Monday, December 5, 2016

The Christmas Tree

I stand in the center of a grove, surrounded by towering beauty. I look around me, admiring the perfect arms of the ones closest to me. I envy the symmetrical way their boughs stretch out at the bottom and gracefully taper to a point at the top. I am shorter than the rest and am jealous of the way they stretch towards the sky, tickling the puffy clouds floating by.

The soft breezes bring crisp air, and I know the best time of the year is quickly approaching. Soon white tufts of cotton will fall from the heavens and settle on my branches, making me proud to wear a dusting of soft snow. Dressed in a coat of white makes me feel just as pretty as the giants standing next to me.

It is the time of year when packs of families come to choose their favorite to take home and dress up in necklaces of silver tinsel and earrings of red and green. I have always wondered what it would be like to shine in a window with ribbons and bows tucked beneath my skirt. But for the past five years, I have never been chosen. In those five years, I never seem to grow an inch.

Here come the children, dressed in padded clothing and black boots. They squeal while their golden-haired dog sniff my trunk. Maybe this will be the family who chooses me.

“This one is too short and too scrawny,” growls the man as he shakes my branches.

The dog starts to dig a hole around my base. “I think it’s infested with bugs,” cries the child as he pulls the dog’s leash.

“Here’s the best one!” announces the teenager, pointing to the neighbor on my right.

They fell my giant friend and carry him through the forest, high on their shoulders, to their car. My spine slumps a little further, and my arms droop to the ground.

As the veil of night shades the sun, the weekend ends its storm of activity. Several of my friends have been chosen, but I remain, a little shorter, a little more crooked, one of my boughs chopped off by a careless hatchet. I start to weep as the rain washes away my white cloak.

The morning sun shines a little brighter because the farm appears a little thinner. The warmth fails to lighten my spirits.

I observe a little girl and her parents off in the distance slowly making their way in my direction. I try to stand taller, but my crooked back pulls my crown forward. When they reach my tuft of land, I study the little girl. Her crutches wrap around her elbows and stretch to the ground. Her feet turn together toe to toe. She slumps forward as she braces herself firmly in front of me.

“I want this one!” she announces, pointing at me.

“But it’s smaller than the rest and it doesn’t stand straight,” argues her father.

“It’s just like me,” the little girl observes.

“Then this is the one we shall choose,” states her father.

They gently release me from my forest home and wrap me in twine. The ride on top of the car is both exhilarating and scary. They give me warm water to drink and display me in their living room in front of the picture window, just as I have always imagined. They dress me in silver and gold shiny bobbles; drape me in a red feathery boa, and string blinking lights around my arms. They hang the heavier ornaments on my backside so I stand a little taller. They hang larger ornaments on my side to hide my missing bough. The father lifts the little girl up so she can crown my head with a star. I smile at my reflection in the window. I have never felt more beautiful.

I will miss my friends at the Christmas Tree Farm, but I know that I was planted with the ultimate goal of some day glowing in a family’s home.