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A Christmas Tree’s Story

December 14, 2016
BY CHUCK CLEGG - Columnist , Wetzel Chronicle

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

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 closely to my first year's growth.

The next spring I, along with hundreds of other new seedlings, were moved out of the greenhouse and into an open meadow with older pine trees. Some had long soft needles on their branches. Other types had short stiff needles when touched. They all were very nice trees, but I still 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 taller each year. I watched as each December, mature trees were measured, checked and graded. Then, at the peak of their growth, they were removed to be sold as a 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 I was also a little sad at the bare spot that now sat next to me. In the meadow, a family of rabbits often sat under Virginia's branches for shelter. Her strong branches sheltered them from the cold winter snows. The family of rabbits has 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 branches adorned with a beautiful angel. The angel's golden wings nearly touched the ceiling of the large room. Virginia was a little tall for her age, but the family did not seem to mind. They just enjoyed her strong branches 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 surrounded by candy canes. Alongside the crackling fireplace were seven red stockings hung neatly in a row. One for each family member, including the dog named Sunny.

In the center of the fireplace mantle was a prized family heirloom. This cherished decoration had been handed down in the mother's family. It was a nativity set. The glistening shine that once adorned the porcelain figures had been lost over the years. The littlest donkey's left ear was missing, and long forgotten. The smaller of the two sheep's front legs was broken and would not stand on its own. Each year the father would carefully prop the sheep against one of the wise men to help it stand correctly.

In the center of the wooden stable was a small manger. It had been carefully filled with soft white cotton, and gently cradled within, was the baby Jesus.

Each Christmas eve, it was a family custom to gather around the father as he tells the story of the first Christmas and reminds the family of the night's true meaning. I am proud my friend Virginia will be part of that special moment with the family.

**

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 in the meadow. I know this 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 Christmas Trees. Growing to be a perfect Christmas tree is not as easy as you may think. We sometimes worry deer with large antlers will rub and damage our branches. In winter, heavy snows sometimes break our limbs and leave unsightly holes in our shape. And now, in the last few years, I heard from the nearby hemlock, that pine beetles are boring under our bark and killing some trees.

A damaged tree is the last to be chosen for a Christmas tree. Even worse, 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.

Today the planter will trim my branches to make my shape perfect for 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 the hemlock tree. An old man who walked with a cane came into sight and was talking to my planter. This man was no planter. Why had he stopped my planter from his very important work in the meadow of Christmas trees?

Then, without warning, the old man carefully 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.

After examining my branches and talking, the stranger shook the planter's hand and they left the meadow talking and smiling. Why has the planter left behind his very important tool used to trim Christmas trees? Why would he leave it behind and not complete his very important work of shaping Christmas trees at this time of year? This is very strange that he would do such a thing and not complete his work.

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

The planter stepped down from his tractor and began to size my limbs before gently pulling protective netting up around my blue colored branches. "Why has he pulled my branches so tight around me?" I thought to myself. I am frightened.

Next, the planter used the tractor's special bucket to slowly begin removing dirt from around my roots. I felt the warm May sun touched upon my exposed roots. For the first time in eight years they were no longer covered by the cool dark earth of the meadow.

Suddenly I felt myself being lifted from the cool earth. I could tell the planter was taking great care lifting me with his harvesting tractor. Once he had me lifted clear of the ground, he carefully wrapped my roots with damp burlap.

Higher and higher the planter lifted me from my home in the earth. Finally, I began to realize the planter was lowering me into the bed of a truck. What have I done? I have not been damaged by winter snows or the horns of deer? And it is surely not Christmas.

**

The blue Spruce watched the other Christmas trees fade from view as the truck pulled from the quiet meadow on to the winding road...

 
 
 

 

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