The Leaf Letter Swap
The excitement around the annual Leaf Letter Swap in Honeysuckle Hollow cannot be underestimated. There is not a fuzzy, furry, or feathered friend that does not look forward to it all year long. And the Hoppingood Family is no exception! But let’s back up our story just a touch.
For those of you new to Honeysuckle Hollow, you might not be familiar with the Leaf Letter Swap. It happens every fall and is an opportunity for friends and neighbors to send notes of kindness and appreciation to each other. In the weeks leading up to the swap, as the temperature drops and leaves of all colors and varieties come tumbling to the ground, Li’l Woodzeez race to gather the leaves. They are careful to select the biggest and most beautiful ones for the swap. Each leave is a blank canvas used for someone to write a sweet note on and send to a close friend.
The Hoppingoods, who come by harvesting and gathering naturally, had a reputation for some of the most spectacular leaves over the years. The whole family worked together to transcribe their personal messages. Over the years, young Theo watched at a distance.
This year, Theo worked hard to pick a few leaves that had perfect edges and vibrant hues to give to his friends in Honeysuckle Hollow. But after his initial feelings of satisfaction, he started to feel self-conscious. Theo had not yet learned to read or write. How would he say all that was in his young heart?
Walking home with big sister Star, Theo was extra quiet, knowing he would have to pass on his leaves to someone else for the Leaf Letter Swap.
“Hello, Star and Theo!” called their dad, Elliot, waving at them from the forest. “I see your arms are full of beautiful leaves!”
“Yes, we found some gems today! I am going inside to arrange mine for the swap,” Star yelled back over her shoulder, as she flew into the house to round up her pencils.
Theo lingered behind and scuffed his paws into the ground, kicking up dirt.
“Theo! I expected more enthusiasm and excitement from you! You always love the Leaf Letter Swap. What’s on your mind?” asked Elliot.
“Dad, I do love the swap but this year I wanted to make my letters personal. I can’t read or write, and the swap is not as fun if the gesture is not from you!” Theo sniffled.
“Oh, Theo! You do not have to be a wordsmith to express your feelings There are so many ways to show we care about others. Even with the Leaf Letter Swap! It is not just the message but the gesture itself, son. And it just so happens, I have an idea.”
Elliot ran inside and grabbed some of Theo’s favorite art tools: paint, brushes, stickers, glitter, and glue.
“Now, sit here and lay out your favorite leaves. Think which one reminds you of a friend or family member and when inspiration strikes, grab your art supplies and create something on the surface of the leaf!”
Theo hadn’t thought to use his love of arts and crafts to make small paintings directly on the leaves! He felt inspired and full of ideas. Time flew by as he snipped, painted, and decorated each one to capture the love he felt for each special person in his life.
“WOW!” he heard a chorus of voices exclaim behind him.
Amelia, sister Star and Elliot gazed at the rainbow of leaves sparkling with glitter and radiating positivity.
“I am ready for the swap!” Theo shouted with pride.
Maybe it was just the craft glitter mingling with the late afternoon fog, but there seemed to be a glow all around young Theo. He had found a way to express his love after all.
Tune in next week for the Spooktacular Parade!
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