The story is centered around Christmas, the importance of family, learning to make the best out of the situations in our lives, and developing a positive attitude.
Natalie, who now prefers to be called Natty, learns that we all are special and to never give up, and Dad learns that sometimes we all need a positive attitude.
This is a family story with a message for all who read it.
|Product dimensions:||8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.06(d)|
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An Inspirational Children's Christmas Story
By Sandra L. Cole, Rodney Johnson
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 Sandra L. Cole
All rights reserved.
My name is Natty. My real name is Natalie, Natalie Christianson, but you can call me Natty. I don't like Natalie. I used to like it, but it's so—so perfect sounding. Daddy named me Natalie. He always calls me Natalie, his "perfect little angel." Well, I'm not perfect! I used to be, but now my legs don't work right, so you can call me Natty. Oh, they work a little (I have leg braces and crutches), but they're heavy and slow, so I spend most of my time in this dumb ol' wheelchair.
I used to run and play with Scotty McPherson next door and Rebecca Abrams down the block, but that was last year, when I was in first grade. That was before the accident. I guess I was riding my bike too far out in the street. I don't remember too well. I remember waking up in a room with people all around me. It was a hospital. They cheered when I opened my eyes. I had to stay there a whole month—yuck! The doctors and nurses were real nice to me, and I even got ice cream, but I couldn't wait to go home. Ever since then, though, my legs haven't worked quite right. Somethin' about nerve damage, whatever that is. So now I'm stuck here in this crummy ol' chair while my friends, or my used-to-be friends, are out playing in the snow. And if that isn't bad enough, it's only two days till Christmas. This is going to be a crummy Christmas!
Rebecca came by yesterday to tell me what she's hoping to get for Christmas. Can you believe it? Yep! Designer jeans with a Lee label on the back pocket. She's sure she's getting a new Ken to go with Barbie, too. Well, whoop-de-do! Who cares about designer jeans anyway? I suppose her jacket will have a label too.
Scotty just left. He's all excited about the bike he saw in Penney's Toyland department. It's red and white, with no training wheels, and it has a horn with three tones. Can you believe it? Three tones! Whew! Ahhhhh, who cares! My bike didn't have training wheels either, and who wants a three-toned horn anyway?
"Natalie, I'm home."
It's Dad. There he goes, calling me Natalie.
"Get your jacket. We're going to get a tree. Natalie, where are you? Oh, there's my perfect little angel. Why aren't you out helping Mom pack our lunch?" he asked me.
"It's Natty, Dad!"
"It's Natty! Call me Natty!"
"Oh, okay. Natalie, let's get your mittens on, and here's your scarf. We've got to bundle up warm because it's cold outside."
"Dad, what are you doing? I can't go pick out a Christmas tree!"
"Of course you can. Mom has lunch packed, including your favorite cookies. I have the saw, and we're ready to go."
"No, Dad, I don't want to go!"
"But why? We go every year."
"You know! This dumb ol' chair. It won't be the same," I said sadly.
"Ohhh, that's it. Well, Natalie—"
"Okay, Natty, let me tell you a little secret. You're right, it won't be the same; however, we have gone every year since before your first Christmas to pick out our tree. I carried you into the forest when you were a baby, and I'll carry you again today. We're a family, and this is a family outing. And now, little angel, you need to get a positive attitude and make this a fun trip."
"What's a positive attitude?"
Dad thought for a moment. "It's telling yourself, 'I'm going to make the best that I can out of this trip! Whether I can walk or not, I'm going to have fun.' And then you do it! Look for the fun and good things. Not the fact that your legs aren't well yet."
"Yet? They'll never be well!"
"Natalie, positive attitude."
"It's Natty," I said with a frown.
The trip only took thirty minutes since the Christiansons lived at the base of a mountain that was covered with trees. Mr. Christianson was a forester, and he knew the woods well. Natty remembered how much fun she used to have when they'd go pick out a tree. She and Dad would climb all over the hill looking for that perfect tree. The limbs had to be even, without even one missing, and the top had to be just right so Mom's angel would stand perfectly at the top. Natty loved the snow and loved to help Dad cut the tree down. When they were finished, Mom had hot soup and sandwiches to warm them up and Natty's favorite cookies for dessert—butter cookies shaped like Santa, frosted in red and white. It was so fun. At least it used to be.
I don't know about this "positive attitude" stuff, Natty thought, but I don't see how we can have any fun now.
Mr. Christianson pulled the truck off the highway, down a logging road and into a snow-covered clearing. Natty knew this area well. For as long as she remembered, they had come here each Christmas to look for a tree and in the spring and summer for picnics—except for last spring and summer, because of the accident. In the summer, the meadow was alive with butterflies and birds singing. The grass was green and full of wildflowers, and there was a stream where the deer came to get a drink. In the winter, the meadow was a blanket of white, and the air was silent.
"Come on, Natalie—Natty," Dad said as he cradled her in his arms and started off into the woods. "Keep your eye out for that perfect tree."
They hadn't hiked far when Mr. Christianson found a large stump that made a nice perch for Natty to sit and see all the trees. Getting her settled and secure, Mr. Christianson stepped back a few feet and said, "Okay, Natalie—Natty, which one looks good?"
Natty couldn't help but smile. Dad always made things fun, and he looked so silly with those long legs sinking deep in the snow. He went from tree to tree asking Natty how they looked. Were the branches all straight, and was the top level? Natty studied the trees from her perch but found herself particularly drawn from all the symmetrical ones to a small tree that was being crowded out by bigger ones.
