- The Snow Globe
The week before Winter break, Room 12 was working hard. They not only had to do their reading and writing and Math, they were also making presents, cards, and wrapping paper.
“It all has to be done before our party on Friday,” Mrs. Wolfson warned, “so don’t play around.”
Today they were making snow globes. Each child had a glass jar from home. On the lid, they were making a scene from clay. Jamie made a tree, with a star on top. Myeisha made a house decorated with lights. Jorge made a snowman.
“Mrs. Wolfson, I don’t celebrate Christmas,” Herman said. “And it doesn’t snow here. Do I have to make a snow scene?”
“No,” the teacher answered. “You can make what you like. But remember, this is a present for someone in your family. So make what they would like.”
“Yes!” exclaimed Herman. “I’m going to make this for my brother. He loves sci fi movies. I’ll make a UFO and an alien. The snow will be glittering stars.”
Mrs. Wolfson rolled her eyes but she didn’t say anything.
Joey was hard at work. He liked art and was good at it. He worked carefully, creating a forest of green trees. He used cotton for snow. He asked Mrs. Wolfson for some glitter and he sprinkled it all over his trees. Then he painted the inside of the jar dark blue on one side and added a large gold star. Finally he added a little deer figurine.
When they were all finished, the teacher helped them put in the water and glitter and she added a bit of glycerin then screwed the top on tightly. The parent helper sealed the tops with glue. And they were done.
After lunch, they admired each other’s globes.
“I really like your UFO,” Mrs. Wolfson told Herman. “I didn’t expect it to turn out so well.”
“And Joey, your scene is so detailed, it almost seems like a real miniature forest.”
“Hey, Mrs. Wolfson, where is Alfie?” Keely asked. “He was on your desk but now he’s gone.”
Mrs. Wolfson smiled. “You’ll just have to look for him,” she said. “Alfie likes to move around.”
Alfie was the little elf who appeared the first week of December. He moved around the room and they had to look for him. No one ever saw him move and no one could catch Mrs. Wolfson moving him. When they asked Mrs. Wofson if perhaps he was really magic she just smiled.
Finally, Limzy spotted the elf, next to the live tree that stood in one corner. “Here’s Alfie,” she shouted. “And he brought a present from Santa!”
The other children crowded around. Sure enough, under the tree was a large box, wrapped in newspaper.
“Why did Santa use newspaper?” Joey wondered.
“Well, maybe he knows we’ve been studying waste and recycling,” Mrs. Wolfson answered.
“I wonder how Alfie moves,” Anita said. “We never catch anyone moving him.”
Mrs. Wolfson just smiled. Then Joey smiled too. He had just had an idea.
That afternoon, just as the class was going out to P.E., Joey told Mrs. Wolfson he had to get his jacket. He went back into the classroom but he didn’t go to the coat hooks. Instead, he walked over to the tree. He looked around then he quickly picked up Alfie the elf. Where should he put him? He walked around the room searching for the perfect hiding pace. Somewhere the elf would be hidden but also could be found eventually. He saw the pencil box on Mrs. Wolfson’s desk. The elf would fit in there. No one would see him until a student needed a pencil then he would be found. Joey carefully put the elf into the pencil box. Yes, he fit perfectly, with just the very tip of his hat showing.
“Hey, Joey, what are you doing? You know Mrs. Wolfson doesn’t like anyone by her desk.”
Joey turned around quickly. Lucy stood by the door. Had she seen him?
“I just came in to get my jacket,” Joey stammered. Then I wanted to check out the snow globes.”
“Well, you had better stay away from them,” Lucy warned. “What if you broke one by mistake?”
Joey grabbed his jacket and hurried out of the classroom.
“What are you doing in here anyway?” he muttered. “Busybody.”
Lucy made a face at him.
After that, Joey couldn’t stop thinking about the elf. One part of him felt excited and proud. No one would know how the elf had moved. Everyone, maybe even Mrs. Wolfson, would think the elf was magic. Another part of him worried that Lucy had seen and would tell on him. But was it bad what he had done? All that evening he felt confused and after supper, he went straight to his bedroom to practice drawing.
