The days went by slowly, and the big house seemed very empty without Grandpa. Buddy missed him coming home everyday and instead could only look forward to him stopping at the door to leave food and whatever else Buddy and Grandma might need. Buddy would stand at the window with Susie and wave to him, but it wasn’t the same. The days were long, and Buddy didn’t know what to do with himself. When he felt like it, he would think up games to play with Susie, but most of the time he spent on the couch, staring out the window at the snow that now fell lazily on the lawn. It beckoned him to come out and play when he knew he could not.
Grandma didn’t get that sick but she still had to remain inside the house with Buddy until Dr. Tate lifted the quarantine. Only a few days remained until Christmas now, and Grandma watched her small grandson gaze out the window to the houses across the street. Cheerfully decorated trees and other trimmings of the season had appeared in their windows in the time they’d been ill. She knew Buddy was hoping they would be over this sickness before the big day arrived so that Grandpa could come home and they, too, could have a Christmas tree. It would be a sad and lonely Christmas if they didn’t have a tree, and Grandma realized time was getting short. What could she do to brighten the house for the boy?
Still feeling a bit weak but determined to do something to lift their spirits, she climbed the stairs to the attic. There she found the box of ornaments that they used to decorate their tree every year. They weren’t such bright or fancy colorful ornaments, in fact most of them were hand-made of paper, but each one had been made by some member of the family, lovingly and with more care than could ever go into any plain store-bought ones.
How many Christmas trees had she hung these paper ornaments on? Too many to count but she remembered vividly how important each of those trees had been to her, especially those of her own childhood. A Christmas without a tree was unthinkable for herself but even more so for Buddy. There must be something she could do to put the light of Christmas in the little boy’s brown eyes, eyes that had looked so sad and tired theses past days.
Slowly and carefully, Grandma carried the box of paper ornaments down the stairs and set them on the desk that stood next to the staircase. Buddy lay on the couch sound asleep, Susie curled on the rag rug next to him. Grandma’s gaze rested on him a moment before traveling around the front room, her thoughts searching for an idea. Then she spotted the tall plant that stood in one corner. A rubber plant, its leaves big and thick and shiny, and it was Grandma’s pride and joy. She was always babying it, talking to it and caring for it with a tenderness that was sometimes more than she showed her grandson. She knew she hadn’t shown her love for Buddy by hugging and playing with him, but she did understand about children and Christmas, and she knew how great his disappointment would be if there were no tree this year.
She made up her mind. It might not be the best Christmas they’d ever had, and the tree might not look at all like a Christmas tree should, but she must at least try, for the boy’s sake. It was all she could do.