how Lightfingers got his name

The following is a story that I’ve adapted from one in Healing Stories for Challenging Situations.  The original is much shorter and presents a basic pattern, in which a bored child is taught how to knit, that I’ve used as a template if you will.  There is a group of characters that I’ve told stories about over the past four years, and one of them is called Lightfingers.  We’ve never known how he came to have that name, and when I came upon the story in the book it immediately lent itself well to the tale behind his name.  The children agreed :0)  Here it is:

There once lived a boy, with his mother and father, in a cabin deep in the Wilde Woods.  One winter the snows fell thick and heavy.  Lacey flakes fell from the sky in such abundance that the sky itself was hidden from sight.  They fell for four days and four nights, and the boy enjoyed watching them swirling and dancing about.  He would go outside and catch flakes on his tongue and feel them balanced on his eyelashes.  When they stopped falling, all was still and buried beneath the deep blanket now covering the earth.  Then the boy spent many a day sledding, making snow people, and walls and hills, under which the ice trolls lived. He found rainbows in holes and tracks left by many creatures, which he followed into the woods.

Having no plow and being deep in the heart of the woods, up a long driveway far away from the roads, his family was snowed in.  Every week it would snow some more, flakes piling up on the previously fallen ones, getting higher and higher.  After about three weeks, the boy began to enjoy the snow less and less.  He would go outside and then come back in, stomping up and down the hallway, trailing snow all about.  He would play with the wooden blocks, leaving them scattered about the floor and often his parents would jab their feet on an errant block or two.  He began scribbling on the walls, leaving notes for his parents: “Oh no, I won’t,” they read, “I won’t put away my things, so there!!”  Another one said, “I’ll put snow on the beds if you make me, oh yes I will.”  His mother engaged him in the kitchen, encouraging him to listen to a tale while they chopped vegetables or mixed batter together.  But the boy was not interested and would run wildly through the house, stomping and kicking and catapulting carrots hither and thither.  His father brought out some wood and they sat together and carved with pocket knives, but the boy began throwing the shavings at his parents and sprinkling them over top of his oatmeal.   After a time, his parents put away the blocks, the crayons, and everything else besides, and he went back outside to play.

The snows lay thick and heavy, the snow people stood frozen.  Armed with sticks and rocks, the boy began fighting the snow people and destroying the ice trolls homes.  On one such day, he was punching a snow man when he heard an, “Ouch!!!”

He jumped back startled and from behind the snow man out came a small man with a grey beard and grey clothes.

“Hello boy,” he said, “Are you enjoying this sunny winter day?”

“No,” replied the boy, “It’s been like this for twenty one days now and it’s never going to end.  I can’t even walk down the driveway!  My best tree to climb is there and now I can’t get to it!”

While the boy spoke, the small man reached into a pocket and took out a round piece of glass.  He looked through it into a snow hole and picked out some blue light from the rainbow within.  As the boy spoke, the man laced it around his fingers and began moving it this way and that.  The boy fell silent and watched in amazement.  Before long, a chain of blue light was spilling over the back of the man’s hand.

“How did you do that?” he cried.

“Here, I’ll show you,” answered the man, and he showed the boy what to do.

The boy looked through the glass and all at once the flakes of snow looked different, he began seeing things in a whole new way.  He reached into a snow hole and drew forth some green light.  He did what the man had shown him and began making a chain of green light!

The man said to him, “Keep the glass for me, I’ll come back in a few days,” and poof! he vanished from sight.

Now the boy spent his time making chains of all different colors.  He stayed outside until his fingers grew numb, then he would go in for a meal.  While he was warming up he began looking at things around the cabin beneath the piece of glass.  Then he would go back out and use his light chains to do all sorts of things.  When it snowed again, he looked at the flakes under the glass and marveled at what he saw.

One day, the small man returned and the boy showed him all the light chains he had made.  He returned the man’s piece of glass to him, thanking him for letting him borrow it.  While they talked, the small man busied himself picking up some sticks that the boy had thrown about.  He drew forth some red light from a snow hole, and began weaving the light onto two sticks.

The boy watched curiously and then finding two sticks of his own asked his friend, “Would you please show me how you’re doing that?”

“Indeed,” was the reply, and soon the boy was happily knitting with light strands of his own.

The small man left and in the weeks that followed the snow continued to fall, but now the boy was happy to be knitting light onto his sticks.  He would go outside and sled from time to time, and even rebuilt the ice trolls fallen walls and hills.  He mended the snow people, packing more snow on where it had fallen.  He went on hikes with his parents, tracking animal prints to the creek and over the ice.  In this way, the boy knitted a scarf and a hat out of blue light.

His parents had watched him knitting and making finger chains with light, and they wondered wherever had he learned how to do such a thing, for it was not of their teaching!!  His mother looked in her boxes, and found some wool which she gave to the boy.  He was really excited to see if he could do with the wool what he had been doing with the light.  To his delight, he found that he could!!  He knitted a scarf for his mother and a hat for his father, and into each of them he wove strands of rainbow colored light, all seven colors.

One day, the boy went outside and everything was slushy.  He hadn’t even noticed the snow melting, it had been there for nearly three months and he had all but forgotten that once there was no snow!!  As he squelched in the mushy snow, he saw his friend sitting upon the disappearing mound that used to be the roof to the ice trolls underground home.

“Hello,” he said, giving his friend a hug, “I’m so glad you came.  I’ve made you something, let me go get it.”

He went into the cabin and came back out with a bundle of blue, which he gave the small man.  The man took it and opened it up, then a smile appeared on his face and his eyes shone as he looked at the boy.  He put the hat of blue light on his head, and the scarf he wrapped around his neck.

“Thank you boy,” he said, “These are just what I needed.  I have something for you too.”

He reached into his pocket and drew out the piece of glass, which he gave the boy.

“This is for you to keep now,” he said.

The boy took it gravely, and then a smile appeared on his face, and his eyes shone with love.  He hugged his friend and said, “Thank you.”

“Now I must go,” said the man, “Perhaps we will meet again when the snow falls thick and heavy again.”

Then with a twinkle, he vanished once more.

The boy went inside and took out the gifts he had made his parents.  They marveled at his work, and looked in delight at the rainbow light flickering from within their hat and scarf.  It was that winter that the boy began to be called Lightfingers by his mother and father, and forever more afterward he was known by this name.

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