Holly woke at dawn, brimming with anticipation. “Mother Pine! Mother Pine!” she called across the lake to her friend. “I have wonderful news!”
“Good Morning, Holly,” Mother Pine said. “What’s your news?”
“Our guest! I got the word last night! Oh, Mother! It’s Little Pine! Little Pine is going to appear!”
“What?! Little Pine! Oh, my! How can that be?”
“He won a wish, and his wish was to visit us for the festival, and they’re setting up some magical system that will let us see him! He’ll be here in about three days! And he’s bringing friends with him, too!”
Mother Pine pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. She would get to see her Little Pine! What could be a better Festival gift than that!
“It’s true!” Holly said, laughing with glee. “The cardinals will tell everybody today so they can get ready and so they won’t be dazed when he shows up.”
“That IS wonderful news, Holly! Oh! I’m going to make the best, biggest batch of winterberry muffins I’ve ever made. He loves them, you know. Thank you, Holly! Thank you!”
Meanwhile, the cardinals were flitting through the forest spreading the word. You could tell where they had visited already by the laughter that rose into the morning air.
At the pine nursery down the shore from Holly, the young pines who were in training there were giggling and dancing to the eruption of laughter from pocket after pocket of the forest. “What’s happening?” they asked their teachers.
“Everybody is learning that our special Festival guest is going to be Little Pine. Not long ago, he was a young pine just like you. He’s gone to the Home World now, but he won a wish to come and visit us for Festival, and we’ll be able to see him in three days.
“Everybody is excited because they loved Little Pine so much. He was full of fun and cheer and kindness, and wise beyond his years. He made us all laugh and he made us feel loved. He was helpful to everyone, passing out comfort and joy wherever he went.
“Little Pine embodied the Light that we celebrate with our Festival. So it’s a wonderful gift to us all that he will be our special guest.”
The young pines clapped at the story and continued with their giggles and dance. And pretty soon, the whole forest was chanting, “Little Pine! Little Pine! Little Pine!”