When my kids were little, my youngest came home from preschool on Christmas eve with a little rolled up piece of paper, tied with ribbon, and attached to the paper was a little black pipe cleaner spider. When I asked him what it was he told me the story of the Christmas Spider. Here's the story he shared with me so many years ago.
On Christmas eve, a long time ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year... Christmas day, the day on which the little Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner on the ceiling. They had fled to the farthest corner of the attic.
The Christmas tree was beautifully decorated. The poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the little Christ child's visit. Then the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could wait until everyone went to bed and then get a closer look.
When the house was dark and silent, the spiders crept out of their hiding place. When they neared the Christmas tree, they were delighted with the beauty of it. The spiders crept all over the tree, up and down, over the branches and twigs and saw every one of the pretty things.
The spiders loved the Christmas tree. All night long they danced in the branches, leaving them covered with spider webs. In the morning, when the little Christ child came to bless the house, he was dismayed! He loved the little spiders for they were God's creatures, but he knew the mother, who had worked so hard to make everything perfect, would not be pleased when she saw what the spiders had done.
With love in his heart and a smile on his lips, the little Christ child reached out and gently touched the spider webs. The spider webs started to sparkle and shine! They had all turned into sparkling, shimmering silver and gold.
According to legend, ever since this happened, people have hung tinsel on their Christmas trees. It has also become a custom to include a spider among the decorations on the Christmas tree.
I still have the rolled up paper, ribbon, and spider and when I decorate the tree it brings me right back to the day he told me the story and all of a sudden I'm looking into that little four year old face again.