It was my grandmother's first Christmas without
Grandfather, and we had promised him before he
passed away that we would make this her best
When my mom, dad, three sisters and I arrived at
her little house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of
North Carolina, we found she had waited up all
night for us to arrive from Texas. After we
exchanged hugs, Donna, Karen, Kristi and I ran
into the house.
It did seem a little empty without Grandfather,
and we knew it was up to us to make this
Christmas special for her. Grandfather had
always said that the Christmas tree was the most
important decoration of all.
So we immediately set to work assembling the
beautiful artificial tree that was stored in
Although artificial, it was the most
genuine-looking Douglas fir I had ever seen.
Tucked away in the closet with the tree was a
spectacular array of ornaments, many of which
had been my father's when he was a little boy.
As we unwrapped each one, Grandmother had a
story to go along with it. My mother strung the
tree with bright white lights and a red button
garland; my sisters and I carefully placed the
ornaments on the tree; and finally, Father was
given the honor of lighting the tree. We
stepped back to admire our handiwork. To us, it
looked magnificent, as beautiful as the tree in
Rockefeller Center. But something was missing.
"Where's your star?" I asked.
The star was my grandmother's favorite part of
"Why, it must be here somewhere," she said,
starting to sort through the boxes again. Your
grandfather always packed everything so
carefully when he took the tree down."
As we emptied box after box and found no star,
my grandmother's eyes filled with tears. This
was no ordinary ornament, but an elaborate
golden star covered with colored jewels and blue
lights that blinked on and off. Moreover,
Grandfather had given it to Grandmother some
fifty years ago, on their first Christmas
together. Now, on her first Christmas without
him, the star was gone, too.
"Don't worry, Grandmother," I reassured her.
"We'll find it for you."
My sisters and I formed a search party.
"Let's start in the closet where the ornaments
were," Donna said. "Maybe the box just fell
That sounded logical, so we climbed on a chair
and began to search that tall closet of
We found Father's old yearbooks and photographs
of relatives, Christmas cards from years gone
by, and party dresses and jewelry boxes, but no
star. We searched under beds and over shelves,
inside and outside, until we had exhausted every
possibility. We could see Grandmother was
disappointed, although she tried not to show
"We could buy a new star," Kristi offered.
"I'll make you one from construction paper,"
Karen chimed in.
"No," Grandmother said. "This year, we won't
have a star."
By now, it was dark outside, and time for bed.
We lay in bed, snowflakes falling quietly
outside. The next morning, my sisters and I
woke up early, as was our habit on Christmas
Day--first, to see what was under the tree, and
second, to look for the Christmas star in the
After a traditional breakfast of apple pancakes,
the family sat down together to open presents.
Father was in charge of passing out the
presents, so that everyone would have something
to open at the same time.
I got the Easy-Bake Oven I wanted, and Donna a
Chatty-Cathy doll. Karen was thrilled to get
the doll buggy she had asked for, and Kristi to
get the china tea set.
"The last gift is to Grandmother from
Grandfather," he said, in a puzzled voice.
"From who?" There was surprise in my
"I found that gift in Grandfather's closet when
we got the tree down," Mother explained.
"It was already wrapped so I put it under the
tree. I thought it was one of yours."
"Hurry and open it," Karen urged excitedly.
My grandmother shakily opened the box. Her face
lit up with joy when she unfolded the tissue
paper and pulled out a glorious golden star.
There was a note attached. Her voice trembled as
she read it aloud:
"Don't be angry with me, dear. I broke your
star while putting away the decorations, and I
couldn't bear to tell you. Thought it was time
for a new one. I hope it brings you as much joy
as the first one. Merry Christmas. Love,
So Grandmother's tree had a star after all, a
star that expressed my grandparents' everlasting
love for one another.
It brought my grandfather home for Christmas in
each of our hearts and made it our best
~ Author Unknown ~