Christmas Card 2017

It’s Arrived!
For those who may not know, My Christmas Card usually arrives sometime midwinter.

After so many years, it has become somewhat of a Tradition!
I think of it as one way to Celebrate the Values of Christmas the Whole Year through!
As we get deeper into Winter, reminders of Kindness, Generosity, Love, Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Everyone are generally Welcome and Appreciated.
I hope that this story can be that for you.
And So, today, on this snow covered morning in the middle of February, I offer you my Christmas Card.
Feel free to curl up with a  Mug of Hot Cacao, or your favorite Tea, and Enjoy!
Sent to you with Love and Wishing You all the Bountiful Blessings of Winter…


The Giving Heart

By Arnold J. Mungioli


He was quite perturbed, the Little Spark, and he let his Mother know it.

“I don’t like Christmas,” he told her.

The Sparks are not very well known. Elves are known. Gnomes, we have heard of… There are even many who have seen faeries in their time. And we have all experienced Angels. But the Sparks are perhaps the least studied of all the fantastical creatures inhabiting the earth, and there are so many! Why, the unseen world is so much larger than the tiny speck of it that we even know about! But we feel them and we know they are there. Sometimes when the breeze blows through the leaves on a quiet winter’s night, we can even hear them. In some ways, their world reflects our own.

His Mother would spend more time learning from him than she would correcting him. As with all her children, she would attempt to align herself with his inner being, instead of teaching him to follow her own.

It was Christmas Day in the morning, and Mother was getting a special breakfast ready for Little Spark.

“So, what don’t you like about Christmas?” she asked him.

“It’s just a big shopping day!” the Little Spark told her. “I don’t see what the point is!”

And it was true. Sadly, it had been many years since Christmas had had any significance as a holiday. Although there were still some, like his Mother, who could remember back several centuries to when she was a little girl and it was a much bigger deal, and more fantastical and romantic, the beauty of the holiday had been eroded over time. It was now abridged to something more like what we know as Labor Day, or Presidents Day. It had significance in its roots and commemoration, but for most folks it was more of a day to shop, like a Monday Holiday, an optional day to take off… There was no mail delivery and the banks were closed, but it wasn’t really more than that anymore. For those who appreciated any religious significance, it had become more like the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception or Pesach Sheni — Sparks knew that those days were important but didn’t really know exactly what they meant, or when exactly in the calendar they fell, and even if they went to religious services for forty minutes or so, the holiday didn’t really affect their lives beyond that.

“I don’t like the shopping crowds!” the Little Spark went on, “I don’t like the fuss. It seems to be about pretty much nothing at all. Why do they have it?”

“Well,” his Mother told him, “There was a time when Christmas was a very nice holiday. It was a bright spot in Sparks’ calendars. There were even Sparks who looked forward to it all year long, and for whom it was the most special day of the year.”

“Really?” the Little Spark asked with increasing curiosity. “Why?”

“When I was a little girl,” his mother told him, “Christmas was a holiday for everyone to share. There were stories of Santa Claus, a Spark in a bright red suit who came to your home in the night and left presents under the tree!”

“What tree?” the Little Spark asked.

“We would bring a tree indoors and decorate it with lights and pretty little shiny ornaments and things, with a great big star at the top! Sometimes we would decorate everything — tabletops and doorways and mantelpieces… it was such a festive time!” She found herself tearing up slightly. “And Santa even left presents in our Stockings! Oh, that was my favorite part! To wake up to our red stockings hung over the fireplace filled with magical little baubles or toys and treats — simple little things, like an orange! Oh, the orange in my stocking was my favorite gift every year! Fresh Citrus in December! How it made me smile!”

“But why did it end?” he asked.

“Oh, everything changes, I guess.” She told him. Back then, it was a holiday to celebrate love and giving and being together and kindness. Folks would get together for festive and celebratory meals, and exchange gifts with friends and family members and do nice things for one another!”

“So why’d they stop?” the Little Spark asked. He was quite confused as to how such a nice-sounding thing could have completely disappeared from the world.

