The Smallest Christmas Tree

Many of you may not know that I’m adopted.  More than three decades ago, just before Christmas, my mother brought me into her home–my home–for the first time.  Though she couldn’t possibly have known what she was getting into, she and my father and sister welcomed me with love and always made me feel as much a part of the family as though I had been born into it.  This story is for my mother, who helped me decorate my very first Christmas tree since I left home, and who was worried that it was too small.


The Christmas tree was very small.  It was the smallest Christmas tree in the forest.  “Hmm,” said its father.  “Oh, dear,” sighed its mother.  Its brothers and sisters looked down at it and giggled.

Tiny tree

Tiny tree (Photo credit: get down)

At Christmas tree school, the other trees in the class won prizes:  “Best in Ornaments,” “First in Candy Canes,” “Biggest Star.”  But the smallest Christmas tree didn’t win any prizes.

The teacher looked at the smallest Christmas tree and shook its head.  “People want big trees, trees they can hang a hundred ornaments on.  There may not be a place for you.”

The smallest Christmas tree drooped its branches all the way home.  That night, it dreamed of a warm, welcoming house filled with firelight and purring cats.  It dreamed of hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and falling snow.  It dreamed of being covered in a hundred ornaments and crowned with a big, bright star.

Every day, the smallest Christmas tree looked for a home that wanted a tree.  Every day, it heard the same thing:  homes these days want bigger trees.  You can’t hold all the ornaments.  You can’t cover all the presents.  You can’t hold up the star.

English: Tree in Freezing Fog Tree on side of ...

English: Tree in Freezing Fog Tree on side of footpath. Footpath between Oak Road and Hampers Lane. Very cold and frosty day pre-Christmas. Brrr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas got closer and closer.  The wind became sharper and colder.  It rushed through the branches of the smallest Christmas tree.  The tree shivered and pulled its boughs tight against its trunk.  For the first time, it began to wonder if it would ever find a Christmas home.

Then, it saw a tiny sign in the corner of a store window: “Christmas tree wanted.  Fireplace with cats.  No tree too small.”  The ad looked old.  It looked like it had been in the window for a long time.  But it was Christmas Eve, and the smallest Christmas tree decided to try.

The house didn’t look like much from the outside.  It was the smallest house on the street.  It was all the way at the end of the street, so the smallest Christmas tree had to walk past window after decorated window, each showing a tall and brightly-lit Christmas tree.  The smallest tree stopped just outside the front door of the smallest house, tired and cold and almost ready to give up.

basil fireplace

basil fireplace (Photo credit: cyrusbulsara)

Then the door opened.  Warm light fell on the smallest Christmas tree.  The tree looked into the beautiful, smiling face of a small young woman.  Cats purred at her feet and firelight flickered in the background.  Behind the woman was a space near the fire just big enough for a very small Christmas tree.

The woman welcomed the smallest Christmas tree into her home.  Christmas carols played softly around the tree as it settled gratefully beside the fireplace.  The wind outside blew fierce and cold against the windows, but the smallest Christmas tree was warm inside the smallest house.  The space beside the fire was just the right size.

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree.

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The woman brought out all the ornaments she had been saving until she finally found a tree.  There were over a hundred ornaments.  Each one had been given to the woman by someone she loved.  Each one had a story with it.  The woman told each story to the smallest Christmas tree as she decorated it.

The woman decorated the smallest Christmas tree for hours.  She sang carols as she wound garlands through the tree’s branches.  She smiled as she hung it with candy canes.  She covered the bottom of the Christmas tree with a shimmering blanket, and she hung ornaments on every branch, all the way up to the top.  The smallest Christmas tree held very still as the pile of ornaments grew smaller, wondering how all of the ornaments could possibly fit.

But they did fit–every one.

English: American Christmas Tree

English: American Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last of all, gently and carefully, the woman placed a glittering star on top of the very highest branch.  Covered in ornaments and surrounded by firelight and music, the smallest Christmas tree had found its home.

