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Wishing you all a festive Christmas Season.
Out in the woods stood a
nice little Fir-tree. The place he had was a
very good one; the sun
shone on him; as to fresh air, there was enough
of that, and round him
grew many large-sized comrades, pines as well as
firs. But the little Fir
wanted so very much to be a grown-up tree.
He did not think of the
warm sun and of the fresh air; he did not care
for the little cottage
children that ran about and prattled when they
were in the woods
looking for wild strawberries. The children often
came with a whole
pitcher full of berries, or a long row of them
threaded on a straw, and
sat down near the young tree and said, "Oh,
how pretty he is! what a
nice little fir!" But this was what the Tree
could not bear to hear.
At the end of a year he
had shot up a good deal, and after another year
he was another long bit
taller; for with fir-trees one can always tell
by the shoots how many
years old they are.
"Oh, were I but such a
high tree as the others are!" sighed he. "Then I
should be able to spread
out my branches, and with the tops to look
into the wide world!
Then would the birds build nests among my
branches; and when there
was a breeze, I could bend with as much
stateliness as the
Neither the sunbeams,
nor the birds, nor the red clouds, which morning
and evening sailed above
them, gave the little Tree any pleasure.
In winter, when the snow
lay glittering on the ground, a hare would
often come leaping
along, and jump right over the little Tree. Oh, that
made him so angry! But
two winters were past, and in the third the tree
was so large that the
hare was obliged to go round it. "To grow and
grow, to get older and
be tall," thought the Tree--"that, after all, is
the most delightful
thing in the world!"
In autumn the
wood-cutters always came and felled some of the largest
trees. This happened
every year; and the young Fir-tree, that had now
grown to a very comely
size, trembled at the sight; for the magnificent
great trees fell to the
earth with noise and cracking, the branches
were lopped off, and the
trees looked long and bare; they were hardly
to be recognized; and
then they were laid in carts, and the horses
dragged them out of the
Where did they go to?
What became of them?
In spring, when the
Swallows and the Storks came, the Tree asked them,
"Don't you know where
they have been taken? Have you not met them
The Swallows did not
know anything about it; but the Stork looked
musing, nodded his head,
and said: "Yes, I think I know; I met many
ships as I was flying
hither from Egypt; on the ships were magnificent
masts, and I venture to
assert that it was they that smelt so of fir. I
may congratulate you,
for they lifted themselves on high most
"Oh, were I but old
enough to fly across the sea! But how does the sea
look in reality? What is
"That would take a long
time to explain," said the Stork, and with
these words off he went.
"Rejoice in thy growth!"
said the Sunbeams, "rejoice in thy vigorous
growth, and in the fresh
life that moveth within thee!"
And the Wind kissed the
Tree, and the Dew wept tears over him; but the
Fir understood it not.
When Christmas came,
quite young trees were cut down; trees which often
were not even as large
or of the same age as this Fir-tree, who could
never rest, but always
wanted to be off. These young trees, and they
were always the finest
looking, retained their branches; they were laid
on carts, and the horses
drew them out of the woods.
"Where are they going
to?" asked the Fir. "They are not taller than I;
there was one indeed
that was considerably shorter; and why do they
retain all their
branches? Whither are they taken?"
"We know! we know!"
chirped the Sparrows. "We have peeped in at the
windows in the town
below! We know whither they are taken! The greatest
splendour and the
greatest magnificence one can imagine await them. We
peeped through the
windows, and saw them planted in the middle of the
warm room, and
ornamented with the most splendid things--with gilded
gingerbread, with toys, and many hundred lights!"
"And then?" asked the
Fir-tree, trembling in every bough. "And then?
What happens then?"
"We did not see anything
more: it was incomparably beautiful."
"I would fain know if I
am destined for so glorious a career," cried
the Tree, rejoicing.
"That is still better than to cross the sea! What
a longing do I suffer!
Were Christmas but come! I am now tall, and my
branches spread like the
others that were carried off last year! Oh,
were I but already on
the cart. Were I in the warm room with all the
magnificence! Yes; then something better, something still
grander, will surely
follow, or wherefore should they thus ornament me?
something still grander, MUST follow--but what? Oh,
how I long, how I
suffer! I do not know myself what is the matter with
"Rejoice in our
presence!" said the Air and the Sunlight; "rejoice in
thy own fresh youth!"
But the Tree did not
rejoice at all; he grew and grew, and was green
both winter and summer.
People that saw him said, "What a fine tree!"
and toward Christmas he
was one of the first that was cut down. The axe
struck deep into the
very pith; the tree fell to the earth with a sigh:
he felt a pang--it was
like a swoon; he could not think of happiness,
for he was sorrowful at
being separated from his home, from the place
where he had sprung up.
He knew well that he should never see his dear
old comrades, the little
bushes and flowers around him, any more;
perhaps not even the
birds! The departure was not at all agreeable.
