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A Christmas Tree’s Story

Part One of Two

December 17, 2008
By Chuck Clegg

How do I tell you my story? After all I was to most just a pine tree growing in a meadow. Those in the scientific field will call me evergreen or a conifer or even the Latin Picea Pungens. My silvery blue needles are prickly if you touch them. I give off a fresh smell when I am placed in your house during the holidays. To most I am simply a spruce, A Blue Spruce. I believe that my species is the most handsome pine tree around.

The real title I am most proud of is, I am a Christmas tree. Eight years ago I started my life as a small seed. My grower planted me in warm, fertile soil and carefully tended my first year's growth.

The next spring I was moved out into an open meadow with hundreds of other pine trees. Some had long soft needles on their branches. Others were short and stiff to the touch. They all were nice trees, but I believe my blue color separates me from all the rest.

All the trees in our green meadow home had but one goal, to be a Christmas Tree.

For the next seven years, I stood in the neat row of trees growing ever taller each year. I watched as each December the mature trees were measured and graded and removed to be sold as someone's Christmas tree.

Last year the beautiful Virginia Pine I had grown up beside for six years was picked by a family with four children-three girls and a boy. They were so happy, singing Christmas Carols as they took Virginia away.

I was happy for her, but also a little sad at the bare spot that now sat next to me. In the meadow a family of rabbits who often sat under Virginia's branches for shelter from the cold winter snows have not returned. I miss Virginia. I miss the rabbits.

I sometimes dream of what Christmas may have been like for Virginia. I can see her standing tall in a large well lit room. Her top branch adorned with an angel with golden wings that nearly touch the ceiling of the room. Virginia was a little tall for her age, but the family did not seem to notice. They just enjoyed her strong branches that had been decorated with beautiful glass bulbs and soft twinkling lights.

The warm room was filled with the aroma of the long needled pine. The children were surrounded by joys of the season and the warmth of Christmas with family. All this in a room filled by a glow of Christmas lights from my friend Virginia.

On the mantle above the warm fireplace are flickering candles surround by red and white striped candy canes. Seven red stockings were neatly hung alongside the cracking fireplace. One for each family member, including the dog named Sunny.

In the center of the fireplace mantle was a family heirloom that had been handed down from generation to generation in the mother's family.

It was a nativity set. The small porcelain figures had lost their shine with the passing of time. The donkey's left ear was missing and one of the sheep had lost one of its legs. The father would always prop the sheep up against one of the wise men to help it stand.

In the center of the small wooden building was a manger filled with soft white cotton. Gently cradled in the center was a baby.

Each Christmas eve it was the family custom to gather round the father as he reminded the family of the true meaning of Christmas. I am proud Virginia will be part of that special moment with the family. I miss Virginia. I miss the rabbits.

The following spring was my seventh year in the meadow. As soon as the ground warmed the planter carefully set a new Virginia Pine Tree beside me. It was much too small for the family of rabbits to shelter under in bad weather. And I know I would not see this young tree grow into a Christmas Tree.

This is my eighth year of growth and come December a family will come and pick me to be part of their Christmas.

It is early May and the planter has returned as he does each year to trim and shape each of us Christmas Trees. Being a Christmas tree is not easy. I have to hope a deer with large antlers doesn't use me to rub on and damage my branches. Heavy snows sometimes break limbs and leave unsightly holes in our shape.

A damaged tree is the last to be chosen for a Christmas tree. Even worse is if you are not chosen by your ninth season, the planter takes you away in late spring. There is no Christmas in the spring and those damaged trees are never seen again. I miss Virginia. I miss the rabbits.

Today the planter will trim my branches to make my shape perfect to be one of this year's Christmas trees.

He uses a mechanical device called a Benneke to shape my branches. It makes a loud swirling sound as he carefully moves it up and down my branches to shape them. The planter is very careful to remove just the right amount so I am a perfect Blue Spruce Christmas tree for this year.

The planter had just finished trimming my branches and stopped to check my shape, when I heard a voice from behind an ugly hemlock tree. Soon an old man who walked with a cane came into sight and was talking to my planter. He was no planter. Why had he stopped my planter from his very important work?

The old man brushed my branches and pulled at my needles. He is not a planter; he must go away so my planter can return to his very important work shaping Christmas trees in May.

Soon the stranger and the planter left the meadow. My planter had left his Benneke, the tool he uses to trim Christmas trees. Why would he leave it behind? This is very strange that he would do such a thing.

Then I heard something. It was the planter with his harvesting tractor. I am afraid, thought the blue spruce. I have no damaged branches, it is not Christmas. Why is he coming for me with his tractor?

The planter gently pulled a net up around the blue colored branches of the spruce tree. "Why has he pulled my branches so tight around me?" thought the frightened tree.

Next the planter used the tractor's bucket to slowly remove the dirt from around the tree's roots. For the first time the tree could feel the warmth of the sun on its roots. For the first time in eight years they were no longer cover by the cool dark earth.

With great care the tractor lifted the blue spruce and the planter, along with his helper, carefully wrapped the tree's earth covered roots with damp burlap.

Higher and higher the planter lifted the tree from its home in the earth. Finally the tree began being lowered into the bed of a truck. What have I done, I have not been damaged, and it is not Christmas. I miss Virginia. I miss the rabbits. The blue Spruce watched the other Christmas trees fade from view as the truck pulled from the quiet meadow onto the windy road.

 
 
 

 

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