"How about that one, Dad?" Natty hollered across the snow.
Mr. Christianson hobbled through the deep snow toward the direction Natty was pointing.
"Which one, Natalie? These are all too big."
"Look, Dad, the smaller one ... there, that's it, Dad, that one."
"This one?" Dad asked, questioning his daughter's choice.
"Yes, Dad, I like it."
"Ohhh," said Dad, stepping back and looking over the tree, "but Natalie, look, it's missing some limbs, there's a bend in the trunk, and the top isn't level for Mom's angel. It's not perfect, and there are others so much better."
The word "perfect" stuck in Natty's heart. She knew about being "not perfect."
"It's Natty, Dad, and I like it."
Mr. Christianson sat down next to Natty and studied the misshapen tree his daughter had chosen. Perplexed by Natty's choice, Mr. Christianson questioned her decision.
"Can you tell me why you like it better than that one?" Dad said, pointing to a lovely, perfectly shaped tree nearby.
"It looks lonesome," said Natty with a sad face. "I bet nobody would ever pick it."
No wonder, Dad thought.
"It will be beautiful, Dad, when it's all decorated."
Mr. Christianson studied his daughter's face and wondered why this tree was so important to her. Noticing his questioning look, Natty said, "Dad, maybe you need to get one of those things. What did you call it? Pos ... posi ... positive something."
"You mean a positive attitude?" Dad said with a chuckle.
"Yes, that's it! You need a positive attitude."
"You're right, little angel," Dad laughed. "I really need one!" he exclaimed, and he cut down the tree.
When Mom saw Dad heading back with Natty in one arm and dragging the tree with the other, she hurried up the hill to help them. They giggled and laughed about previous treks up the hill, remembering great family times they'd shared. When they arrived back at the truck, Dad set Natty in her chair while Mom got out lunch. The hot soup and sandwiches really hit the spot, especially since they were topped off with Natty's favorite cookies.
After lunch, Mom said, "Hold up the tree so I can see it."
Dad waited silently for his wife's reaction. Natty held her breath. Mom slowly looked the tree all over, up and down and all around. After what seemed like forever, Dad asked, "What do you think?"
Mom looked at Dad, then looked at Natty, and then she said with a smile, "Oh, I think it will be lovely."
Natty wasn't sure her mom meant it, because moms always talk like that, but Natty was sure the tree was meant for them.
As they drove back to town, Mom asked Dad to stop at the shopping mall so she could pick up some last-minute things.
"I'll stay in the car," Natty said as Mr. Christianson pulled into a parking place.
Mr. Christianson knew that Natty hadn't been out in public in the wheelchair. "Oh, come on, Natty," Dad said. "Let's check out the toy department."
"No!" said Natty. "I don't want to go!"
Surprised by his daughter's defiance, Mr. Christianson knew Natty needed to get out and face people. So despite Natty's protests, Dad placed her in her chair and wheeled her into the mall.
The mall was full of life. Christmas carols rang merrily through the stores. Each shop window was decorated with festive lights and animated characters. Despite Natty's scowl, shoppers were smiling and laughing as they greeted others in the holiday spirit. Natty couldn't help but notice all the designer jeans on the rack as Dad guided her chair through the girls' department on the way to the toys. Turning the corner, Natty saw the red-and-white bike that Scotty had told her about. She grabbed for the horn as Dad pushed her by. He stopped to let her squeeze it. Beep! Beep! Beep! Three tones, just like Scotty said. Just past the bike display were shelves stacked high with Barbie and Ken dolls with all their accessories. Natty looked very carefully at all the new outfits. Her eyes stopped on a new Ken. His hair was styled differently, and he was dressed in a ski jacket and pants. Natty was sure that this was the Ken Rebecca wanted. Across the aisle were trucks and cars of all makes and sizes. Hot Wheels and lowriders, fastbacks and diesels. Boy stuff, thought Natty. Bet this is Scotty McPherson's favorite place.
When Mr. Christianson turned down the next aisle, Natty gasped. Right in front of her, in all his glory, sat Santa Claus. Natty reached down and yanked the wheel of her chair so the chair swiftly turned to the left.
"What are you doing?" Dad said with surprise.
"I don't want him to see me!"
"Santa Claus. I don't want him to see me like this."
"Natty," Dad said, kneeling down beside her, "Santa doesn't care if you are in a wheelchair."
"How do you know?" Natty said sharply.
"Because Santa isn't like that. He loves all children. He doesn't care if you can run or jump. He loves children that can't see or hear, even children who have no arms or legs."
Natty's eyes filled with tears as she rolled her chair down the aisle to the Cabbage Patch Kids.
"Natty," Dad said as he caught up with her, "each one of us is special. God gave all of us a special gift to share with the world. Even people who can't talk or walk still have something special to share, and when you shut yourself off from the people around you, you cheat us out of your special gift. Mom and I love you; so do your friends and even Santa Claus. We love you—just because you are you."
Natty stared at the Cabbies and thought about what Dad had said. She wanted to believe him, but what if he was wrong? One thing was for sure: she didn't feel special.
"I have to run over to the auto department. Do you want to stay here till I get back?"
Excerpted from Perfectly Natalie by Sandra L. Cole, Rodney Johnson. Copyright © 2014 Sandra L. Cole. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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