After spending some time in this part of the forest with her traveling companions and introducing them to her old friend Sora the white owl Little One thinks it is time to move on again.
L’Uni, the young Unicorn and one of Little One’s traveling companions is ready to go. Eagle Tom and the Doves, Peace and Love have returned and ready to join them. Mary is Little One’s Guardian Angel and always with her. She says “Today is Christmas Eve. I know we are going to find a special place to rest tonight.”
Little One smiles and goes over to Sora to say goodbye. As usual Sora is happy to let Little One pet her. She quietly tells Sora “I’m so glad to see you again, but we need to be on our way. Goodbye for now.” As Little One begins to walk away Sora slightly raises a wing as if to wave goodbye.
“OK, let’s go” says Little One, and off they go again.
It is a cold, cloudy day. Thankfully she has the shoes and socks, and some clothes Martha gave her to keep her, at least a little bit warm.
As L’Uni leads them through this beautiful forest Little One thinks of what Angel Mary told her about Christmas, that it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the son of God. She was told how many people celebrate this special occasion. She was a toddler when she lost her parents in a remote forest and began her journey alone. Spending most of her time in the forests and through country areas she didn’t spend much time with people, in their homes, and never during what would be holiday times.
“Mary, I’m excited to see where we stay tonight”
Angel Mary replies “I believe it is going to be lovely. I think this time may be an opportunity for a change in your life.”
Little One stops walking. She is quiet and deep in thought wondering what this could mean. All her companions wait for her. She finally asks “What do you mean Mary?”
Mary says “I am not exactly sure just yet about the details, but I know it will be good…if you choose to take the chance and go with the change.”
Little One asks “You mean I will be able to say yes or no?”
“Of course Little One, you always have a choice, and there will be many throughout your life. But remember, as long as you ask God for His guidance, and listen with an open mind, heart, and spirit then you will know the choice He wants for you.”
Mary watches Little One in quiet thought. Then she continues…
“As long as you do your best in life and follow God’s path you will be truly blessed. I know you are going to be a real blessing in the lives of the people you touch.”
Little One finally says “I will do my best to always follow Him. And I know you will always be with me, even when I can’t see you.”
Angel Mary smiles as she says “Yes I will. Let’s move on. We need to get to where we are meant to be tonight before dark.”
“Ok” says Little One and off they go.
It is quiet here in the forest, except the occasional sound when Little One steps on leaves and twigs. Her feathered friends are flying high above the trees so she can’t see them.
If anyone could see Little One they would think she is alone since they cannot see L’Uni, or Angel Mary.
Right now Little One is content not talking with her friends as she enjoys the quiet and occasional sounds of nature.
Earlier the sun was out, but now there are low, grayish clouds. It is colder, but Little One hardly notices because she watches the occasional woodland creatures go about their business. Some stop and look at her for a moment, and sensing she is okay they continue on their way. Little One smiles at them because she has always loved all animals.
There isn’t much left of the snacks Martha gave her so she keeps them for later. Little One knows how to find food in nature since she spent the first few years of her life in the forests. She looks around and finds some late berries. She picks several and eats them as they walk.
Just as she is finishing the last of the berries she notices white flakes falling from the sky. Her face lights up and she exclaims “Oh, they are so beautiful. I really like it when they appear and cover the ground. It looks so lovely.”
Mary asks her “Do you know what those are called?”
“No” replies Little One.
“They are called snowflakes, and when they cover the ground it is just called snow. It really is lovely when everything is covered in white.”
Little One asks “What is white?”
Mary realizes that Little One doesn’t know that colors have names. “White is a color. Those trees over there with the green needles on them are called Pine trees. They stay the color of green all year. The other parts of the trees are brown.”
Mary tells Little One about the seasons of the year and explains different colors by show and tell.
As they continue walking the snow fall is getting heavier. The ground and trees are covered. It is also getting colder. Angel Mary notices Little One is shivering. She also sees L’Uni is looking back at them as if to make sure they are nearby.
Mary tells Little One “I think we are close to where we will stay for the night.”
Little One says “I’m glad because I am cold. I see L’Uni checking on us and I bet she knows we are almost there.”
Here come their feathered friends who had been off doing their own thing for awhile. Eagle Tom flies close to Little One then heads off again. He does this a couple more times as though urging her to follow. L’Uni has started her usual eager prancing when close to a destination. Following L’Uni and Eagle Tom along with the two doves, the pace is a little faster which is helping Little One feel a bit warmer.
