The eight-and-a-half-foot-tall shaggy white bear had to stoop to attach our homework to the naked, cardboard-cutout Christmas tree that stood on a tiny easel next to his desk. Some of my classmates turned red with embarrassment as they watched their ornament join the collection, perhaps feeling their work wasn’t as good as the others. But one by one, our sparkly treasures beautified that silly facsimile until it suddenly shone as Christmassy as a real tree!
Mr. Polar Bear stepped aside and smiled with pride at his new charges as we applauded ourselves. But, as only two of us knew, one ornament was still missing.
“Class, this year there is one team I am giving an A-super-plus,” Mr. PB said.
Johnny Toboggan, Silentnight, and Sugarcookie scanned their twenty classmates, trying to figure out whose ornament had yet to be presented. By then, the rest of the class had already guessed and turned directly toward me and my gloating boyfriend, Tinsel. I sent them back a grin that I hoped conveyed modest surprise and appreciation even though I had become accustomed to standing out in class ever since kindergarten, when I could recite the names of all eight of Daddy’s reindeer backward and forward.
Tinsel, on the other hand, slapped high-fives with Elation and Cookiejar even before Mr. Polar Bear unveiled our shimmering dazzler.
I had come up with the idea to take two candy canes, natch, and join them into the shape of a heart. Then Tinsel and I added a few creative ingredients to make our shiny heart beat like a living, breathing instrument of love.
“This is the most magnificent Christmas tree ornament I have ever seen. Candycane, Tinsel, would you like to share your thoughts about your… I’m sorry, I can’t seem to think of another word for it… magnificent work with the rest of the class?”
I’d never seen a polar bear cry before that moment. I bet no one ever had. Polar bears don’t cry. But this one did. Just one little watery drop that formed in his dark brown eye. He wiped it away with the side of his paw before it could fall.
I’m not trying to brag when I say I’ve always had an easy time in school. But this whole eleventh-grade thing was beginning to look a lot like cake.
“We weren’t even thinking about a grade, Mr. Polar Bear,” I said. “Tinsel and I just thought about our love of Christmas. And then we wished upon a star. That was the most important part. And the heart just kind of shaped itself!”
The class let out a collective “Awwwww,” and I blushed while Tinsel took a few exaggerated bows. But the praise from our peers screeched to a halt as a boy who could not have been more the opposite of my talented boyfriend appeared in the doorway of our happy little classroom.And that, my friends, was the moment Rudy Tutti first walked into my life. I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from my critically-acclaimed book, North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus.
Here's a fun video I found showing you how to make your own sparkly pink Christmas ornament, just like the ones we make in Mr. Polar Bear's class at North Pole High!