Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Trees (12/05/05)
TITLE: The Blessing Tree
By Karen Heslink
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The first time Emmy noticed the tree she was four years old. It stood in the corner of Aunt Jen’s living room and was covered with tiny bows. Emmy was full of questions. Why did Aunt Jen have a Christmas tree in her house in the summertime? Where were the pretty lights that other Christmas trees had? What happened to all the other decorations? It look like other Christmas trees either. It had leaves and branches like the trees in Emmy’s backyard.
She walked closer and wondered about the little cards she saw attached to each bow. The cards had words on them. She knew that because Mommy read books at bedtime every night. Words were wonderful. Emmy couldn’t wait until she could read words.
Just then, Aunt Jen and Mommy walked into the room. “It’s so wonderful to have you here for a visit,” said Aunt Jen as she hugged Emmy. “It gets lonely here all by myself day after day.” Mommy and Aunt Jen sat on the couch talking and laughing. Meanwhile Emmy continued to look at the tree. She inched closer to it and touched one of the leaves. It felt strange. She rubbed her hand along the trunk and then down to the soil. It was very dry, dryer than any of Mommy’s plants. She ran over to the couch and tapped Aunt Jen’s knees, “Aunt Jen! You tree is very dry. It needs water. Without any water, it will die!"
Aunt Jen and Mommy laughed. “Oh honey,” replied Aunt Jen, “That old tree is a fake ficus. It never needs water.”
“Mommy what is fake ficus?”
“Well Emmy, a ficus is a kind of tree. You know, like the maple and oak trees in our yard and the willow tree down by the creek. Fake means not real,” explained Mommy.
“But Mommy, why does Aunt Jen want a fake tree in her living room? Real trees are so much nicer.”
Aunt Jen looked sad when she began to explain, “That tree was given to me by my son a long time ago just before he died.” Emmy didn’t know what to say so she just climbed up beside Aunt Jen and snuggled close. “He was in the army during the war, and was killed in big battles that took the lives of many men,...all of them husbands, fathers, sons, brothers…gone forever, but not forgotten. It was the last gift I ever got from Jimmy. It is very special to me.”
“Aunt Jen,” Emmy began, “Why does the tree have so many ribbons on it?” Aunt Jen’s face brightened.
“Why, Emmy, those are the blessings”
“Blessings, whose blessings?” Emmy wondered.
“The blessings we have been given over the years. Like this one.” Aunt Jen got up and walked to the tree touching one of the white ribbons. “See what it says here?
b. January 3, 2000
“Yes Emmy you are a blessing. This red ribbon is for your Mommy and Daddy’s wedding day. The blue one is for the story your Mommy wrote about her mission field experiences.”
“We have this yellow one for the day that Grandma Yates went to be with the Lord and a pink one for the day we gave our entire Thanksgiving dinner away,” piped in Mommy.
“That’s not a blessing,” complained Emmy.
“Yes it is, little girl. The family that received that meal had no food. That one turkey dinner fed that family for a whole week,” explained Mommy. Emmy’s eyes got big and round. She was beginning to understand. She wanted Mommy and Aunt Jen to tell her about all the blessings on the tree.
Over the next few years that is just what they did. Emmy even added a few of her own like the sassy orange ribbon for her puppy, Rascal, and the satiny black one from the tap dancing shoes she had outgrown. She learned to look for the blessings in her life.
The biggest blessing of all came the day she, Mommy and Daddy went to the lawyer’s office for the reading of Aunt Jen’s will. When the lawyer started reading, Emmy tried hard to concentrate, but it was pretty boring…until she heard her own name.
“…and to Emmiline Jennifer, my niece and one of the greatest blessing of my life, I leave the blessing tree, for I know she will take care of it and nurture it for future generations.”
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