Wednesday, April 20, 2016


An ancient Christmas tradition of beauty and blessing is upheld by a brave little girl and a family of spiders. 

Eleven-year-old Betsy Lobb is ordered to kill her pet spiders, so they will not disturb the Christmas Eve party. But the spiders tell her they must decorate the Christmas tree with their webs so the Christ Child will come and turn them into silver tinsel and grant the spiders another year of life. Betsy dares her parents’ disapproval and threats to the spiders, brings them in to the snobby party, and is thrilled—as are all the guests—to see a small child miraculously appear and turn the artful webs into shiny tinsel. Betsy’s heart is merry as this Christmas blessing brings life and beauty, and she wishes it could happen for everyone on earth.

On Christmas Eve, 11-year-old Betsy Lobb’s mother tells her to kill the pet spiders she had befriended out in the fields after admiring their work. Betsy brought them home to the Lobb’s three-story mansion, but her mother doesn’t want Christmas Eve party guests covered in spider webs. And if Betsy doesn’t kill them, the mother will get her dad to do it. Betsy gathers the spider family in her pockets and takes them to the attic, telling them to hide in the rafters until the party is over.  

Tarantola the spider informs Betsy that he and his family must trim the Christmas tree with webs before midnight when the Christ Child comes and touches spider webs on Christmas trees, turning them into silver tinsel. When the Christ Child does this, he promises the spiders will live another year. Tarantola says that if he doesn’t give his gift to the Christ Child, he’ll surely die in the winter’s frost, and so will his family. Betsy agrees and goes back down to the party, leaving the spiders to spin in the attic. At the party, guests dance around the brightly decorated 12-foot tree, enjoying carols and trays full of Christmas pies and three-layered chocolate cakes. Betsy eats crab dip with sourdough bread, even making her way to the punch bowl a time or two. Glad the spiders are gone, Mr. and Mrs. Lobb entertain their noble guests, shushing Betsy, making her feel like the spiders are her only real friends.

It’s half-past eleven and soon the Christ Child will come. One kind guest encourages Betsy, assuring her that the Christ Child really does come at midnight. Betsy runs up to the attic and is thrilled to find it filled with beautifully cast webs. But with only five minutes until midnight—and fearing the death of her spider friends—she gathers Tarantola and his family into her dress pockets, runs down the stairs, and hurries past guests to the tree.

The spiders scurry up and down the Christmas tree spinning webs. Just as guests begin to scream about the spiders, the grandfather clock strikes midnight and bright starlight shines through the dark window. The entire room gasps as a small child appears next to the tree, admiring the webs artfully cast across the tall evergreen. Betsy asks the Christ Child to bless the Christmas tree. As he touches the webs, they transform into shining silver tinsel. Then the Child disappears in the starlight. Before anyone finds Tarantola, Betsy shuffles him and his spider family back into her dress pockets. Although the others aren’t quite sure what had happened, silver tinsel shines on the evergreen. Betsy’s heart is merry in knowing that the Christ Child has taken every tangled spider web and made it beautiful. Now if only that could happen for each person on the Earth at Christmas.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

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