“What’s happening? Why are we leaving? Where are we going?” the smallest spider demanded to know, as he scurried after his elders.
“Shush now. Look below and you will see the reason.”
The little spider looked down and saw the woman of the house, the one the human children called Mother, busy with a broom and a long handled feather duster. She was sweeping and dusting all the corners of the floor of the room.
As he watched, she raised the duster and started on the ceiling corners, pulling down the spiders’ webs as she went.
He turned back to see the other spiders squeezing through a small hole in the far corner and rushed to follow suit. Once through, he glanced around the dusty, dark space his elders were calling the attic.
“Why is she doing that?” he wanted to know, feeling miserable. “Those are our homes. I worked hard on my web.”
“Well,” sighed one of the elders. “This happens once a year, at a time the people in the house call Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the Mother cleans the whole house until it is spotless.
Then the Father and the Children come in with a tree, which they stand in the corner of the room.”
“That sounds weird,” said another small spider, “Why put a tree in the house?”
“It seems that the Mother and Father decorate the tree, when the children have gone to bed, ready for someone called Santa Claus to come and leave presents for the children.”
“Wow! But how do you know that? Have you seen it?” demanded the young spiders, agog with excitement. “Can we go and look?”
“No, no. It’s much too dangerous. If you get seen, the Mother will sweep you up with the rubbish. We must stay here, out of the way, until Christmas is over.”
“But that’s not fair. We want to see it. We don’t want to stay here, it’s dark and dirty.” chorused more and more of the young spiders.
“Quiet now, quiet now,” came the calm tones of the much-loved oldest and wisest spider. “Let’s not get into a spin but put our thinking caps on.”
Once calm had settled, she went on. “Now, if you wait until well after the Mother and the Father go to bed, I think it will be safe for you to peep out of the hole, one at a time, to see the tree. But you must be careful not to be seen, even by the Santa Claus.”
The young spiders settled down and listened to the noises below. After the cleaning had finished, they heard the excited voices of the children and the Father coming into the room. A lot of scuffling and banging was heard, finally followed by a ‘Hurray’ from the children. Once the children were in bed, there were a lot of strange sounds and chatter from the Mother and Father until late in the evening.
Eventually, all had been still and quiet for some time, when the oldest spider whispered, “It should be safe to peep now, but take care.”
The smallest spider hurried to the hole and carefully looked out around the room. There in the corner was a marvellous sight to behold: a tall, dark green tree covered in the prettiest things imaginable.
He was so enchanted, he slipped out of the hole and scurried along the ceiling to get a better look. Immediately, the other young spiders started to follow suit, their amazed ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Aaaahs’ rousing the curiosity of the older spiders. In no time at all, all the spiders were scurrying towards the tree, determined to examine this wonderful vision, caution completely forgotten
Looking only from afar soon became unbearable and the spiders started dropping onto the tree and rushing excitedly throughout its branches, examining each delightful ornament and glittering beauty. As they went, they weaved their own silken threads from leaf to trinket, from branch to bauble, covering the whole in a glistening web.
Suddenly footsteps were heard in the hallway. The spiders froze for a moment in terror and then dropped down and fled across the floor and up the walls to their hideaway. Not a moment too soon! As they peaked through the hole, they saw a jolly looking man with white whiskers and a red coat enter the room with a huge sack on his back
He stopped in amazement as he saw the beautifully decorated tree covered in silken spider webs. Santa Claus loved all creatures and knew how important spiders and their webs are. But he also knew that the Mother and Father would be dismayed, even heartbroken, to see their beautiful tree covered in webs, their hard work to make a surprise for their children, seemingly destroyed.
He thought for a few moments, glanced up at the little hole from which the spiders were peeping, smiled knowingly towards them and as he did so, reached out his hand to touch the webs. Immediately they turned to shimmering silver and gold strands, glittering in the moonlight through the window.
He then carefully arranged the presents around the tree and, with a wave at the spiders, quietly left the room. The spiders continued to watch until early morning, when the first shafts of sunlight spilled into the room.
With shouts of glee, the children tumbled noisily down the stairs, followed by their sleepy parents. All stood entranced in the doorway. The silver and gold strands sparkled and shone in the sunlight, making the tree even more beautiful than it had ever been before.
From that day on, people started to add silver and gold strands to the decorations on their trees. Nowadays, we call it tinsel, but not everyone knows they should thank the spiders for it!