I’m an evergreen tree.

It was wonderful living with all kinds of trees in a lovely forest. It was exciting, too, living through the seasons as they came and passed.

We loved spring when tiny buds appeared in the bare branches. New life was springing into being after a long, hard winter.

We loved summer when the tiny buds burst into fresh, green leaves making the trees full and beautiful. Birds nested in their branches and sang merry tunes.

We loved fall when the leaves turned colors and the forest was ablaze with red and yellow and gold.

We loved winter when lacy snowflakes fell from the sky, covering the bare branches with soft, fluffy snow.

As much as we loved winter, we evergreens dreaded it, too. Christmas was coming. Men would come into the forest looking for evergreens for Christmas trees.

“I don’t want to be chopped down!” I cried. “Oh, I know it’s just wonderful to be a Christmas tree, people ooh and aah over you and say you’re beautiful, but that doesn’t last very long. After a few glorious days, you feel your branches getting stiff and dry and brittle. Needles begin falling. Someone says it’s time to take you down. All the glittery ornaments are removed, the tinsel, the lights. You stand there bare and alone. Then they drag you to the alley where you say goodbye to this wonderful world. No, I don’t want to be a Christmas tree. I want to live forever and ever!”

For many, many years I was passed by. Maybe I was too short, or too tall, too bushy or not bushy enough. Whatever the reason, I was passed by and left in my beloved forest.

But this year, in my heart, I knew it was going to be different. It was.

The men came. They went through the forest looking for trees. They looked at me.

“There’s a nice tree,” one of the men said.

The next thing I knew, I was lying in the snow. Oh, it didn’t hurt being chopped down, only in my heart.

They tied a rope around me to keep my branches together. Then they threw me on a truck. I took one long, last look at my beloved forest as we drove away. It was so hard to say goodbye, so very hard.

Couple days in the tree lot

We ended up in a tree lot in a small town. I wondered who was going to buy me. I was there a day or two when I saw someone coming toward me.

He was a short, rather plump, man and with him was a little girl. They came over to me. As they drew nearer, I could see under his furry cap a pair of navy blue eyes, eyes as blue as the sky.

He looked at my price tag.

“I don’t know, Sarah,” he said to the little girl. “We don’t have much money.”

“Oh, please, Papa,” the little girl begged.

“Well, I guess, it is Christmas,” Papa said. “All right!”

Sarah jumped up and down as they went along the street dragging me behind them because they didn’t have a car.

Snow was falling. When we reached our destination, we were all covered with pretty snowflakes that clung to us and didn’t want to let go.
Our destination was a big, beautiful, old house at the edge of town. In the back, there was an old barn, an orchard and an empty field with a rail fence. It was pretty!

Papa with the blue eyes

Now, before I tell you more, let me tell you what I later learned about Papa — Papa with the blue eyes, eyes as blue as the sky!

It seemed the whole town agreed that Papa was a good, kind man who loved his fellow man and all God’s creatures.

He would sit with them and listen to them. Every stray dog and cat — and birds, too —found a friend in Papa! In winter, he would buy a big bag of birdseed. He’d spill it on the walk, then hide behind the curtain to see his feathered friends happy and enjoying their wonderful feast.

But there was something else all the townspeople knew about Papa, too.!

If you wanted something fixed, don’t go to Papa!

There was the time he tried to fix a little leak in the faucet and it turned into a gushing fountain, and the time he tried to fix a broken board on the steps. Papa got out his hammer and nails and began pounding away, but instead of pounding the nail, he pounded his finger and had to go to the doctor.

Papa was all thumbs! Papa couldn’t fix anything!

I like my new home!

Well, so be it! Let me get back to my story!

A little woman called “Mama” opened the door when Papa, Sarah and I arrived.

“You’re all full of snow!” she said. “You’ve messed up my floor. Well, bring it in!”

Papa took me and began pushing me through the door top first. All my branches were getting stuck in the doorway.

“The other way! The other way!” Mama said.

Papa turned me around and we sailed through the door like a barge.

“Do you have all the things you need to set it up?” Mama asked.

Papa said he did and went to work.

Now, I’m not an awfully tall tree, but Papa sure did have a time putting me up. I flopped this way and that way and this way and that way.

I was getting dizzy! With a lot of puffing, Papa finally got me to stand up!

I looked around the room. It was a pleasant looking room. I was in a big bay window. Across from me was a pot-bellied stove. The fire glowed and flickered through its windows. There was a couch and chairs and pictures on the walls.

And the people? There was Papa, Mama, Sarah and a thin, quiet old Gramma. Gramma had long, white hair that Sarah liked to comb.

They were nice.

I liked my new home.