The next day was Thursday, the last day to prepare before the party on Friday. In the bustle of finishing their presents and making cards and wrapping paper, the class forgot about Alfie. Until lunchtime.
“Hey,” Anita said. “I haven’t seen Alfie all day. Is he gone?”
“We have a few minutes before lunch,” Mrs. Wolfson said, her eyes twinkling. “Let’s all look for him.”
Joey stole a glance at Lucy but she was looking in her lunchbox. He sighed with relief. She wasn’t going to tell. Maybe she hadn’t seen anything.
The class searched and searched. Then Herman shouted,
“Here he is! Mrs. Wolfson, I found him. He is in your pencil box.”
Mrs. Wolfson came over to look and pulled out the elf. “So he is!” she exclaimed. “I wonder how he got there.”
She looked genuinely puzzled. Joey smiled to himself.
“You moved him,” Herman said. “I know you did.”
“No I didn’t,” Mrs. Wolfson answered. “I don’t know how Alfie got there.”
“Teachers don’t lie,” Jorge said. “I guess Alfie really is magic.”
“Mrs. Wolfson,” Lucy said from her desk.
“I saw Joey in the room yesterday at P.E.”
“I told you I was getting my jacket,” Joey retorted.
“Yeah, but you weren’t by the hooks. You were by the teacher’s desk. I think you moved Alfie.”
“I did not,” Joey yelled.
“Joey,” Mrs. Wolfson warned. She gave him their secret sign by putting her finger by her nose. This was supposed to remind him to calm down.
“Well, she has no right accusing me,” he yelled again. He couldn’t calm down, not with Lucy telling his secret. “I wouldn’t ever hurt Alfie. I love him.”
The class burst out laughing. Behind him, even Limzy was laughing. She never laughed at him, never. And now she was laughing too. “I hate all of you!” Joey shouted.
“Joey,” Mrs. Wolfson said in a sharper tone.
Joey whirled around to face the teacher. As he did, his hand brushed the desk and knocked Alfie onto the floor.
The class froze in silence.
“Is he dead?” Herman asked in a hushed voice.
“No, he isn’t a live being, so he can’t die,” Mrs. Wolfson said. “But he is broken,” she added as she picked up the elf. Her voice sounded really sad. “Oh, Joey, “ she said sadly. “Why can’t you control your temper?”
Joey whirled and ran out of the room.
“Joey”, Mrs. Wolfson called. But he didn’t care. He would run away where no one would ever find him again. Maybe he would run all the way to the North Pole and become an elf himself. But Santa wouldn’t take him as an elf. He had been bad. He had broken Alfie. But he didn’t mean to. No, but he did it anyway. He never meant to. Joey held his hands to his ears and shut his eyes. Shut up, brain! He ran out into the yard and sat in the corner against the building, shutting out the world.
“Hey, Joey, buddy. What is wrong?” Joey felt strong arms around him and heard the calm voice of Mr. Brown, the principal.
“It’s not my fault,” Joey sobbed. “They were laughing at me. I didn’t pick up Alfie, I just bumped him with my hand by mistake. But now he’s broken.”
Joey scrunched his body against the wall and cried and cried.
Mr. Brown just waited calmly by him. After awhile, he said, “Okay, are you ready to walk with me?”
They walked to the principal’s office. He sat facing Mr. Brown, waiting for his punishment.
“Joey, I think maybe there has been too much excitement for you this week,” Mr. Brown said. “Maybe you need a break. Are your parents home today?”
“My Mom is home,” Joey said. “Are you suspending me? Was I that bad?”
“No, not suspending,” Mr. Brown said. “Just giving you a break. What do you say?”
Joey nodded slowly. He certainly didn’t want to go back into that classroom, where everyone had laughed at him. He sat very still while the principal called his mother, then waited without a sound for her to pick him up. Limzy came to the office with his backpack. “I’m sorry,” she whispered to Joey. “I didn’t mean to laugh. I love Alfie too.”
