Dear Friends and Family,
This year we have decided to work on a family project as a gift for you all. This is a “pass along story.” Each of us wrote a part, and then we passed it along to someone else, and around and around until we had a complete(-ish) story. We hope you enjoy reading it, and figuring out who added what bits! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Hans, Lissa, Matthias, Sam, and Kinsey
Spike the Christmas Dragon
On Christmas Eve, Spike stretched his papery wings as he clambered out of a hole in the trunk of the Niederer family’s Balsam fir. It had been a long year, and his scales ached as he emerged for this one night of magic – the night which Spike (and all Christmas dragons for that matter) considered to be his purpose in life. He reared up and blew a celebratory orb of fire into the Niederer’s living room, no bigger than the flame of a matchstick. He couldn’t wait to get started.
“I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas!” Kinsey Niederer shouted.
“Just one more day now,” Dad said.
“Can we play hide and seek?” asked the five year old girl.
Sam, the younger of her two older brothers, counted, waiting for the others to hide. Even Matthias, who was eleven and who considered himself “too old” for most of their games, joined in.
Kinsey rushed about looking for a good spot. Under the tree, she thought. When she got under, she could swear she saw a little green-winged shape at the base of the tree. She pushed one of the lower boughs out of her way and squinted. “Spike?”
Now everyone knew that in very rare occurrences a small dragon would sometimes make its home in tree trunks. They were called, as it were, “Christmas Dragons.” When I say that everyone knew about them, I really mean no one did, but they will now.
Spike quickly got inside a present to hide from Kinsey. He couldn’t be seen yet.
Spike was afraid inside the present. So Spike decided to get out of the present. So Spike decided to go outside and fly in the wind and the icy icy snow. But even though he got buried he was not dead. Then he came back inside to warm up.
Apparently, in his excitement, Spike had emerged rather earlier than he had intended. The human family that brought home his nesting tree was still awake, and now he had the challenge of staying hidden from them until nightfall. The small girl had seen him, he was quite sure. Would his acts of kindness count if he was seen? Would his Christmas luck work? He’d never been seen by a human before; he didn’t know! Spike quickly pressed his body against the trunk and curled his tiny spiked tail around himself, trying to hide from the little girl.
“Spike! It is you!” Kinsey said. “I’ve seen you before! Are you a Christmas dragon now?”
Spike opened one eye to look into the girl’s excited face. It was too late. His cover was definitely blown.
“Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, FORTY! Ready or not, here I come!” Matthias shouted. Kinsey ran right up to him. “Found you, Kinsey, heh heh! What are you doing? Go hide. I’ll re-do it. One, two-”
“No!” Kinsey shouted. “Spike the Christmas dragon! He’s in the house!”
“Yeaaaahhh…right. The Christmas dragon. There’s totally a magic reptile in our house. Grow up, Kinsey.” Matthias was the oldest of the three siblings, and he was often mean to his little brother Sam and little sister Kinsey.
But when the boys were really seeing Spike, they really saw him. “He’s real!” the boys said.
Kinsey said, “He looks like the real green dragon you made out of clay, Matthias and Mom put him in the oven and he melted! He must have come to life!”
Matthias and Sam laughed at Kinsey, but that was in fact, precisely what had happened. A year ago, Matthias had pressed a fist-sized lump of green clay into a muscular little dragon with a wide, sloping face and powerful wings. Unfortunately, the clay had not been the bakeable kind as the children’s mother had thought, and the dragon sculpture was soon reduced to a pancake of green on Mrs. Niederer’s best cookie sheet. The children had cried over the loss of what had promised to make a fine new toy for them to share, but something magical and mysterious was happening. Outside in a snow-laden fir grove nearby, just as Matthias’s first tear was dropping onto his t-shirt, Spike was suddenly materializing, alive and as real as can be.
Spike did not know this of course at the time, but this is the way all Christmas dragons come to be. Anytime a child draws a dragon, or writes about a dragon, or molds one from clay, or imagines one in the deep of a dark night, its spirit earns a living body. It hides and waits for the arrival of the next Christmas, the day it can return to its family and repay its gratefulness for being alive. Only, it’s supposed to be a secret!
Spike grunted in frustration and stamped his foot because the people found him. He sighed a little dragon sigh and darted back in the tree. It was then that Kris Kringle himself magically transported four presents down the trunk of the tree, as if it were a chimney and Spike’s hole were the fireplace. The presents were labeled “Matthias” “Sam” “Kinsey” and “Spike.” Saint Nicholas gave a present to him? Little dragon Spike? He brought them out one by one and put them under the tree, except his own, which he left in the opening of the tree to open later. Sam got a little action figure, Kinsey got a rainbow ornament, and for Matthias, a lump of coal.
All the things that Spike the dragon always knew included not to open his present before it was Christmas morning. Dragons use lumps of coal to smash nuts. Real big lumps of coal to smash real big gigantic nuts. All because Spike was a teensy dragon. When he melted in the oven he was always never going to melt again.
Spike felt it hard to believe that coal could be a proper present. He hadn’t opened his present yet but he felt compelled to give it to Matthias. Sure, Matthias had had a less than desireable attitude toward his brother and sister and perhaps that’s why he got the coal in the first place. But this was Christmas, and Spike could see how disappointed Matthias was. He gave his present a push and it tumbled down the trunk of the tree, landing right next to Matthias. The boy picked it up and could see his name scorched into the side of the present. “I guess this one is for me!” he said.
It was fishlegs.
Spike would have loved those fishlegs. But he gave them willingly to make his boy happy. Matthias loved the fishlegs, too, and his heart was suddenly so full of Christmas he apologized to Sam and Kinsey, and they got along splendidly from that moment on. Most of the time anyway.
Do you know what fishlegs are? Neither do we, quite frankly. But it doesn’t matter really. The point of the story remains the same. Spike did not need magic to make Christmas special for his human family. All he needed was a dragon heart full of thankfulness, a heart that knew he had been made to be more than just a lump of clay. To show others love, that was what mattered.