The Tree Nobody Wanted:
A Christmas Story
By Tom McCann
"There are things poor people know that others do not. All kinds of things. The list is very long, and I don't know them all. But I do know some of them. One of the things poor people know is that at eight o-clock on Christmas Eve all over the world, the men who sell Christmas Trees simply walk off their rented spaces and begin their own Christmas celebrations. They just leave behind the unsold Christmas trees...."
Excerpt from the opening of The Tree Nobody Wanted: A Christmas Story
Voice of Tom McCann
The Tree Nobody Wanted is not a traditional Christmas story. It is not a story about the Nativity. It is not a story about Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus or any of the memorable and delightful Christmas themes that have been enjoyed in stories, books, and songs for hundreds or even thousands of years.
My story is about a tree that almost didn't succeed in becoming a Christmas tree and the people who rescued it and made it into one. The story, like most Christmas stories, has a spiritual thread running through it.
The story opens early in the evening on a Christmas Eve more than sixty years ago. World War II has just ended and Thomas, the young boy in the story, is eleven years old. He lives with his grandmother, Nanny, in a tiny apartment where she raised him since infancy.
They live in Brooklyn--the poor side, the tough side--a section called Brownsville. It still exists and, in fact, it is even poorer and tougher now.
It is early in the evening but dark outside, and very cold. The men who sell Christmas trees are about to turn off the strings of bare light bulbs and go home to their families. Their lots are empty except for a few forlorn trees that nobody wanted. They leave what is left to poor people who can't afford to pay the high prices, or pay any money at all, for a tree.
Thomas is old enough now to be sent out to pick through those trees and bring the best one he can find back to the apartment. You'll have to read the story to find out what happens next. I can tell you this much: All of their lives were changed forever by what happened that night.
The story of "The Tree Nobody Wanted" is part remembrance, part fable, part miracle.
It is a story about family values long before that term became fashionable and was taken over by politicians for their campaign speeches and slogans. In this case a "family" is just a boy and his grandmother. It is a story about hope in hard times and great happiness growing from small things. It is a story about youth and old age. It is a story about rejuvenation and rebirth. It is a story about things that are not supposed to happen, but do. Some people call things like that "miracles."
Above all, it's a love story--of a special kind, and that is the other part of the miracle.
Readers often write to authors and share their feelings about books. I love to get letters from readers. A lot of people have written to me about this story. Their comments are the most meaningful to me. The word that comes up most often from older children and adults is that they have been "moved" by the story. In fact, many have told me that they have been "moved to tears." The other word that comes up time and time again is that they have been "inspired" by reading it. More than anything else, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you.
A suggestion: Some readers have written to say that they have read the story aloud to children and other members of their family. It takes about 35 to 40 minutes to read it. Others have suggested that I record an audio CD version in my own voice. I have since done this and that version is now available and described elsewhere on this website. T.P.M.