|Lucy’s mother gave her a wooden box wrapped in a bright red ribbon tied in a bow. It was a pretty box, with leaves and fruit carvings on the lid. There was a lovely card attached to the box. Lucy very carefully opened the card, and read the neat words written on the card:
“My dearest Lucy, the gift of love, with all my love, Granny.”
After untying the ribbon, Lucy opened the box. The glass apple was packed inside, wrapped in fine white paper.
Lucy had a lovely Granny. She lived in a pretty, thatched cottage at the bottom of Lucy’s parent’s garden. Lucy loved her Granny very much, and whenever she visited her she had a wonderful time. Most afternoons after school Lucy would go down to the cottage with her dogs, and they’d play in Granny’s lush, rambling garden. Granny had the most interesting stories to tell, and she baked the nicest cakes and biscuits. They would sit outside on the porch, drinking lemonade, eating cookies and talking about the interesting things Granny had done during her long life.
One of the things Lucy loved most in Granny’s house was a glass apple. It was the most beautiful ornament Lucy had ever seen, and it sat on her sideboard on a pretty glass plate. Everybody who visited Granny commented on the beauty of the apple, for it was dark red and shiny and looked good enough to eat. In the afternoons the sun would shine on the apple, and it would glow, throwing out patterns of red light on the walls and curtains in the lounge.
Granny knew how much Lucy loved the apple, and she always let Lucy touch and hold the apple. One afternoon Lucy held the apple up to the sun and as it glowed red in her hands she was startled to feel it growing warm. Carefully she put it back on the plate, and went back outside to join Granny on the swing chair.
“Granny, the apple felt very warm while I was holding it today. I’ve never felt that before – what does it mean?” she asked, taking a sip from her lemonade.
Her Granny looked up quickly, then smiled at her grand daughter.
“Lucy, I didn’t tell you before because I wanted to wait until you asked me,” Granny answered. “That apple is very special, because it’s a little bit magic. Grandad gave me the apple the day we got married, and it’s looked after me ever since then. It’s very old, and whoever has the apple will always know love. That’s the most special gift anybody can have.”
Lucy put down her lemonade carefully. Taking a bite of her cookie, she turned toward her Granny, frowning.
“I don’t understand,” she said. “How can an ornament give somebody love? It’s not like a person or a dog or a cat. It doesn’t have a heart, or feelings.”
“Everything can give you love, Lucy,” her Granny put her arm around her. “The apple is a symbol of love. When something is given in love it becomes more than just a possession. The story your Grandad told me was that the apple was made a long time ago as a gift from a knight to his lady love. He gave her the glass apple when he asked her to marry him, to tell her that he loved her. His lady was delighted by his gesture, and she realized that his heart was true. He was being honest, not pretending he had lots of money and power in order to win her heart. She married him, and they were very happy.
“Although he was a knight, he wasn’t rich like a king or a landowner. They had a small cottage near the king’s palace, and one day he had to go away to fight for his king in a foreign land. Although he didn’t want to go, especially as his lady love was going to have their first child, it was his duty. A knight would fight for his king and defend his country. So he left, and she placed the apple next to her bed. That way it the first thing she saw when she awoke, and the last thing she saw before she slept at night. This was her way of keeping him close to her, because he gave it to her as a symbol of his love for her.’
Lucy took another sip of lemonade, her eyes huge as she waited for Granny to continue her story.
“One morning she awoke to find the apple glowing bright red. Without being told she knew her knight had died during the battle, and her heart was broken. She was very upset, and she picked up the apple, holding it close because it was the only reminder of him and his love she could hold. As she clasped it the apple glowed brighter and grew warm. It was his way of telling her he’d love her forever, and to be strong for them and their unborn child.
“So she kept the apple, because it was given to her in love. And for the whole of her life she was happy and contented because she knew she was loved. So you see, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the apple is, or even how much money it is worth. It’s like an engagement ring – it is a symbol of love.”
“Granny, where did Grandad get the apple from? Who gave it to him?” Lucy asked.
“The apple has never left our family,” Granny told her. “That brave knight was an ancestor of ours, and the apple has been passed down through the generations. The love the apple contains touches and blesses everyone who holds it, but it must not be locked away and forgotten. Love is something to be celebrated and shared, not hidden away in a dark cupboard or a bank vault. Love is something you must never be ashamed of, Lucy.”
Lucy’s Granny had died a few nights later, and Lucy had been very sad, and had been very worried about the apple. As Lucy lifted the apple out of the box, she could hear her Granny’s voice, reminding her of the apple’s love. It felt warm in her hands, and she put it on her dressing table, in front of her window. After she did that she stopped crying about her Granny’s death, because she knew that through the apple her granny’s love for her would live on.