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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)

TITLE: A Merry Heart
By Linda Watson Owen


I remember a merry Christmas in our home so long ago,
just Mom and me together, wood frame house nestled in snow.
Though times were hard with Daddy gone and bills that must be paid,
my precious mother never lost her joy in such dismay.

No fancy presents would be found under a Christmas tree,
but still she smiled and baked some bread. It smelled so heavenly!
She sang a carol played by ear upon the old upright,
and laughter found a home there too on a cold December night.

She held me close explaining we could not afford a tree.
Somehow it didn’t matter to this child upon her knee.
For in her voice Christmas still rang, and through a tear a smile
warmed up that little cottage as we sat and rocked awhile.

She trudged next morning through the snow to work where others showed
such little gratitude for all she did to help them so.
A paltry pay for hours spent caring for the infirmed,
then trudge she did, back home again, with the little bit she’d earned.

She passed the store, counted the cost, and found there was no way
to buy a modest Christmas tree to have on Christmas Day.
Quite strange, it seems, how she could bear her burden gray and bleak
without a whine or ‘pity me’ through dark days and long weeks.

Next day was Christmas Eve, and once again she walked to work,
and many hours later headed home through winter’s murk.
An angel must have nudged her to once more go past the store,
and there she saw a tiny tree alone upon the floor.

The tree was white with mottled spray, a selling plan gone wrong,
A broken branch held one small tag, “We’ll sell it for a song.”
The clerk then chuckled as he said, “A quarter and it’s yours.”
Mom paid the price, and the little tree went with her out the door.

No other tree through all the years was ever quite so fine.
Though small and pale, my mother knew just how to make it shine.
She hung bright ornaments and popped some corn to make a string,
and as we decorated it, we both began to sing,

“Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches…,”
and in the cozy glow of home, we watched its starlight dances.
“Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree...” we sang and laughed together.
The memory of that sweet, sweet night will gift this ‘child’ forever.

“…the cheerful heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15 NIV

Author's note: This is a true story and is dedicated to the memory of my dear mother, Mary, who lived out what it means to have a merry, faith-filled heart in the midst of hardship.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Deborah Engle 10/17/08
A heart-touching story in a poem. Very well done.
Laury Hubrich 10/18/08
I love knowing this was true. Good job telling your mom's story.
Sharlyn Guthrie10/20/08
This is precious. It means even more, knowing that it's true. Well done!
Celeste Ammirata10/20/08
What a beautiful, touching tribute to your mother. Thanks for sharing this poignant memory with us. God Bless
T. F. Chezum10/21/08
A very well written and touching tribute. I always enjoy your work.
Beth LaBuff 10/22/08
It's great to see you back in the challenges! I love the image of this little white tree and loved reading about the celebration that accompanied it. So beautiful and poignant. What a contrast to the message of today.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/23/08
Just beautiful, dear Friend and a special tribute to your Mom. I'm delighted to see you back on the challenge page.