High atop the world, settled among giant evergreen trees sat a small cottage. Warm, cheery lights streamed from the windows and a lazy wisp of smoke curled to the sky from the chimney. Our story starts here, as chunky snowflakes drift silently from the clouds above.
There was once an old woman who loved to bake. She was a master of breads, a champ with cookies and a whiz with pies and pastries and every now and then, candies. She had been a widow for some years and had no children of her own. When her baking was finished she would wrap them up in bags and trudge down a winding path through the pines to the village that was on a small clearing below. As she meandered down the main street she would let out a loud whistle that pierced the frosty air. Children of every age and size would rush from their houses to meet the old woman. The warm delights brought smiles to all the children and the old woman laughed with delight that her treats brought joy to others.
Some months later during a rather nasty storm, the old woman became trapped in her cottage and was not able to deliver her goodies to the children in the village. She waited days and days for the ferocious storm to end. While she waited she baked. She baked breads with jam in the center. She molded gingerbread men with bow ties made of black and red licorice. Ten different kinds of cookies were next. She mixed each batter differently. Some with nuts, some with chips of chocolate, some with berries she had found in the forest.
On and on she baked while she waited out the storm. At last she came to a stop and glanced about her kitchen. Flour coated the floor and gobs of batter dotted the counters. She sighed as she brushed her hands of flour that coated them, “All of these fine treats will go to waste if I can’t get to the village. Blasted storm! Whatever shall I do?” With a yawn she stretched he old bones, laid her apron down and shuffled to bed.
The next morning she awoke to much of the same. The snow still swirled and pelted down in frozen gobs, pattering on her roof. She glanced out her window that faced the giant pines. She couldn’t see anything but the very tips of the trees through the white. This made the woman even sadder then the night before. Tears began to drip down her wrinkled face as she made her way to the kitchen. She stopped at the doorway, not even bothering to light the lamp, and sighed. “What is the point in baking again if I can’t share it with the villagers?” She walked over to her cupboard. Different spices, dyes, flour and sugars were neatly arranged in glass jars and bottles. Not inspired, she closed the doors and moved to the counter that still had a bowl of candy mix. Standing over the bowl she closed her eyes. She thought about all the children down in the village that would be waiting for her. She saw their twinkling eyes and bright smiles and she passed out her goods. A quite sob racked her old bones and tears flowed from her eyes. Some of her tears dropped into her bowl of candy mix. She sniffled and dabbed her eyes with her skirt, “Now this will never do. Crying will not solve anything old girl! Bake! Baking always helps you clear your head.” With a glimmer of renewed hope she squared her shoulders, grabbed a spoon, and got to work.
Sometime later, the old woman stepped back from the counter. The plain bowl of mix was split into two bowls, one colored red and the other left plain. She dipped her pinky finger in each both to take a taste. “Mmm, not bad at all old girl.” She had added a few drops of mint flavoring to each bowl. “Now what shall I do with these?” For a long while she stood over her two bowls, waiting for inspiration to hit. Finally it did! She poured the mix into long dishes and set them to rest. Once they rested the mix became stretchy, kind of like taffy, but not quite. She decided to take a bit of plain and a bit of red and twined them together. This was quite a difficult task for such old fingers and she made plenty of mistakes. Now this old lass wasn’t one for losing her temper, but sometimes it happens. After many failed attempts to get the candy to stick together she threw hands up in defeat, tossed the broken pieces in the trash and went to bed.
That night, right before she climbed into bed she said a prayer. “If there is anyone up there, don’t know if there is, I hope you are listening right now. I almost feel like giving up. I miss the village children and baking holds no joy for me if I can’t share it with others. I need help. I need and wish for a way to get my goodies to the children. I am old and make the trip in a storm like this. I…” Her words trailed off and she began to cry again. “Oh dash it all! Blasted tears! Well, I hope someone heard me. Good night.” With that she pulled herself into her bad, tucked the covers under her chin and fell asleep.
The night hours passed as the wind howled, creaking the logs of her tiny home. Suddenly a tiny spark of light flickered down from her chimney. It buzzed about the old woman’s head and zoomed off towards the kitchen. It flew about the kitchen, diving in and out of her goody bags. It stopped over the trash can full of her broken candies. The spark then let off a great flash that lit up the whole room and a tiny, crystal-like drop fell from it and landed among the broken pieces of candy.
Once it touched the candies it disappeared. The spark, having completed its mission, faded as well. Leaving the kitchen, once again, dark.