Sad Little Tree
Stan Evans, President, SFAOL
it was, the night before Christmas. The tree lot that had been so busy for weeks
was all but abandoned, and only a few trees remained. The littlest tree left on
the lot had been so excited about the idea of going home with a family that would
decorate him with beautiful ornaments and lights. But as Christmas grew closer
and closer, no one had chosen him. Though the little tree had a graceful, pretty
shape, some of his lower branches had been bent and broken by the workers who
brought him to the lot. He figured that was the reason why all the Christmas-tree
shoppers had bypassed him.
now the owner of the lot was looking at his watch. He had his own Christmas celebration
to go to, and soon would be closing up. The little tree grew sadder and sadder.
He was almost ready to give up. Only a story that his grandfather tree, back in
the forest, had told him still gave him hope. His grandfather, who was very tall
and very wise, had said that when he was the little tree’s size, most people waited
until Christmas Eve to come to the forest in horse-drawn wagons to cut a tree.
little tree asked why his grandfather hadn't been taken. When he had been the
right size to be a Christmas tree, the grandfather said, the snow was very deep
that year, and no family was able to get to where he stood, deep in the woods.
The grandfather tree remembered
he had been very sad, because most of his friends had become Christmas trees in
earlier years, and he was looking forward to his own time to brighten a home.
But no one could reach him that year, and he kept growing and growing. When the
next Christmas came, he was too tall to go into a house. And so he stayed in the
little tree thought about his grandfather’s story. The only thing sadder seemed
to be his own fate: to be cut down, taken to a lot, but still not get to be a
Christmas tree. But suddenly a family of a father, mother, little boy and a beautiful
little girl hurried onto the lot. The owner greeted the family and asked if he
could help them. They said they had been very busy and had just now rushed off
to buy their tree. “Are we too late?” the frantic father asked. The owner said
they were not.
then the grandfather of the family walked slowly onto the lot. When the father
parked the car, the children had jumped out quickly and ran to the lot, because
they were worried about being too late to buy a Christmas tree. Their parents
quickly followed to be sure that no harm came to the children, and the grandfather
had been left behind. As he rejoined the family he heard the father grumbling
once again about waiting so long. “And we still have to buy all our lights and
I was a boy," the grandfather said calmly, "my family always got our
tree on Christmas Eve.We didn’t even think about getting it before then."
thought the little tree, who was overhearing the talk. “That’s just what my grandfather
tree told me.”
harried father sharply responded, "Yes, Dad, I know. But way back then, a
big part of getting into the Christmas spirit was hitching up the horses to the
wagon and going to the forest to cut down a tree. In fact, in those days you even
made your own Christmas decorations. But this is the modern age, and we do things
differently now. So let’s get a move on!”
father seemed impatient and annoyed. But the children’s reaction was different.
"Wow!" they shouted in unison. “Did you really make your own Christmas
decorations, Grandpa?" They seemed fascinated by the idea.
yes we did,” the old man replied with a smile. “In those days my family didn't
have the electric lights, the glitter and the brightly colored balls you see today.
My dad couldn't afford them back then—but we had more fun making them anyway."
the little girl said, "could we make our own decorations? Can we? Can we,
I don’t know about that, honey,” the mother responded slowly.
I hope they do,” mused the little tree. “And I hope they choose me. None of my
tree friends have had homemade decorations. That would be so nice.”
know what I'm going to make for a decoration!" the little girl told her brother.
"What?" he asked. "A paper chain like we made in school for our
Christmas tree there. We already have some colored paper at home. We won’t have
to buy any."
a neat idea!” the boy said. “But what can I make?"
used to string popcorn into chains," the grandfather suggested.
chains? I never heard of that. How did you do it?” asked the puzzled boy.
first you pop the popcorn. Then you get a needle and thread and string the pretty
white kernels together. But I’ll let you in on a secret: We always made a lot
more popcorn than we needed for the chains, because somehow most of it went down
our mouths instead of on the tree. My mother would laugh, ‘You children are going
to have popcorn stars instead of popcorn chains unless you slow down on the eating.”’
But she never made us stop.”
said the little boy. “I love popcorn. We have some in the pantry. We’ll just throw
it in the microwave.”
thought the little tree. “That would even smell good. Oh, they’ve just got to
know, dear,” said the woman to her husband. “I’m starting to like this idea. It
is a little unusual, but it certainly has advantages. We could save money on commercial
decorations, we can avoid those last-minute mobs at the stores, we can get home
earlier and go to bed earlier, then get up earlier tomorrow to see what Santa
brought. It’ll be fun to look through all our chests and cabinets for decoration
ideas. And when we’re finished, we’ll have the most original tree in town.”
Dad, yes!” called out the children in unison. “Please, please!”
in a silent voice that humans were unable to hear, the little tree repeated: “Yes,
Dad, yes! Please!”
I guess it’ll be OK,” conceded the father grudgingly, afraid that his manly authority
was being challenged. “So let’s pick a tree and get going.” And then to the little
tree’s dismay, the father walked right up to the only big tree left on the lot.
little tree realized that to reassert himself, the father was going to choose
a big macho tree instead of a small one. The little tree felt his last hope slipping
away. But then he felt a gentle, kindly presence settle upon him.
away from the determined father, the little tree saw the grandfather smiling down
at him. “Son,” the old man called out softly to the children’s father, “before
you make up your mind, let’s take a look at this little tree as well.”
mother and the children came running up. “Why, it’s exquisite!” exclaimed the
mother. “What a pretty shape.”
and it’s so cute and friendly, too,” added the little girl. “And it’s exactly
the same height as me!” said the boy.
little tree felt a surge of hope. But it dwindled as a frown crossed the father’s
admit it’s a nice tree,” he said reluctantly. “And a small one would be
easier to decorate at this late hour. But look—some of the bottom branches are
twisted and broken. No matter how we turn it, the side facing out will not look
little tree felt like crying. “So near, and yet so far,” he sighed, resigned to
his lonely fate.
then the grandfather spoke softly once again. “Son, you have all those woodworking
tools right there in your workshop. With a little cutting and sawing, a little
bit of wiring branches into place, I think you could make this tree look perfect.”
you could, Dad!” yelled the little boy. “I’ll help you with it. You can teach
know you can do it, Daddy,” said the little girl. “My Daddy can fix ANYTHING!!”
father broke into a huge grin. In fact, he was proud of his skill with
his tools, and he had not even realized that his children had noticed. This would
be a chance to impress them and his wife, and to demonstrate he was the man of
the little tree was loaded into the family’s station wagon, ready to be taken
home and become the happiest, most original Christmas tree in town. At the very
last minute his destiny had changed from a gloomy one to the one he had longed
so lucky,” thought the little tree. “My dream has come true. And I owe it all
to that nice grandfather.”
that moment, the grandfather started to close the station wagon door upon the
happy little tree. But just before he did, the old man actually winked at the
little tree. And for a split-second there, the little tree could have sworn that
this kind and gentle human grandfather looked very much like the tall and wise
old grandfather tree keeping watch in the deep, snowy forest.
Holidays to all, from SFAOL