The most beautiful Christmas Tree

It was a few days before Christmas and the school holidays had begun. The streets and the trees were covered in snow and the whole world seemed ready for Christmas. In one red and white house two children, a little girl about seven and a boy three years older, were eagerly anticipating Christmas. They were so eagerly anticipating that their father was losing his mind and to get them out of the house he told them that they could go into the forest and find one small Christmas tree each to have in their rooms. The two children were ecstatic! They had never before been allowed to have their own tree! The boy was given a small ax and a saw and was sternly told to be careful. He nodded obediently and took his little sister’s hand and together they disappeared into the white and green forest. They walked for a while hand in hand before the little girl exclaimed: Look! Look, there is the perfect tree right there! She pointed to a tall spruce with dense branches covered in snow. Her brother shook his head. “No, no that is too big.” But the little girl wouldn’t take no for an answer so he gave in like he always did when his sister really wanted something. The tree was heavy to carry, but between them they managed. Now it was the boy’s turn to pick one. He didn’t want to let his sister outcompete him so he chose a tree slightly bigger than hers. This tree was even heavier to carry, and the two little children really struggled to get home. The snow seemed to have gotten even deeper since they left their house and they kicked and breathed hard up the hill to their home.

When they finally made it home their father was waiting for them, but when he saw the trees they were carrying his face changed from anticipation to anger. “ I told you to find a small tree each for your rooms! These trees are even too big to fit in our living room!” he shouted angrily. The children’s faces fell. “ But daddy, these were the best trees in the forest!” said the little girl. But when they tried to fit the trees in their rooms they saw that their father had been right. They were much too big. “ Okay, this is what we will do,” said the father after he had calmed down a bit, “We will cut a bit off the bottom of the smallest tree and keep it in the living room as our family tree, the other one will become firewood.”

The boy hung his head a bit, he was disappointed to see his beautiful tree becoming firewood, but his sister smiled from ear to ear knowing that it was her tree that would adorn the living room on Christmas Eve beautifully decorated for all the guests to see. When Christmas Eve finally came the little girl proudly told her grandparents, her cousins and all her uncles and aunts that it was she who had fetched this year’s tree in the forest. Her father, a bit embarrassed, confirmed her story, and they all agreed that that year’s Christmas tree was the most beautiful tree they had ever seen.

This is a true story about my brother and I and one of our childhood Christmases in Norway.

All the illustrations are by the magical Lisi Martin.

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Advent

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Advent is a tradition we treasure in all of Scandinavia. It is the four weeks of waiting for Christmas. Each Sunday of Advent (4 Sundays) we light a candle, and each candle represents a prayer. We have one poem in particular, written by a very beloved Norwegian poet named Inger Hagerup, that all kids and adults alike in Norway knows by heart. We say one verse each Sunday as we light the candle.

I have translated the poem for you to English as there weren’t really translations available. So here it is:

Advent
By Inger Hagerup

We light the first candle tonight
And we light it for joy.
It stands alone
Shining bright for all of us to see
We light the first candle tonight
And we light it for joy.

We light the second candle tonight
And we light it for hope.
Two candles are burning brightly tonight
Two candles for hope and joy.
We light the second candle tonight
And we light it for hope.

We light the third candle tonight
And we light it for our longing.
Three candles are burning brightly tonight
Three candles for hope, joy and for longing.
We light the third candle tonight
And we light it for our longing.

We light all the four candles tonight,
And we let them burn for hope, joy, longing and peace,
But most of all for peace,
Peace to earth and to all mankind.
We light all the four candles tonight,
And we watch them burn down,
For hope, joy, longing and peace.

Beautiful art by: Lisi Martin