Years ago, the snow fell softly on a small village. Lights from candles inside cozy cabins cascaded onto the cobble stone paths that glistened with frost. The soft winter wind drifted down the dirt paths that lined the village, bringing in winter as silently as a whisper.
The peaceful quiet was interrupted as a newborn infant cried out into the night from a small log home. For as the snow fell, a baby boy took his first breath of life.
His mother lay in her bed in the corner of the cabin, candle light bouncing off the sheen of sweat on her forehead. As exhausted as she was, a large smile crossed her face as her husband handed her the small bundle wrapped in a white linen blanket. A small face peeked out from the fold of the fabric, revealing closed eyes and smooth, flawless skin that only a baby could posses. Her husband kissed the top of her head while he joined her in admiring their first born child.
"Lucky for us, he fell asleep quite quick. What shall we call him?" He asked.
"We could name him after you," The mother offered.
"After me? Do you want our child to suffer like I did growing up with a name like Reuben?" He replied, making his wife laugh.
"Alright, we won't give him his daddy's name," She said, rocking the babe in her arms. "How about Jackson?"
"Sound fine to me," He replied with a nod.
"Yes. Jackson Overland," Mrs. Overland confirmed.
Mr. Overland reached out a large finger and tapped the baby on the nose. "Little Jack looks like he came from your side alright. I just hope he doesn't act like it." He let out a chuckle that was cut off by his wife's glare. "Sorry dear."
"He won't act like anyone. He'll be his own person. He's quite a special boy, I can already tell," She said.
"Jack! Get down from there!" Called Mr. Overland from in front of the cabin.
"But Daddy, you can see so much!" Called little Jack from his perch. He was crouched in a tree, grinning at his father with a mouth that had recently lost a few teeth.
It was a few weeks into spring, and Jack had taken up tree climbing as a new hobby. He scared the daylights out of the other villagers who saw the Overland boy swinging from branches, while other villagers (mainly parents of children around Jack's age) thought he was an awful influence to their little boys and girls. It didn't help that he also gained the reputation to be quite the trickster, even at the young age of seven. The boy had a knack for playing practical jokes, which his father didn't mind. He always told his wife it meant Jack was a good problem solver.
"Jackson! Do you want me to tell Ma?" Mr. Overland threatened. Although it hurt his pride, the boy seemed to fear his mother more.
"Okay," Sighed Jack "Just don't tell Mama." Then with impressive balance, he stood up from his crouch and began to walk the length of the branch. When he reached the thin trunk of the tree, he wrapped his arms around it and slid to the ground. Still grinning with the thrill of being up so high, he walked over to his father--strutting in his always-bare feet. "Did you see me? I bet I could go much higher!"
"Not any time soon, boy," Replied his father, picking out green leaves from his son's shaggy brown hair. "Look at ya! You better get cleaned up before dinner, Jackie."
Jack's smile faded. "Dad!" He whined "I told you not to call me that! It sounds silly."
"You know what else sounds silly?" Came Mrs. Overland's voice from the doorway. "My son climbing trees."
The little boy gave a nervous laugh. "Me? Climb trees? Never, Mama." He looked at her with large brown eyes then added "That would be dangerous."
Mrs. Overland sighed and put a hand on her stomach, now swollen with her next child. "Then why do you have leaves in your hair?"
"Mama," Jack said, hurrying to change the subject "When is the baby coming?"
"Don't try to get yourself out of trouble, Jack," She said, eyeing him. "But if you must know, it'll be here in a few weeks." She turned around and headed through the doorway into the cabin. "Hopefully sooner," She muttered under her breath. Mr. Overland and Jack followed her inside.
After a good meal of soup and fresh bread, Mrs. Overland took Jack by the hand and led him up to bed like she did every night. It had become a little practice of theirs to tell bedtime stories to each other before going to sleep. Jack jumped on to his bed and snuggled under the quilt his mother had made for him before he was born. Mrs. Overland sat down her candle she'd been carrying on his nightstand, then took a seat on the edge of the bed.
"Would you like to go first?" She asked, running a hand through his hair.
Jack shook his head "I need to think of one first."
"Okay, I guess I will go. Once upon a time, there lived a little boy. This little boy loved to explore and climb trees. One day when he was exploring, he got lost. Soon it became cold and dark; an awful combination. Starving and shivering, the little boy fell asleep under a tree after a while. After two days of being cold and hungry in the forest, he woke up to hear his father calling for him. His father was so happy to see his son alive. He took the little boy home where his mother hugged him and told him she loved him. That night they had a special dinner and sang together because their son had been found. And they all lived happily ever after."
"Did you tell me that to make me stop climbing trees Mama?" Jack asked, being a bright child.
"Well yes...and no. I told this story because I want you to know that no matter how much trouble you cause or trees you climb, your family will always love you, Jack," His mother said.
The tender moment was ruined as Jack got a mischievous grin on his face "Now it's my turn! Once upon a time, there was a mom and a dad. They let their son climb trees all the time. One day he reached the top of the tallest tree in the forest! His parents were so proud that they threw him a party and let him stay up all night long," Jack said quickly and hopefully.
"Not happening," His mother said, standing and lifting the candle from the nightstand. "Now go to sleep. We'll see you in the morning."
As Mrs. Overland closed the door, Jack's young mind began turning. If his mother always loved him, then didn't that mean he could do whatever he wanted? It was then and there under his warm quilt that he made up his mind.
Tomorrow he would climb the tallest tree in the forest.