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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)

TITLE: Fir or Fake?
By Angeline oppenheimer


Fir or Fake?

I’ve always wanted a tree. Not just any tree. A 9-foot Noble Fir Christmas tree.
But circumstances are always plotting against me. First, my geological location made it unlikely. You cannot possibly walk into a nursery in Singapore and ask to see their selection of Christmas trees. The heat and humility will wilt them before they see the light of Christmas day. If you own the land of a thousand sheep, perhaps, you may order a small one but since I live in a 3-room apartment with my family, I’ll probably have to marry one who owns the land of a thousand sheep, or chickens, the likely livestock here.

Of course, they have lots of Christmas trees, all laden with trimmings inside shopping windows…all plastic and pumped up with lights. No, I don’t want any of those. I want a nice smelling tree from the pinery, no less. Though, in all actuality, I could never have a Christmas tree in my house as my parents are both Buddhists and having a Christmas tree is synonymous to being Christians, a disgrace to their ancestral upbringing. And since I was single at that time, I’ve to remain under their jurisdiction for as long as my singlehood lasts. We’re talking about a very grim prospect here.

Well, my Father who owns the land of a thousand sheep, sent me a man who owns a thousand antiques. He collects antiques enough to fill a museum and by all circumstantial probability…what’s the odd?…he is Jewish. So, even though, I’ve now being transported 12,000 miles away and by virtue of marriage, owns my own house, I’ve no say when it comes to buying a Christmas tree.

I went wild the first Christmas in America. I visited nurseries to gawk at the trees…Douglas, Noble, Fraser, Grand, White or Nordmann. All firs from shades of blue to silver-green.. I love the smell…like the fragrance of Christ, the fragrance of the best Gift given. I love the needle-like-leaves and how they branch away from the tree in tiers. The tree, a reminder of the tree that Jesus hanged on, birth and death meet to make the reasons for the season. I want a tree, Lord.

So, I tried my charm that first Christmas:

“Honey, can I buy a Christmas tree?”
“I always wanted one and a Christmas tree will lend the mood for the season.”
“I really don’t want a Christmas tree in the house. It’s a Jewish house after all.”
“Jesus is Jewish and He would most definitely approve of one.”
“I would say most Jewish people would frown on that. I know it’s just a huge ornament of sorts, but to the Jews, it carries religious significance.”

So, I did without a tree. OK, I tried to mitigate my yearning. Christmas is Christmas because of Jesus, not the tree.

The next Christmas, I tried again. “Pleass..sse…e…can I’ve have a Christmas tree?”

“Nope, for the same reasons as last year.”

This went on for four long years by which, my yearning grew to the melon size of a blister, just waiting to burst and I kept keeping it in check with the salve of good Christian reasoning. But still, I can’t quite keep my peace.

“Honey, I know I can’t have a real Christmas tree. But can I at least have one from Michaels? It’s fake and quite harmless, don’t you think?”

“Well, I don’t know.” I knew that was the end of the conversation.

So, I’ll pass my fourth year here without a tree. I can do it, Lord, I’ve already done it three times in a row.

Two weeks before Christmas, my husband came back from work and told me he had a surprise for me. A surprise? I don’t need one, I’ve enough surprises to find out there weren’t surprises after all.

He brought in a long box and promptly produced segments of what resembles a trunk and lots of needle-like-leaves. A Christmas tree? He volunteered to buy a Christmas tree?

My yearning burst and I broke down…is this love or has my nagging taken a toll on him?
I like to think it’s the former because I’ve always been a dreamer, as you most probably gathered by now. And God volunteers to honor our dreams…if they’re in line with His.

P.S. Three years ago, he was won over or worn down…he came with me to buy my very first live sweet-smelling Noble Fir.

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Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood11/30/06
Intriguing story. I found fascinating the diverse cultural backgrounds of the two main characters--Asian and Jewish. Also loved the descriptions of the trees with their many diverse colors.

I think "humility" in the phrase "heat and humility" is meant to be "humidity" (?).

Loved the way the Jewish husband broke down finally and bought a Christmas tree for his Christian Asian wife. Can't help wondering whether this suggests he may "break down" in a deeper way, as well!
Catrina Bradley 12/01/06
I love it! I'm grinning for you having your first Christmas tree.

I think "geological" probably should be "geographical"?

Also, one (probably) typo in the 3rd paragraph - "owns my own house" should be "own my own house"

Love this line - "I love the smell…like the fragrance of Christ, the fragrance of the best Gift given." Yes, the smell of LIFE! Wonderful story, great job!
Donna Powers 12/02/06
How nice that you got your tree. A wonderful story of evolving love and I also enjoyed the peek into different cultures. Nice job.
Joanne Sher 12/03/06
Interesting story for sure - I love your voice in this - definitely the dreamer! Gave me hope, and I appreciate your PS!
Myrna Noyes12/04/06
Glad you finally ended up with a real tree! I love happy endings to holiday stories! Thanks for sharing this! :)