The Little Christmas Tree That Almost Didn’t Get to Celebrate Christmas

By James K. Sayre
Tuesday December 23, 2008 - 10:14:00 AM

Once, not long ago, there was a small Douglas Fir tree named Sarah that grew up on a Christmas tree farm near Woodland, Washington. When she was 5 years old, she was already almost six feet tall, so the owners of the Christmas Tree Farm decided to have Sarah and all her identically-genetically-cloned brothers and sisters cut down and shipped to California in early December. 

Sarah was tightly wrapped with plastic string to protect her branches during shipment. Sarah and 83 of her siblings were loaded onto a large truck-trailer.  

The drive from Washington State down to Northern California took two days, with the driver spending the night in a motel in Medford, Oregon, just north of the Siskiyou Mountains, which straddle the Interstate 5 route. There had been a snow storm that had come through the day before, so the drive through the Siskiyou Mountains the next day was properly wintry white. Sarah and her siblings arrived in Danville, Calif. where they were unloaded and set out for sale in a vacant lot one block west of the main street. Gradually through the month of December the Christmas trees were sold off. 

As Christmas Eve approached, only a few trees remained unsold on the lot. Sarah became quite worried: she feared that she was not attractive enough to attract a buyer (or even to get unwrapped for that matter). At 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the men selling the trees decided to close up shop and go home. Sarah was the only tree that hadn’t been sold. She was the only tree that wasn’t going to be decorated on Christmas Eve. She was the only tree that would not have presents beneath her branches on Christmas Day. She was heart-broken.  

On Christmas Day, a man came to the lot in the morning and dragged Sarah out of the lot and unceremoniously tossed her into a large dumpster, which was located just behind the vacant lot. Sarah was desolate. Was there no hope for her to fulfill her function as a Christmas tree? 

Across the Bay from Danville, there lived a somewhat strange, middle-aged man named Jerry, who loved Christmas. Although he was not a Christian, he still loved Christmas time with the carols, the lights and the festive foods. He usually baked a batch of fruitcakes, but this year he experimented with steaming a Christmas Plum Pudding. There are not any “plums” in a Plum Pudding. Actually, “plum” is an Old English word for raisin, so a Plum Pudding is actually a raisin pudding. Puddings were steamed in England for hundreds of years, before economical baking ovens were available to the average family. The Plum Pudding is apparently the ancestor of the fruitcake. Jerry is currently trying to investigate this connection, but that is another story... 

Jerry was somewhat of a tightwad, too. He loved Christmas; he loved Christmas trees; but to save money, he usually found a used Christmas tree that someone else had discarded after Christmas Day. The Christmas season always went by much too quickly for Jerry. To stretch out Christmas to what he deemed its proper length, say, 63 days or so, he would start listening to Christmas carols in early December. Of course, nowadays, department stores begin their Christmas displays just after Halloween, but he didn’t spend much time in retail stores.  

This year, on the fourth day of Christmas, Dec. 28, he was driving around and ended up in Danville. He went to Danville to visit the town’s thrift shop, but it was closed for the holidays. It was noon and his lunch time, so he went to find a place to have a small picnic lunch. It was a beautiful winter day in Danville, with the sun shining and the temperature up into the 50s, so that a jacket was not needed for sitting outside. Jerry parked his old car next to the vacant lot, which was located only a block behind the Old Danville Historical District.  

The lot was sheltered by a large oak tree. He noticed a large dumpster parked nearby. It had a Christmas tree sticking out of one end. He made a mental note to check it out after lunch. The large oak tree was filled with large cawing crows and smaller chirping blackbirds. Jerry shelled some newly purchased pistachio nuts and threw them out for the birds, but they were seemingly not interested. The ground of the vacant lot smelled nice, because the trimmings of the Christmas trees that had been sold were scattered around.  

After lunch, Jerry walked over to the dumpster, but its sides were so high that he could not see into the interior. 

He drove his old car over and backed it up against the side of the dumpster. He then climbed up on his car’s trunk and peered down into the dumpster. It was then that he saw a second Christmas tree. This one was all wrapped up, having never been unpacked for display. Jerry realized that the wrapped tree would fit nicely into the back seat of his car, so he dragged it out of the dumpster, after removing two large plastic bags of trash that were resting on top of the tree.  

Sarah, the wrapped Christmas tree, was in Seventh Heaven. She knew instinctively that she was going to a good home, where she would be properly decorated as a traditional Christmas tree. Sure enough, an hour later, Sarah was carried up into Jerry’s apartment, where she was placed into a large pot of water sweetened with sugar. What a delight. Sugar water. Electric colored Christmas lights. Christmas balls. Icicles. Five black-eyed and black-nosed white stuffed Christmas bears sat on top of the sofa. A long Christmas celebration lay ahead. Sarah and Jerry were very happy together.