Chapter 4 – Getting the Word Out

Shortly after Brother Elf scampered away, Holly realized she may have asked too much of him. The elves, after all, were among the busiest creatures in all the forest when it came to preparing for the Festival of Light. Now she had asked him to tell everyone about his vision as well.

If only there was some way she could help, she thought. But she was rooted in one place, unable to scurry through the forest like a squirrel or an elf. Her only gift was that of song.

“That’s it!” she said to herself as an idea flashed before her. “I’ll sing the message. And I’ll get all the trees to sing with me! Let’s see. It will have to be an easy tune, and one that all the trees can join in. Hmm.”

She thought for a while, and then she suddenly remembered when a group of human children had come to the lake with their teacher last summer. They picnicked on the grass beneath Mother Oak, and after they ate, their teacher told them a story and taught them a song.

It was an old French carol, the teacher said, about a monk who was supposed to rise with the morning bells to perform his duties. But he had overslept, and the song was sung to wake him. The French version of the song was addressed to Frère Jacques, she said and she sang it to the children. Then she sang the English version, which was called, “Are You Sleeping?” and taught them how to sing it as a round.

Holly hummed the melody to herself and then laughed. It was perfect, exactly what she needed. “Listen, Pines,” she shouted as loudly as she could shout to the trees surrounding her. “I’m going to sing a song, and I want you to sing along with me. I’ll sing it once through, then when I start singing it a second time, you join in—but start your singing after my second ‘Be Prepared.’ I’ll wave my boughs to cue you.”

“Mother Oak,” she called across the lake to her friend. “Did you hear what I just told the pines?” The oak said she had heard and couldn’t wait to hear them all singing.

“Pass the word on to the other oaks, and have them tell the elms and maples and the beeches. We’ll get everyone singing as they work, just as if we were all giant elves!” Holly laughed, imagining her fellow trees
as elves. But then she cleared her throat and began her song.

“Be prepared,
Be prepared,
All who hear,
All who hear,
Wishes have been granted.
Guests will be arriving.
Be prepared.
Be prepared.”

And sure enough, when she got to the “All who hear” part and waved her boughs, the pines joined in. And when the pines got to “All who hear,” the oaks started singing. And before you could say Brother John, the whole forest was awake with song and everyone began their preparations with music and joy.

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