That made Joey feel a bit better, but he still had to face that he had broken the elf. And Mrs. Wolfson had seemed so sad.
Joey’s mother drove him home in silence. Lunch was already laid out on the table. Joey and his mother ate in silence. After lunch, she asked,
“Do you want to talk about it, Joey?”
“No,” he mumbled.
“Okay, maybe later.”
“Am I grounded? Do I have to stay in my room?”
“No. Mr. Brown just thought you needed some quiet time.”
“Can I stay in my room please?”
“Yes, of course.”
Joey went to his room and lay on his bed. He soon fell asleep. When he awakened, his room was dark. He crept down to the living room. His parents were in there talking.
“Come on in, Joey,” said his father. “Did you have a good nap?”
Joey smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, I did.”
“Nothing like a good sleep,” his father laughed. “Are you ready to talk?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“I admit I moved the elf,” Joey mumbled. “But was that so bad?” He still didn’t understand. “I thought it would be cool to do it and even the teacher wouldn’t know how he had moved.”
“No, that wasn’t bad,” his father answered. “At least I don’t think so. But what happened after that?”
“Yes, I told Lucy I didn’t move the elf.”
“Well, lying is not a good idea, “ his father answered. “But I doubt that you were sent home for that.”
“Mrs. Wolfson called,” his mother cut in. “She was really sorry this happened. She knew it was an accident. But she said you lost your temper and she tried to calm you with the secret signal. Instead, you yelled, twirled around and knocked Alfie to the ground, then you ran out of the room.”
“But I didn’t mean to knock him over.”
“No, but you did lose your temper. And we’ve had trouble with that before, haven’t we?”
“But why did Mrs. Wolfson act so sad about it?” Joey wondered
His mother answered. “She said the elf was from her childhood. Her mother started the tradition with her and her brother when they were little.”
“Oh.” Joey looked at his mother. “I broke her family heirloom?” He felt like he would cry again. He began to get up.
“Sit down, Joey. And calm down. What’s done is done,” Joey’s father said. “But we need to talk about what to do next.”
“I could buy her a new one. I have the money.”
“I don’t think Alfie can be replaced.”
“Then what can I do? “
“I think an apology is in order. And all of us think you should probably stay home tomorrow. Although Mrs. Wolfson didn’t want you to miss the party.”
“I don’t mind missing the party. I never can eat the food anyway. I never know what I might be allergic to.”
“So you’ll stay home tomorrow?”
“And I think you need to write Mrs.Wolfson a letter of apology.”
He nodded again. Then he remembered suddenly.
“But Mom, I have something at school I need! Before Christmas!”
“What is it?”
“I, I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.”
“Another secret,” his father smiled.
“But Dad, it’s a good secret.”
“Well, we can go by your classroom after school,” his mother said. “Then you can give your apology to the teacher and pick up whatever you need. I think Mrs. Wolfson will feel better if she sees you. She sounded worried about you.”
The next morning, Joey’s mother let him sleep late. When he awakened and went downstairs, his father was already at work.
“What would you like to do today, Joey?” his mother asked. “You have a free day.”
“You mean I don’t have to stay in my room?”
“No, we told you, you’re not being punished, we just think you need a break. Would you like to bake Christmas cookies?”
“Mom, is it okay if I stay in my room? I sort of feel like being alone today.”
“I understand Joey. I have work to do anyway. We’ll just both have a nice quiet day at home.”
“Could we have toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch? With my kind of cheese?”
“Sure, Joey. Anything else?”
“Maybe one cookie, since I’m missing the party?”
She smiled. “Sure, Joey.”
Joey finished his breakfast. “Well, I think I’d better get busy on my apology,” he said. “Do we have any blank card paper, Mom? I want to make a nice card for Mrs. Wolfson.”
Joey’s mother helped him get the materials he needed.