The Tree only came to
himself when he was unloaded in a courtyard with
the other trees, and
heard a man say, "That one is splendid! we don't
want the others." Then
two servants came in rich livery and carried the
Fir-tree into a large
and splendid drawing-room. Portraits were hanging
on the walls, and near
the white porcelain stove stood two large
Chinese vases with lions
on the covers. There, too, were large easy
chairs, silken sofas,
large tables full of picture-books, and full of
toys worth hundreds and
hundreds of crowns--at least the children said
so. And the Fir-tree was
stuck upright in a cask that was filled with
sand: but no one could
see that it was a cask, for green cloth was hung
all around it, and it
stood on a large gayly coloured carpet. Oh, how
the Tree quivered! What
was to happen? The servants, as well as the
young ladies, decorated
it. On one branch there hung little nets cut
out of coloured paper,
and each net was filled with sugar-plums; and
among the other boughs
gilded apples and walnuts were suspended,
looking as though they
had grown there, and little blue and white
tapers were placed among
the leaves. Dolls that looked for all the
world like men--the Tree
had never beheld such before--were seen among
the foliage, and at the
very top a large star of gold tinsel was fixed.
It was really
splendid--beyond description splendid.
"This evening!" said
they all; "how it will shine this evening!"
"Oh," thought the Tree,
"if the evening were but come! If the tapers
were but lighted! And
then I wonder what will happen! Perhaps the other
trees from the forest
will come to look at me! Perhaps the sparrows
will beat against the
window-panes! I wonder if I shall take root here,
and winter and summer
stand covered with ornaments!"
He knew very much about
the matter! but he was so impatient that for
sheer longing he got a
pain in his back, and this with trees is the
same thing as a headache
The candles were now
lighted. What brightness! What splendour! The Tree
trembled so in every
bough that one of the tapers set fire to the
foliage. It blazed up
"Help! Help!" cried the
young ladies, and they quickly put out the fire.
Now the Tree did not
even dare tremble. What a state he was in! He was
so uneasy lest he should
lose something of his splendour, that he was
quite bewildered amidst
the glare and brightness; when suddenly both
and a troop of children rushed in as if they
would upset the Tree.
The older persons followed quietly; the little
ones stood quite still.
But it was only for a moment; then they shouted
so that the whole place
reechoed with their rejoicing; they danced
round the tree, and one
present after the other was pulled off.
"What are they about?"
thought the Tree. "What is to happen now?" And
the lights burned down
to the very branches, and as they burned down
they were put out, one
after the other, and then the children had
permission to plunder
the tree. So they fell upon it with such violence
that all its branches
cracked; if it had not been fixed firmly in the
cask, it would certainly
have tumbled down.
The children danced
about with their beautiful playthings: no one
looked at the Tree
except the old nurse, who peeped between the
branches; but it was
only to see if there was a fig or an apple left
that had been forgotten.
"A story! a story!"
cried the children, drawing a little fat man toward
the tree. He seated
himself under it, and said: "Now we are in the
shade, and the Tree can
listen, too. But I shall tell only one story.
Now which will you have:
that about Ivedy-Avedy, or about Klumpy-Dumpy
who tumbled downstairs,
and yet after all came to the throne and
married the princess?"
some; "Klumpy-Dumpy" cried the others. There was
such a bawling and
screaming--the Fir-tree alone was silent, and he
thought to himself, "Am
I not to bawl with the rest?--am I to do
nothing whatever?" for
he was one of the company, and had done what he
had to do.
And the man told about
Klumpy-Dumpy that tumbled down, who
notwithstanding came to
the throne, and at last married the princess.
And the children clapped
their hands, and cried out, "Oh, go on! Do go
on!" They wanted to hear
about Ivedy-Avedy, too, but the little man
only told them about
Klumpy-Dumpy. The Fir-tree stood quite still and
absorbed in thought; the
birds in the woods had never related the like
of this. "Klumpy-Dumpy
fell downstairs, and yet he married the
princess! Yes! Yes!
that's the way of the world!" thought the Fir-tree,
and believed it all,
because the man who told the story was so
well! who knows, perhaps I may fall downstairs,
too, and get a princess
as wife!" And he looked forward with joy to the
morrow, when he hoped to
be decked out again with lights, playthings,
fruits, and tinsel.
"I won't tremble
to-morrow," thought the Fir-tree. "I will enjoy to the
full all my splendour.
To-morrow I shall hear again the story of
perhaps that of Ivedy-Avedy, too." And the whole
night the Tree stood
still and in deep thought.
In the morning the
servant and the housemaid came in.
"Now, then, the
splendour will begin again," thought the Fir. But they
dragged him out of the
room, and up the stairs into the loft; and here
in a dark corner, where
no daylight could enter, they left him. "What's
the meaning of this?"
thought the Tree. "What am I to do here? What
shall I hear now, I
wonder?" And he leaned against the wall, lost in
reverie. Time enough had
he, too, for his reflections; for days and
nights passed on, and
nobody came up; and when at last somebody did
come, it was only to put
some great trunks in a corner out of the way.
There stood the Tree
quite hidden; it seemed as if he had been entirely
"'Tis now winter out of
doors!" thought the Tree. "The earth is hard
and covered with snow;
men cannot plant me now, and therefore I have
been put up here under
shelter till the springtime comes! How
thoughtful that is! How
kind man is, after all! If it only were not so
dark here, and so
terribly lonely! Not even a hare. And out in the
woods it was so
pleasant, when the snow was on the ground, and the hare
leaped by; yes--even
when he jumped over me; but I did not like it
then. It is really
terribly lonely here!"
