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Mia picks a most wondrous and strange golden ornament

Editor’s note: This is the second chapter of a 12-part continuing, fictional holiday tale, “The Golden Ornament” that is running daily through Christmas. Parents are encouraged to read it aloud to their children.

The outdoor lights dimmed as the music began to play, and the people of Winter Falls began their traditional rendition of “O Christmas Tree.” At the start of the second verse, the massive tree lit up in all its glory with brilliant twinkling lights. The star on top was warm white and as bright as a star in the sky. Even though Mia knew exactly how it would look, she gasped at the sight just as she did every other year. A wonderful sense of calm and peacefulness filled the air in a way that only seemed to happen at Christmas time.

When the song was over, Mayor Rita gave the usual short speech about town unity and family and friends and what Christmas means to her and to Winter Falls, followed by a brief explanation of how the event worked.

Finally, the time had come.

“Pick a good one, honey,” Mia’s mom said with a smile. “You sure you don’t want to just help me with mine like usual?”

“I’m sure. I’m so excited, Mom! I can’t wait to see the type of good deed I can do for someone!”

“How did I get so lucky with you?” her mom asked, giving Mia a misty-eyed smile. “You’re such a sweet and grown up girl.”

“We’re all lucky, Mom. You’ve shown me that. You and grandma. And I think it’s even more lucky that we get to help out when maybe someone isn’t as lucky as we are.”

Her mom gave her a tight squeeze. “Well, let’s go together, shall we?”

Even though the ornaments were all the same round orbs of red or green, Mia just knew that one would speak to her when she saw it. Her mom had already reached in to grab one, but Mia slowly ran her eyes over each ornament. She settled on a scratched up, dented green one. It had character and looked like it had been on some good adventures. But just as she reached up to take it, something shiny flickered and caught her attention.

Buried inside the tree branches was a single shiny gold ornament. Mia had never seen it before; they were always red or green. Never gold. And why was there just one? Mia was already so drawn to its uniqueness and mystery that there was no way she could pass it up. She had to push herself halfway into the prickly branches, but it fell right into her hands when she reached for it. She quickly put it in her backpack.

“Got one?” her mom asked, looking at Mia’s empty hands.

“Sure did. I want to wait and open it in my room at home!” Mia patted her backpack with a smile. She knew she’d tell her mom about the special ornament, but for now, she wanted to keep this mystery bulb to herself and open it on her own.

“Silly girl. If that’s what you want. We can share our deeds over dinner with grandma.”

“Sounds great, Mom.”

Mia shouted goodbye to Brandon and his family as she and her mom began the short walk back home.

She probably imagined it, but as they walked, she could swear she felt a vibration in her backpack, almost as if the golden Christmas ornament was just as excited as she was.

Read the next chapter of “The Golden Ornament” tomorrow in The Vindicator.

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