In the heart of the forest, there stood a young fir tree. It grew in a fine spot with plenty of fresh air and sunlight, but it was surrounded by trees that were far taller and stronger than itself.
The little fir tree would look up at the other trees and wish that it was big and strong too.
All the little fir tree could think was, “I wish I would grow up quickly. I wish I could see what the world is like.”
One year passed and then another, and though the little fir tree grew, it was never quite fast enough. “Why can’t I grow more quickly?” it sighed.
One snowy winter, some woodcutters came by and chopped down some of the taller, more handsome trees in the green forest.
“Where are they going? Will they get to see the world?” wondered the little fir tree.
“We know! We know!” said two fat robins. “We flew into town and we peeped through the windows. Such splendour awaits them! They will be planted in pots in warm rooms, and decorated with gingerbread, and colourful toys and candles!”
Every twig of the fir tree trembled at the thought of it. “Oh, how I wish I could live in someone’s room and be decorated with beautiful things!”
“Oh, little fir tree,” sparkled the sunbeams. “Rejoice in your youth!”
“Oh, little fir tree,” sang the birds. “Stay and enjoy the green forest!”
“Oh, little fir tree,” whispered the wind. “Let me play in your branches.”
But the little fir tree didn’t listen and every day it longed to be somewhere else – somewhere more exciting.
Over the next year, it grew into a tall, strong tree. Everyone who passed by said how beautiful it was. When the woodcutters returned in winter, it was the first tree to be cut down.
“At last!” thought the fir tree. It was placed in a horse-drawn cart and carried to a large house. Two servants lifted the fir tree into the house and set it down in a grand drawing room.
The room was filled with fine paintings, furniture and ornate vases. There were velvet curtains and silken sofas, and a beautiful window, where a pot stood waiting for the tree.
The fir tree shivered with excitement as it was placed in the pot. “What will happen next?” it wondered.
Several servants came into the room and sighed at the sight of the lovely fir tree. They tarted to hang colourful decorations all over its branches – there were small net bags filled with
sweets, golden apples and clusters of walnuts, miniature dolls, wooden toys, baubles in every colour of the rainbow, and hundreds of tiny candles, stuck to the branches with melted wax.
Finally, at the very top of the tree, they placed a shimmering gold star.
Later that night, a servant came to light every candle, so that the fir tree looked dazzlingly beautiful. A family dressed in fine clothing came into the room, and the children gasped with delight to see the splendour of the fir tree.
The tree’s branches quivered with uncertainty. “What will they do to me now? Will I stay here?” it worried.
Soon the family were singing carols around the tree, and the little ones danced around it, ruffling its branches as they went. Later, a maid came to snuff out the candles and the children began plundering the fir tree for its hidden toys and treats. Nobody paid any attention to the tree now – they were too busy playing with their gifts.
At last, the children tugged on the sleeve of one of the older men. “Daddy, tell us a story!” they begged.
He smiled and sat down next to the tree, where he told them the story of Humpty Dumpty, who fell off a wall, but married a princess and became a king. It was a wonderful story – the first the tree had ever heard.
When the stories were over, the fir tree was left alone in the room and it thought, “I will try not to tremble or worry tomorrow. I will be still and straight, so I can enjoy it more and the children can admire me better.”
However, when the morning came, none of the children returned. Instead, two servants dug the fir tree out of its pot, and carried it up to a dark, dusty corner of the attic.
The fir tree lay alone in the darkness for many hours, wondering what might happen next in its adventures.
“It’s winter outside now,” thought the tree. “Perhaps that is why I am here the ground is too cold and hard to plant me again. They must be waiting for spring to come round again!”
And so the fir tree lay patiently in the dark, dusty attic for many long days and nights, and it often thought, “How nice it would be to feel the sunbeams or the breeze on my branches right now. How I miss the hare that used to hop over me, and the beauty of the forest I grew up in!”
And, the fir tree felt quite foolish for not realising it at the time. “Yes, and how silly I have been,” said the tree quietly, and it sat in the dark, wishing for its old life again.