Editor’s note: This Christmas story written by Biloxi teacher Becky Grigsby originally printed in 1992.
Once upon a time, in Biloxi, Mississippi, a hurricane blew out of the Gulf of Mexico. It was a very unusual hurricane. People named it Noel.
For you see, hurricanes never blew up after mid-November and this one came without warning in December — mid-December, actually.
A better name would have been Christmas Destroyer. The twinkling lights on the Town Green around the giant oak were blown away. The lots, full of Christmas trees, swirled away into the night. Even the toy shops and other stores were gone. All the lights and glitter of Christmas were gone. The boats along the water had moved to safer shelter with their Christmas lights.
People were so upset when they came out of their homes after Hurricane Noel. Whatever would they do now? There were no trees and no lights. The wonderful little Rudolphs, angels and trees on the light poles along the streets, hung in shambles now. The live oak at Town Green was stripped of lights and glitter. And even some of its regal branches were ripped away.
Everyone cried and cried. Then the children of Biloxi decided to help make Christmas come after all. They began to clean up and sweep up and untangle strings of lights and hunt for Christmas decorations.
What happened next, as the tale is told, still causes people to listen in disbelief.
A particular group of children was working along the East Beach area. They were trying to figure out what they could use for a Christmas tree, amid all the junk and debris they had found. They had to do something since all the Christmas trees had blown away. They thought about building one out of old lumber and wire, but everyone agreed that it would look very funny.
As the children continued to wander along the beach, they saw the most unusual sight being pushed onto the beach. It was a huge, green shrimping net, shaped into a beautiful Christmas Tree. It was covered with garlands of seaweed, ornaments and bells made of seashells, and a radiant starfish to crown the top. As it rose slowly out of the water, it even took on a glimmering look as the thousands of drops of water caught the sunlight.
It was the most beautiful tree the children had ever seen. But where had it come from? Who could have brought it? And why couldn’t they find the person who had pushed the tree onto the beach? Surely they had to use a boat to move it.
The children were so excited about the tree. They ran throughout the town and told everyone about the wonderful tree. All day, people gathered to see the beautiful Christmas tree from the Gulf. They marveled at its beauty. As evening came, the tree shimmered as if lit by thousands of tiny candles. The tree suddenly looked as if it were covered by thousands of stars. Oh what a merry Christmas it would be after all.
Long into the night, people came and looked at the tree. Everyone asked, “Where did it come from?” The children told the story over and over. “It just drifted or was pushed onto the beach.” No one paid much attention to one little girl who stood at the edge of the water. They didn’t see or really care that she was talking to someone or something in the water. But she would be able to tell them who had brought the Christmas tree. And why the Christmas tree had appeared in the water.
She knelt at the water’s edge and asked Jean Luc, the Red-nosed dolphin, to come and show himself. But Jean Luc refused. See, he was very, very shy. Dolphins have blue noses, not red noses, and all the other dolphins and people made fun of him. They said that he looked more like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, than Jean Luc, the Blue-nosed Dolphin. And his friends thought it was silly to help humans, who laughed at you, even after a hurricane.
You see, the dolphins didn’t think humans were very kind or friendly. They had their homes shaken up by Hurricane Noel, too. And they didn’t think that the humans were helping them put their homes to order. So why should they help the humans? Most of the dolphins thought that the humans could straighten things out for themselves.
Jean Luc had seen and heard the little girl crying and had decided to help her have a wonderful Christmas tree. So he found all the used shells and starfish and seaweed. He even found the old shrimping net and decorated a wonderful tree, just for the little girl.
That night, after everyone left the beach. Jean Luc swam up to the water’s edge. He was looking at his beautiful tree. “At least,” he thought, “the children of Biloxi had a Christmas Tree, even if Santa doesn’t find them tonight.”
The more happy thoughts about the tree, that Jean Luc had, the brighter his nose shone. Pretty soon, his nose was shining like a neon sign. That nose was so shinny and was blinking so brightly, that it lit up the whole Biloxi Beach.
Way off in the distance, Jean Luc saw another blinking red light. At first, he thought it was an airplane. Then he heard the sleigh bells. And Jean Luc knew that Santa and his eight magical reindeer were being led by Rudolph with his shinny red nose.
After Santa and all the magical reindeer arrived, Santa told Jean Luc that he was so proud of him. If he had not decorated the tree for the children of Biloxi and then become so excited that his nose started shining and blinking, Santa would have flown right over Biloxi that year, and all the children would have missed Christmas.
Because Jean Luc made a very special Christmas tree from the Gulf of Mexico, and made that a very special Christmas for the children of Biloxi, there will always be a lighted Jean Luc, the Red-Nosed Dolphin, on the Town Green, next to the live oak.