A bit of a self-indulgent post, this one, and I'm grateful to anyone who endures to the end of it! Each year, after the Christmas festivities are ended, we strip the Christmas tree we chose with such care and haul it to the Christmas tree graveyard to be ground down by the Council. It's a sad sight seeing all those trees, once so cherished, abandoned in a heap, shreds of tinsel still hanging off them. My children were so grieved we decided to write a story about it. My 10-year-old was the creative director and illustrator and I was the scribe...
Deep in the dark cold wood stood a tiny fir tree. Its towering neighbours cast their shadows all around it and blocked out the sky and the tiny tree never saw the sun.
It grew colder. One day something wet and white landed on the tiny fir tree. Another followed, then another. The fir trees stood knee deep in the snow and their branches drooped beneath the weight of it.
The tiny fir tree did not know it, but Christmas was approaching. In the towns and villages the shops sparkled with tinsel and fairy lights, carols sounded across the frozen streets and people hurried home with bags of presents and special food. When dusk fell, a bright moon rose over the wood and made silver streaks across the snow. Suddenly voices broke the silence. The little fir tree strained to hear. Then three children danced between the tall trunks of the trees, shouting and laughing and calling to the tall man who walked behind them carrying a spade.
'How about this one?' cried one.
'We need a tree that's small enough to fit into the sitting room and strong enough to hold tinsel and chocolates and our new Christmas fairy,' said the tall man.
The little fir tree felt excited. How it longed to escape the dark cold wood. To hear laughter. To see the sun. To feel warmth on its frozen limbs. 'I hope they choose me!' it thought and it tried to fluff out its snowy branches. The smallest of the children came nearer. She put out a hand and stroked the soft bristles of the little fir tree. 'This is the one!' she called. The others tramped through the snow to join her.
'Perfect!' said the middle child. 'Not too big, not to bare and not too wispy.'
And so the father took up his spade and carefully dug round the little tree. With one hard pull he heaved it our of its snowy bed and slung it over his shoulder. Back through the wood they went, the moon beaming down on them through the branches. They reached the furthest rim of trees and the little fir felt a thrill of joy. The whole world seemed to lie before it down the hillside. The lights of a town prickled in the valley and the light of the starts matched them overhead. But the brightest light of all streamed from the windows of a small square house half way down the hill.
The door of the house flew open and a woman came down the path smiling. 'Did you find one?' she asked.
'The best ever!' the children shouted.
The little tree was carried into a warm bright sitting room. A fire leapt in the hearth, lamps burned on the tables and curtains shut out the night. The snow began to drip drip off its branches. 'It's so pleased to be here it's crying!' said the smallest child.
The children fetched boxes from the hallway. Colours as bright as jewels glimmered inside them. Then they fetched a bucket of soil wrapped round with gold paper and tied with a scarlet bow. The little fir was patted snugly in the warm earth. Then ropes of twinkling gold and silver were wound round its branches. Shiny balls dangled from its tips - red balls, blue ones, green, gold and purple with silver piping. Then came painted wooden birds, lustrous angels, ribbons, sugared fruits and tiny animals. Lastly a fairy with pink and silver wings was perched on top. The father pressed a switch and tiny rainbows blazed out from the top of the little tree to the bottom. The children cheered and the little tree thought it had never felt so happy.
When the children had been put to bed presents in gaily coloured paper were heaped round the tree. 'I don't think we've ever had one so beautiful,' sighed the mother.
The next day was Christmas. The little fir watched joyfully as the family tore open their gifts and reached down chocolates from its branches. The children sat round the golden bucket to sing carols and the scent of roasting potatoes filled the house. Outside the windows snow fell, but the little Christmas tree was warm and snug by the fire.
Days passed. Each afternoon the children played around the branches of the little fir. Each evening the parents read books and watched the television beside it. Then, one foggy chill morning the family began to take the golden ropes and coloured baubles from the branches. They stripped off the chocolates and the animals and the rainbow lights. The fairy was packed in a little box. The little tree began to feel shivery and bare.
As before the father heaved it out of its bed and slung it over his shoulder. But this time they passed from warmth to cold. From the cosy, fire-bright sitting room to the frost and fog outside and back up the hill to the wood which stood darkly against the sky. A great black shape loomed near the trees. As they drew nearer the little fir realised that the shape was a mound of Christmas trees. They lay higgeldy piggeldy on top of one another. Some were still fresh and green. Some had lost nearly all their needles. Some were already turning brown and some still had shreds of tinsel clinging to their branches. With a great heave the father flung the little tree onto the top of the pile and strode back down the hill.
The little fir lay wedged between a tall fat tree with silver glitter stuck to its needles and an old stumpy tree with bare twigs. Rain began to drizzle over the pile and drip like tears from the branches. Down the hill the lights from the house glowed and the little fir tree shivered.
Suddenly there was a sound. A torch flashed onto the soaking heap. 'Which one is it? whispered a voice. It was the oldest child.
'That one there!' replied his sister. 'Can't you tell? It's the sweetest, prettiest one of them all.'
Together the children clambered onto the pile and hauled the little fir out of the tangle.
'We couldn't leave you there when we'd spent such a lovely Christmas together,' said the oldest child. 'We're going to plant you back in the wood so you can grow big and strong.'
And so they hauled the little tree deep among the shadowing firs and they dug a hole and bedded it in snugly among the fallen pine needles. And there it stood, the little fir, while the winter turned to summer and back to winter again. The years passed. The little tree grew bigger and bigger until it was as tall as its tallest neighbours and could feel the sunlight on its topmost branches. Fir cones swelled along its twigs, ripened and fell to earth. And one day a seed spilled out of a fallen cone and buried itself in the soft ground. A tiny shoot grew. The shoot became a sapling and the sapling became a little fir tree.
Winter arrived and snow began to fall. One day voices sounded in the wood. Three children danced between the tall trunks shouting and laughing and calling to the tall man who walked behind them carrying a spade.
'When I was about your age, my sisters and I found a perfect little tree somewhere round here,' said the man. 'It was the best Christmas tree we ever had and we were so sad to see it thrown onto the Christmas tree graveyard that we rescued it and planted it back where we first found it.'
'Can we have it for our Christmas tree?' cried the children.
'It would have grown far too big now. I'm talking of years ago,' their father said.
One of the children spotted the little fir growing in the shadow of its parent. 'I like this one,' she said. The others gathered round to look. 'It's perfect,' said her brother. 'Not too tall. Not too bare. Not too wispy.' The father lifted his spade and the mighty fir that had once cheered him through Christmas watched proudly as its baby was heaved over his shoulder and carried away through the snow.
© Anna Tims 2012
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all you beloved readers!