Fourteen fresh pairs of eyes stared up at the plump figure in red. Miss Molly gazed down at them with wild enthusiasm. She’d spent the entire week since decorating the classroom for Christmas and selecting appropriate music. None of the other teachers went to so much trouble, but Miss Molly thought it was well worth it. The kinder-garden Sunday school of Liberty Lutheran Community Church was transformed. The dulcet tones of Silent Night (sung by children’s choir with xylophone accompaniment) danced in the air. Oatmeal cookies had been dyed green for the occasion, paper snowflakes dangled on strings, and organic cranberry juice filled an icicle punch bowl.
Her masterpiece, the Christmas cross, dominated the room.
She was a stickler for authenticity and it was the actual size of the crucifixion cross. The Bible wasn’t specific about what type of wood it was made from, but historians had a few good guesses. She’d decided on two large beams of cedar. It gave off a pleasant smell when she cut the notches to join them. The lumber had lashed together easily enough, but she’d had difficulty figuring how to stand it up. She had put out a call for some volunteers from the church but hadn’t gotten any responses. Everyone was too busy shopping for the holiday. It annoyed her, that nobody wanted to prioritize a more appropriate type of decorating. But after four trips to the hardware store, some ropes, pulleys, and a bit of bracing, and she managed to get it upright on her own(even if a few ceiling tiles had to be removed to fit it).
Once it was in place, the fun began.
She strung it with lights, hung ornaments off the beams, and draped garland around it like a candy cane. Alternating red and green spotlights illuminated it and a glowing blue star adorned the top. Red tinsel dribbled from the three iron nails where the hands and feet were.
The Christmas Cross was quite a sight.
When Sunday came the whole congregation was surprised. Parents stopped to look as they dropped their kids in the class. Other folk poked their heads in to give it a look. Most raised their eyebrows and looked surprised before heading off to their own classes. Some told her how creative she was. Pastor Mike, always fiscally responsible, had other concerns.
“Did you build this with your classroom budget?” He asked.
“Oh, no! All out of pocket. No cost to the church. My gift to the little ones.”
He looked at it and blew out a long sigh. “I wish you’d run it by me. Are you sure it’s stable? It looks heavy. I wouldn’t want it to fall on anyone.”
Molly walked over and slapped it roughly on the side. It didn’t budge. “Solid as a rock! A firm foundation.”
Pastor Mike looked like he wanted to say more, but bit his tongue. “Alright then. You should get your class going.”
He left, Molly ushered out a few spectators and lingering parents, and clapped her hands to gather the children. She sat down in a tiny plastic chair, her masterwork looming behind her, the kids down in front of her on floor mats.
“So who here can tell me what special day it is next Sunday?”
“Christmas!” They shouted.
“Oh yes, Christmas! So what happens on Christmas?”
This question prompted a louder response and several boys leapt to their feet. “Presents!”
“You’re right! Ok, lets sit and settle. So, with hands raised, who can tell me why we get presents on this special day?”
Fourteen hands shot up. She pointed at a squirming blond boy.
“Phil, why do we get presents?”
“Because Santa comes!”
She frowned. “Now Phil, you know something special happened on Christmas. Maybe Kayla can tell us. Kayla?”
Kayla answered with confidence. “Once a year, while everyone is sleeping, Santa gives presents to all the good kids.”
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