Canadian Hemlock Christmas Tree.

The Living Tree

The small Canadian Hemlock shook her lacy branches in the wind, like a little girl swinging her petticoats.

Like a small child, I had become alive with hope. We stood there, in the windy Christmas tree lot, and each of us was filled with the joy of Christmas. There was no way that we would say "no" to the small Canadian wonder. For she was beautiful. The perfect tree.

Due to my deteriorating asthma Christmas had become a struggle for me. But this year was different. Due to the wonders of modern medicine, we were looking for our first real Christmas tree in years. And she was extra special, because she was a living tree. Costly though it was, we paid the man, and we considered it a bargain.

We made a promise to our living tree. We would take care of her, and we would keep her alive until spring. Then we would plant her in a special place in our garden. Our first hurdle was finding a pot to put her in. We settled on a laundry tub. After we bumped the tree ball up the stairs and negotiated the heavy weight of the root ball into the shiny tub, we filled the tub with water, just like a potted plant.

Oblivious to the combination of moisture and electricity, we had our tree lighted in no time. Standing back, in the living room, now darkened except for the lights of the tree, was a breathless, magical moment. Tears rolled down my cheeks, as I thanked God, for giving me back my Christmas.

We went a little wild, carefully placing every childhood token, every home-made gift, and every bauble and bead, that we had packed so long ago, only to be forgotten. But not this Christmas. Our little living tree became filled with a lifetime of love and sharing.

Christmas came and went, all too fast. We carefully removed each ornament, the lights, and the garland. Tenderly, we moved our potted tree down into the chilled basement, right in front of the patio door. I would frequently slip downstairs and visit the little tree. Then standing before her, I would whisper, "Stay alive, little tree. Please stay alive. I need you to live."

From January until early spring I made sure that our tree's root ball never dried out. She even seemed to flourish. Then the needles began to drop. Hastily, my husband dug a huge hole in our back yard. Into the ground, with a mixture of perfect soil, went our little tree, along with all of my hopes and dreams.

Was it too late? Was she dead? Would, by some miracle, she grow?

The spring weather was raw and I could not visit her often. Each day, with more and more branches devoid of needles, our hopes flagged. We agreed that we would give her until fall. If no new growth appeared, our little tree would be pulled from the ground. My heart was heavy, as I approached my own retirement. Perhaps I was like that little tree. Maybe I was finished. I felt like all the hope had been sucked out of me, too.

The summer skies opened with life giving rain. After three years of drought, there was a new day for our gardens and our little tree. Perhaps by some miracle our Canadian princess would find life again. I must confess that I talked to God every day. Like a small child, placing my hand into the sheltering hand of my Father, I begged Him for that little tree. One day, my husband and daughter shouted at me.

"Come outside!" they called. Hastily, I covered my mouth to protect my lungs from the raw spring wind, and I hurried into the back yard.

"Look at the tree! Look at the tree! It's growing buds!"

Hardly daring to hope, I journeyed over to the garden, and I searched, as my daughter gently guided my eyes to the tips of each tiny branch. There they were! Tiny growth buds, tender and green. Tears dripped from my eyes, as I thanked God for this wonderful gift. We hadn't killed her after all.

Now, as I await the first winter snows, our Canadian Hemlock is thriving. It seems like a miracle, which I too have shared, for I am gardening again. Along with our little tree (which now is thick with healthy needles) I too have experienced a rebirth. Just as she was dormant, so was I.

I had given up. I, too, thought that my growing days were gone.

Well, a new day has dawned, and my little tree and I are spreading our branches together.

Both of us are very much alive!

~ Jaye Lewis ~
<jayelewis at>

Jaye Lewis is an award winning inspirational writer, who lives and writes in southwestern Virginia. Jaye is a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul, along with other well known anthologies. Visit Jaye's website at: Entertaining Angels and her blog at: Encouraging Words

[ By: Jaye Lewis Copyright © 2008 (jayelewis at -- {used with permission} ]

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