By Thorton B.
Once upon a time, a little spruce tree took root on the south side of a little wooden gingerbread-looking house. The tree stared for hours and hours at the house, admiring its quaint white clapboard shutters, and its gleaming lights, lights that shone through its glass spectacles when the shutters were agape. “How magnificent you are!” exclaimed the spruce tree. “I wish I were you.”
Soon spring turned to summer, and fall to winter, and snow was lightly falling from the sky. Spruce couldn’t contain his admiration for the house, “Your white woolen blanket fits your shoulders well, and it accents your luscious peak. How Spruce wished he stood as square and firm as the house. “I bet the North Wind doesn’t bother you! I doubt that he’s ever made you bow over and over as he runs by, huffing and puffing.” Spruce thought back to the day when he made a resolution to stand at attention, forbidding himself to cower to the wind. He remains angry that he weakly relented, when he bowed and saluted to the wind, his branches moaning as his bark began to ache, and oh, how a bark ache travels down one’s trunk like a backache of an old man.
Spruce knew that he should be happy. He had forever- green branches, which extended out and around his rugged bark. “Not like the haughty birch tree over there,” he thought aloud. “She’s so shamefully naked in the winter.”
Deep in thought, he did not see the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal fly to their favorite branch on the left side of him. “Cttt, Ctt, Chhin,” the cardinals argued as they prepared for landing. Crash! They landed roughly in the spruce.
“Did you see that fir tree, dressed like a china doll in the house? Why can’t you provide me with a tree so fine?”
“Now dear, I am quite fond of our spruce dressed simply with pine cones, he brings out the best features of our nest.”
“But our tree doesn’t have a golden star on top.”
“Are you forgetting how the frosty icicles of our spruce look, glittering in the starlight?
“But the fir had hundreds of golden candles.”
“I imagine they were painfully hot.”
“What are you two arguing about?” interrupted Spruce with a bit of annoyance in his voice.
“There is a grand fir, the most wonderful tree that I’ve ever seen, in that house. I’ve seen it through the windows,” said Mrs. Cardinal. “It was standing regally in a bucket of water, but you might not know that because as his feet are being soaked, they are wrapped in the most royal cloak of red velvet.”
“A tree in the house? In my house? The house I admired for hour and hours?”
“‘tis true, ‘tis true,” answered Mr. Cardinal, “but I can’t say it’s the grandest tree. It is a tree all decorated up, pretending to be something it’s not. Can you imagine a tree wearing toys, glazed apples and baskets full of candies?”
“He sounds wonderful; I wish I could see him. Perhaps if I can’t be a house, maybe a decorated tree is what I should aspire to be. If only I knew how to act like him.”
“He’s wonderful,” answered Mrs. Cardinal, “all
glittering and gleaming, and I watched the family with seven children dance around the tree last night. They received presents and everyone was laughing together for hours.”
“I thought it must have been painful for that fir tree to have so many hands grabbing at his branches,” Mr. Cardinal with his crimson red feathers replied.
“How can I wear such an elaborate costume? I want to become like the fir, acting as a grand performer.”
“You are what you are,” replied Mr. Cardinal kindly.
“Oh, to be wrapped up with the finest attire, and
have a family dance around me, laughing for hours!”
“The adults told stories while the children lay down on the red velvet cloak, dreamily looking at the fir’s statuesque figure,” said Mrs. Cardinal.
“Ahhh,” Spruce thought of how regal he could become if only he could be dressed up, and displayed through a window. But sap trickled down his bark as he realized he was just a spruce. “I wonder if my bottom is too full, or if a branch is too crooked. Perhaps that’s why I was overlooked when they selected the fir tree.” Crying sap, Spruce fell into a deep sleep.
The following morning he woke up very slowly, and very late; he could see the sun already shining high in the sky. He felt sad and dejected and had difficulty shaking off the night’s frost. Throughout the day, he felt sorry for himself.
“Could I be selected to decorate a grand house?”
“You would miss the fresh air and the sin shining on your needles and, we would miss you. After all, we have been together for a long time, helping each other survive,” Mr. Cardinal warmly responded honestly.
“I want to be a fine conifer gentleman.”
“You are, just as you stand before me, right now. You do not need finery of gold or flickering flames to light up the lives of me and the Mrs. I’m hoping your branches will coddle and rock our spring clutch to sleep.”
“Listen to my sweetheart. I just got carried away, my perspective clouded away by all the grandeur, Mr. Cardinal knows best. And, to tell you the truth,” added Mrs. Cardinal fluffing up her dull adobe colored feathers, “the story wasn’t very good after all.”
Mr. Cardinal agreed, “No tree could stand up to the wind like you do while soaking their feet in a bucket, and worrying about their golden trinkets.”
“Perhaps I should be happy as I am, free to soak up the radiant rays of the sun, and breathe fresh oxygen. Free to be me! Yet, I remain depressed when I think of what I could have been.”
Then…Thud! He heard a dull wooden sound. Looking to his right, he saw the tree, and with the exception of the golden star, was devoid of all other finery. In fact, he looked dry and peaked.
“Why are you lying on your side? Where are your glittering accessories?” Spruce asked. No reply came from the fir tree.
“Spruce,” said Mr. Cardinal, as he looked him straight in the eye, “I believe the fir tree’s party is over. His grandeur has come and gone. Do you really want to end up like him, in the wood pile waiting to be chopped into pieces?”
“No, I guess that’s what Momma seed meant when she said the soil wasn’t more fertile on the other side.”