A Higher Calling

Once upon a time just a few years ago, a little pine tree stood in the deep forest, isolated and naked. He wondered aloud why he was so small and skinny while a big pine tree standing just several feet away had so many full and lusty branches. With a gentle smile, the big tree said, "Son, I am your mother and not to worry, one day, you will look just like me."

The little tree doubted that, for he could not imagine being as fancy as his mother when everyone could see that he would always be scant and spindly, with the wind blowing right through his sparse branches, as though he wasn't even there. Why was he different from the others in the forest?

"Never mind that," said his mother when the little tree asked why that was, "for you are my son and you have a higher calling," and she would say nothing more about it.

"What kind of calling?" the little tree asked, but no answer came. It was a quandary all right, and the little tree pondered the whys of life every day. Still, no answer came. And then in the darkness of a December night while he slept, the answer was revealed.

In the morning when the little tree awakened, he felt peculiar. He didn't know why, he just felt peculiar. "Take a look at yourself," said his mother, and he looked down. "Wow," he exclaimed, when he saw that he was adorned with shiny spheres of red, blue, green, silver and gold. There was even a tiny angel dangling from one of his boughs, and little tinkling bells were scattered here and there. By turning this way and that, being careful not to dislodge any of the glittering objects, he read words on the decorations. "Chloe," said one, "Daddy," said another, "Max" said a third. Were these calls to some higher power? He looked up to ask his mother and was delighted to find her bedecked with even more finery than he had, so much of it that she tilted with the weight. The little tree saw that today, a special day, his mother had been right -- he really did look like her. On her lowest bough hung a note:

Dear God,
Thank you for letting us communicate with our loved ones who
are spending Christmas in Heaven

"Mommy," said the little tree, "If Christmas bells tinkle in the forest and there's no one around to hear them, do they make a sound?" "Yes, son," said the mother. "How do you know? asked the little tree." "Because the tinkle is not the question, the tinkle is the answer."