All decked out for Christmas

The next day was Christmas Eve. Sarah, who was a firm believer in Santa Claus, was put to bed while Papa and Mama began to dress me up!

Papa began putting on the lights – red, green, yellow and blue.

“Papa,” Mama said. “The blue one should be there and the red one here and the green one over there and the yellow one here.”

Then they brought me the beautiful, old ornaments that had been carefully wrapped in tissue paper and put away for another year.

“Don’t break any,” Mama warned.

Next came the glittery golden garland that was draped around me, and finally the star on my top that sparkled like diamonds.

Sarah came bouncing out of the bedroom. She saw me!

“Oh! It’s really pretty,” she cried. “It’s beautiful!”

She came over and touched my boughs. It was wonderful. Had I said I didn’t want to be a Christmas tree? I almost forgot that it was going to last for only a few days!

Papa smiled. He knew he had done a good job.

It was Christmas Day.

They turned on the music. “Jingle bells. Jingle bells. Jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open, sleigh!”

“I want to hear about Santa Claus,” Sarah said. “Santa Claus is coming to town.”

“It’s time for dinner,” Mama called.

They all flocked to the kitchen and gathered around a big card table.

“Thank you, God, for blessing us,” Mama said. They all bowed their heads.

That night, a very tired little girl fell asleep with her new doll in her arms.

Christmas visitors bring joy

The next few days were interesting — to say the least. People stopped in to wish the family a Merry Christmas. There was Aunt Mary, who smoked a pipe; the farmer down the road in his overalls, who smelled like cows; the fat, jolly milkman; and the next door neighbors who brought their big dog along. That dog sniffed and sniffed around me. I didn’t like him at all.

A little girl came over to play with Sarah. They dressed up in the aunt’s long dresses and clumped around in her high heels. They made believe they were movie stars. Sarah couldn’t understand why movie stars lived in the woods: Holly Wood!

Every once in a while, Aunt Lizabeth, who lived upstairs, would come down. All of a sudden, she’d start dancing the Charleston. She danced so hard the dishes in the kitchen cupboard rattled.

“Lizabeth,” Mama said. “You’re going to break all my dishes!”

Lizabeth went right on dancing, dancing, dancing, dancing.

One day, something exciting happened. A mouse scampered up the steps from the cellar and was running around the living room. Papa took one big swat at it with a rolled up newspaper! It was up to Gramma, with her broom, to chase that mouse out the open door.

Everyone was laughing.

It’s all about to end

It was good to hear them laugh, so good. I awoke one morning and knew that all this was about to end.

I felt stiff all over. My boughs creaked. Brown needles lay scattered on the floor around me.

“Oh,” I said. “It’s all over being a Christmas tree, but I don’t want to say goodbye to this wonderful world. I want to live forever and forever and forever!”

It was so hard to say goodbye again, so very hard.

My heart was heavy.

Then one morning, I heard Mama talking to Sarah.

“This afternoon, I’m going to take you to church to see the crib,” she said.

They were gone quite a while. When they came back, Sarah was all excited.

“Oh, Papa,” she said. “It was just beautiful! Mary and Joseph found a stable and that’s where Baby Jesus was born! There were shepherds and sheep and kings all dressed in gold with big camels!

“Papa, Mama bought the little statues, but she didn’t have enough to buy a stable. Oh, Papa, could you make a stable?! Could you, Papa?!”

Papa hung his head.

“Oh, Sarah,” he said. “I’m not good at finishing things and making things. I don’t know how to make a stable. I can’t.”

Sarah was sad.

“Papa,” she cried. “You can do it! I know you can! You can make a stable!”

Papa saw how disappointed Sarah was.

“Well,” he said. “I’ll try, but I don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

Papa thought and thought.

“It’s time to take down the Christmas tree,” he said.

“Maybe you can make a stable out of our Christmas tree,” Mama said.

I heard what they were saying. My heart leapt for joy. Papa was going to make a stable out of me. I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to this wonderful world.

But could Papa do it? Papa who was all thumbs?

Papa pounds away

They took me down. I was all Papa’s.

Papa dumped me on the kitchen table. He didn’t want anyone to watch him. When he was finished for the day, he hid everything in the cupboard. We could hear him pounding away.

Once he got glue in his hair! Then the hammer broke! And nails spilled all over the floor! Papa kept on.

Then one day, after what seemed ages, Papa said, “It’s finished!”

The family gathered around the kitchen table. Papa held me up. I was beautiful — the most beautiful little stable you have ever seen!

If Papa had worn buttons, they all would have popped off when he puffed up his chest in pride.

I was filled with joy. Now I would live forever and forever and forever!

If you turn me over, you will see on the bottom, written in Papa’s very different way of writing: Made by George Hart, 1929!

Papa would live forever, too. Papa with eyes as blue as the sky!