While Joey worked on his card, he thought about his class. What were they doing right now? Just finishing their work, he decided. He had finished everything, so he would be reading. He could do that at home. He didn’t really miss school today, not even the party. The parties were really just a sugary snack, and he couldn’t have any of the food anyway. Then he remembered the package. He wondered what was in it. That he would miss. Well, he could ask Mrs. Wolfson what had been in it.
He took the card paper and started to draw. He would draw Alfie at the North Pole. He worked extra carefully, putting in a lot of detail. When he had finished, he decided it was a good picture. He really was an artist, like his teachers always said. Inside the card, he wrote,
Dear Mrs. Wolfson,
Alfie wanted me to tell you that he is at the North Pole. And he isn’t broken anymore. Santa fixed him. He is going to be Santa’s special helper, flying in his special globe to visit children in secret and see if they are being good. “
Yeah, but I wasn’t good, he thought. And this isn’t really an apology. But maybe it will make her feel better. Still, I had better add an apology.
So on the other side of the card, he wrote,
“I am so sorry I broke Alfie. My Mom told me he was a family heirloom and is irreplaceable ( he knew his teacher liked big words; he did too and his teachers praised him for his vocabulary). Please forgive me. I would do anything to bring him back.”
He read what he had written, then he added, “I promise to try to control my temper.”
He looked at his drawing and decided to add a globe flying machine next to Alfie. Then he had an idea. He would make the globe. He knew how.
Excited, Joey ran downstairs. “Hey, Mom, do we have a glass jar I could use? And some clay? And paper and glue? And glitter?”
“Whoa, Joey. What are you planning? I think we have all of that. But wouldn’t you like to have lunch first?”
“Oh, yeah. I am hungry. What are we having?”
“What you requested.”
“Oh, boy. Grilled cheese sandwiches! I always see them in the school lunches and I can never have one. Yes!”
When he sat down to eat, he had another surprise. His mother had cut the sandwich into a tree shape and decorated it with little pieces of red and green pepper.
“Wow! A grilled cheese tree!” he exclaimed. “Thanks, Mom!”
She smiled at him. “Are you feeling better”
“Yeah. But I have an idea. I need to work on it this afternoon.”
“What is it?”
“Do I have to tell you?”
“Is it a good secret? Like a Christmas present?”
“Well, not really for Christmas. It’s something for Mrs. Wolfson. An apology.”
“Okay, Joey. What do you need?”
His face fell. “Oh, I’ll need glycerin. I’ll bet we don’t have any of that.”
“Sure we do. Remember when we saved the leaves for the Thanksgiving table? What did we use?”
“Oh, yeah, glycerin! So I think I have everything I need.”
“Do you know what you are doing?”
“Yeah, I think so. I’ll call you if I need help.”
All that afternoon Joey worked on his snow globe. He made a clay figure of Alfie, with different tools to help him on his journeys. He remembered to glue everything, let it dry then put in the glycerin and water and glitter. Then he screwed the top on tight and glued it shut.He went downstairs to the kitchen and found the Sunday comics in the recycle. He used that to wrap his globe.
His mother came into the kitchen. “It’s almost time to go, Joey. Have you finished?”
He showed her the wrapped present. “Yeah, I just finished. Just let me get the card.”
When he came back downstairs, he said to his mother,
“You know, Mom, it made me feel better to do this. I forgot all about school and I wasn’t mad anymore.”
“Yes, Joey. I feel the same way when I write. Creative pursuits can really take us out of our own selves for awhile.”
Joey was very quiet on the ride to school. Was Mrs. Wolfsom mad at him? Would there be any kids still in the classroom to laugh at him? But when they arrived and knocked on the door, Mrs. Wolfson was alone. She smiled at Joey.
“Oh, Joey, I’m so glad to see you! Are you feeling better?”
Joey felt like he was going to cry but he swallowed the tears and said, without looking at his teacher,
“I’m so sorry I broke Alfie. I wish I could bring him back. But here, I made this for you.” He handed her the card and package. “And Alfie isn’t really dead, he is at the North Pole. This explains it all. Well, I mean, I know he wasn’t a real elf and is still broken, but-“
“I understand, “ the teacher answered. “It was as if Alfie were real. But he wasn’t really alive, Joey, so you didn’t kill him. These things happen. But here, I want to show you something.”
