As the sun began to sink behind the forest’s western edge, Holly stopped singing her song and hushed the singing trees. “Well done, my friends. I’m sure that everyone knows now that we are in for a special Festival season. Thank you for making the day’s work of preparation so merry! Rest now, and may each of you enjoy sweet dreams.”
The trees had so much fun singing throughout the day that it took them a while to settle down. A few of them were still humming softly as Holly drifted off to sleep.
At first, she dreamed about how alive the forest had been with song. But then her dream grew restless as questions began repeating in her mind. What wishes had been granted? And what guests would arrive?
Suddenly, a gust of wind blew through her dreams pushing her questions aside. In their place, a brilliant white mist appeared. Then, in its center, a vision appeared and slowly came into focus. It was a cardinal sitting on decorated, snow-covered pine branches.
“Greetings, Holly!” the red bird whistled. “I am the Spirit of the Cardinals, and I have come to tell you about things to come. But first, let me tell you how much the cardinals of your forest enjoyed the singing today. It filled them with special joy, and they were astonished at all the preparations that the forest’s inhabitants were able to do as they sang.
“I, of course, am a dweller of the Home World. You might consider me a certain kind of angel. My spirit watches over all the cardinals of your world. Those who make a home in your forest find it a delightful place, and I must say that I can see why. It’s a place of great friendship and peace.
“Not long ago, a special member of your forest returned to the Home World, and from him we have learned much about the depth of friendship and kindness here. I am speaking about your old friend Little Pine.”
Holly gasped at the mention of Little Pine’s name. She had been thinking about him all day, imagining what delight he would have taken in the forest’s song. To hear about him now from the Cardinal Angel gave her quite a start.
“Little Pine was recently granted a wish, based on the extraordinary cheer he spread wherever he went here in the Home World. His wish was to be able to return here for a visit during your Festival season. And I am very pleased to tell you that he is on his way.
“He will not appear as a solid, earth-tree. But the vision of him will be clear to everyone who lives here. And he is bringing with him some of the new friends he’s made in the Home World. He’ll introduce them to you when he comes.
“In your time, it will take about three days for the system that will make him and his guests visible to you to work its magic. So you have some time to prepare for his coming, and I have arranged for all the cardinals in your woods to spread the word that he will soon arrive.
“I am very honored to share this announcement with you, Holly. I understand that you hold a special place in Little Pine’s heart. He wanted you to be the first to know.
“Rest well, now, child, in the peace of the love that connects us all. Good night.”
And with those words, the vision of the Cardinal Angel faded and Holly fell into a soft and beautiful sleep.