Bram gets out of his bed and feels the cold on his feet’s. He had tossed all night. During the night it became colder and colder and his only blanket couldn’t give him enough warmth. Finally, he decides to get up.
‘Gosh, how cold is it,’ he grumbles and grabs his old dressing gown.
He opens the curtains and tries to look outside. ‘No, hey, what happened to the window. Mom, there’s something about the window. I can’t see through it anymore,’ he calls to Mother, who is busy downstairs in the kitchen.
Mother walks up the stairs and goes to the window. She has to laugh heartily at Bram’s reaction and, chuckling, she says, ‘Well, no, the windows are frozen by the moisture. Due to the cold, the moisture freezes, which is present on the windows. Look, they are just crisp stables, aren’t they beautiful. I can’t remember when I saw this for the last time.’
Bram doesn’t like it. ‘Far too cold,’ he says and runs downstairs.
‘Good morning, Sadly,’ he greets the white shepherd who is waiting for him.
‘Look for your belt Sad, then we go outside.’ Sad owes her name to the fact that she always looks so sad out of her eyes. One day she stood at the door. Mother hadn’t agreed that Bram wanted to keep her, but the dog had looked at her so sadly that Mother couldn’t bear it to send her away
‘First, I’m going to walk you out, then I’ll take care of your food and then … well, we’ll see that again. You know, Sad, I’m going to use my Christmas holiday to buy a beautiful Christmas tree for Mother. I don’t know how, but we’ll see about that.’
Bram takes his shawl and turns it around his neck. When he opens the front door, he looks into a white world in surprise. ‘Now I really dream. Mom, come and see. There are well ten meters of snow in front of the door and it is still snowing.’
‘That’s not so nice Bram. I still have to do the shopping,’ but Bram immediately offers to help her.
‘But can I leave after that, Mom?’
‘Of course, darling. These are just a few groceries.’
Bram looks at his mother, he knows that it is always are the same groceries that he must buy for her. Oatmeal porridge, milk, potatoes and a pound of cheap meat for Sadly. He knows that it’s actually too expensive for them, but Mother always says that Droef protects them and that’s why she deserved it.
‘Mom, I can take the sledge from Aunt Bets.’
The sleigh had been rusting in the sledge for at least two years. Aunt Bets had given him the sledge when he had helped her to clean up her shed. It’s the first time he can finally use him.
Mother looks at him endearingly and nods. She continues diligently with her adjustment work for one of the old ladies, who live further up in the street. Every now and then she did some adjustments and earn some extra money. Occasionally she suspects the ladies that they gave her the work out of compassion. The socks she adjusted were no longer recoverable. Often it made her despondent, but she desperately needed the money and certainly wanted it for nothing, therefore she continued to faithfully restore it. She suspected that she would occasionally have to repair the same socks or sheets. She often felt guilty and thought she must stop doing this, but she couldn’t live without the money. As long as Bram wasn’t big enough to take care of himself, she could use every penny. The worst of all, they couldn’t place a Christmas tree in the room this year. Months in advance she always tried to put something aside for Christmas, but every now and then she suddenly needed something and then had to use her savings again. Although she didn’t have many Christmas balls, something beautiful could be made from simple things.
Fortunately, the Christmas lights are fine. And for the table, she had a few cosy candles to put on during the meal. Her fingers were itching to use the beautiful tablecloth she had once received from her grandmother for Christmas dinner. Together with the candles, the table would look nice.
If she could bay a small tree, what a great and cosy Christmas it would be. Every year she told Bram a wonderful Christmas story from the beautiful book she had once received from her parents when she was a child. Together they enjoyed Christmas Eve. Sometimes she thought she enjoyed it even more than Bram.
Mother lays down the mending work and throws some more coal on the old coal fire. They found the fireplace along the way. She still remembers that very well. Bram was still a little boy. That was the last time it had snowed; she suddenly realized.
Once Bram’s father had made a small sledge and together, they went out to see if they could buy a little tree for a bargain. With his small legs, Bram wanted to pull the sledge himself until he got tired of it. She roamed the city together, but even then, the trees were too expensive for them.
