Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Christmas Spiders

When James was three, he helped me decorate the Christmas tree one evening. The next day while he was at preschool, I realized that we had forgotten the tinsel that we draped over the branches to make it look like icicles. (This was back in the days before we knew that this was not an environmentally friendly decoration.) I quickly tossed a couple of packages of tinsel on the tree and called it good.

When James came home that afternoon, he went about his business, not really paying attention to the tree. But that evening when he walked into the dark room after I had turned on the blazing, multi-colored tree lights, he froze and stared in wide-eyed amazement at the long silvery streamers glittering in the soft air currents. “Shh. The Christmas spiders have been here,” he whispered.

That is a happy memory. This morning I was reminded of it when I encountered several spiders of the summer variety. They seem to be everywhere these days. When I woke up, there was one suspended from the ceiling in the middle of my room, floating like a levitating yogi in the air. I got a cup from downstairs and gently scooped it up and carried it outside to the garden.

When I opened the car door, there was a perfect web stretching from the steering wheel to the driver’s seat. The builder was sitting in the center, ever hopeful in the locked up car. I found a piece of paper and with some regret, destroyed the magnificent creation and carried the spider to the bushes where I thought it would have better luck.

I drove off and had only gone a few blocks when I noticed another web connecting the driver’s side rearview mirror with the car door. The web was already battered by the wind, and the poor little spider was holding on like a bull rider at the rodeo as the web remnants violently vibrated . I tried to ignore it, but after a few more blocks, I sighed and pulled over. I found another scrap of paper in the car, onto which the traumatized little cowboy gratefully clambered. I carried it to the curb and eased it onto a lovely rosebush.

I was briefly annoyed at all the interruptions in my morning, but then I remembered the Christmas spiders. Sometimes when I think back over James’s childhood, my heart sinks with memories of all the challenges his autism presented. I forget that there were also magic times of childhood wonder and delight.

Shh. The angel spiders have been here.


  1. Galen, Your story and writing are beautiful. Diedre

  2. Your beautiful story made water leak from my eyes. I have made Christmas spiders as gifts to hang on Christmas trees. I love the story. I have always been afraid of spiders but always try to spare them whenever possible. They are magical. Thanks for brightening my day. :o)


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