“Okay children listen up,” said Mrs. Holiday, “As you may know, Mr. Time just finished establishing his new system called ‘time.’ According to him, we have these things called ‘years’ and each year there are 12 of these things called ‘months.’” 

She began to pass around paper and crayons. “Now your next project is to make up your own very special day where you celebrate something. They will be known as a holiday.”

“What are we celebrating?” questioned Hanna.

Mrs. Holiday smiled, “Well, that’s for you to decide. I’m going to pair everyone up and together you can make a holiday about anything you want. Clementine, you’re with Val and Christopher, you’re with Mason … ”

Christopher felt his stomach flip, Mason made him a bit nervous. He always kept to himself and never seemed to want to talk to anyone. Christopher slowly slid into the seat next to Mason. Mason glanced up briefly but returned to doodling on his paper.

“Hey Mason! So what do you think our holiday should be about? I’m thinking that we could have like a tree and people would put decorations all over it. Oh and cookies! We definitely need to include cookies somehow,” Christopher rambled.

“Leave me alone.” Mason got up and moved to a different desk to continue his doodling. 

Christopher felt himself deflate. He spent the rest of the class working by himself surrounded by the laughter of his classmates. When the bell finally rang, Christopher was relieved that he could finally go home, but something was bothering him. As the students filed out, Christopher lingered behind until it was just him and Mrs. Holiday left.

“Mrs. Holiday, Mason doesn’t want to work on this project with me! He doesn’t even want to sit next to me. He hates me!” he blurted out.

Mrs. Holiday simply placed her hand gently on Christopher’s shoulder, “Christopher, do you want to know why I pair you with him? Because you’re one of the most understanding and kindest children in this classroom. And Mason hasn’t been shown a lot of that in his life so far. I know right now he’s a tough nut to crack, but I believe you can do it.”

Christopher left the classroom, forlorn that Mrs. Holiday wouldn’t just assign him a new partner. As he walked into the parking lot, he noticed that all his classmates had been picked up but one: Mason. Christopher’s mom waved to him and he started to jog towards her.

As he passed Mason he paused, “Are your parents coming to pick you up? I can give you a ride home.” 

Mason didn’t look up as he replied, “They’re always late. It’s fine.”

It didn’t sound like it seemed fine to Christopher, but he wasn’t sure if he should pry any further. 

As he walked away, he began to understand what Mrs. Holiday was talking about earlier. An idea was starting to form in Christopher’s head and he couldn’t wait for tomorrow to come.

The next day when Mason arrived to school, there was a note sitting on his desk. When he opened it, there were messages from his classmates complimenting him about his art and how they would like to get to know him better. Christopher swore he saw the beginning of a smile form on Mason’s face.

The day after Mason found a new box of his favorite brand of color pencils sitting on his desk with a bow on top. Mason didn’t realize anyone noticed he lost his old set last week.

Then there was a container of freshly baked cookies on his desk the following day. Mason tried a cookie and felt a warmth that he hadn’t felt in a while. He smiled to himself and noticed Christopher grinning proudly. Mason gestured for Christopher to have some and Christopher happily took one. 

On the day their holiday project was due, Mason found a new sketchbook sitting on his desk. Mason audibly gasped, he never had one of his own before. His parents always refused to buy him one in the past. 

“I noticed that you’re always drawing on the papers Mrs. Holiday gives us, so I thought maybe you could use a place to keep all your drawings together,” Christopher said while sliding into the seat next to Mason.   

Mason looked at him, shocked. Christopher was the one doing all this for him while he had barely said one word to him this entire project. Mason felt guilty, but then determined to make it up to Christopher. He flipped open his sketchbook and began drawing.

“What kind of tree is it?” asked Mason. Christopher looked at him confused.

“The tree you said people would decorate, what would it look like? I can draw it.” 

Christopher sat up straighter, “Oh! Well what do you think it should look like?” 

Mason quickly sketched something and held it up for Christopher to see. Christopher nodded his head enthusiastically and began to list off the different types of decorations that people could put on it, with Mason drawing each item. Mason also chimed in by saying people could put presents under the tree and from there their holiday slowly but steadily came together. 

At the end of the day Mrs. Holiday dedicated time for everyone to talk about the holidays they created. 

Clementine waved around her hand wildly, “Val and me made our holiday about showing love for the people we care about. We’re calling it Valentine’s day!”

Hanna shouted out, “Kayla and I are calling our holiday Hanukkah!”

The classroom erupted with everyone eager to share more about their holidays. Mrs. Holiday turned to Mason and Christopher who were sitting quietly, still focused on adding details to their drawing.

“Christopher, Mason,” called out Mrs. Holiday, “What is your holiday about?”

“Our holiday is about showing kindness to others,” said Christopher, “But uh— we haven’t decided on a nam—”

“Christmas,” Mason spoke up, “The name of our holiday is Christmas.” Mason and Christopher grinned at each other before revealing Mason’s beautiful picture depicting the two boys hanging out around a decorated tree.