Paul Discovers the Perfect Gift

Lynn Scharenbroich of Pequot Lakes, MN

Few people know that Paul Bunyan's own mother visited her son's logging camp every year at Christmas. And, every year, Paul would fidget himself into a stew, trying to settle on just the right gift for her. This fidgeting created so much tension in the air that shards of evergreens fell off their branches, leaving only needle-shaped leaves, which we still see today.

The winter Paul logged off Minnesota and Wisconsin, he was having an especially tough time deciding on a gift for his mother. Broadaxe Bill suggested earrings in the shape of axes, but Paul's mom had a fondness for earmuffs which she wore winter and summer, so there was no room for earrings. Creme Puff Fatty was sure that a box of his light, fluffy creme puffs were the perfect answer. Paul listened to all the suggestions, but none were right for his mom, and his fidgeting became more intense, at times cracking off huge boughs of the nearest pines, which the men quickly tied together with scraps of red shirt cloth and hung up around the camp.

Later that night, Paul was still awake, pacing and fidgeting. Then he noticed a light shining from Johnnie Inkslinger's window. Paul hadn't heard any ideas from him yet.

Because it was almost Christmas, Johnnie was busy counting the number of yards of yarn the camp tailor, Jens Threadbetter, would need to knit Christmas stockings for all the men. With an intent and furrowed brow, he listened to Paul's dilemma. As he considered Paul's plight, his glance fell on his trusty ink pen. "That's it!" Johnnie cried. "We'll write a story for your mom. It'll be all about you and Babe and the Seven Axemen and Pea Soup Shorty and Sandy McNab," Johnnie would have gone on and on, but Paul quickly reached out and pinched off his words in mid-air.

Paul loved the idea of writing his own story for his mom's Christmas gift. He and Johnnie Inkslinger worked all that night and throughout the whole next day. Paul did the telling and Johnnie did the writing. In the end, they had used five barrels of ink and a hundred pounds of paper.

When Paul's mom arrived on Christmas morning, Paul presented her with a manuscript rolled up and tied neatly with a red bow. She proclaimed it was the best gift she had ever received and she and Paul read and reread the stories many times that Christmas Day.

After that year, Paul declared December 23 as Story Day in the camp. He insisted that every man in camp write a story to send home. As years passed, some of the men sent specially shaped paper and the artsy ones drew pictures to go with their stories. Soon, this idea spread all over the country and people everywhere started sending messages to friends and family at Christmas time.