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The littlest christmas tree

December 5, 2022

The crowd at the tree lot was approaching the evening rush. Christmas was a week away and business was picking up. Jerry counted his remaining stock and indulged the thought of selling out early and getting back to Oregon before Christmas Eve for once, There were spruce and fir and pines and cedar of every shape and size.

Jerry's wife Marla was busily weaving tree clippings into wreaths and garlands to offer for sale as well. People who didn't have room for a tree still wanted the smell of fresh cuttings in the home. This was how they had spent every December since they'd married, camped out in their tiny trailer, watching everyone else carry Christmas home with them.

Down a back row of the lot came a father and son, looking for their perfect tree. "What about this one?" asked the boy. The little tree came only about to his ball cap, so lop sided it had to lean against bigger trees just to remain upright. "Oh, son, that one is way too small. Let's look over here." Before moving on the boy took a gum wrapper out of his jacket and, folding it into a fan, stuck it onto a branch. The little tree looked grateful. Then he was off the find Dad. 

Barreling around the corner he nearly knocked over a girl in a wheelchair coming the other way. When she had set herself straight again she looked and saw the fan and the pitiful little tree. From a package in her pocket she pulled a couple tissues and formed the pretty flowers all young girls seem to know how to make, leaving them in the tree, too.

As the evening meandered along the little tree picked up three stray pine cones tied on with twine, a couple handfuls of flocking, and a bright red stocking cap perched on the top candle which made it lean lazily to one side.

On his closing rounds Jerry came down the back row and stopped to wonder at the little tree. Shaking his head he went off to the trailer, and dinner Marla was setting out.


The following night the lot was visited by a carolling group from St. John's Church next door. They sang "Hark, the Herald Angels" and "Joy to the World" and a spanish carol Jerry didn't recognize. After they had looked around the yard and drank some warm cider they went on to the nursing home down the street. 

That night Jerry found the little tree wearing a scarf he thought he had seen on one of the carollers.  Before retiring to the trailer, Jerry nailed a stand on the tree and brought it out to the middle of the lot, replacing the cocked hat, the scarf, and the other ornaments. Then he went to tell Marla.

"That's not all," she teased, "look at this." She pulled out her phone and played a video of a little crooked tree in a red hat and the choir that sang "Oh, Christmas Tree" while they tied it up in a bright scarf. "It's going viral," she explained over the mac and cheese.


Over the next few days people started bringing tinsel and garlands and ornaments such as threatened to topple the little tree. The burlap tree skirt was replaced with cranberry damask in a gold braid. Lights were strung. The choir came back and staged a flash mob. Several people offered to buy the little tree, but Jerry wisely upsold every one of them. By the time the 23rd rolled around Jerry and Marla had sold every stick and crumb and had left for Oregon and home.

The following night, Christmas Eve, a father and son were walking by St. John's church yard. They stopped to look at the living nativity, at the Holy Family, the cow, the donkey, and at a strange little Christmas tree in a jaunty red stocking hat. As they came close the father watched the boy reach out for a tiny foil fan made from what looked for all the world like a gum wrapper.


Beneath all the tinsel and flock, the wrapping and the cookie crumbs, may you find the Christ that made Christmas a reality.  Our year has been filled with glimpses of community sprouting up in unexpected places.

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