by Tina Burton
The little fir tree was dug up from his home in the rich soil, put into a pot, and stood in a row with lots of other fir trees.
‘Why are we here?’ he asked the tree next to him.
The taller tree looked down at the little fir and sighed. ‘So that people can come and look at us, then, if you’re lucky, you might get chosen.’
‘Chosen? What does that mean? What happens?’ asked the little fir in a scared voice.
‘They take you home and dress you up with pretty lights and decorations. It’s an honour to be the chosen one, you become an important tree for a week or so.’
The little fir tree thought that sounded lovely.
‘What happens after, when they’ve finished dressing you up?’
The older fir coughed. ‘Aherm, I’m not quite sure. Maybe you’ll be picked and then you’ll find out.’
The spruce on the other side laughed. ‘Nobody’s going to pick him. Look at him, he’s too small.’
The little fir tree’s branches drooped. The spruce was right. Looking along the row, he could see that all the others were quite a bit taller. Nobody would choose such a tiddler as him.
He’d been standing there for two days while people came and went. The older tree beside him had been chosen along with many of the others, and now there was only himself and the spruce left. An elderly couple came and the spruce gave a laugh. ‘Ha, see ya, Shortie, I’m going, looks like this couple will choose me.’
But, the old lady stopped in front of the little fir, and he looked into her kind eyes. He shook his branches to fluff them up and tried to stand tall and proud, despite the spruce beside him laughing and telling him he was wasting his time.
‘I like this one, George, look how cute he is, and his branches are lovely and full, even at the top, not spindly like that old spruce. Can we take him?’ she asked her husband.
The little fir tree couldn’t believe his luck. He had no idea what was awaiting him, but he looked forward to becoming an important tree for a week or so.
After a rather scary journey, a couple of young men pulled him out of the van and took him to a garden where the old lady stood waiting.
‘Can you stand him here on the patio please, boys, then once he’s decorated we can see him through the patio doors,’ the old lady said.
‘There you go, Grandma, is that okay?’ one of the boys asked.
‘Just perfect,’ she replied.
Oh what a wonderful time the little tree had. He was draped with pretty white lights, sparkly snowflake ornaments, and glass baubles, and he stood on that patio feeling as if he was the most important tree in the whole world. Inside the house, the old lady placed her armchair by the patio doors so she could look out at her tree while she sat reading or watching tv.
After a couple of weeks, the elderly couple went out and removed the decorations, and the little tree got a bit worried. What would happen to him now? He wouldn’t be needed anymore.
But the old lady patted his branches as if she could read his thoughts and said, ‘Don’t worry little tree, we’re going to look after you. And hopefully you’ll survive so that we can decorate you again next year.’
Well, that little tree carried on for another four years, but then when the time arrived again for him to be decorated, nobody came. He hadn’t seen the old lady for several days but he saw the old man through the glass doors, looking sad and lost. The little tree waited and waited, but his old lady never came, and the old man just sat, staring into space. The fir tree was sad. His branches drooped and his colour dulled. He felt like he was fading away and couldn’t do anything about it.
Then one day the old man looked out at him. His eyes widened and he stood up. He opened the doors and walked out to the tree. ‘Oh look at you. You’re in a sorry state,’ he said scratching his head. ‘She loved you, and would be annoyed with me for letting you get into this condition.’
He paced up and down the patio, muttering to himself, before seeming to come to a decision. ‘Right, let’s get you back into good health shall we? She’d give me a right telling off if she could see you now.’ He wiped away a tear before going back inside and returning with a watering can.
Ooh that felt good. The little fir didn’t know what was in the water, but it filled him with vigour and he felt himself gaining strength.
After a few months of tender care he was back to full health. He’d grown taller and with lots of new growth, his branches were even bushier.
One afternoon, the two boys who’d first collected him came and put him into their van. The tree was scared, wondering where he was going.
They pulled up outside a house and carried him into the garden. Then to the tree’s delight, he saw the old man, and also a little girl who ran up to him and put her arms around him. ‘Oh you’re such a lovely tree, we’re going to have so much fun decorating you.’
The fir tree’s soul filled with joy, and he thought he was going to burst with happiness. He was going to be important again.
The old man smiled at the little girl. ‘You take after your great-gran. You’re just as dotty about trees as she was,’ he said.
‘I miss Granny. I bet you do too. Shall we decorate it together, Grandpa?’ the little girl said, her upturned face looking at him questioningly.
With tears in his eyes the old man nodded. ‘I think your gran would like that, and I reckon the tree would too.’
And although there wasn’t a sign of rain in the sky, a few little drops of water fell from the branches of the tree as if he too missed his little old lady, but he was happy as well, his purpose in life would now continue, with his new family.