This was my grandmother's first Christmas without grandfather, and we had promised him
before he passed away that we would make this her best Christmas ever. 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, my sisters 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 on the beautiful artificial tree that was kept
stored in grandfather's closet. 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 the tree, for it represented the star of
Bethlehem that had led the wise men to the infant Jesus.
"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
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
My sisters and I formed a search party.
"Let's start in on the closet where the ornaments were," Donna said.
"Maybe the box just fell down."
That sounded logical, so we climbed on a chair and began to search that tall closet of
grandfather's. 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
"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, since Santa would soon be here. As we
lay in bed, we could hear the sound of 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 Santa had left under the tree, and second, to look for the Christmas
star in the sky. After a traditional breakfast of apple pancakes, the family sat down
together to open presents. Santa had brought me 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. Father was in charge of passing out the presents, so that
everyone would have something to open at the same time.
"The last gift is to Grandmother from Grandfather," he said, in a puzzled
"From who'" There was surprise in my grandmother's voice.
"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
"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 up 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 their everlasting
love for one another. It brought my grandfather home for Christmas in each of our hearts
and made it our best Christmas ever.