Christmas Gecko
 
Once upon a time in Hawaii’s Manoa Valley there lived a little green gecko. He lived in the eaves of a big white house right next door to the Waioli Tea Gardens. There were many geckos living in the lush green gardens and they loved the shiny green leaves and moist, dark soil of Manoa Valley. They were happy in the beautiful garden and didn’t mind the daily rains. They sang and chirped night and day, enjoying an ongoing veritable banquet of insects that lived in the valley.
DORIS NOLAND
 
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This particular little green gecko, however, didn’t chirp. He didn’t like the rain and  refused to join the rest of the geckos when they called to him. “Come and play. It’s December and there’s plenty to eat!” But silently he ignored them and hid under the eaves of a big white house.
He grumbled and complained night and day, refusing to help the rest of the geckos  control the hoards of mosquitos that hummed in the moist valley air.  “We all must do our part to control the Mosquitos in Manoa,” the Great Green Gecko announced from time to time. But the little green gecko just sulked and complained, rain OR shine, refusing to help and refusing to chirp like the rest of the geckos in the garden.
 
 
 
 
 
Then one day in December a most unusual thing occurred. The people who lived in the big white house came home with a large green tree tied to the roof of their car! That’s most unusual, thought the little green gecko, moving closer to get a good look.
The man took the tree down from the roof of the car and carried it to the door of the house. This is most unusual the gecko thought again as he ran down the wall. As the tree passed through the door, the little green gecko jumped into its branches. I must see what they are going to do with this tree, he thought to himself as silently he hid among the pine needles. He thought the smell of the tree was most unusual and not at all like the sweet fragrances he was accustomed to in the Manoa Valley.
 
 
Quickly the tree was set up in the corner window. This is great! he thought. I can bask in the sunlight and when it rains I will be warm and dry. Just as he was getting comfortable, the lady who lived in the house began to tie pieces of colored ribbon and shiny glass balls on to the branches of the tree.
The little Green gecko was frightened and ran to the top of the tree only to find a lighted blinking star, off and on. This is most unusual, he said to himself. What can all this mean?
From inside the box she took out a tiny shelter and set it under the tree. What’s this? he wondered. Next came the tiny manger, a cow, two sheep and a donkey. Not much bigger than me! thought the gecko. Two figures were placed in the shelter, one that looked like the woman and one that looked like the man. Three shiny figures were set out next, As brightly colored as a chameleon, thought the gecko. Last from the box came two children, one with a tiny lamb in his arms. “I wonder what all of this means?” chirped the little gecko. This is most unusual! and he settled back into the tree.
 
When at last the lady seem satisfied that every branch was properly decorated, she brought out the little brown box.
All of a sudden there was a “most unusual” noise and lights began to twinkle all around him. “Joy to the World,” the music box chimed as it sat on the branches above his head. What a beautiful song, he thought as he listening quietly.
 
Day after day the gecko sat in the “unusual” tree. Every night when the man and lady came home they would turn the lights on the tree and listen to the music box play “Joy to the World.” Each night the little green gecko would creep down to the tiny figures under the tree and wonder. Most unusual, he would think to himself and climb back into the branches.
Then one night he noticed that there was a special excitement in the house. Visitors were arriving. A little boy and girl danced around the tree. They clapped their hands when the lights came on and sang with sweet clear voices along with the  music box as it played, “Joy to the World!”
At last the children sat down beside the tree and the lady took out the little brown box. From inside the box she took the last little figure and placed it in the manger. It was a tiny little baby. Most unusual, thought the gecko as he edged closer to the little stall. What can this mean? he wondered. Then the man took a large black book into his lap, opened the pages and began to read.
He read about a woman named Mary and a man named Joseph who went to a city called Bethlehem. There was no place for them to spend the night and so they stayed in an animal shelter on the edge of town. Mary had a baby that night and laid Him in a manger because she had no crib. Angels told shepherds that the baby was born. “Joy to the World,” they sang (The little green gecko recognized that song!) Kings came with gifts for the baby and worshipped Him. What a wonderful story, thought the little gecko.
Silently the little gecko listened as the man told how this baby was Jesus, the Son of God, who loved people of the world so much that He was willing to die to save them. “He sees every sparrow that falls,” the big black book said. “Why, if He can see a sparrow, he can see me too!” chirped the little gecko, and his heart was strangely warmed.
That night as as the house lay sleeping, he climbed down the tree and crept up to the stall. Gazing down upon on the infant, he remembered all that he had heard. How selfish and lazy I’ve been, he thought. How I wish I could tell everyone this beautiful story, but what can a gecko do? He looked into the face of the infant Jesus, then over to the shepherds with their sheep and the brightly attired wise men with their shining gifts. I too would like to give the infant King something!” he thought, noticing that the baby lay exposed to the night air.
 
