The First Christmas Tree

By: Francis B. Ongkingco December 23,2016 - 09:55 PM

Where will we get firewood, daddy?” Young Amos asked.

“There, the dead tree,” he pointed at a leafless tree.

Amos ran to the tree snapped off the smaller twigs. But as he tried breaking the bigger branches, he found them still hard and supple.

“Daddy, I don’t think it’s dead. Some branches still seem fresh,” Amos said.

“Just gather what you can,” his father cleared the ground for their fire.

Amos returned with a bundle of dried twigs and branches.

Soon, they had a fire big enough to cook their dinner.

From a distance, the howling of wolves began.

“Are they dangerous, daddy?” Amos asked rubbing both hands over the fire.

“Only when they come in packs.”

“Do they?”

“These days, rarely. But one alone can badly harm our small flock.”

“Do you want me to move the flock to the cave?” Amos asked.

“Yes, I think that would be best. We could spend the night inside as well.”

* * *

A crow perched on the branch of the leafless tree. Its weight rocked the branch and shook off the last remaining dry leaves.
“Hey,” the tree complained.

“Can’t you land gentler next time, crow!”

“Oh, I’m sorry tree!” Crow titter-tottered on the branch. “I keep on forgetting that you’re no longer what you used to be.”
Crow started pecking at the peeling bark trying his luck on bugs and worms.

“That feels good!” Tree sighed. “I really haven’t had a good scratch these past months.”

“You’re drier than the Sahara Desert. I don’t think I’ll find anything alive on you even after winter.”

“By then, I would be dead, crow!” Tree exasperatedly said.

“What has eaten your mood, tree? Root worms?”

“Worse!”

“What could be worse than worms?”

“Sadness and losing my will to live and simply letting go, I guess,” the tree shrugged off some dead twigs.

“But your kind is suppose to live many years, give leafy shade and sweet fruits,” the crow reminded him.

“Well, I seem to have gotten over all that… I’m just waiting to rot and roll over!”

“At the least the shepherd and his son were able to start a fire with your branches,” the crow observed.

“Bah, whatever! I don’t even care about that.”

“What do you care about, then?”

“I… never mind! Besides, you won’t understand either.”

“If you say so grumps!” Crow took off.

* * *

A few months later…

“What have we here?” Tree saw two unfamiliar figures approached.

“Just a little more, Mary,” the man said.

“There, can you see the cave?”

“Yes,” Mary sighed with relief.

Joseph tied the donkey to the tree.

“At least we aren’t too far from the city,” Mary said.

“Yes, but I hadn’t imagined you giving birth in a cave.”

Joseph started putting branches and twigs in a bundle to make a simple broom.

He began cleaning the cave. He removed the rocks and branches scattered in front of the cave.

Inside, he found a dilapidated manger which he thoroughly cleaned and repaired a bit.

“I guess this will do for a crib,” Joseph smiled as he wiped the sweat from his brow.

“Anything would be better than nothing for the Child, dear Joseph,” Mary said as she tied a makeshift clothesline on the branches of the tree.

Tree thought, “I’ve seen shepherds living in caves and hills, but never a wonderful couple like this. And the woman seems she is about to give birth!”

His thoughts were interrupted when something landed on one of his branches. It was crow!

“Crow, take a look at the people down there!” Tree shook eagerly.

“What about them?”

“Imagine they are going to have a baby in that ugly cave?” Tree said.

“Bethlehem is quite crammed these days,” crow pecked at his chest.

“Don’t they have relatives in the city?” Tree wondered.

“If they are here, then I guess there isn’t really any room left,” crow preened his wing feathers. Suddenly a swarm of swallows filled the air! “Lucky guys! Off to warmer regions!” The crow cackled with envy.

One of the swallows broke away and fluttered around tree and crow.

“A little late to migrate?” Crow asked.

“Perhaps, even later. God asked us, nature’s heralds, to announce to creatures great and small that His Son is to be born soon!”

“God’s Son? Born? Where!!!?” Tree trembled excitedly.

“There!!!” The swallow pointed to the cave.

“Uh-oh,” the tree moaned. “And here I am about to rot and die with nothing to offer God’s Son.” “Don’t worry, we’ll think of something,” crow chided. “All these years, groaning to myself and thinking only of myself,” the tree lamented.

“If only I had something to give besides my dry branches and leaves.” Tree and crow were silent for some minutes. “I know!!!” Tree exclaimed.

“What!!!” “I will gather all my remaining sap so I can at least give something to the Child.” “Okay, while you do that, maybe I can scavenge around for something as well,” crow took off. The next morning crow flew by again and perched on his favorite branch. “So, what did you think of, tree?”

No reply from tree. “Hey tree! Are you awake already?” Crow jerked the branch to wake him up. Still no reply. “Then I guess this is goodbye for now,” Crow swayed his head and took off.

* * *

A few days later… “Joseph, look!” Mary pointed at the tree. Joseph steps out of the cave. “I thought this tree was dead, but it has fruits.” Joseph reached for the fruits and as he bent the branch it snapped. “That’s strange,” he scratched his head. “How could it bear fresh fruits?” “And there are three,” Mary said. “One for you, one for me and for Baby Jesus.”

* * *

Can you guess what tree it was?

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TAGS: birth, birthday, Christmas, crow, donkey, Jesus, joseph, Mary, spirit, tree

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