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Christmas tree inspires book

Have you ever gone to the Christmas tree farm and cut down a tree, only to find when you got it home, there was a little eight-legged stowaway among the branches?

Erin Ferguson and her two daughters have. “We’ve been cutting down live trees for years and we always got a spider in our Christmas tree,” Ferguson says.

“One year, we named one Earl and joked about it all season. He became a part of our family and it started a yearly Christmas tradition of welcoming Earl back into our home.”

That experience gave Ferguson, a Nazareth area writer, an idea: “What if I write about a spider who finds a home in a Christmas tree and has a deep yearning to be a part of the family?”

The book she wrote as a result is “Earl: The Christmas Tree Spider,” published by Austin Macauley Aug. 30. She is signing copies of her book through the holiday season in the Lehigh Valley.

It is the first book for Ferguson, who is a freelance newspaper writer. “I wanted it to be a little different from other Christmas stories,” she says.

After writing a manuscript, she says she “winged it” and sent it to a publisher that was printed on the back of one of her daughter’s children’s books. The 28-page picture book has illustrations.

Ferguson says the process of getting her first book published took almost three years: “It’s been a long journey.”

In the book, Earl is a lonely spider who is looking for a home during the holiday season. He finds a tree to call home until the tree is cut down and brought to a family’s home to use for Christmas.

Though at first, Earl is scared of the family and his new surroundings, he soon realizes how much he wanted to be accepted by them. Earl decides to write Santa Claus a letter asking him if he could make Earl’s wish come true of a family to call his own.

“These guys are a part of the Christmas tree experience so I wanted to make it acceptable for them to be there,” Ferguson says.

“It’s really about love and acceptance and hope and home. And Christmas is one of most loving times of the year.”

She says she heard from many people that finding a spider in a fresh-cut Christmas tree was pretty much a universal experience and decided she didn’t want her family or anyone to be afraid of them any longer.

She credits her two young daughters, Sawyer and Harlan, with bringing the story of Earl to life.

In the book, the spider goes on a journey from the forest to a loving home he gets to call his own, complete with his own Christmas stocking. Ferguson hopes the message of love and acceptance will be one that resonates with children for years to come.

And Earl’s story is not over. Ferguson says she envisions other Earl the Spider stories based around other holidays such as Easter and Thanksgiving.

“I definitely would like to continue with Earl,” she says.

Erin Ferguson reads from and signs copies of “Earl: The Christmas Tree Spider” (available in hardcover and paperback), 4 - 6 p.m. Dec. 7, Moravian Book Shop, 428 Main St., Bethlehem, and 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Dec. 21, Barnes & Noble, Southmont Center, 4445 Southmont Way, Easton.