“I bet there were mosquitos there too. Why, if i’d been in Bethlehem, I would have eaten the mosquitos humming in the manger. It would have been my job!” he chirped with some importance. The more he thought about it, the happier it made him feel. “I’d do it just because I wanted to!” he decided.
About that time the little green gecko looked out the window into the Waioli Tea Gardens. A  most unusual sight awaited his eyes. There was a manger scene out on the garden, only much, much larger. Real animals and real people stood bathed in light and wonderful music filled the night air.
 
Watching, he noticed that the shepherds were scratching their necks and the wise men slapped their arms, while the mother Mary was trying very hard to keep the mosquitos away from the manger. People who had come to see the live nativity scene batted and slapped the air around them, finally turning away and going home, unable to enjoy the beautiful pageantry.
“This is awful!” cried the little gecko. “Everyone needs to hear this wonderful story!” He ran down the tree and squeezed through a crack in the window. Running from branch to branch and leaf to leaf, he chirped out in a loud gecko voice, “Come on everybody. It’s Christmas Eve and we have a job to do!” “What’s come over you? cried all of the other geckos. “We’re tired, we’ve worked hard all day long.” “Now, now!” the little green gecko chirped telling them what he had seen. “It’s a wonderful story and the world needs to hear it,” he implored.
“If it’s made such a change in you, it must be wonderful indeed!” replied the Great Green Gecko. “Let’s Help!” they all cried out together, “For it’s Christmas Eve!” They chirped and sang as they scurried to the light. SNAP! POP! ZING! flashed their tongues as they darted from leaf to leaf. “Joy to the World” the music rang and the little green gecko chirped and sang.
The shepherds
The shepherds stopped scratching and the kings stopped slapping themselves.
Mary smiled as the little green gecko climbed up on the edge of the manger fiercely attacking every mosquito that flew near the infant.
Crowds began to began to gather and people carried candles and stood listening to the Christmas Story.
When at last the music swelled, “Joy to the World,” the crowd sang. The little gecko could hardly contain himself. “Joy to the World,” he chirped, “Joy to the World!”
 
That night when all was quiet the little green gecko slipped back into the house. He crept under the Christmas tree and smelled the fragrant pine.
“This has been a most unusual night,” he said to himself and he fell asleep beneath the manger.
In the morning the children came into the room and squealed with delight. “A Christmas Gecko!” they cried out and laid on their tummies to get a good look. Sure enough, there he was quietly watching over the Baby Jesus. “No mosquitos will harm this baby,” they said, turning on the tree lights. “Joy to the World,” the music box played. “Joy to the World,” the children sang. “Joy to the World,” the little green gecko chirped, happily.
Every year since that eventful night in the Waioli Tea Gardens, seven days before Christmas when the Living Nativity is shown, if you listen very carefully there will be a most unusual sound heard in the leaves. It is the sound of a little green gecko happily singing...
 
JOY TO THE WORLD,
the Lord has come!
EPILOGUE
 
In the early 1990’s my husband and I lived in the Manoa Valley in a home next door to the Waioli Tea Gardens where the world renowned Waioli Tea Room resides. Every year the Salvation Army holds a Live Nativity Scene in this beautiful garden where I could hear the music and see the Christmas scene from our living room window. 
 
Gecko’s are aplenty in this area of the valley and often visited our home, hiding behind the pictures on the wall and resting on the top of our mantle clock.  So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when after Christmas I discovered that a little green gecko had taken up residence in our Christmas tree.  I had to virtually shake him out of the tree before I could pack it up for the New Year!   Thus came the inspiration for this little book... Christmas Gecko.
 
The Waioli Tea Gardens have a wonderful history in Honolulu.  Owned by the Salvation Army, the campus was for many years a home for children.  The Tea Room was a training place for the children where they learned skills in food service, cooking , baking and sales.  The historic chapel on the property was used by the children as their place of worship.   When the children’s program was moved to a new location, the Tea Room remained as a lovely historical restaurant and a gathering place for the community.  Visitors come from far and wide to be married in this historic chapel. Every year on Christmas Eve the traditional Christmas candle light service is observed.
 
The message of Christmas as seen through the eyes of the little green gecko is a reminder that no matter how small and insignificant we may feel, there is always a way to serve God by using the gifts He has given to us.
 
“ ….. ‘It’s a Wonderful story, and the world needs to hear it!’ the little green gecko implored.  ‘…Joy to the World – the Lord has come!’”
 
DEN
 
THE END
When in Honolulu, Hawaii, visiting the historic Salvation Army Waioli Gardens and Tea Room is an absolute must!
 
2950 Manoa Road
For Reservations:
808-988-5800 (Tea Room)
ALOHA!