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The Christmas Secret

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By Ellie Behman

Samuel saw beauty in everything, the sky, the moon and the stars. He also saw beauty in those around him, his family and friends. It didn’t matter who they were, rich or poor, friendly or not, he greeted everyone with a bright smile and a hug and everyone was drawn to him the minute they met him.

He would awaken early in the morning and chop wood for the cook stove in his country home, in preparation for the hot morning meal for himself and Granny.  After a hearty breakfast he would walk out to the woods and through the hundreds of pine trees that he had lovingly planted by hand. He would kneel down and softly whisper to them, promising that they might just be lucky enough to become the ultimate Christmas tree in someone’s home. It never mattered to Samuel if the tree was skinny or misshapen. In his eyes there was no such thing as an unattractive tree. Samuel announced to his children that they should mark the tree of their choice far in advance of Christmas so they would be able to find it case of a heavy snowstorm.

Christmas grew near and everyone travelled to Samuel’s house in anxious anticipation of cutting down their special tree. One by one the children ventured into the woods, searching for the tree with their mark on it.  Soon all the tagged trees had a new home, leaving one scrawny tree. It stood alone, limbs swaying sadly and the trunk badly twisted.

Jacob, Samuel’s son, arrived late and as he stepped out of the car he watched everyone else leave with their tree tied on top of their car. He waved happily and then, with ax in hand, ventured into the woods searching for his tree.  The snow was falling hard and the trees were heavily coated. Up and down the rows he trudged, the cold chilling his very bones and all he saw were huge pines that would be impossible to cut down. After, what seemed like hours, he couldn’t find his tree and had no choice but to cut down the bedraggled tree that was standing alone.

Once home Jacob brought the tree into the house and secured it into a homemade stand. His family stood around in silence, staring and trying desperately to hold back giggles as well as some tears.  “Daddy, that is the ugliest tree I have ever seen” shouted his youngest.

“Don’t you worry” answered Jacob.  “When I finish with this tree it will be the most beautiful Christmas tree you’ve ever seen.  Even Grampa Samuel won’t recognize it. All through the night Jacob drilled holes in the trunk of the tree and filled them in with branches from the bottom, securing them with wire. He then strung lights and hung decorations on every branch. By morning the family walked in to find a bushy, beautifully decorated tree. They couldn’t believe their eyes and they were speechless.

Christmas Day had arrived and as Samuel and Granny entered Jacob’s home, they were stunned to see the most magnificent, full tree proudly sitting in the living room.  With tears in his eyes, Samuel said “I told you that every tree on God’s great earth is beautiful and this proves it.”  He had no idea that branches had been added and that became the Christmas secret.  He never saw any flaws in God’s creations

That Christmas was one of many where a little improvement had to be made on our tree but it was worth every minute spent just to see Samuel’s joy.

Author’s note:  This is a story close to my heart and based on a true experience. Samuel is my dad, someone who saw beauty in everything, down to the scrawniest tree in the woods. Through his eyes we experienced the unconditional love he showed to every living being, even his precious trees.

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