The really tall trees are becoming fewer and fewer as they go. Gradually there are more and more different kinds of trees. There are fir, pine, and spruce trees. Mary tells her they are the kind of trees cut down and used as Christmas trees in homes and decorated for this holiday season.
“Families usually decorate their trees together. There are all sorts of ways to decorate them and many different kinds of decorations. I know someday you will get to share in this tradition.”
Just as Little One is about to say something she stops and stares straight ahead. Her face shows astonishment and joy at the sight she sees before her. L’Uni, Eagle Tom, and the doves are already resting in front of their destination for tonight.
Little One is staring down what looks like a wide path between the trees. There at the end of the path is a beautiful little cottage. It is white with green shutters and front door; a dark green like the trees. There is a lovely covered front porch all across the front of the cottage with four rocking chairs. There are lights on inside and smoke coming from the chimney. It’s late afternoon and the sun is getting closer to setting. With all the big trees around it is getting darker, quicker in this place.
Little One walks the rest of the way and stands at the bottom of the stairs to the porch.
Mary says “It looks like someone is home since there are lights on; and apparently a fire in the fireplace.” She tells Little One to go up and knock on the door.
Her first knock is very timid and surely no one could hear it. She knocks a little harder and waits. No one comes to the door. She notices there is something written on the door, but since she has not learned to read she asks Mary what it is. Mary tells her it says
Welcome ~ Come In
“It looks like the people who live here are welcoming to all who come and may need a place to stop awhile. I’m sure they will be back shortly and ok for you to go in now.
Little One opens the door. She stands in the doorway for a moment taking in the beautiful warm coziness of this place. There is a lovely fire in the fireplace with a couple big overstuffed chairs in each side. A blanket is draped over the back of each chair. Everything about this place is wonderful. It is calm and peaceful, and truly welcoming. She walks in and shuts the door
While Little One is in the cottage L’Uni has gone into the forest and their feathered friends are making themselves at home in nearby trees, at least for a little while.
Once inside Little One looks around and there in the right corner of this room is a beautiful Christmas tree. It is decorated with tiny white lights, an angel on top and two white doves, one on each side of the angel. Little One exclaims “Mary, that angel on the tree looks like you, except you don’t have wings.” She smiles.
She goes over and stands in front of the fire, feeling the warmth of the flames. After a few minutes she decides to curl up in one of the big chairs. She’s tired after walking all day.
It isn’t long until she hears something…or someone. She had dozed off a bit, but hearing something she opens her eyes. There are two people standing in front of her and smiling.
“Hello” says the lady.
Little One says “Hi. I am sorry for just coming in. I did knock, but when no one came, and the door said Welcome, Come In, I thought it would be ok; and I was cold and tired.”
The lady and man smiled. He said “Of course, you are welcome. My name is John, this is my wife Zoe” and touching Zoe’s tummy he says “and she is going to have our first baby soon.”
Little One smiles and says “That is wonderful and thanks you for letting me in your home.”
The couple smile and look at each other with such love.
Zoe asks “Where are your parents?”
Little One explains that she does not have any parents, that they died a long time ago and she has been on her own since then. She also tells them she has met many wonderful people in her travels. They’re amazed this little child seems so mature and at peace being alone.
John asks her “What is your name?”
“I don’t know, but everyone I’ve met calls me Little One.”
“Welcome to our home Little One” says John. “We have some hot soup ready.”
The soup smells so good; there is homemade bread, and hot tea. They all sit down and John says a prayer before they eat.
Little One says “thank you, it smells so good.”
“You are welcome” says John.
Suddenly Zoe touches her tummy and goes “Ooooooh!” And there is a look of discomfort on her face. John asks if she is ok.
She says “Yes. It stopped. It can’t mean much since I have another week or so before the baby is due.”
“Well,” says John “if it happens again, keep track of how long it lasts and how long since the last one. The hospital near here isn’t too far.” She nods in agreement.
They tell Little One that if something would happen they have to go to the hospital she can stay at the house. In fact, they tell her there is another bedroom she can use.
“Thank you” Little One says.
Zoe says “This place is our special place to get away from the city where we live. We don’t plan to still be here when the baby is born, but we have planned other options just in case.”
Little One tells them “It will be really nice if you have the baby here. I’ve never seen a baby.”
Zoe smiles and says “Well, if God decides she is to be here sooner, then she will be.”