She gave it up when she saw Bram shivering from the cold. Suddenly she stumbled over a mountain of snow. Her foot turned out to be stuck, and when she rubbed the snow away, she was surprised to see her shoe stuck in the lid of a stove. With the help of an old man, they put the stove on the sledge and Bram was put on top of it. What a pleasure he had. He felt like a true king. When she got home, she installed the stove in the small room and until today the stove heated the small room with ease, at least if they could afford wood or coal. Coal was the biggest problem. One day the shopkeeper, from whom she got some wood or coal, suggested that he give her the coal if she would clean his shop each week. Until now that worked well and they got the coal and sometimes some extras, like potatoes and sometimes some apples. She peers through the window and sees that the wind is still blowing the snow down the street.
Bram enters the kitchen and puts the few groceries on the counter. Then he greets his mother and is gone again. Sad rolls through the snow and Bram looks at it. Sadly enjoys it. She happily runs towards Bram, who throws her snowballs, to which Sadly bites every time.
‘Sit,’ shouts Bram and Sadly immediately sits down. She looks at Bram and understands that the game is over now. Bram pulls the sledge behind him and Sadly sees her chance and jumps on top. Lies down and watches everyone who is passing by.
‘Hey dude, you must to let that dog pull. It is not a face,’ a boy calls to Bram.
‘Mind your own business, otherwise, I will send her to you!’
‘It was just a joke. I didn’t want to offend you!’
‘It wasn’t a nice joke,’ Bram replies and shuffles through the snow in the direction of the square.
He hopes that the Christmas tree seller will be there again this year, just like in previous years. To his great joy, he sees the man standing in the square. A mountain of Christmas trees is already waiting to be sold. He pulls the rope hard and the sledge shoots forward. Through the heavy bump Sadly slips off the sledge.
She looks at Bram in surprise as if she wants to say that she didn’t like it.
‘Come on, hurry up,’ take her belt and runs with the rope from the sledge in his other hand to the mountain of Christmas trees.
The customers are crowding to admire and buy the most beautiful tree. The seller calls that he has enough and that they are all good quality. ‘Wait for your turn,’ he shouts, and then it becomes quieter.
‘Can you bring him to my home, asks a woman in a faux fur coat?’
‘Well, no, ma’am, I can’t do that. You bring the tree yourself or have someone bring it home for you,’ and that was exactly the moment where Bram had been waiting for.
‘Madam, I’d like to bring the tree home for you,’ and stands in between the woman and the seller.
The man looks doubtfully at him and asks, ‘How old are you?’
‘I’ve been almost ten years. I can handle it. Look and this is Sad. She helps me deliver the tree safely to your customers home.’
The man rubs his chin and thinks deeply. The woman jumps into the breach for Bram and says: ‘Well then, you get a euro if you safely deliver this tree to my home,’ she gives the address and walks away without waiting for his answer.
The man is still looking at Bram, but the other customers are grumbling that she wanted to be helped.
He gives Bram a pat on his head and says: ‘It looks like you have a job. Take this Christmas tree to this address and then come back. I can use you; do you want that?’
Well, he didn’t have to think long about that. He put the tree on the sledge and together with Droef they pulled the sledge through the deep snow on the way to his first earned money.
When he arrives at the address, he rings and waits patiently for the door to open. The woman was very kind to Sadly and him. Sadly can even come inside. Bram does not hesitate and helps her to put the tree firmly in the corner of the room.
‘It stands firm, ma’am it just fits. But now I must go again, because the Christmas tree seller has much more work for me to do,’ but when he wanted to run away, he was stopped by her.
‘Don’t you forget anything. You helped me very well. Here you have a coin. You deserve it.’
He puts the coin deep in his pocket and says, ‘Thank you, ma’am and goodbye.’
The woman looks at him with a smile and closes the door.
Bram strains Sad for the sledge and sits on top of it himself.
‘Run Sad, maybe there is more to earn whit this job.’
The seller sees them coming and when it is quiet for a while he says: ‘If you continue to do your best, you will get a nice tree from me. Go and pick one and then put it safely behind the caravan,’ Bram is looking for a nice tree, but not too large. ‘So Sad, this one is very beautiful,’ and he puts it safely behind the caravan. There he is safely out of sight of the customers. He is almost certain that if they saw this tree, they would want to buy it. No, this is for him. What would mother be surprised if he came home with the tree?
