It was 19 years ago when terror nearly seized the Fisher household just before Christmas.
Our youngest daughter Kelly came home from school one day in tears, announcing that she had been chosen to be the Littlest Christmas Tree in the upcoming school play. She was scared of her unexpected role.
A sympathetic mother tried to reason with the first grader that she must have been chosen for a reason.
Kelly’s response was that she was picked because she foolishly raised her hand because all the other girls in her class had done the same. She cried even louder as she alleged that the teacher had picked her only because, “She doesn’t like me. What am I going to do?” Kelly blubbered between crocodile tears, “I don’t want to be the Littlest Christmas Tree.”
It seemed the Fisher household was about to get out control so I did what any concerned dad would do. I told Kelly that since she volunteered she had better toughen up and live up to the role.
My logic only made matters worse, the Queen scolded, so for the next week I was advised to keep my mouth shut until the Christmas play was over.
It didn’t help that a couple of days later Kelly’s cousins, who were also in the pageant, and her Uncle Jeff, stopped at our house. Her cousins began rehearsing their parts by breaking out in song.
“You’re puny! You’re small. You’re not even tall!
You could never be a Christmas tree at all!
You’re tiny! It’s true! You’ll just never do! Santa Claus would never pick a tree like you!
Oh, no, no, no, no! No way at all! Oh, no, no, no. You’re just too small! “
Kelly didn’t participate, but instead headed off to her room to sulk away the pain of hearing that song. It was a reminder that she would be taking center stage in front of hundreds of students, parents and grandparents at St. Rose Church.
Every night for the rest of that week tears were shed and the Queen consoled as Kelly tried to memorized her lines in the play. And every time she heard her cousins sing, “You’re puny! You’re small. You’re not even tall!….” her fears would escalate.
For those unfamiliar with the musical skit it goes like this.
It begins with elves dancing and singing while decorating a dozen kids dressed as Christmas trees. The trees are singing, too. But no one is decorating the Littlest Christmas tree, but she is smiling and singing along anyway.
The elves pick up some hand mirrors and hold them in front of the trees so they can look at themselves.
The trees boast at how beautiful they have been decorated. One brags that he will be picked by Santa, while another claims she will be his favorite.
An elf reminds them that they are all beautiful trees but only one can be Santa’s very own Christmas tree. Soon all the elves are singing
I’m gonna be Santa’s tree. Lookie, lookie, lookie at me!
When that Santa looks at me, I am all he’ll need to see!
I’ve got what it takes to be Santa’s tree.
The Littlest Tree then pipes up, “Gee, I sure wish Santa would pick me to be his Christmas tree.”
Kelly said her first lines right on cue, holding back her fears in front of the St. Rose student body. Her drab Littlest Christmas tree costume made her look all alone.
One of the decorated trees said to her: “You?! You’ve got to be kidding!”
All the trees and elves pointed at my daughter, the Littlest Tree, and laughed.
Littlest Tree: “What’s wrong with me?”
An elf answered: “What’s wrong with you?! You’re puny, that’s what!”
Another elf added, “Yeah, you’re the tiniest tree we’ve ever had in this lot! You could never be a good Christmas tree!”
All the decorated trees then said: “No way! Never!”. Then came that dreaded moment, the singing of the Tiny Tree Rap which resulted in tons of tears at home. I held my breath.
“You’re puny! You’re small. You’re not even tall!….
She blushed and squirmed in her costume as they sang and pointed at her. The song took forever to end but she made it through it without shedding a tear.
Santa, played by Pat Sweeney, and Mrs. Claus (Jordan Rink) arrived on stage and all the trees fidgeted around trying to strike the perfect pose. Mr. and Mrs. Claus carefully looked over the trees but couldn’t decide, announcing that every tree was beautiful.
Santa was then bombarded with requests from the decorated trees to, “Pick me, pick me, I’m the best decorated tree.”
As the requests crescendoed, Santa covered his ears and yelled, “Stop! Stop! These trees don’t care about Christmas. All they care about is themselves!”
One tree asked, “What’s wrong with that?”
Santa’s response was, “Is that what you think Christmas is about?”
Looking at each other they all nod and said, “Yeah. Of course.”
Santa, shaking his head, declared that it was terrible and asked, “Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is?
Little Kelly walked up to Santa and said, “I do, Santa.”
It was at that moment this proud father nearly teared up when his little girl let out a perfect solo. My Littlest Christmas Tree sang, “Christmas is Love. Christmas is caring. Christmas is friends together sharing.”
Then all the other kids on stage sang the chorus too. In the end Kelly finished with a “But more than anything, Christmas is love.”
Santa walked up to my Little Kelly and announced, “This is my Christmas Tree!” and everyone applauded.
Yes, Christmas is love and this proud father felt it grow that night when a brave little soul underneath that Littlest Christmas Tree costume turned out to be the perfect pick.
The one mistake I made was not getting a video of the Christmas play. My advice to parents as you attend your child’s Christmas events is to take video of them. Because 19 years later you’ll wish you did.