The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Most Beautiful Tree

By Virginia L. Kroll © 1991

Issue: December, 1991

The six children raced to the door when Dad and Morn brought home the Christmas tree. "Come on, Seth," said Dad to his oldest son, "help me bring this in." Joshua had already set up the stand while Sara tended the three little ones.

"Tee! Tee!" baby Noah squealed when he saw it. Sara picked him up to see better and to keep him out of the way.

Mom and Joshua held the trunk steady while Dad and Seth anchored it into the stand.

"Oh no," noticed Sara, "it seems smaller than last year's."

"Are you kidding?" said Dad. "It 's almost touching the ceiling."

"Last year's hit the ceiling, and it was a lot fuller," Sara pointed out.

"Well, it's hard to judge the exact size outside," commented Mom, especially when the branches are frozen together."

Dad had a suggestion. "We'll just use the special ornaments this year. Put the others aside on the coffee table. There are simply too many."

"That's because Mom gets us each a new one every year," said Sara. "that's twenty for me alone."

"Yeah, and our friends and relatives all know how Mom is ornament-crazy, so they do it sometimes, too," added Seth.

Hannah and Katya were dancing excitedly around, impatient for the decorating to begin. They tore open the tops of the boxes and began searching for just the right ornaments.

Everyone sorted through the boxes and contributed to the tree-trimming. Sara guided little Noah's chubby hand, but after he was jabbed by pine needles, he decided he'd rather play and wriggled to the floor.

Before long, Joshua noticed an ornament on the coffee table. "Hey, I got this baseball bear the year we won the championship." He hung it on a prominent branch.

"Here's a yucky bird," said Hannah, but Mom swiped it from her. "That was my 'good luck' finch from Sara. She sent it to me when I was in the hospital with pneumonia at Christmas-time. She was only a baby then," Mom wistfully recalled of her firstborn.

"Oh Mom, don't get all emotional now," pleaded Sara.

Seth glanced at the discarded ornaments. "Hey, Aunt Grace gave me this mouse on the top bunk the year Dad built our beds, remember Josh?"


"But the ladder is broken," said Sara.

"I don't care," Seth insisted. "It's going up."

"Look here," Dad beckoned. "Who put this aside?" He held up a cut-out silver angel.

"I did," Hannah admitted shyly.

"You made that in Kindergarten last year; it's great," said Dad. "And here's my Second-Grade snowman. It's no work of art, but it's the only ornament I have from my childhood." He hung both paper creations carefully high on upper branches, out of the reach of little fingers.

"Give me that!" shouted Sara at Joshua. Joshua handed over a clothes-pin doll angel. "That's mine. Mom came into my First Grade room and taught the whole class how to make them. Wow, that was ages ago," she sighed.

"Now who's getting all emotional?" teased Seth.

"Oh be quiet. You have memories, too," defended Sara.

Noah's interest in the tree returned. He brought out a tiny blue felt baby stocking. "Mine," he proudly declared.

"Yours." Sara helped him hang it.

"It's all dirty," Katya protested.

Sara turned toward her smallest sister. "Aunt Babe made that for Noah the month before he was born. It was his very first ornament, so it's very special. The stain has a memory too," she explained. "You threw it into my hot cocoa last year when you were still a baby."

Katya and Hannah laughed together. "I remember that," Hannah said.

"And speaking of first ornaments," Sara continued, "where's yours Katya?"

"I don't know," Katya answered.

"We'll" find it," Sara promised.

"I'll help," Hannah cooperated.

"Help," Noah mimicked.

"I found it," said Hannah, "but look..." Hannah held up a pink ceramic cradle. One rung was cracked and partially missing. Katya frowned.

"Let's put it up," Sara said cheerfully, taking Katya's hand. "A first ornament is a first ornament, chipped or not."

It went on like this for a while. When Seth went to pack away the "extra" ornaments, he discovered that there weren't any.

Joshua got to turn on the light switch this year. He and his parents and the oldest silently admired the glittering, teaming treasure. The three little ones jumped up and down, squealing and clapping their hands.

"It's the most beautiful tree we've ever had!" Mom exclaimed.

"Oh Mom, you say that every year," chided Seth.

"I probably did," mused Mom, "but only because it's true."