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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)

TITLE: Not Just a Tree
By Susan Storm Smith


Heavenly lace decorated the evergreens in front of the house. Fresh snow, the magic of winter, shrouded the dismal thoughts of our first Christmas alone. Just five short months ago, we had been a group of six angry, frustrated, and disappointed people, now we were five. With hardly a whimper, I had become a single mom with four kids, expected to carry on the family traditions of happy fun-filled Christmas activities and gifts. I looked at the splendor of God's hand on the world, and in the deepest of those personal heart spaces prayed that he would bury me as well.

Jolting me back to reality, four little hands waving wildly as they ran into the room proudly displaying their Christmas decorations made at daycare. The two youngest were excited to have something to contribute to the decorations and festivity of the season.

"Mommy, mommy, we can hang these on our tree." My third daughter then aged four was so expectant.

"Treeeeeeee" squealed my son, aged 3. I wondered how he could even know about a Christmas tree.

"Mom, you should see Mrs. Oliver's Christmas Tree. Its beautiful." The eldest daughter and caretaker of the brood in my absence, loves Christmas trees. She asked many years just for a tree, no presents, no special gifts. For her it was the splendor of the fragrance of pine, and the twinkling lights. She had always understood it was temporary, but rather temporary than not at all.

Stephanie, my second daughter knew that a tree was going to be a hard sell this year. The older two girls and I looked at each other trying to hold back the tears each of us felt. Somehow the Christmas tree was a focal point that brought us all a moment of peace; a hope and promise that everything would somehow be all right.

Money was tight, no child support, my salary barely covered the day-to-day. Even though abuse was not part of our daily life any longer, the memories were more than enough to keep us under a cloud.

Tracey had slipped out of the room and went to the storage area, lugging in box after box of decorations, she and Stephanie started to decorate the mantel with the elves and stockings, garlands around the doorways. My role was to make the hot chocolate while the two younger kids danced in the middle of the living room. It was starting to look a lot like Christmas past.

Watching the love and appreciation for what they had, knowing that it was going to be totally different, we made the best of what we could do. As evening began to turn into a silent night a soft knock was heard at the front door. A neighbor who didn't say much and waved occasionally stood covered in snow with a smile as big as summer.

"My wife and I thought you might be able to use this."

Tears could no longer be contained, nor the sobbing of my heart. This man, sent by God to answer the prayers of a desperate mom, carried into our home a fragrant evergreen that became a Christmas miracle, not just a tree.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/18/08
Very sweet story!
lynn potter10/18/08
Beautiful! A great punch ending, wraps the whole story up in a few but powerful ending words. Left me with the feeling that God does really care about what we care about!

Diana Dart 10/20/08
Beautiful story. You had me wrapped up in each phrase. Great begining and a cherry-on-top ending - wonderful.
Norma-Anne Hough10/22/08
Great story you had my attention from the first word.
Well done.
Sandra Smith10/22/08
Nice job! Very touching and sweet. Flowed very nicely and to the point. Brought tears to my eyes.