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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)

TITLE: Taking Down the Tree
By Michael Joshua


As I reached into the tree to remove the last candy cane, I thought, “I can’t believe that the grandkids missed this one. It’s just the right height for them to see.” But mid-thought I heard, “Ow!”

As I turned, I realized that I was the one who had exclaimed it. The slight trickle of blood on my finger let me know that the pine needles were dry and stiff – and sharp. It doesn’t matter that we had gone to the tree farm, selected it, cut it down, shoved it in the bed of the truck and brought it home just a few weeks ago. No matter how fresh it was when we brought it home, it was dry and brittle now. Water still stood in the base, but the tree is dry. I don’t think Christmas trees drink any water at all; it’s just something to make us feel safer about having a tree in our house with electric lights strung around it. Perhaps a scam to get us to buy one of those big tree stands.

I wipe off the small blood drops and walk down the hall to the bathroom. Opening the cabinet, I start rummaging through the box of first aid supplies. Darn! The only band-aids in the house are Spiderman, Little Einsteins or Dora the Explorer. Not a plain brown one anywhere. At least I’m not leaving the house - so no one will see me, a 54 year old man with Spiderman on his finger. I always try to have the logo ones on hand for the grandkids. It does make me smile though. It is a major decision for them, selecting one to place on their small cuts. My grandson has to look at every one through the wrapper before he can pick one. Even then, sometimes he changes his mind.

I got back to the tree, but decided to take a break – need to assess the rest of the decoration take-down – a good time to eat this candy cane. A pile of ornaments on the coffee table, three strands of lights on the floor and four red and white garlands coiled on the end table, stuffed Christmas animals piled together in one corner, nativity set still on display – everything started, nothing finished. The candy cane is good.

I unscrew the brackets in the tree stand and lift the tree out. Leaning it over, I take the topper off and grab the tree trunk through the branches. Getting a good grip is easy, then I realize that I forgot to put on gloves. Now I’ll have the sap all over my hands. As I sigh, I take it through the living room and down the stairs. Of course, it is over five feet tall, so I have to cut it in half for the trash service to take it away next week. But at least they’ll take it. Grabbing my pruning saw down from its place on the pegboard, I lay the tree on the garage floor and push my way through the needles to position the blade on the trunk. Fortunately, pine is such a soft wood, it is quickly cut and ready to be placed at the curb.

Then, looking at the bare tree brought about some reflection. We decorate a tree as part of the celebration of Christ’s birth; his final sacrifice for us was to hang on the cross. No doubt that the wood did not appear as nice and smooth as we see depicted in much of the crucifixion artwork. More likely than not, it was a raw tree with the branches cut off. It probably looked just like the trunk of my Christmas tree.

As I think about this, I lean back on tailgate of my truck and try to imagine what it was like to see him hanging there. The crown of thorns on his head, the nails in his feet and hands left the blood flowing and dripping to the ground below. He came with a purpose. He gave his life as a sacrifice to reconcile us to God.

Rubbing the pine sap from my hands with a rag dipped in turpentine, I notice my Spiderman band-aid – I almost feel ashamed that I even said “Ow!” for such a small drop of spilled blood.

After all, compared to the One whose birthday we just celebrated, it was nothing.

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This article has been read 476 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Glynis Becker01/14/10
Great ending! The comparison of the Christmas tree to the cross is very thought-provoking. Thanks so much for sharing this!
Shilo Goodson01/14/10
This was a good story that I think fit the theme great.
Angela Linton01/14/10
Well said.
Julie Seeto01/14/10
Good story! i wondered where you were going with this, since your opening contained the "Ow" (I was hoping your MC was not going to fall down the stairs or saw his fingers off!!) but your ending was great and brought home the point very well.
Great comparison, although I found it a little distracting when you switched from past tense to present tense with your verbs.
Mona Purvis01/15/10
There is a softness about this entry that envelops the reader and causes serious thought.
I enjoyed it very much.

Mildred Sheldon01/16/10
I enjoyed this very much and I love how you incorporated the ow in the last sentence.
Good job.
Karen Pourbabaee 01/17/10
Well written story, an example of how sometimes in doing everday things, if we listen God brings us to a poignant moment of revelation.
Jan Ackerson 01/18/10
Excellent object lesson, written with just the right balance of humor and seriousness.

Be careful to stay consistent--either past tense or present.

I've started a class in the FaithWriters forums for Beginner and Intermediate writers. I'd love to see you there--look for "Jan's Writing Basics".

This is timely and well-written.
Catrina Bradley 01/18/10
A nice, easy pace, that matches the actions of the character, taking his time with his chore. I love how this wove into a message at the end, and the man's final thought. Great job!