A secret treasure was recently found at a rummage sale by an NDA parent, Mrs. Jen Budde, parent of sophomore Nathan Budde and senior Matthew Budde. Looking through sale items, Mrs. Budde noticed a children’s book that has become the talk of the school this past week.
The book she found is not an ordinary book. Called The Bishop’s Christmas Tree, it is centered on biology teacher Ann Hollenback and her brother Bishop Robert (Bob) Morneau.
The children’s book was written by Deb Mauthe who lived in a little rental house three doors down the street from Mrs. Hollenback and her family years ago.
First, the book describes a little girl and her mom having many traditions during Christmas, including making cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Every year as the mother opened the boxes, it seemed like a present because they had forgotten about many of the decorations from the year before.
The story talks about all of the beautiful ornaments and the manger set they had. In the story the mom (author Deb Mauthe) and her daughter had everything but a Christmas tree. Their rental home was too small for a giant tree like most homes had.
The story says, “Ann taught school and she was really nice to us. She made cookies and shared them with us. Her brother the Bishop was a very busy man and not at the house too often.” When he was there, he would say a friendly hello or give a quick smile on his daily jog.
One day there was a knock at their door. It was Bishop Bob holding a Christmas tree that he had cut from their family tree farm. After Bishop Bob left their house, the mother started to cry because she knew that is what Christmas is all about, showing generosity toward others and trying your very best to make someone else happy.
Every year, according to the children’s book, the mother and daughter unpack their Christmas decorations and remember what their neighbor Bishop Bob did for them on that special Christmas. In turn, they try to find a way to do something nice for someone just like Bishop Bob did for them when they needed a tree.
The interesting thing about the book is that Mrs. Hollenback did not even know it existed. She was completely shocked and surprised when her biology student, Nathan Budde, showed it to her. It was her very first time seeing the story or even hearing about it.
Mrs. Hollenback said, “I did not even know that this book was written. It is amazing to me how I was unaware of it. I was so excited when I first read it.”
The story is truly a treasure about how a special neighbor surprises a little girl and her mom with a beautiful Christmas gift of a tree. The gift will forever leave a lasting mark on their hearts and many more hearts through the story being told in this special book, The Bishop’s Christmas Tree.
A quick search on the internet revealed the book is available at Amazon.com. Several pictures of the cover and pages from the book are posted for viewing. Copyright date is 2011.
ADVISER UPDATE: After this story was written, Mrs. Hollenback confronted her brother, Bishop Bob Morneau, with the copy of the book. His response was typical of the humble bishop. . . he’d known about it all along, just never made a big deal of it.