Here is an interesting story to tell during the holiday season, and an idea for a simple craft and gift--a pine cone painted silver. The story is said to be from the Hartz Mountains of Germany, according to this website. You can find many other versions of the tale online, although I found no print source of the story listed. If you know one, please share!)
Legend of the Silver Pine Cones
There once lived a poor family without enough food to eat or wood for their fire. The mother decided to go into the forest to search for pine cones; these would burn brightly, if only for a short time, and provide some warmth for her cold house and family. Perhaps, she thought, I might be able to sell a few of the pine cones and make a little money to buy food too.
In the forest, the woman kicked away the snow and began picking up the fallen cones. Her fingers were soon numb with cold, but she persisted in her task.
“Why are you stealing my pine cones?” She looked around and saw a tiny elf on a log beside her.
"My family is cold and hungry," the woman explained. "The pine cones will warm us in the fire, and I might be able to sell a few and then buy a bit of bread for my little children."
"Well," the elf said, “Go into the next forest. The pine cones there are much better.” the elf disappeared as quickly as it had come.
The woman was tired, but the elf had spoken so assuredly that she decided to see if the elf was right. She made her way to the next forest, which was quite a long walk. But the elf had not lied--there were pine cones all over the ground and the woman quickly filled her basket. How happy everyone will be at home tonight, she thought. The sun was setting as she made her way home.
As she opened the door, she glanced down at her basket. The pine cones had all turned to silver!
The woman was able to buy all the food her family needed for the winter, and even then she had many silver pine cones left for the coming years. And because of her saving, careful ways, her family was never hungry or poor again.
Some people still believe that a silver pine cone brings luck. Hang one on your tree, or paint some pine cones silver this holiday season and give them to friends and family, along with a copy of this story. It is a simple gift, but one that is sure to be cherished.