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The Littlest Christmas Tree

With raucous shouts and wine fueled merriment, great green fir trees were brought
into the hall. Bunting, lights and tinsel festooned the walls, hung from the
rafters and clung perilously to the swinging, slamming doors. A constant parade of
puffy-cheeked, red-faced revelers bellowed their way through the doors and into
the echoing village common.
Indeed, 'twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town, the sights,
sounds and smells of ancient days filled the heads and hearts of the inhabitants.
The grownups were as excited as the children, for in Oberdorf, a small Alpine
village tucked away in a hidden fold of the Swiss Alps, the celebration of
Christmas embraced every man, woman and child in a glowing spirit of anticipation.
There was feasting, and singing and the giving and receiving of gifts...and there
was also the balloting. Oh, yes...the casting of ballots to choose the best, most
unusual, most beautiful Christmas tree in the village. This was a very important
event, because the person who created that sparkling arboreal delight was granted
certain honors and privileges for a whole year, in addition to being relieved of
the burden of taxes for that year.
So, there was not only great anticipation of the viewing, judging and voting,
there was a bit of added incentive to escape taxes for the coming year. Why?
Because at last month's town council meeting it was decided to build a bridge
across the rivulet that in the spring had become more of a torrent as it coursed
through the center of the village. As a consequence, taxes would be higher in the
coming year, and the Swiss are not famous for their enthusiasm to pay taxes.
So it was, then, that the villagers wandered from one decorated tree to another,
stopping, tilting their heads to one side, arms crossed, or one hand against a
cheek, carefully examining every aspect of the two dozen trees that had been
entered into the annual contest. There was a constant murmur of "Ah's, hmmm's, uh-
huh's and my-my's" as the villagers went from tree to tree...between trips to the
punch bowl, of course. All the while, an accordion, a fiddle and a trumpet played
one polka after another, and one yodeler after another took the stage to keep the
noise level just below the threshold of pain.
Some of the trees in the contest were 8, 9 and ten feet tall, and had taken the
owners several days to decorate. They were bedecked with ornaments hundreds of
years old, and each one could grace the front of every Christmas card the Hallmark
Company ever produced. And this is what a little girl from the village faced when
she came quietly in by the back door. She was holding the tree that she had
decorated. It was all of two feet tall, a tiny thing, really, but it had glowing
candles, and shiny glass globes and hand made decorations that had been in her
family for years. Decades, actually. But, it was the sight of all those huge,
magnificently decorated trees in the hall, so imposing, so impressive, so
overpowering in their majesty, that the little girl stopped short of entering the
great hall. She looked at the little tree in her hands, and felt a rush of shame
and embarrassment. It was too small, too insignificant, too unimportant to bring
in and place next to those splendid creations shimmering in all their glory.
And so it was that the little girl turned around and left, holding her little
Christmas tree. A small tear of disappointment filled first one eye, then the
other. The path before the little girl became less clear, and she took a turn,
away from the way home. She left little tears on the path behind her, as she held
the tiny tree and wandered deeper into the forest, away from the village. Filled
with shame and embarrassment, the little girl was unaware of how far she had
strayed until she looked up and didn't recognize anything before her. She turned
'round and 'round, but only darkness enveloped her, a small shadow following
behind her as the candles began to burn out. A small cry of fear escaped her lips
as she began to understand what had happened. She sat down in the snow beside the
little Christmas tree, held it close to her and bowed her head in a little girl's
prayer. One of the last candles on a lower branch was pressed toward the center of
the tree and ignited a branch that lighted another and soon the whole tree flared,
casting a bright glow in the dark.

It was a very quiet Christmas that year.A passing villager had seen the glow from the road below.. it stands in a little shrine.. Robert Miles 1 Feb 08 Robert Miles <ne-neuro@ttlc. You may see it to this day.and. It is the littlest Christmas tree. and has been the only tree for one hundred and twenty-two years. and after much searching.it is the only Christmas tree entered in the village contest. I'm old guy who writes stories for kids of all ages. During the summer.net> I am the author. brought the little girl back to the village the following day. and the charred remains of the littlest Christmas tree were voted "The Most Beautiful" that year... . next to a little girl's grave...

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