“Was it a decree by an evil king that took it away?” he asked.

“It just became about something else, I guess” his Mother told him. She knew that there had been no single decree, but that the businesses and corporations in Sparkville eventually grew bigger than the government, and now the only holidays were ones that involved spending money to the big business entities that were running the world. She continued, “Your Grandparents would tell me about how it had become commercialized. Sparks began to feel that it had become about the stores making Sparks buy things they didn’t want and didn’t need. In fact, that’s how Christmas Cards got started. Way back then, Sparks felt they had too much stuff, and they didn’t want to keep buying more stuff just to give one another, so they began a tradition by which they just gave each other Christmas cards, instead of more stuff. That way they could acknowledge one another with kindness and thoughtfulness, but without cluttering one another’s houses. But the stores didn’t like that and so it became less about giving things to each other and they began to advertise buying things for yourself, which a lot of Sparks took to, very well, and so it has evolved into a day when Sparks go to the big stores, shop sales, and buy themselves things. I can see why you wouldn’t like it. I don’t like it very much myself. But it used to be a very joyous experience!”

“But what was the point of giving stuff to people in the first place?” the Little Spark asked.

“Well, it was to help people,” his Mother told him. “There were lots of people who needed stuff. And giving the stuff was from generosity. It was all done from the Giving Heart. And the Giving Heart was something that most Sparks had, and wanted to experience.”

“Why was that?” the Little Spark asked.

“Well, because it felt good,” his mother replied. “It was a nice thing to discover one’s Giving Heart. It’s what made it feel like Christmas! The original Christmas Story that we celebrated years ago was about a great act of giving. It was about knowing we are all loved, and that we are all going to be ok. It was about Kindness and Joy and Angels and Starlight. It was about saving the world and loving one another. Back before it became all about stuff and purchasing things, and commercial sales, Christmas was about the Giving Heart,” she explained.

Then she saw him getting on his galoshes. “Where are you going?” she asked.

“I am going to rediscover Christmas,” the Little Spark told her. “I am going in search of the Giving Heart!”

She packed up some of the warm delicious cinnamon muffins she had just baked for him, and put them in the pockets of his coat. Then, she tied his scarf around his neck so that he would be warm enough, kissed him on the head, and off he went.


The Little Spark was walking for a while on this cold wintry Christmas Day, when he came upon a large black Puppy Dog, laying upon the ground looking up at him with very sad eyes.

“What’s the matter?” asked the Little Spark. “Why are you looking so sad?”

“Today is Christmas Day,” the Puppy Dog told him. “That means that everyone is out shopping for themselves, and no one will play with me. And I found a really good stick, and just want to play. I have way fewer days than you to live, so I know to make every one of them count by playing and having fun! I try to nap, and eat and play every day of my life — these are my favorite things! Eat! Play! Nap! Happy! And today, I found this most excellent stick! But alas, there is no one to throw it! So today is a very unhappy day!”

The Little Spark looked into the Puppy Dog’s sad eyes. “I can throw the stick! I will play with you!” he told him.

The Puppy Dog’s eyes perked up widely, as he got up onto his legs, excitedly. “You will?”

“Sure!” the Little Spark replied enthusiastically, as he picked up the stick and threw it as far as he could. The Puppy Dog ran to retrieve the stick and brought it back. The Little Spark threw it again, this time even further. He and the Puppy Dog played happily like this for several hours, laughing and giggling and delighting one another, until the Puppy Dog was all run out and needed a nap. He thanked the Little Spark and the Little Spark thanked him, saying, “This is the most fun I have ever had! Perhaps we will play again sometime!”

“I would like that very much!” the Puppy Dog told him, licking his face with a great big Thank You!


The Little Spark continued down the road. He came upon a Poor Spark on the street holding a paper cup, calling out softly, “Alms. Alms for the poor.”

Little Spark thought for a moment. “I have no money, but I have the cinnamon muffins that mom packed away for me this morning.”

“Are you hungry?” he asked the Poor Spark.

