| How The Fir Tree Became The Christmas Tree |
HEN YOU STAND round the Christmas tree and look longingly at the toys hanging from the prickly branches, it does not occur to you to ask why it is always this particular tree that is so honoured at Christmas. The dark green Fir looks so majestic when laden with bright toys and lit up by Christmas candles, that perhaps it is not easy to believe that it is the most modest of trees. But so it is, and because of its humility it was chosen to bear Christmas gifts to the children. This is the story:
When the Christ Child was born, all people, animals, trees, and other plants felt that a great happiness had come into the world. And truly, the Heavenly Father had sent with the Holy Babe His blessings of Peace and Goodwill to all. Every day people came to see the sweet Babe, bringing presents in their hands. By the stable wherein lay the Christ Child stood three trees, and as the people came and went under their spreading branches, they thought that they, too, would like to give presents to the Child.
Said the Palm, "I will choose my biggest leaf and place it as a fan beside the manger to waft soft air to the Child."
"And I," said the Olive, "I will sprinkle sweet-smelling oil over Him."
"What can I give to the Child?" asked the Fir.
"You?" said the others. "You have nothing to offer. Your needles would prick the wee Babe, and your tears are sticky."
This made the poor Fir very unhappy indeed, and it said, sadly, "Yes, you are right. I have nothing that would be good enough to offer to the Christ Child."
Now, quite near to the trees had stood an Angel, who had heard all that had passed. He was moved to pity the Fir, who was so lowly and without envy of the other trees, and he resolved to help it.
High in the dark of the heavens the stars were beginning to twinkle, and the Angel begged some of the little ones to come down and rest upon the branches of the Fir. This they were glad to do, and their silvery light shone among the branches just like Christmas candles. From where He lay the Christ Child could see the great dark evening world and the darker forms of the trees keeping watch, like faithful guardians, beside the open door of the stable; and to its delight the Fir Tree saw the face of the Babe illumined with a heavenly smile as He looked upon the twinkling lights.
The Christ Child did not forget the lovely sight, and long afterward he bade that to celebrate His birthday there should be placed in every house a Fir Tree, which might be lit up with candles to shine for the children as the stars shone for Him on His first birthday.
Was not the Fir Tree richly rewarded for its meekness? Surely there is no other tree that shines on so many happy faces!