"Squeak! squeak!" said a
little Mouse at the same moment, peeping out
of his hole. And then
another little one came. They sniffed about the
Fir-tree, and rustled
among the branches.
"It is dreadfully cold,"
said the Mouse. "But for that, it would be
delightful here, old
Fir, wouldn't it?"
"I am by no means old,"
said the Fir-tree. "There's many a one
considerably older than
"Where do you come
from," asked the Mice; "and what can you do?" They
were so extremely
curious. "Tell us about the most beautiful spot on
the earth. Have you
never been there? Were you never in the larder,
where cheeses lie on the
shelves, and hams hang from above; where one
dances about on
tallow-candles; that place where one enters lean, and
comes out again fat and
"I know no such place,"
said the Tree, "but I know the woods, where the
sun shines, and where
the little birds sing." And then he told all
about his youth; and the
little Mice had never heard the like before;
and they listened and
"Well, to be sure! How
much you have seen! How happy you must have
"I?" said the Fir-tree,
thinking over what he had himself related.
"Yes, in reality those
were happy times." And then he told about
Christmas Eve, when he
was decked out with cakes and candles.
"Oh," said the little
Mice, "how fortunate you have been, old Fir-tree!"
"I am by no means old,"
said he. "I came from the woods this winter; I
am in my prime, and am
only rather short for my age."
"What delightful stories
you know!" said the Mice: and the next night
they came with four
other little Mice, who were to hear what the tree
recounted; and the more
he related, the more plainly he remembered all
himself; and it appeared
as if those times had really been happy times.
"But they may still
come--they may still come. Klumpy-Dumpy fell
downstairs and yet he
got a princess," and he thought at the moment of
a nice little Birch-tree
growing out in the woods; to the Fir, that
would be a real charming
"Who is Klumpy-Dumpy?"
asked the Mice. So then the Fir-tree told the
whole fairy tale, for he
could remember every single word of it; and
the little Mice jumped
for joy up to the very top of the Tree. Next
night two more Mice
came, and on Sunday two Rats, even; but they said
the stories were not
interesting, which vexed the little Mice; and
they, too, now began to
think them not so very amusing either.
"Do you know only one
story?" asked the Rats.
"Only that one,"
answered the Tree. "I heard it on my happiest evening;
but I did not then know
how happy I was."
"It is a very stupid
story. Don't you know one about bacon and tallow
candles? Can't you tell
any larder stories?"
"No," said the Tree.
"Then good-bye," said
the Rats; and they went home.
At last the little Mice
stayed away also; and the Tree sighed: "After
all, it was very
pleasant when the sleek little Mice sat around me and
listened to what I told
them. Now that too is over. But I will take
good care to enjoy
myself when I am brought out again."
But when was that to be?
Why, one morning there came a quantity of
people and set to work
in the loft. The trunks were moved, the Tree was
pulled out and
thrown--rather hard, it is true--down on the floor, but
a man drew him toward
the stairs, where the daylight shone.
"Now a merry life will
begin again," thought the Tree. He felt the
fresh air, the first
sunbeam--and now he was out in the courtyard. All
passed so quickly, there
was so much going on around him, that the Tree
quite forgot to look to
himself. The court adjoined a garden, and all
was in flower; the roses
hung so fresh and odorous over the balustrade,
the lindens were in
blossom, the Swallows flew by, and said,
"Quirre-vit! my husband
is come!" but it was not the Fir-tree that they
"Now, then, I shall
really enjoy life," said he, exultingly, and spread
out his branches; but,
alas! they were all withered and yellow. It was
in a corner that he lay,
among weeds and nettles. The golden star of
tinsel was still on the
top of the Tree, and glittered in the sunshine.
In the courtyard some of
the merry children were playing who had danced
at Christmas round the
Fir-tree, and were so glad at the sight of him.
One of the youngest ran
and tore off the golden star.
"Only look what is still
on the ugly old Christmas tree!" said he,
trampling on the
branches, so that they all cracked beneath his feet.
And the Tree beheld all
the beauty of the flowers, and the freshness in
the garden; he beheld
himself, and wished he had remained in his dark
corner in the loft; he
thought of his first youth in the woods, of the
merry Christmas Eve, and
of the little Mice who had listened with so
much pleasure to the
story of Klumpy-Dumpy.
"'Tis over--'tis past!"
said the poor Tree. "Had I but rejoiced when I
had reason to do so! But
now 'tis past, 'tis past!"
And the gardener's boy
chopped the Tree into small pieces; there was a
whole heap lying there.
The wood flamed up splendidly under the large
brewing copper, and it
sighed so deeply! Each sigh was like a shot.
The boys played about in
the court, and the youngest wore the gold star
on his breast which the
Tree had had on the happiest evening of his
life. However, that was
over now--the Tree gone, the story at an end.
All, all was over; every
tale must end at last.
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