She reached into her desk drawer and pulled out- Alfie!
Joey just stared. “But-“
“Alfie is made of wood,” his teacher explained.” Once I got over being upset, I decided to see what I could do and I found I could glue him back together. Look, you can barely see the crack.”
Joey looked and saw a fine hairline crack across the elf. He smiled.
“Maybe he really is magic,” he said, “and knows how to heal himself.”
“Maybe,” his teacher answered, smiling.
Joey grew somber again.
“Mrs. Wolfson, I did move Alfie. But I thought it was a cool thing to do. I thought you wouldn’t know who had done it and might even believe Alfie had moved on his own. Do you know how your face looked when we found him?”
“I know, Joey. That was fun. I suspected you had done it, because you have such a good imagination. And I enjoyed the little game. That’s part of the magic. But you did lie about it.”
“Well, so did you.”
“Joey!” his mother exclaimed.
“No, that’s okay,” his teacher reassured her. She turned back to Joey. “Did I, Joey? Did you ever hear me say I didn’t move him?”
“You said- oh.” He suddenly understood. “You just wondered how he had moved. The only time you said you hadn’t done it was when I did it.”
“Another piece of the magic.”
“Mrs. Wolfson, Mom, I think maybe I am growing up,” Joey said to them.
They smiled at him. “Maybe that will mean you can control your temper better,” his mother said.
But his teacher said, “Joey, there are some things here for you. Here is your treat bag from the party. It’s not food,” she hastened to assure him. “and Limzy’s Mom brought some treats. She said to tell you that the cookies are okay for you. She made a list for your Mom, just in case.” She handed a paper to Joey’s Mom.
“Thanks, Mrs. Wolfson,” Joey said. “I guess I need to write a thank you note But now I need my present for my parents. Only, I didn’t have time to wrap it,” he said to his mother.
“Limzy wrapped it for you,” his teacher said. “She was really sad you weren’t here today,” she added. She handed him his snow globe, all wrapped not in newspaper but in a blue paper covered with silver star stickers. He handed it to his mother. “For you and Dad. But you can’t open it until Christmas.”
“Mrs. Wolfson, will you open your present from me? It’s not for Christmas. It’s, well it’s sort of an apology.”
His teacher picked up the package and carefully unwrapped it. Joey thought she looked really surprised when she saw the snow globe.
“Joey, did you make this by yourself?” she exclaimed.
“Yeah, well you taught us how.”
“Yes, but- oh, Joey, this is fantastic. I will treasure this forever.”
“Unless some kid breaks it,” he muttered under his breath. She just gave him a look. Then she picked up the card and read it. Joey saw tears in her eyes. He didn’t like to make his teacher cry. She pulled Joey to her and gave him a big hug. “Oh, Joey, I will treasure your words even more. Thank you. You have such a great imagination. I hope you will use it to good advantage in your life.”
Joey squirmed uncomfortably.
“Mrs. Wolfson, what was in the package?” he asked.
“Yeah, the one Alfie brought, that was under the tree.”
“Oh, my gosh,” his teacher exclaimed. “We forgot to open it! Oh well, Joey, do you want to open it now?”
His eyes got wide. “Yeah, I mean, yes, please!”
He carefully took off the tape and unwrapped the newspaper wrapping. Inside was a card. He read it aloud. “To Room 12, from Santa and Alfie.”
Then he turned back to the package. There was a large tub of Lego.
“Wow,” he exclaimed. “Everyone will be so happy. We never have enough Lego.”
“Yes, this class likes Lego so much, I – I mean Alfie- thought we needed more,” his teacher said. She smiled.
“Thank you, Mrs. Wolfson,” Joey said. “And thank you, Alfie.” he said to the elf on her desk.
He could have sworn that the elf winked at him.