He gets a lot of assignments, but it is not always without danger. Every now and then he encounters boys who wanted to steal the tree from him, but luckily, he has Sadly with him and when they see her they quickly withdraw. Once he rang a customer’s doorbell and for a moment, he hadn’t paid attention. He had heard someone walk through the snow behind him, but he didn’t pay attention to it.
After all, Sad stood by the sledge and they wouldn’t dare to steal the tree. He rings the doorbell, and a man appears in the doorway. ‘Hello Sir, I’ve come to bring your Christmas tree,’ but when Bram walked back to pick up the Christmas tree, he was gone. Bram just saw a boy running around the corner with his tree. He looks at Sadly and wanted to give her a lecture, but then he sees that they had tied up her to an iron fence. Sad was licking his mouth and Bram realized that they had lured her away with something tasty. He loosened her up and realized that they had a problem now. The client who is waiting for his tree suddenly stands in front of him and asks where the tree is.
‘They stole him,’ Bram stutters.
‘Well, what kind of dog is that? A lap dog or something and how are you going to ensure that I get my tree back. I want back the same tree and you make sure I get it, otherwise, I go to the seller to tell him that you have no sense of responsibility,’ and he walked angrily into his house.
Bram is in defeated! He doesn’t know what to do to solve this problem. He could now also forget the tree that he had reserved for mother.
‘Come on Sad, you can’t help it. It’s a pity, but again, no Christmas tree this year.’
He puts his hand in his pocket and takes out the money he had already earned. He counted the money, but it wasn’t nearly enough to buy a tree for it.
Sad looks at him with a vague look and puts her snout in his palm and barks at him. Bram doesn’t understand what Sad wants, but when she suddenly pulls away and starts running, he runs after her. Carrying the sledge behind him, he runs and slides over and through the snow. Sad stays at every corner, sniff the floor and just like Bram almost caught up with him, she runs forward again.
‘Wait for me. I can hardly keep up with you and I am out of breath.’
It looks like that Sadly understands him. Suddenly she stops and takes a few steps back. When she sees Bram coming, she lies down. Bram knows what this meant, after all, he had trained her himself. Carefully he looks around the corner and further on he sees a group of boys standing. Bram is not sure what to do now. Besides, he would also have to prove that they had stolen the tree.
Sad stands up and sneaks up to the boys.
‘Don’t do it, let it go. They’ll hurt you,’ whispers Bram.
But Sadly knows what she’s doing and with a raised upper lip she walks up to the boys.
One of them sees her coming and hides behind a wall. Also, the others run away and hide now. Sad remains in front of the gate and starts barking. Bram is now cheeky and stands beside him.
‘Calm Sad. But keep an eye on them.’ Bram discovers one of the boys and calls. ‘He you there, yes you on that fence over there. Where is that tree that you have stolen from my sledge? I want to know now, otherwise I will send my dog to you. Don’t think she can’t catch you at that height, she’s trained for this,’ shouts Bram.
He sees the fear in the eyes of the boy, who no longer dares to say any word.
Suddenly another boy, who is hiding in a tree answer. ‘The tree is still here. It was just a joke. We had certainly given it back to you.’
‘Yes, yes, a joke. Not a donkey would consider that to be true. Here that tree and quickly, otherwise I will send my dog,’ answers Bram.
One of the boys throws the tree over the wall and satisfied Bram and Sadly leaves the street.
Again, Bram rings at the doorbell from the customer, who is visibly satisfied and happy with his tree. Just like the previous customer, he gifs Bram some extra money for the delivery. Together with Sadly, he runs back to the square. In the meantime, it has become quite late and the man is sending him home.
‘Don’t you go home,’ Bram asks.
‘No, boy, that wouldn’t be so smart. When I come back tomorrow, there is a good chance that there’s no tree left. Come back tomorrow, the last day before Christmas there is still plenty of work to do.’
Before Bram goes home, he looks behind the caravan one more time. His tree is still there and tired and satisfied he walks together with Sadly to home.
