree, into the branches, and nestled in the needles. There, it fell asleep.
The next morning, the family gathered around the tree, hearts all abuzz with excitement as they began to open presents and share their gifts for each other. There was laughter and merriment all around—the usual stock on a Christmas morning. It was no different than any other Christmas. They were just as happy, and just as grateful, and just as filled with love as they usually were.
But the warm part of the slug was hiding in their tree, taking in the revelry as the slug’s true body slumbered in the chilly garden outside. The warm part of the slug, the slug’s soul, felt at peace. And though the family didn’t even notice it, the slug’s soul felt as though it was important, because it had been remembered.
So for a while, the slug was filled with joy, and it stayed there in the branches for a very long time.
But soon the Christmas merriment had ended and it was time for life to return to normal. The ornaments on the tree were packed away and the slug’s soul, which had slept for so long in those branches, was forced to return to the garden. For a while, as the cold little slug experienced all the joy and peace that its soul had absorbed, he felt a touch of remorse that he hadn’t actually been there in person. He had been so wet and miserable under the shrubs while the family was so happy and warm inside.
But only a few days later, the slug’s worries were eased. For now that Christmastime was over, the family had no use for their tree. They put it out on the curb, and the slug was finally able to return to its branches.
It wasn’t the same, those prickly branches, now that the lights and ornaments were gone, but as the slug slumbered there, his soul remembered. Christmas had ended in the household, but the slug didn’t forget about it. He remembered the Christmas wishes, the loving kisses, the light-up smiles, the glowing hearts. He remembered how happy the family had been, and how warm he had felt as his soul silently observed it all. He didn’t forget, even long after the Christmas cheer had ended.
So every once in a while, for no explicable reason, the family experienced that soul-filling feeling of being remembered.
And it was like Christmas.
Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you had a wonderful day and were able to spend it with loved ones.
I wish you peace and joy and all the best this holiday season. Take care, everyone, and be sure to remember.