Many writers have several arrows in their quiver or pencils in their book bag. When I'm not writing about ricin murder, spies in disguise or narcissistic psychopaths, I let my gentler creatures jump on the page.
One day several Decembers ago I was sun-bathing on Seven Mile Beach at Grand Cayman, when a tiny, alabaster-colored sand crab came out of his hole and batted sand at me!
When I didn't respond, he threw more sand.
He wanted to play!
So we tossed sand back and forth, both of us smiling, til he got tired and burrowed back into his hole.
I never forgot him - I called him Sammy - and want to share him with you.
Sammy the Sand Crab and the Christmas Tree
(For children ages 2 - 102)
Sammy the sand crab was feeling lonely. The storm had washed away his hole in the sand and he had no one to play with.
Then the grey clouds blew out to sea and the sky changed back to blue. The sun came out and the people from the big hotel came back on his beach. Their huge feet made holes in the sand and he scurried into one for safety.
At noon he crept sideways up to the top of his hole and peered out at a little girl. Maybe she would play with him.
He scooped up some sand in his claw and tossed it at her.
"Please play with me," he said. "I'm Sammy the sand crab."
"I'm Carla," the girl said, as she threw back a pinch of sand, lightly, so she wouldn't hurt the little creature.
All afternoon Sammy and Carla played hide and seek in the sand. Finally Carla said, " I've got to go eat supper. Will you be here tomorrow?"
Sammy cocked his head to one side and smiled. "Sure."
It was fun to have a playmate again.
The next day Carla went back to the same spot on the beach and looked for her new friend.
But Sammy didn't show up.
That night at six o'clock, after the sun crept over the edge of the dark blue ocean, Carla stood in the lobby of the hotel with her father, listening to the carols near the Christmas tree.
A tear rolled down her cheek. She wished Sammy could see the beautiful tree.
Just then the tiny crab snuck inside the big door of the lobby, careful not to get under the feet of the people.
Moving sideways with his claws, he finally reached the foot of the tree. It was as tall as the palm tree on his beach.
But this tree was decorated with the most beautiful toys and stars and ribbons he had ever seen!
He scurried over to the lowest branch and carefully climbed past the bells and shiny ornaments until he reached the diamond star at the very top.
"Look, Daddy, there's my new friend, Sammy!" the little girl cried.
The tall man with the kind face looked up. Sure enough, tiny but beaming, a little white sand crab was perched on the star at the very top!
"I knew he'd come back," Carla said, her eyes sparkling. " Now the tree belongs to Sammy!"
"Merry Christmas, Carla," shouted Sammy.
"Merry Christmas, Sammy," she replied.
The little sand crab's ebony eyes were as shiny as the lights on the tree.
He knew he wouldn't be lonely any more.
He had a new friend and his very own Christmas tree.
Thelma J. Straw