He had never worn these boots before. She had given them to him shortly before she left. He was happy to have them now, as the sparkly snow underneath his feet crunched to both sides. He walked in complete silence – just him, the trees, the snow, and the wind howling as dusk tried to make its way through the late December afternoon. The ax he carried was shiny and clean – the red tip had worn off over the years. As he gazed into the sky, he knew he had to make a choice.
“Alright, this one it is”, he mumbled to himself under the beard he was too lazy to shave (Movember and all).
“Me?” it asked
“Why not? You look like a strong little guy”
“What are you going to do with me?”
“You don’t know what you’re here for?” He asked.
It looked around, confused. “I didn’t know I had a purpose. I’m just here. It’s what I do.”
“Oh”, he chuckled “your purpose is so much more than that. Just close your eyes, it won’t hurt”, he reassured the little fir tree as he swung the ax.
He hacked into the stem once, twice. It was a clean cut, and he almost caught it mid-air as it fell to one side.
To its surprise, the snow didn’t feel as cool as it looked from where it was standing before. “Come on, let’s get you home”, he said to the tree as he dragged it across the fluffy ground and gently threw it into the back of his car. One last look at the cool forest, and they drove off.
“So, what exactly am I doing now that I couldn’t do at home?”, the little tree asked.
“Let me show you”, he said as he place it into the stand and disappeared into the attic. The little tree awkwardly wiggled its branches, and tried to grasp its whereabouts. The fire crackled next to him, and the blanket the man had laid out was very comfortable. It smelled of gingerbread and marshmallows.
“Here”, the man returned with two large bags and a great smile on his face. He was excited. It had begun.
“I will dress you in these. You will look perfect.” He exclaimed as he put the first ornament on one of the little branches. They still felt cold.
“Alright”, the little tree responded after a pause. “But why?”
The man sat back after he draped a garland around the branches, smiling at his work. “You, my friend, have been chosen to make me happy. You’re a tradition on Christmas. Some people choose a plastic tree to save all of you; I’ve done that for the last years, but I need the real thing this year. It’s what she loved.” He paused. The tree looked at him puzzled. “She loved the Christmas season. She would make a whole big event of decorating a tree, and lighting the entire house in Christmas lights.”
“Ok, I’ll play along”, the little tree said. “If it’s what you’re used to.”
“It’s not just about that. It’s not only about tradition. It’s about that feeling you get. You don’t want to be with anyone, but you don’t want to be alone either. A tree, like you, brings life to the Christmas season. Look how beautiful you are in red and gold. Children love you. When they see you, they automatically think happy thoughts. You make them happy.”
The little tree smiled, unexpectedly. He felt better. Fulfilled. Like he finally had a purpose. “I like this”, he exclaimed. “Put that ribbon on me.” – ” You’re getting ahead of yourself.”
The man gently added the ribbons, and finally put the golden star on top. “There. Now you’re perfect. For the next weeks, you will be my only friend. Thank you.”
The Christmas music fades away, the man laid back in his armchair, looking at the tree as it slowly swung its beautifully decorated branches to the soft tunes.
Sorry, faithful readers… half way through I realized that it sounded like Silence of the Lambs for Christmas trees, but it was too late to turn back.
Writing prompt: Explain Christmas to a young tree. Break out the hot chocolate yet? Just 49 more days until December ;).