“Yes,” came the reply, and the cup was reached out further toward the Little Spark, who reached in his pockets for the muffins, and gave them to the Poor Spark.

“I have these very delicious cinnamon muffins!” the Little Spark told him. “You may have them.”

As he opened the napkin the scent of fresh baked cinnamon muffins filled the air, and the Poor Spark grew intoxicated with memories of Christmas mornings long ago! “Are these cinnamon muffins?” he asked. “Christmas Morning Cinnamon Muffins???” He smiled so brightly that the Little Spark didn’t know what to make of him.

“Well, they are my Mom’s Cinnamon Muffins. And this is Christmas Morning! So, I guess so!”

“Ohhh,” the Poor Spark cried, “It has been such a long time! When I was small, we had these every Christmas Morning! Everyone in Sparkville made these! The scent filled the air throughout every street in the town with the lovely fragrance of cinnamon! I didn’t even know anyone still had the recipe!”

“What happened?’ asked the Little Spark. “Why don’t you make them anymore?

“Oh, the same that happened to everyone,” the Poor Spark told him. “Everyone began shopping more and more — shopping for themselves on Christmas Day, and spending money that they didn’t have so they would have to work more to pay for the things they don’t need. People lost their homes and no longer made time for important things like cinnamon muffins. And everyone realized too late that those things actually were the important things. So now, everyone just buys things and works to pay for them, and there is no joy and no time for creative fun life moments like cinnamon muffins!” The Poor Spark tasted one and wept. “We were so happy then,” he remembered. “Thank You.” He said to the Little Spark. “Thank You for bringing a moment of Christmas back the way it used to be!”

“I am sorry that I have no money to give you,” the little Spark told him, indicating his cup.

“No,” the Poor Spark replied. “What you have given me is much greater than money! I thank you!” Then, for the first time in many many years, he heard himself say, “Merry Christmas!”

The Little Spark had never heard those words spoken by someone who wasn’t concluding a purchase. They actually sounded very nice.

“Merry Christmas,” he said back.

The Poor Spark was beaming with a delight and happiness he had not known in a long long time.


The Little Spark travelled on.

He came upon a Little Old Lady Spark carrying way too many bundles.

“May I help you?” he asked her.

“Oh, Thank You,” she replied. “I would be so grateful to you! I am afraid that I have purchased way more than I can carry!”

“No worries,” the Little Spark assured her, as he took some of the packages from her arms so that she could walk more easily and steadily. “I have two arms and I am very strong. But may I ask you, why did you buy so much?”

“It’s Christmas Day!” the Little Old Lady Spark told him. “I don’t really know why. But this is what everybody does on Christmas Day — goes out and buys lots of presents for themselves! The stores run lots of sales, and make it nearly impossible not to shop today! So I am just doing what everybody else does!”

“Was Christmas Day always like this?” the Little Spark asked her.

The Little Old Lady Spark thought for a moment. “No. No, come to think of it, there was a time many years ago, when we used to buy presents for each other, and we did it beforehand. We would wrap them up and surprise one another on Christmas! Oh, that was grand fun! I liked it so much! We would decorate and hide the packages under the tree, and we couldn’t open them until Christmas morning! We would even hide surprises in one another’s stockings! Oh, what enjoyable times those were!”

They had arrived at the door of the Little Old Lady Spark’s home, and she invited the Little Spark in for tea. He grimaced his face, and then she asked, “Well, then how about some nice hot cacao with little marshmallows in it?”

The Little Spark lit up with a bright smile. “Yes, Ma’am!”

They went inside and enjoyed some hot cacao together. The Little Spark asked lots of questions about the Christmases of her childhood and the Little Old Lady Spark was only too delighted to share stories and relive the good times with her new young friend. She even remembered some of her old Christmas decorations in a box up in the attic. The Little Spark helped her to get them down and they decorated her home together with a small tree and a wreath on the door, and lights in the windows. (It was a real tree and a live wreath, by the way — Trees last way longer than the eight hundred years or so that the Little Old Lady Spark had lived. And in Magic Lands, they can live in a box too — even when they’ve been woven into wreaths!)

