It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the beauty of the season is always a favorite of mine. Many of you know that I love children’s books. One book that I acquired this past year is a little book called “Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect” by Richard H. Schneider and illustrated by Elizabeth J. Miles. This is a profound little book, filled with thoughtful reflection on the season.
The main character in this story is Small Pine in the forest outside of a small kingdom. Every year around Christmas time the Queen of this kingdom would search for the royal Christmas tree that would be placed in the great hall of the castle. They would search out the perfect Christmas tree in the royal forest nearby. All of the pine trees hoped for this honor and worked diligently to grow perfect branches and needles. Small Pine knew it was beautiful and hoped it might be chosen as December neared. But one night a rabbit ran by looking for protecting from howling dogs that were chasing him. Small Pine dipped down its branches to offer a place to hide and the dogs galloped by. The rabbit stayed all night in his protective shelter provided by Small Pine. By the morning when Small Pine tried to lift its branches they could not by moved.
As time went on, Small Pine became a safe-haven for all sorts of animals in need of protection and with each encounter, Small Pine became more and more disfigured. The poor tree knew there was no way it would be chosen now to add joy and beauty to the kingdom’s Christmas celebrations.
On the first week of Advent, the Queen went out to find the perfect tree for the castle. When she saw the small pine tree she was angered that such an ugly tree would be allowed in her royal forest so she ordered the woodsmen to cut it down and throw it away. But then she noticed the animal tracks under the tree and she understood what had happened. Filled with compassion, she decided that it was indeed Small Pine that was the perfect tree. When the villagers came to the great hall and saw the tree that the wise Queen had chosen, they saw the love of Christ expressed on earth.
The story ends saying “So if you walk among evergreens today, you will find, along with rabbits, birds, and other happy living things, many trees like Small Pine. You will see a drooping limb, which gives cover, a gap offering a warm resting place, or branches ragged from feeding hungry animals. For, as have many of us, the trees have learned that living for the sake of others makes us beautiful in the eyes of God.”
I am going to put my copy of the book in the West Entrance where we typically put the book we review in the newsletter if you would like to borrow it. This Christmas may we celebrate the Christ who comes not simply with the beauty of the season, but in service to those whom Christ loves.