Old Scotty; A Christmas Story for Children

Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2005 09:36 am
The following story is based on my memories of my family's excursion to get a Christmas tree many decades ago. Most important is the lesson my children learned to not look for perfection in trees and in people.

I wrote the poem following the story the year before and expanded the poem to become a short story. ---BBB

By BumbleBeeBoogie
Written July 28, 1994

Mike and Miranda Martin nibbled on banana nut muffins in the back seat of their car on a chilly, misty early December morning. Their father drove carefully up the winding road to the Christmas tree farm high on a ridge in the Santa Cruz mountains. As they approached the tree farm, their mother pointed out the car windows at the rows of trees along side the road.

"Those are White and Douglas firs. Over there are Monterey and Scotch pines."

The family got out of the car and began walking around the rows of trees. Near the entrance to the farm stood a older, bushy, but oddly-shaped Scotch pine, sheltered by an old mis-shaped apple tree. The Scotch pine towered over the other trees. It had two V-shaped tips instead of one.

The tree farmer walked over to the Martin family.

"Welcome," he said, "I see you noticed my friend, Old Scotty."

"How did it get that name? It's a funny looking tree," said Mike. "How did it get that way?"

"Years ago," said the farmer, "during a very bad storm, a lightening bolt struck the apple tree. One of its branches crashed down on the young Scotch pine tree. It broke its tender tip. Two new V-shaped tips grew from its trunk."

"Why didn't you fix it?" asked Miranda.

"We couldn't fix it," replied the farmer. "We could only take good care of it until it healed."

"It's such a big tree," Mike said, "even if it has a funny looking top."

"I know," said the farmer, "No one wants it. But I haven't got the heart to cut down Old Scotty for firewood."

"It's sad," said the farmer. "Year after year families ignore Old Scotty as they pass by. Each Christmas I hope someone will want it for their home but everyone wants a perfect tree. Old Scotty remains season after holiday season, protected by the branches of its friend, the old apple tree."

"Poor tree," said Miranda as she patted its branches.

Several families arrived in their cars at the farm. They clustered together as they plodded through the tree rows. Boys and girls ran from tree to tree, waving to their parents with red-mittened hands. Family after family searched for the perfect tree. Children's voices echoed through the terraces, calling out to their parents.

"Look at this tree!"

"Can we get this one, Dad?"

"Please, Mom, I want this tree!"

One of the fathers showed his son how to chop the tree trunk three limbs above the ground to be sure a new tree would develop from the stump. A mother explained to her worried little girl that the tree would grow again, just like mowed grass.

Fathers and sons hoisted the heavy ends of the trunks of the cut trees. Only the children's red tasseled hats were visible, bouncing up and down above the smaller branches as they hiked back to the parking area. Each family tied their tree to the top of their car. As they drove away, they waved goodbye to the Martins, who were still searching for their tree.

The winter sun grew lower in the afternoon sky. Mr. and Mrs. Martin, Mike and Miranda still hiked around the rows of trees. They were sure the perfect tree would be found just over the next row.

Mr. Martin was becoming inpatient as he waited for a tree to be chosen.

"I'm cold", complained Mike.

"I tired and very hungry", whined Miranda.

But Mrs. Martin kept returning to the Scotch pine with two tips. She could not stop thinking about Old Scotty.

"I would like this tree," she said.

"Why?" asked Mike.

"It's funny looking," said Miranda.

"This tree suffered and survived," said Mrs. Martin. "It could have given up and died. Year after year its been scorned, unwanted, and lonely as its neighbors were chosen. Old Scotty is the most noble tree on the farm."

"Oh," said Mike. "I never thought about it that way."

"Do you think trees have feelings, Mom?" asked Miranda.

"How would you feel," said Mrs. Martin, "if no one like you because you were not perfect?"

Mr. Martin, with Mike's help, carefully cut the Scotch pine and tied it to the top of their car. The tree farmer said goodbye, but with both a sad and happy last look at Old Scotty.

As they drove back to the city, Mike and Miranda chattered in the back seat about how they would put two golden stars on top of their perfect Christmas tree.

"No one else will have a tree named Old Scotty with two stars," said Miranda. "Aren't we lucky?"

Back at the Christmas tree farm, the old apple tree spread its bare branches down to shelter the Scotch pine's stump where new growth of a perfect christmas tree would soon appear to replace its old friend.
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Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2005 09:41 am
That's a nice story, BBB.
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Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2005 09:44 am
Ticomaya wrote:
That's a nice story, BBB.

Thanks, Tico. True stories are often the best.

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Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2005 09:49 am
It is a good one, BBB, one to be proud of.
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Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2005 09:55 am
With some tweaking, probably publishable. Good opportunities for illustrations (Jan Brett-ian, maybe).
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Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2005 10:27 am
BBB, that's a wonderful and well told Christmas story!
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Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2005 11:15 am
sozobe wrote:
With some tweaking, probably publishable. Good opportunities for illustrations (Jan Brett-ian, maybe).

A number of people have urged me to try to get it published, but I've never bothered. I wrote it for my children, who vividly remember Old Scotty when they were youngsters. We have pictures of it somewhere in boxes of photographs.

It was a custom in our family to have my two children each decorate a tree of their own. I would create a special artistically decorated tree with a different theme each year. Old Scotty was decorated with woodland animals and birds because we found him in a tree farm.

It would be fun to have A2Kers post photos of their decorated trees, don't you think?

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Stray Cat
Reply Sat 10 Dec, 2005 02:07 am
BBB, I loved that story! I'm so glad you took Old Scotty home! Smile
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Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 12:51 pm
Maybe it's too early for this, but I don't think so.
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Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 02:05 pm
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Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 02:25 pm

Another old Scot: John Muir

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