Merry Christmas for all that celebrate. Thinking about what to write for this Christmas Eve post, I remembered an article that ran in my neighborhood newsletter six years ago. I updated the story for this post.
December 2009, I was sitting at the hospital with my mother as she was about to have a knee replacement. I was concerned about her, and, at the same time, thankful it wasn't me who was about to have surgery. As I tried to find something to write about, and at the same time distract my mother, I asked her if she had any ideas; she thought for a minute or two and asked me if I knew the story about the first Christmas tree. I didn't, so she told me the story.
"There was once a little Scandinavian Princess, who had everything she ever wanted. At Christmas her father, wanting to please her, took her for a sleigh ride to admire the trees and pick one out to take home. All of the beautiful trees were puffed up, proud to offer themselves to the princess, but she looked past them to a small scraggly tree. The spaces in the branches were occupied by birds and squirrels, but the little princess saw past the imperfections and took the tree home. She was so happy with it, she filled the spaces with decorations and thought the tree was beautiful.”
At this point, I interrupted my mom and said, "That's terrible, what happened to all of the little animals that lived in the tree?"
My mom said patiently, or not so patiently if anyone knows my mom, "Oh, they all found new homes, but you are MISSING the point of the story. The point is that the little tree was small and scrawny, but to the little girl, the it was perfect and beautiful.”
Okay, whatever. I was happy to sit with my mom--she was having a big operation and needed company. I was hopeful that the surgery would go well, and she would be doing better the next day.
Later, I realized that I didn't quite get the message of her story, even after she explained it to me.
Hours after surgery, my mom was up and even walked (albeit only a few feet). I mentioned to her that I used her story for this feature. She smiled and said, "Oh, did I tell you that at the end of the story all the animals followed the little princess home and lived with her?”
Back in 2009, the day after the story, I decided that I finally understood. Like the little princess, many of us have lots of beautiful things. And I was hopeful that we could be like the little princess and see past the imperfections of the world to find beauty and happiness.
Re-reading old articles can often be painful. But this one, even with the comma splices and dangling modifiers, still brought a smile. That was a happy time in my life. My mom rocked the knee replacement. And the little princess story still applies; for me, first drafts often look like a scraggly tree. And if I can find the beauty of a solid frame within my story, I can finish it out, add a little glitz, and have a polished piece.
Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!