The next morning, the smallest Christmas tree looked out of the windows of the smallest house.  Nearby, the woman cradled a cup of hot chocolate beside the fire.  Beneath the tree’s branches, cats purred and prowled on the shimmering blanket.  Snow was falling soft and white outside the windows.  In its new home, the smallest Christmas tree heard the glad ringing of bells and knew that it was Christmas day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  May every wandering soul find a home like mine.

Holiday spirit

What are my plans for the holidays, you ask?

We kept wondering why they wouldn’t let us in!  Special shout out to my Sainted Mother, who’s deaf in one ear.  She’s half deaf and I’m half blind.  We’re awesome together!  “What’s that over there?”  “What?”  “That over there!”  “The cat has hair?”  We’re thinking of taking the act on the road.  Remember to tip your waitresses!  We’ll be here all night.

Oh, my sainted mother!

Trivial Pursuit

Image via Wikipedia

One Christmas, my sister and I were playing Trivial Pursuit with our mother.  Our sainted mother is many things:  intelligent, talented, brave, funny.  But even she would admit that she’s not hip.  She’s not with it, street-wise, down with the kids.  She got all the science and literature questions, but the pop culture questions were proving to be her undoing.

So when she came to the question, “What East Coast rapper was killed as a result of a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997?”, Big Sis and I both just assumed she wouldn’t know it and moved on to the next turn.  Sainted Mother stopped us and said, “Hey, give me a chance.  I might know it.”  We assured her that she had no chance of getting it right, but she insisted that she wanted at least to try.

So we asked her, and she said, “Oh, is that that Biggie Smalls person?”


Sainted Mother, we will never doubt you again.

There’s no place like home

virtual closet upper right empty

Image via Wikipedia

I have no closets.

I took this apartment without looking at it first because there was someone living in it at the time I signed the lease.  I realized there would be quirks, and I’ve learned to live with the slanted floors, the recessed lighting in the cathedral ceiling (making my life hard, here), and the tiny oven that won’t fit a cookie tray.  I mean, what, do single people bake fewer cookies at a time or something?

But the closets?

There’s a wardrobe with a few drawers and some hanging space, but dude!  I’m a chick.  I’ve got clothes.  Like, serious clothes.  Not to mention shoes.  Did I mention the shoes?  I should mention the shoes.  There are a lot of them.  But that’s not even what gets me.  I arrived with a vacuum, a mop, two Swiffers, three boxes of electrical cables, two computers I no longer use, and a box of accumulated Christmas gifts that I don’t actually want but can’t get rid of because family members who presumably love me gave them to me.  I had a partridge in a pear tree, but I threw it out, because I had nowhere to put it.  That’s right, after lugging all this stuff up to the top floor, I discovered there was nowhere to store all those things that everyone puts in their closets because, yes, all together now:  I have no closets.

It gets better.

I have a really long hallway that has become a sort of de facto closet.  The ceilings are very high, and I have a hard time replacing the lights in the ceiling when they burn out.  So, the very last bulb blew just before I left on a weekend trip, and I was rushed for time, so I left it. I forgot about it until I came back from said trip, opened the door, and traversed the hallway-closet while carrying two duffel bags and a half-empty soda.  Well, attempted to traverse the hallway-closet.  This next part happened exactly as described, hand to God:

I bumped into the vacuum, cursed, fell backwards from the weight of the duffel bags, overbalanced, tripped over a box of Christmas decorations, stumbled forward while trying to keep my balance, stepped into the bucket with my cleaning supplies in it, jumped around on one leg for a while, and fell against the wall where I lean my–wait for it–mop and dusters, which smacked me in the face in the very best vaudevillian fashion.  At this point I gave up, dropped the duffels, groped around to make sure I wasn’t going to sit on an old set of steak knives or something, sat down, and finished my soda.

What else can you do at that point?  Welcome home, little blind girl.