My first christmas tree, p.1
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       My First Christmas Tree, p.1
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           A.K. Downs & R. Brooks
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My First Christmas Tree
My First Christmas Tree

  by A.K. Downs and R. Brooks

  Illustrations courtesy of C. Fennessy

  Copyright 2014 A.K. Downs and R. Brooks

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  work of fiction. Names, characters, places, images, and incidents

  either are the product of the author's imagination or are used

  fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or

  dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely

  coincidental. Thank you for your support.


  Tommy counted five on his fingers. He remembered at least five Christmases spent at the shelter; he was eight years old now. He sighed to himself, “That is a horrible fake Christmas tree. I was hoping someone would adopt me before I had to see that awful tree again.” He looked over at the tree. He tried not to think of the tree that hit his family’s car killing his parents.

  “I was really hoping I would get my Christmas wish of a new family and fresh-cut Christmas tree this year, but I guess it is not to be.” He hung upside down in his chair looking at the tree again. “Nope,” he closed his eyes. It was ugly from every position, even upside down.

  He sat up, and he looked again at the tree made of hard, brown plastic, with branches made of dark wire and green, fuzzy, plastic needles. Its trunk no longer stood straight, and the wire branches were bent at crazy angles. The tree tipped to one side with bare spots. He sighed again.

  “Tommy,” Nurse Jackson called, “Are you going to help decorate the tree”?

  “Yes, ma’am, I want to help with the tree. Are there any candy canes for the tree this year?” “Hmmmm, I do not see any in the bag”, she replied. “I am sorry, Tommy.”

  “Nurse Jackson,” he asked. “Do you think we will ever have a real, fresh-cut Christmas tree? I have always dreamed of a fresh tree. I can almost smell it now.”

  Nurse Jackson hugged Tommy. “I have worked here for nearly 15 years and in all that time we have used this tree. I am sorry, kiddo, but I think this is the best you are going to get, but hey, it is not so bad. At least we still have a tree. I know of a shelter across town that does not even have a fake tree,” she said.

  Tommy felt bad for the other children, but he also felt bad for himself. He handed Nurse Jackson an ornament for the tree. He listened to her sing, “O, Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…” Tommy spoke out loud in a quiet voice, “I want a real tree and a real family.”

  The quiet night settled on the shelter. Tommy folded his hands for his nightly prayers. “Dear God, the preacher tells us to pray for miracles on Sunday. The other children get adopted. I promise to be good. Please let me have a real tree and a real family, amen.” He pulled the blanket up to his chin. His eyes glistened with tears, but he would not cry because he had promised to be good. The quiet night settled in his room as he fell asleep.

  The next morning, Tommy sat eating his breakfast. The phone rang. Nurse Jackson called his name. “Tommy! You need to get ready. A couple wants to meet you later today.”

  The pain of past rejection flashed across his small face. “You must be mistaken.” The cereal spoon dropped in the bowl of milk.

  “Why do you say that, Tommy?” she asked.

  “Because I have been here so long, and because my own uncle does not even want me, and because they have to pay people to take care of me,” he blurted out.

  “Tommy, it is true that you have been here awhile and that your uncle did not want custody of you. I do not know why that it is, but to be honest that was his loss. You are a wonderful boy, and I have a feeling that the family coming to visit is going to be one to adopt you and show you the love that you deserve.”

  “I’ve heard that before.” Tommy dropped his head and closed his eyes remembering all the families who had come to visit, only to adopt another one of the children – the younger children.

  “Really, they want to meet me?” he questioned again.

  “Yes, really! Now, hurry up and get ready,” she said.

  Tommy swung his legs back and forth. His feet almost touched the ground now. He refused to look at the fake tree. Finally, he saw Nurse Jackson appear in the doorway to the recreation room.

  “Tommy, come meet Mr. and Mrs. Edwards.”

  He took a deep breath, and walked over to the young couple. He remembered that he was supposed to shake hands with the man. At least that was what Eric, one of the other kids who had been adopted had taught him last year.

