Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Fir Tree


The Fir Tree
By Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish writer in the nineteenth century who penned many stories like the one below. His most famous was "The Ugly Duckling." While the reality of this particular story is questioned even by the author, the truth revealed by the tale cannot be questioned. See if you agree.
In a small cottage on the borders of a forest lived a poor laborer, who gained a scanty living by cutting wood. He had a wife and two children who helped him in his work. The boy’s name was Valentine, and the girl was called Mary. They were obedient, good children, and a great comfort to their parents.

One winter evening, this happy little family was sitting quietly round the hearth, the snow and the wind raging outside, while they ate their supper of dry bread, when a gentle tap was heard on the window, and a childish voice cried from outside, "Oh, let me in, I pray! I am a poor child, with nothing to eat, and no home to go to, and I shall die of cold and hunger unless you let me in." Valentine and Mary jumped up from the table and ran to open the door, saying, "Come in, poor little child! We have not much to give you, but whatever we have we will share with you."

The stranger-child came in and warmed his frozen hands and feet at the fire, and the children gave him the best they had to eat, saying, "You must be tired, too, poor child! Lie down on our bed; we can sleep on the bench for one night."

Then said the little stranger-child, "Thank God for all your kindness to me." So they took their little guest into their sleeping-place, laid him on the bed, covered him over, and said to each other, "How thankful we ought to be! We have warm rooms and a cozy bed, while this poor child has only heaven for his roof and the cold earth for his sleeping-place."

When the father and mother went to bed, Mary and Valentine lay quite contentedly on the bench near the fire, saying, before they fell asleep, "The stranger-child will be happy tonight in his warm bed."

These kind children had not slept many hours before Mary awoke, and  softly whispered to her brother, “Valentine, dear brother, wake, and listen to the sweet music under the window.”

Then Valentine rubbed his eyes and listened. It was sweet music indeed, and sounded like beautiful voices singing to the tones of a harp:

Oh holy Child, we greet thee! Bringing
Sweet strains of harp to aid our singing.
Thou holy Child, in peace art sleeping,
While we our watch without are keeping.
Blest be the house wherein thou liest,
Happiest on earth, to heaven the nighest.

The children listened, while a solemn joy filled their hearts, then they stepped softly to the window to see who was singing.

In the east was a streak of rosy dawn, and in its light they saw a group of children standing in front of the house, clothed in sparkling garments and holding golden harps. Amazed at the sight, the brother and sister were still gazing out the window when they heard a sound behind them. Turning they discovered the stranger-child standing before them. "I am the little Christ child," he said. "I wander through the world bringing peace and happiness to children. You took me in and cared for me when you thought I was a poor child, and now you shall have my blessing for what you have done."

A fir tree grew near the little house; and from this the Christ-child broke a twig and planted it in the ground. He looked directly at Valentine and Mary and said, "This twig shall become a tree, and shall bring forth fruit year by year for you."

No sooner had he done this than he vanished, and with him the choir of angels. The fir-branch grew and became a Christmas tree, and on its branches hung golden apples and silver nuts every Christmas.

Such is the story told to German children concerning their beautiful Christmas trees, though we know that this is only a fable. The real Christ-child can never be wandering cold and homeless in our world, because he is safe in heaven by his Father’s side; yet we may gather from this story the same truth which the Bible plainly tells us--that to anyone who helps another person, it will be counted to them as if he had done it to Christ himself. "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Family Moment

Kindness. When you think of that word, what picture comes to mind? Who or what do you think of? What have they done or said that has made you feel warm and that you mattered?

Every day, we have the chance to represent Jesus to anyone God brings our way. We can be kind in what we do, what we say, even in our body language (posture, eye contact) to others who may just want to see if their lives matter to other human souls.

Ask family members how they best express kindness.

Now, ask them how they can improve a little bit more in being kind to others.

An Advent Prayer

Dear kind Lord, thank you that kindness is part of your character from which we can learn. You were kind to everyone who needed kindness. You reached out to touch  those who needed your touch; you said the right words to those who were hurting; you showed by every action in your life that people were more important than anything else on earth. Help us to learn from the examples you set for us, but help us to learn this lesson best. We want to be kind to others, for in doing so, we show we are  being kind to you. In Jesus’s name, amen.


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3 comments:

MaxineD said...

thank you for sharing this Donna.
Blessings
Maxine

Shirley said...

A lovely share, Donna! If I don't stop by again before, a Very Merry Christmas and Healthy Happy New Year to you and yours!

Shelly Schmidt said...

Beautiful! I wanted to stop by and wish you a Merry Christmas!!!