The Sad Little Tree
By Stan Evans,
Here 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.
The 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 forest.
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 decorations…”
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, please?”
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
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
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 choose me.”
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
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 face.
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 good.”
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 me how.”
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
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 for.
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