Retold by Rose Owens
A long time ago, so long ago that if I had been there then I wouldn’t be here now to tell you this story now, there was a forest. And in the middle of that forest there was a little fir tree. He was small and he had thin short green leaves that were prickly. Except he didn’t like his prickly green leaves. He wanted to be like the other trees with their broad green leaves. As the wind whispered through the forest, their leaves rustled and the little tree was sure they were saying, “Look at that little tree with his short, thin prickly leaves. Doesn’t he look funny?”
“Oh, I wish. . . . I wish. . .” said the little fir tree. “I wish that I had leaves of gold. Then I would be beautiful and then all the other trees wouldn’t laugh at me.”
Now it so happened that a fairy was walking. . . or strolling. . . or flying through the forest—whatever it is that a fairy does in her free time. And she heard the little tree’s wish.
The fairy looked at the little tree standing there in the middle of all the other trees. He looked courageous and vulnerable. The fairy smiled. “Little tree, little tree,” she said, “you shall have your wish.”
And in the morning when the golden rays of the sun shone over the mountain, the little pine tree looked down. “His leaves—they were all shiny and gold!” He stood up straight and tall in his glory and he was sure that the other trees whispered, “Look at the little tree. Isn’t he beautiful?”
It was almost noon when a man came traveling through the forest. He stopped and stared at the little tree. “Oh,” he said and “Oh!” again. He picked every one of those golden leaves from the little tree!” He whistled a happy song as he hurried away with his bag of treasure.
The little tree looked down at his bare branches. “Oh,” he said, “maybe that wasn’t such a good wish after all. I wish. . . I wish. . .” The little tree happened to see a discarded bottle on the forest floor. It caught the rays of the sun and sparkled. “Oh,” said the little tree, “maybe I should have wished for leaves of glass. Leaves of glass would be beautiful and people who are traveling through the forest wouldn’t want them. I wish I had leaves of glass.”
Now it so happened that that fairy was walking. . . or strolling. . . or flying through the forest—whatever it is that fairies do in their spare time. And in the kindness of her heart she said, “Little tree, little tree. You shall have your wish.”
And in the morning the little tree woke up as the sun came up over the mountain. Its rays fell upon the little tree and it glistened and sparkled in the sunshine. “Oh,” said the little tree, “my leaves are beautiful.” And as the breeze wandered through the forest the other trees whispered about how beautiful the little tree was. His leaves shimmered and tinkled in the breeze. As the sun set, the little tree again looked down at his leaves. They shimmered with pink and yellow and golden colors. He was happy.
The forest became dark and quiet. A storm came. Whoosh! The glass leaves of the little tree crashed against each other and shattered in crystal shards upon the forest floor. “Oh!” said the little fir tree. “Every leaf is gone. Now the other trees will laugh at me again. Maybe glass leaves wasn’t a good thing to wish for. I wish. . . . I wish that I had broad green leaves like all the other trees. If I were just like them, they wouldn’t laugh at me.”
Now it so happened that the fairy was visiting the forest again and she heard the little tree. “Little tree, little tree,” she whispered, “you shall have your wish.”
In the morning the little tree looked down. There they were—beautiful broad green leaves. “I am just like the other trees,” he whispered as the gentle breeze wafted through the forest. “Now no one will laugh at me.”
The sun was high overhead when a goat came wandering through the forest. “Mmm, lunch,” said the goat. The other trees lifted up their branches but the little fir tree was too small. Crunch. Munch. The goat crunched and munched until every leaf was gone and the little tree was bare once again.
“Oh no,” said the little tree. “Maybe that wasn’t such a good wish either. I wish. . . Oh, I wish I could have my own thin prickly leaves back again.”
The kind fairy, who was out walking or strolling or flying—whatever, stopped . “Good wish!” she said. “Little tree, little tree. You shall have your wish.”
In the morning when the little tree woke up and looked down at his branches, they were covered with thin, prickly leaves.” “Oh,” said the little tree laughing aloud for joy. The other trees whispered in the breeze and it was all right. The little tree lifted his branches proudly. “I have my own green prickly leaves again and they are beautiful and just right for me. Being myself is the best thing to be.”
Copyright Feb. 2000 Rose Owens