A Christmas tree with character

EducationCharlie Brown (fictional character)The Herald-MailA Charlie Brown Christmas (tv program)

Editor’s note: Lisa Prejean is on vacation. This column originally was published in 2008.

The weekend after Thanksgiving I take my artificial Christmas tree out of the basement and cart it to school. There’s a certain sentimental quality that this tree possesses. It has moved with me from classroom to classroom over the years.
Not that the tree is anything spectacular. Far from it. The branches are bent, the stem stands a little crooked and it’s about half the size of a normal Christmas tree.
Still, it’s my firm belief that every classroom should be a tad festive at this time of year.
My students firmly believe that we should have a stately tree. They informed me that a larger one was available in storage at school. One diligent student put that tree together during study hall. But, alas, something is amiss with the tree’s base, causing the tree to topple over. My students are so creative, though. They propped the larger tree against the wall and the television stand. Now the tree has support on two sides. As long as we don’t put too many decorations on it, we should be fine.
Various classes have commented about the sorry state of the two trees, but I think that the trees have character. I brought in personalized snowmen and angels for the students and told them they could decide where to hang the ornaments.
I reminded them that school would not be the same without any one of the students represented by those ornaments. Each student has a special place in the dynamic of a school and we should be thankful for the various qualities that they all bring to the community.
It was interesting to watch the students with the ornaments.
The seniors, always wanting to be different and above the crowd, bypassed the branches and hung their ornaments from the ceiling.
The juniors noticed that the little tree had no tree topper, so they created one by placing all their ornaments on the top branches.
The sophomores placed theirs here and there throughout the branches. Most of them are still figuring out where they fit in the scheme of things.
The freshmen, always feeling that they get no respect, wanted their own tree. That’s why the other tree is out of storage and propped against the wall.
Each time a student makes a comment about either tree, I encourage that student to do something to make one of the trees look better. Don’t complain and expect someone else to fix the problem. Take action yourself to make a difference.
Remember Charlie Brown’s little tree? Its needles had fallen off and it was the littlest tree on the lot, but Charlie saw promise in it. Initially, his friends disagreed.
“You call that scrawny little thing a tree?” Lucy sneered. “Can’t you do anything right, Charlie Brown? That’s not the kind of Christmas tree we need.”
Linus disagreed. He thought all the tree needed was a little love.
After sharing this story, I saw recognition dawn on my students’ faces.
Some of them said they watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” every year.
I have to admit it is a favorite of mine. Perhaps that’s why I’m so partial to trees that are far from perfect.
And kids who see promise in every branch.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail’s Family page. Send email to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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