By M. Merlin Acker
Farmer Jim awoke early one bright spring morning, traveling to the steep eastern slope on his farm overlooking a small village. One by one he placed small pine trees in the soil. As the saplings embraced the sunlight and inhaled a few breaths of the crisp air, two trees began talking.
“It’s sure good to get out of this plastic wrapper and stretch our roots, isn’t it?” said Woodrow.
Elwood replied, “I’m excited to start growing in this ground. Ever envision us to be part of a giant redwood forest some day?”
“No, we will become extraordinary, we are destined to be Christmas trees! “ responded Woodrow. “People will decorate us, sing, and dance in our presence and in just a few years, we will go down as the best Christmas yet in many people’s minds.”
Finally after a few short seasons, Elwood and Woodrow were just the right size. This would be their year to shine.
But tragedy struck as they were sunning themselves one October afternoon. A large deer came strolling through the field. With a forceful leap his antlers hit Elwood’s middle branches tearing two of them and pushing them sideways. Then with a quick turn of his head he bit a top branch off.
Woodrow screamed, “Oh Elwood, what a terrible injury he’s given you !”
Elwood anguishing in pain slowly asked, “How bad is it? Do you still think I’ll be chosen?”
Woodrow was speechless.
After Thanksgiving, farmer Jim brought his horses and wagon to the field. Woodrow and Elwood dwelled among the choicest trees. Men, women, and children ran up to Elwood only to find he was damaged. Shaking their head in disgust, they searched further. A young couple looked at Elwood, only to invite Woodrow to their home for the Christmas season.
As Woodrow fell to the ground he yelled, “Don’t give up Elwood, someone special will find you.”
Weeks went by and just as Elwood was giving up hope, farmer Jim brought Miss Nellie up the hill. She inspected each tree, then her eyes mysteriously fell on him.
“This tree is perfect!” exclaimed Nellie.
Farmer Jim replied, “But he is damaged!”
Nellie said, “I’m taking it anyway; it just catches my eye.”
Maybe she will place my deformities toward a wall and just look at my backside, Elwood thought. But he was wrong. She placed him face out with his twisted and missing branches facing the center of the room. And the only decoration he received was an angel on top.
Christmas morning was just as Woodrow always imagined, children racing to the tree, gifts and jumping for joy. Couples embraced and shared the love of families.
But for Elwood, it was just as it had been for the last few days: Nellie sewing and humming as she gazed at him.
Four more days passed after Christmas. By this time, some of his friends were being hauled outside to be a winter home for the birds, while others were placed on the curb. That was when Elwood got a big surprise.
This morning he noticed a distinct smell competing with his pine aroma. Nellie was cooking something in the kitchen and she placed four shiny presents at his feet.
“Maybe she didn’t miss Christmas after all,” thought Elwood.
“Merry Christmas, Mom!” said the young man followed by his wife, coming through the door.
“Merry Christmas!” Nellie exclaimed.
A young girl ran in and bounced into Nellie’s arms.
“Merry Christmas, Grammy! I didn’t think we would ever get here!” she cried.
“I’m so happy to have you here. The wait has been well worth it,” said Nellie. “Come look at my tree!”
When the young man took a look at Elwood he just sighed.
“Mom, why did you get a scratch and dent tree? Didn’t farmer Jim have better trees?”
Elwood was crushed.
Nellie expressed “I find this tree fascinating.”
Nellie said to the young girl, “I’ve been waiting to hold and rock you all season in front of this tree. Please come.”
As she climbed into Nellie’s lap, she took a long look at the tree and said, “Gramms, I don’t think your tree is bad, I know why you like it. That branch that is snipped off and those two that are twisted remind me of Grandpa when he would tell me a whopper and wink with his twisted smile.”
“You know, me too,” said Nellie.