The last day before Christmas has arrived and those who are not yet in possession of a tree want to buy one. Bram is busy with Sadly. They deliver tree after tree for the buyers. The seller always hands him the address where he must to deliver a tree.
‘Well Bram, this is the last delivering for today. This one must be delivered to that large house, just outside the village. Do you want to do that?’
Bram nods and the seller tells him that the last trees are sold for half the price. ‘Go soon. As you can see, it is still very busy here.’
Bram pulls the sledge behind him. He feels the cold wind blowing through his jacket. Sadly bows her head and defies the snow that blows madly against her snout. ‘It is very cold, isn’t it Sad. Let’s go get something tasty at the bakery and a nice piece of fresh meat for you at the butcher. We deserve that, after all that hard work we have done.’
At the bakery, he buys a tasty crispy pretzel for himself and eagerly bites into it. Outside he picks up the sledge and walks further into the butcher shop. ‘I want to buy a piece of meat for my dog.’ he says to the butcher.
The butcher looks at him and asks how heavy it must be. He recognizes Bram because he was in the same kindergarten as his daughters. He could remember the day his two daughters had come home crying. They told that Bram’s father had an accident. Every time he had to take the bus on the road, they had begged him to be careful because they were afraid something would happen to him too. He had always remembered that period. His daughters had never mentioned a dog.
The accident had caused a great deal of stirring in the village.
In the end, the municipality had done something about that dangerous crossing, but that meant that a child would have to grow up fatherless first.
‘My dog is a big white shepherd. I want that much meat for her. She has worked so hard for me. We have brought Christmas trees around and now that I have earned some money, I treat myself and my dog,’ he proudly says.
‘Well, it must be beef then,’ says the butcher.
‘Why beef, butcher?’
‘Because dogs are not allowed to eat pork. That is not good for them and because your dog has worked hard, she needs it. It contains a lot of fibre and certain nutrients, which is also good for its fur. Isn’t it her?’
‘Yes, sir, she is.’
Bram looks around and the butcher stands behind his chopping block.
‘Give me a large piece of meat,’ said Bram.
Moments later, the butcher returns with a few large pieces of meat and puts it in a bag.
‘Look, she will love this, you should give your mother what is left over. Then you also have a nice meal at Christmas.’
‘How much money do you get from me,’ Bram asks and takes his earned money out of his pocket.
‘Nothing, boy, it’s Christmas Eve. Your mother and you deserve this. What is your name?’
‘My name is Bram and my dog’s name is Sadly Sir. She will love it and also my mother.’ He kindly thanks the butcher and leaves the store. The butcher watches him, not knowing that he had done so much good. Although, he knows that the mother of Bram does not have much money to spend. The boy’s coat and shoes needed to be replaced.
Maybe I should ask Elly if she knows where the boy lives, maybe I could do a little more for him and his mother. He decides to call his wife.
Outside Sad patiently wait for Bram. If you didn’t know she was lying there you wouldn’t even see her. Her fur is so white and beautiful in the snow.
‘Oh no, not again.’ Bram drops the bag whit meat and discovered that the last tree they had to deliver had disappeared.
‘No, not again. Why doesn’t Sadly respond? Those bastards,’ Bram grumbles.
Sadly is sniffing at the bag of meat, but Bram is angry at her and says: ‘No Sorry, you get nothing. Once again you haven’t paid attention and we have lost another tree.’
But Sadly doesn’t understand what Bram intend and she keeps wagging her tail. Suddenly she starts to bark and walk away from the sledge.
‘Do you know where the tree is? Sorry Sad, sorry I was so ugly at you,’ but Sadly doesn’t go after the Christmas tree, but takes the way back home.
Bram calls her back and says that they cannot go home until they have brought the last Christmas tree to its destination.
‘If the seller finds out that we have lost him, we can forget our own tree,’ he shouts after Sadly.
He takes the rope from the sledge and feels the pain in his bones. Tired he drags the sledge and hopes he will find the tree again. His legs hurt so much and Sadly also doesn’t want to continue. He gives up the search and takes the way back to the square.
It is already getting dark and it is getting colder and colder. His hands and feet hurt more and more from the cold and he tried to warm his hands. They both walk on like this. Sadly lets her head hang, not understanding why her owner is being so nasty with her.
