The Best Christmas Tree
Many years ago ... 1979 to be exact ... there was a good man who had a wife and family, but he was in dire straits. You see, Jimmy Carter was President. The nation was in a malaise. The "misery index" was nearly 22. The man had no steady work, the children were ill-clothed. His wife was a drudge. Things were bad, bad, bad.
At Christmas that year, the house was cold and dark. There was no money for luxuries such as coal and heating oil. No Christmas lights on the house. Few presents. Little to eat. And no Christmas tree. The father felt terrible. Here it was, Christmas Eve, and his family had nothing to be happy about.
Suddenly, the man had an idea. The family searched all of the cushions in the chairs and couches, and were able to recover one dollar and thirty-seven cents. The man said, "I am going out into the snow and cold to find us a tree!" The childrens' eyes filled with tears. His wife gave him her shawl to help keep him warm.
That evening the man walked all over town to find an open Christmas tree lot. Finally, he came upon one ready to close.
"Dear sir," he said to the proprietor, "I have very little money and a family hoping I could bring home a tree. Would you be able to show me what I can get with one dollar and thirty-seven cents. It is all I have."
The proprietor looked at him and replied, "I have nothing for that little a price." But taking pity on the man, and in the spirit of the season, the vendor said, "Here take this one," and gave the man a smallish, but plump tree. "No charge."
"I can't take charity!" said the man.
"Well then, return in two days to help me clear this lot, and I will pay you for your service. I am a small businessman, you know, and I can use good help. Call the tree an advance." A deal was made on a handshake and a hug.
The man walked back home, and when he entered the cold, darkened house, the family beamed at the sight of the little Christmas tree. They spontaneusly broke out into song!
Well, as it happened, that handshake led to a steady job for the man. The wife invested that one dollar and thirty-seven cents in a penny stock called "Apple Computers." A new, conservative President was elected the next year and the economy turned around. The children grew strong with good food and a healthy work ethic. No more government cheese!
The years passed and the nation prospered. The children grew up, went to college, and started families of their own.
But each year they got together at the old folks, at dinner time the grand-children would want to hear the story of the little Christmas tree of 1979. And after it was told, the family all agreed, that was the best Christmas tree they ever ate.