Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt


Chapter Two Part Two

By Ruth O'Neil
Not wanting to dwell on that memory, I quickly continued on the winding path through the woods. A breeze swirled around me, chilling me to the bone. I snuggled deep into my coat and remembered how Grammie had once walked down this path on a windy day, holding our two small hands in her own.
“Do you hear that?” she had asked.
“I hear the leaves in the trees,” Lauren had answered.
“That’s right. Do you know what they’re saying?”
“Grammie,” I said, “trees don’t actually talk.”
“Oh, but they do. They’re singing and praising God, their Creator.”
“Grammie, that’s silly.” Even Lauren had a hard time believing it.
“I’ll show you the verse that proves it when we get back to the house.”
At the end of the path was the hill where we used to take Grammie and Gramps on picnics when they came to visit. In the winter months, we would sled down that same hill and exhaust ourselves climbing back up, only to slide down again. We would do this over and over again.
I laughed out loud as I remembered the pricker bushes at the bottom of the hill. Somehow, Lauren always used to end up in their grasp. The briars would be stuck to her coat, her hat, and her hair, and Lauren would cry as Mom removed them. Lauren and I had raced down that rise during the other seasons of the year when no snow lay on the ground. I looked around, just to make sure no one was watching me, before throwing caution to the wind and running down—arms outstretched—like I used to do. For a moment, I felt young and carefree once again. Back at the house, I read the other note Grammie had left for me in this package. 

Dear Gracie,
I hope you have enjoyed your trek around the old home place. Sure brings back a lot of memories, doesn’t it?
Now, do you remember the tree fort you girls built in that huge maple tree in front of the house? I had a little help, so you should find a ladder to make your climb easier. I left a special gift for you there.
I love you,

I looked to the front of the house. I had forgotten about the maple tree fort. In fact, there were two huge maples shading the house in the heat of summer. One of the trees stood closer to the road. That was the tree where Lauren and I had built our fort. The other tree was precariously close to the window of our bedroom. I took a deep breath and walked toward the tree fort, then I climbed the ladder and sat down on the dusty platform. Another memory rushed back: Lauren screaming as her hair got caught in the maple tree branches. I tried to release her tresses but eventually had to fetch Mom, who had been forced to cut Lauren’s hair free. I remember Grammie laughing on the phone and muttering something about Absalom in the Bible. It was about the only time in our lives that Lauren and I looked a little different.
A chilly breeze blew and fluttered the couple of leaves that were still hanging on for dear life. Something else moved in the breeze and caught my eye. A Christmas ornament. I reached out for it. Not just any old ornament, mind you. A “God’s eye,” just like the one Grammie had taught us to make one cold, blustery day when we couldn’t go outside. After that, we had made one every year, taking small but sturdy branches from the tree, crossing them, and then wrapping various colors of yarn around them. Some years there were three colors; one representing each of us. Some years there were only two colors, representing my sister and me.
A single tear slid down my cheek.
Clutching the God’s eye, I climbed down from the tree. I’d had enough of my visit to my childhood home. Even here, pain hovered around every corner. Driving back, the cheerful Christmas music grated on my nerves. I switched the radio off. Grammie always used to pray in the car, and for a fleeting moment I considered doing the same. Then I remembered that God and I were not exactly on speaking terms. As the miles crept past, I tried—in vain—to capture all the memories this visit had unleashed, and push them back deep into the dark recesses of my heart. Another envelope awaited. 

Read Chapter Three Part One by J.A. Marx on her blog today!


The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.


Read More:

Learn more about this fun project at Write Integrity Press.

J.A. Marx is the Featured Author today at WIP, so drop by to read her Favorite Christmas Memory and Recipe.

Don’t forget to pop over to Magnificent Hope’s Christmas Party! We’ll see you there.







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