How could Nathaniel Buchanan ever forget that book? The infamous leather-bound Do Not Touch book with the cracked spine that sat on the mantle above the fireplace of his childhood home. The only person allowed to touch it was his mother, which she did every night to read him the bedtime story adventures of The Christmas Treehouse on The Moon.
It was a collection of short stories, oddly enough without any pictures like most storybooks, involving the first mother and son astronaut team to travel to the moon. A problem with the ship’s engine forced them to land inside the deepest crater on the dark side of the moon and there they discovered a mysterious treehouse.
But this was no ordinary treehouse because the inside was big enough to hold an entire world, and the air was breathable, so they didn’t need their spacesuits, and every day was Christmas.
His mother never read the same story twice and the book contained so many adventures that Nathaniel never went to bed without listening to the exploits of Sarah and little Sammy Centauri as they explored strange lands, met different aliens, and celebrated new customs inside the fantastical, weird and sometimes dangerous lunar Christmas treehouse.
When Nathaniel finally became old enough to read for himself, the leather book mysteriously disappeared. It wasn’t until years later when nostalgia made him want to locate the book, which couldn’t be found in the public library, any rare bookstore, or even online, that he made two discoveries:
- The book didn’t exist; and
- His mother was illiterate.
To his mother’s credit, she managed to keep it a closely guarded secret, finding creative ways to hide the fact that she was unable to read. There was always some kind soul willing to help her read something because she had “forgotten her glasses” or a server suggesting recommendations when her eyes were too tired to read the menu.
And while Nathaniel wished she had told him the truth because he would have gladly helped her learn how to read, he appreciated the fact that she took the time to invent a new story every night, which unbeknownst to her, fueled his desire to become an astronaut.
Sadly, she passed away before he joined NASA and made the terraforming moon mission. On her deathbed, she whispered, “I’ll be waiting for you in the treehouse.”
The astronauts were allowed to bring a personal item with them on the mission, and while the others brought things like a musical instrument, favorite book, or family photos, Nathaniel brought a pine cone.
After all, you had to grow a Christmas tree before you could build a house on it.