‘I’m so tired, Sad. How should I explain to the seller where the tree has gone.’
Sadly presses his snout against his hand and for a moment it seemed as if he felt what his owner meant. They finally reach the square, but the square is empty and deserted. The seller and his caravan have disappeared, and all the trees are gone. Bram drops himself in the snow and Sadly licks his face and starts barking.
‘I no, you want to go home. Well, let’s go there is nothing else here. But I think it’s mean that he has sold our Christmas tree. He couldn’t know that we didn’t deliver the last tree. I think it’s a bastard,’ he muttered sadly.
He blames himself for not having done the last assignment properly, but that was not a reason to treat him that way. Finally, he and Sadly had worked hard for the past two days.
Every time Bram slowed down, Sadly came back and urged him to hurry up. But it no longer fascinated Bram. I can’t go back home. I have failed and what should I tell mother if she wants to know what we have done in the past two days. Sadly continues to encourage him to go home. With her head, she pluses Bram in the direction of the house. With nodding knees of shame, Bram opens the kitchen door and sees his mother standing at the kitchen counter.
‘Well, there are you finally. I was worried. Where have you been all this time and what have you there,’ and she grabs the bag out of his hands. When she opened him, she put her hands for her mouth. She looks at Bram and asks. ‘How did you get it? You didn’t steal it, did you?’
‘Well, Mom don’t be so weird. I wanted to buy a piece of meat for Sadly, from my own earned money, but the butcher thought we had earned some treats for Christmas and gave something extra. But I don’t know if I really deserve it.’
She sends Sadly to the living room and takes Bram’s hands in hers. She rubs them hot and she asks why he doesn’t deserve it. He tells her the whole story and mother looks at him with a smile.
‘Close your eyes and hold my hand. Don’t look. I make sure you don’t bump into anything,’ and she takes him to the living room. There he may open his eyes and then Bram is surprised. There’s his Christmas tree. Decorates with lights and garlands. Speechless he stares at the tree, but then he whispers. ‘But Mom, that’s not fair. Those people where I had to bring the tree don’t have a nice Christmas now. Maybe they have children. I feel so bad about it. That way I can’t celebrate Christmas. I shall think about that family all the time. It’s not fair. Can’t we bring this tree to them?’
‘No darling, you deserve this tree. He is here now and there he remains,’ Bram looks at his mother and suddenly asks. ‘But how does he get here?’
‘The seller had made a mistake. He accidentally put your tree on the sledge, and when he saw you standing at the butcher’s, he took it off the sledge and brought it here. It had to be a surprise for you, but I am sure that if he had known this, he would have done it differently.’
‘Oh, that’s why Sad didn’t do anything. He knows the seller very well and therefore he saw no harm in it that he takes our tree. But what about those people who I had to bring a tree to?’
‘The salesman had a few more left and explained to the customer that the tree that they had to buy, he actually had been sold to another. As a consolation, he has given the customer not one, but two trees. And, she only had to pay for one.’
Bram put his arms around her neck and said. ‘Mom, I love you so much. Now we have a Christmas tree and nice beef steaks for all three of us and look at it.’ His mouth fell open in surprise.
‘I have earned all of this. Now we can buy some extra food and extra wood for the stove.’ Bram pulled Sadly to him and kissed her on top of her nose and say: ‘We did that well together, didn’t we Sad,’ but Sadly doesn’t understand anything, she only enjoys the tasty piece of meat she got from her boss.
Suddenly there is a loud knock at the door. Mother and Bram look at each other, not understanding who might come by, at this time. Mother stands up and smoothed out her wool dress, walks to the door and opens it. She looks outside, surprised. I’m sure there was a knock, she thinks. Just when she wants to close the door, she sees a large chest.
She calls Bram and together they lift him into the living room. There they open the box and their mouth falls open with bewilderment. The content of the box surprises them. He is full of food and warm clothing for Bram. On top is a letter and mother read the letter written with decorative letters.
Christmas should be a happy event for each of us with the warmth and love of our neighbours.
Some of us feel the lack of their loved one and must fight every day to make ends meet. With this content, we hope both of you have a warm Christmas.
your generous donors