The Little Spark noticed some red stockings in the box.

“Oh, I haven’t seen these in centuries!” the Little Old Lady Spark told him. “Well, I certainly don’t need all of these. Would you like one?”

“Yes, please,” the Little Spark responded, “Very Much indeed!” And he gratefully accepted the red stocking.


It wasn’t long before Sparks in other homes along the street saw the magical faerie lights coming from the Little Old Lady Spark’s house and dug around in their attics and basements to find what few Christmas decorations they might have from years ago. Sparks who were downtown saw the twinkling lights coming from these homes and stopped shopping so they could rush home and see if they could dig out their parents’ and grandparents’ old Christmas decorations too. Within an hour or two, all the houses in Sparkville were lit up and it was quite a magical Christmas night — the kind that hadn’t been seen in years! The enchanted peaceful lights and candle flames were quite a warm contrast to the enormous painfully bright Light Emitting Diode signs reading “SALE!” and “SHOP NOW!” which overshadowed the village from the town. It was as if another world had sprung up by evening.

Some of the elder Sparks remembered some old Christmas Carols and began to hum, and by the end of the night, the entire village was singing. And for the first time in many Christmases, it began to snow!


The Little Spark headed home.

When he arrived, his Mother was very happy to see him. She was willing to let go of him so that he could adventure and journey and grow on his own. But she missed him terribly, and worried about him, the way mothers do.

“Merry Christmas, Mom!” he said!

She was surprised. Again, this was an expression only used when making purchases, and it hadn’t been since she was a child that she had heard it used as a greeting among family members.

“Merry Christmas,” she replied, gleefully, yet with surprise in her voice. “Well, did you find Christmas? Did you find the Giving Heart?”

The Little Spark scampered to the kitchen and took an orange out of the fruit basket. He tacked the red stocking above the fireplace and put the orange inside of it. It looked strange and unfamiliar to him — a sock with an orange inside. Yet, he turned toward his Mom, pointed to the strangely shaped filled stocking, and raised his arms in the air, calling joyfully, “Merry Christmas!”

His mother broke into a great big smile! Where did you find such a classic red Christmas stocking? Oh, it’s just wonderful! My favorite image of Christmas! Thank You! And she hugged him tightly!

“I think I found Christmas,” the Little Spark told her. “I didn’t find the Giving Heart, though.”

Yet he had.

He didn’t know it, but in giving playtime to the Dog…

In sharing his cinnamon muffins with the Poor Spark…

In helping the Little Old Lady Spark carry her packages…

In spending time with her, enjoying hot cacao with marshmallows together…

In lighting up the lights…

In creating a spark that brought Christmas back to Spark Village…

Even in giving his Mother the gift of a stocking with an orange over the fireplace…

His was the Giving Heart!


The Giving Heart lies within.

It waits only to be awakened.

Ignite the spark!

# # #







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Leave a comment


  1. Lou Monteforte

     /  February 18, 2018

    Right on time!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. mrdamonb

     /  February 18, 2018

    Worth the wait! 🙂 Thanks for keeping the true spark of Christmas alive!

  3. Augie

     /  February 19, 2018

    What a great story. Thank you.
    It made me re- think Christmas and came at a good time

  4. Such a beautiful tale, dear Arnold, one that can join the classic Christmas tales, brought out each year to the delight of children of any age.

  5. Susan Chilvers

     /  March 8, 2018

    Thank you Arnold for a lovely story and a much needed one. I finally got to read this on another snowy day In March and it lifted my spirits and gave me hope much love Susan

  6. Jason Graae

     /  February 16, 2019

    Beautiful story Arnold! Shall try to apply this to Xmas 2019.


     /  February 16, 2019


  8. Michele

     /  February 16, 2019

    Please keep writing …I had a hot cup of Pero ( am malt beverage I haven’t had in years topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream ) , relaxed on the couch with a blanket over me on a rainy day in the Pacific NW and I read this sweet story . Thank you . XOX


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