A Christmas Story
Way out west where the mountains are really tall, snow comes early in the winter and stays long into the spring. In the winter the air is clean and crisp but it is very cold. In the spring though, the sun warms the woods quickly and causes great stirring among the plants and the animals.
On one particular mountainside there lived a magnificent stand of Douglas fir trees. They grew tall and straight destined to become the finest lumber in all the land for building. The great trees were rightfully proud of their destiny. No other trees grew straighter or made finer lumber. In the fall the trees would shed seed cones which would feed the squirrels and other small animals in the woods. Inside the cones were many nutritious seeds. These morsels were the feed for most of the forest’s critters.
Occasionally some of the seeds would be buried by the squirrels for later use. Sometimes the squirrels bury so many seeds that they forget where they all are buried. This is just what happened one autumn on one of these tall mountains. The next spring when the sun warmed the earth and melted the snow, the little seeds sprouted into seedlings. In the life cycle of Douglas firs, new great trees are born. All over the forest young seedlings were sprouting and showing their new growth to the warming sun. All was right with the world as new life was born to take the place of the older trees which would be removed to become the finest lumber in all the land.
Dougie was just such a seedling. He stretched his young needles trying to reach the warming sunlight. But there was a problem. He had sprouted under a giant log which was blocking his sunlight. Dougie thought, “This is not such a big deal. I’ll just grow around the giant log and reach the sunlight.” That is just what Dougie did.
Every winter he slept under the heavy snowfalls and waited until the warming spring melted the snow and let Dougie stretch, further bending around the giant log to grow.
All went well for a few years until Dougie became a sapling. He was now about three feet tall, gangly and spindly as you would expect a teenager to be. Trees don’t grow as fast as humans but they grow much taller. Because Dougie had to grow around the giant log, his trunk was developing a curve. “Don’t worry,” his mother had said. “I am sure your trunk will straighten up when you grow a little more. I just know you will become a great tree and you will be sought out for your destiny to become the finest lumber in all the land.”
The next winter was particularly harsh. Snowfall far exceeded normal. All the young saplings were pushed down by the weight of the snow. But it is the nature of mountains and snow and trees to have these little experiences. When the warming sun returns and melts the snow, all the trees will spring back and grow to become the tallest and straightest trees on the mountain. Dougie had another problem however. The shade over him had caused the snow to stay considerably longer than normal. To deal with it, Dougie decided he would just grow around it as he had before. This time though, he had to grow in a different direction to get to the sun’s warmth. This caused his trunk to develop an “S” shape. “I’m not going to worry,” thought Dougie. “I will just continue to grow taller and taller to become the tallest, straightest tree in the forest. I will achieve my destiny to become the best lumber in all the land.”
Sadly it was not to be. As Dougie grew, his curvature only got worse. His growth became stunted. All the other trees grew taller and taller leaving Dougie in their shade.
“Now what? What is to become of me? All my life I had planned to achieve my destiny to become the tallest and greatest tree in the forest and now it looks like I will be nothing more than a scrub bush. I will never be good enough to be the finest lumber in all the land. It looks like I will have to spend my life as a nothing.”
Well life has a strange way of dealing with things. Just when you think things are the darkest, sometimes great light is shown. As it turns out, Christmas was approaching. Snow had fallen and the forest was even more beautiful than usual. Dougie heard a strange noise in the distance. It seems a family had come to the woods looking for a Christmas tree. The family was a Dad with his three children. The children were very excited looking for the perfect tree to decorate for their home. As they walked around and among the many beautiful young Douglas firs, they would shout “How about this one?” or “Dad, I think this is the best one.” They seemed not to even notice Dougie.
Dougie thought, “I cannot do anything right. I can’t even become a Christmas tree because of my curved trunk. Now I will never be a great tall tree and I won’t even be a Christmas tree. How sad is my life.”
Just then Dougie noticed a little girl looking at him. She was part of the family who was out looking for a tree to decorate. She was smaller than the other children. She stood in a strange way. She seemed to have some difficulty getting around in the snow, but she had a huge smile on her face. She was definitely having a good time. Dougie looked closer and saw that this little girl had a strange curve in her spine much like the curve in his trunk.
“Dad, come and look at what I have found. I think this could be the Christmas tree for us.” Dad came over and said “Honey, this tree has a crooked trunk. I don’t think it would be the perfect tree for us.” He then went off to be with the other kids continuing to look for the perfect tree.
The little girl just stood there and stared at the crooked tree. Dougie was as sad as the little girl. Off in the woods there was the rustling of the kids as they continued to look for the perfect tree. Dad called to the little girl to come with them. “No Dad,” she said. “This tree and I both have a curve in our spines and you always told me that I was as good as anybody else, so I think that just because this tree has a curve in his spine, he can be as good as anybody else also.”
Dad stopped in his tracks. His eyes filled with tears as he suddenly recalled his feelings when he learned of his little girl’s condition known as scoliosis. He remembered the fear both he and the little girl’s mother felt. He knew that he and his daughter had to learn to live with her condition. He had, for years, told her she could do anything she put her mind to. He and her mother had told her to reach for the stars and not allow her physical limitation to slow her down. Now here before his eyes was the essence of the lesson he had tried to teach his daughter for years and today he had to learn it from her. She had become the teacher.
Dad immediately called all the kids together and announced that we had indeed found the perfect tree. The kids were surprised at the choice of the tree with the bent and curved trunk. Dad said, “Just you wait until you see what this tree will become. We will decorate this Douglas fir as no other tree has ever been decorated.” Dad quickly cut the tree down and it was lovingly loaded in the van for the trip home.
When Mother saw what the family had done she was also surprised. “Is this the best you could do?” she asked. When Dad told Mother what had happened, the matter was immediately settled. Mother said, “Let’s decorate this tree as no other tree has ever been decorated.” And so they did.
Dougie saw what he had become and he was truly the finest Christmas tree that has ever been. The tinsel and lights were so grand that no one could ever notice that there was a curve in his trunk. His heart sang. Dougie never again thought of his destiny of being the finest lumber in the land for now he had become the finest Christmas tree in the land.
Often in our lives we make great plans. We prepare for lives with one destiny on our minds. Then on occasion, things happen to change our plans. That’s the way life is sometimes. If we can somehow become like Dougie and this little girl, perhaps we will find a different direction that we could never have prepared for. Perhaps our destiny is yet to be decided. Life truly begins when we accept those things which we cannot change and then live our life to its fullest. Whether you are to be the tallest, straightest tree in the forest or the most magnificent Christmas tree that has ever been, success in life is being the best that you can be.
Copyright © 2010 by Ron Scarbro