  His hand trembled. The man was big and tall. Tommy took a deep breath and extended his hand. “Hi, my name is Tommy, and I am 8 years old”.

  The man glanced at his wife. She smiled at Tommy.

  He shook Tommy’s hand just like an adult. The man’s hand felt large; it seemed at least three times as big as Tommy’s hand; it was rough and strong, too.

  “Hello Tommy, my name is Thomas and this is my wife, Robyn.”

  Tommy replied, “Pleased to meet you.”

  They chatted for awhile by asking Tommy questions about his life. Tommy still did not look at the fake tree. Finally, the couple asked if they could speak with Nurse Jackson privately for a minute.

  “Yes, sir, you sure can, but just in case I do not see you again, I would like to say that it was nice to meet you both and Merry Christmas.”

  Tommy smiled and shook the man’s hand again. The man smiled back.

  “It was our pleasure to meet you, too.” The woman replied with a kind and soft expression.

  Tommy closed the door to the recreation room and walked to his room. “Well, God, I know that the Edwards do not want me either, but I appreciate that you sent them to me anyway. They seem like nice people, so one of the young kids will be home soon.”

  “Tommy? Tommy,” Nurse Jackson called kindly, “Would you please come with me?” She had a big smile on her face. “The Edwards would like to ask you something.”

  Wow, he thought. This was something new, as no one had ever wanted to talk to him more. Tommy rushed back down to the recreation room. He forgot and looked at the ugly tree. Mr. Edwards spoke first.

  “Tommy, my wife and I have wanted a child for a long time, but we just couldn’t find the right fit, until now. Would it be okay if we adopted you?”

  Tommy’s mind spun for the next hour—it all seemed a blur. The Edwards wanted him to leave the orphanage tonight and go home with them as their son.

  He started to get nervous that it was only a dream. He thought about it for a minute. It was a big decision, and he could only think of one test to see if they really wanted him

  “Can we stop and get a real, fresh-cut Christmas tree on the way home?” Tommy asked, pinning all his hopes and dreams on the answer. He had already decided that if the answer was no, he was staying with Nurse Jackson. His heart thudded in his chest, and it seemed to explode in relief when his new parents agreed to a Christmas tree.

  Mrs. Edwards looked at Tommy’s small pile of old clothes. She said, “Tommy, why don’t you leave them and we will get you a new wardrobe.”

  Tommy nodded his head. Whatever a new wardrobe was sounded better than his old clothes. Nurse Jackson sniffed quietly and hugged Tommy. “You deserve the best of everything Tommy Edwards. Now, be a good boy and enjoy your new home.”

  They piled into the fancy sedan with a blue and white hood ornament and headed home. They drov
e for a while, and then the car pulled into a neighborhood with big houses and Christmas lights everywhere.

  Tommy frowned and he thought they had forgotten about the tree, but just as he was about to ask about it, the car pulled into a small tree lot. Mr. Edwards took Tommy’s hand as they got out of the car. Tommy looked up and down the street of lights. Mr. Edwards walked over to talk to the old man next to the tent. “I am sorry Tommy, but it is Christmas Eve, and he just told me that he is out of trees.” Tommy felt the tears behind his eyes.

  Mr. Edwards looked down at Tommy. “Come on, let’s ask one more time.” Tommy heard his new father tell the old man that he had just been adopted into the family, and that the little boy had never had a real tree before. The old man was big and tall with white hair, but he looked nice. His name was Mr. Swenson.

  Mr. Swenson got down on one knee in front of Tommy. “I only have one tree left, but it is not very good. It tips to one side and it has bare spots. No one wants it, so I was going to make it into firewood.” Mrs. Edwards walked up and held Tommy’s hand. They could barely hear his reply when Tommy said, “I would. I want it, mister.”

  Tommy reached his hand out to his new dad and said, “Dad, it is a perfect tree. No one wanted me either, until you and Mom. Don’t you see how it is the perfect tree for us?” Mr. Swenson coughed and stood up wiping his face with a handkerchief. “Well, okay, let me go get
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