Little One says “You know it is a girl?”
“Yes” Zoe says. “There are ways now that the doctors can find out if a baby is a boy or girl.”
Little One is curious “Do you have a name for her?”
“We have named her Grace” says John.
“That is a pretty name” Little One says.
John gets up from the table and puts all the dishes in the sink. “Zoe, you go sit by the fire. I will turn on the tree lights and get some Christmas music going. Little One, you can also sit in the other chair in front of the fire. When I’m done in here I will pull up the sofa.”
Zoe and Little One do as John suggests, and he finishes cleaning the table. Then he gets a few things prepared for tomorrow’s special Christmas dinner as they had decided to have their Christmas day here by themselves, to relax in this their special place before the baby comes. However, with Little One’s arrival they are delighted to have her with them and eager to hear her story.
John is finished in the kitchen and moves the sofa up by the chairs and near the fire. He puts a couple big pillows on one end and tells Zoe to rest there instead of sitting in the chair.
She smiles and gets up, gives John a kiss and says “Thank you sweetheart.”
She is able to sit, but more in a reclining position and more comfortable for her. John covers her lap and legs with a blanket. Little One smiles and enjoys watching this young couple obviously so in love.
The three of them chat awhile, sometimes quietly mesmerized by the beautiful fire.
Zoe has more uncomfortable, almost painful feelings, but says nothing.
John asks Little One to tell them about where she has come from, what she’s been doing on her own. She smiles and begins telling her story. They are amazed at the things she tells them…so far, when suddenly…
Zoe exclaims “Oh my, I think Grace is going to come early!”
John says “Zoe, have you been having pains all this time?”
“Yes, but I didn’t want to say anything because I figured it was too early and they would go away. But now I’m sure and I think it will be soon.”
John says he will go start the car so they can get to the hospital. However, when he opens the back door he sees that it has been snowing heavily and they are snowed in for the night. He tells Zoe they will have to go with plan B and do as they were taught for just this situation. He tells Little One this means the baby will be born right here in the cottage.
Little One asks “Is there anything I can do to help.”
John is delighted she is with them. He feels almost like she could be their child. “Thank you, and I think Zoe would like it if you sit beside her when the time comes.” Zoe smiles and tells Little One she would like that.
John prepares everything they need including extra blankets and a couple special ones they already have for the baby. John and Little One rest in the big chairs, with Zoe resting on the sofa with a nice warm blanket over her. They relax in front of the fire for the moment. John and Little One stare at the fire until Zoe tells John it is time. Before long Baby Grace is born. It is shortly after midnight, and now Christmas.
Although John and Zoe cannot see them Little One sees Mary and another angel looking down at the baby. Little One smiles and knows the other angel is Grace’s guardian.
Sounds are heard outside the cottage. Little One goes and opens the front door and sees L’Uni, Eagle Tom, the white doves Peace and Love are there, but not alone. Sora, the white owl has also come to welcome the new baby.
Zoe and John come to the door after hearing Little One’s excited comment “Look, they came to see the new baby.”
The new parents are surprised and overjoyed that these friends of Little One have come to welcome their daughter into the world. Although they cannot see L’Uni they are witness with Little One to see the arrival of more of God’s woodland creatures coming to join in the celebration. There are deer, a couple silver haired wolves, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks, a mommy and baby bear, and a few others. They gather in front of the cottage and wait.
Angel Mary tells Little One to ask the parents to bring the baby to the door so the visitors can see her. Little One does as Mary suggests and Zoe happily goes to get the baby. She wraps Grace in a warm white blanket and brings her to the door and hands her to John.
John has been standing there in awe at this amazing sight. Now he takes Grace in his arms and says “Dear God, thank you for our beautiful baby daughter, and thank you for this amazing gift of your woodland creatures come to see her. We are especially grateful that you brought Little One into our lives.” As he lifts Grace up so she can see her visitors and they her, he says “We ask your blessings God on our baby Grace and all her visitors who came this day to be with us. Thank you.”
Little One sees L’Uni go down on her front legs and lower her head. They all see the other animals lower their heads as if bowing and welcoming Grace.
Zoe and John are delighted at this surprising occurrence.
Mary says to Little One “This is wonderful for Grace to be born on the same day we celebrate the birthday of Jesus.”
Little One smiles as she looks at this young couple, their new baby Grace, and back at the gathering before them. She thinks to herself that her first Christmas sharing experience is so beautiful and joyful.