“Someone should rather tell me what is all this shenanigan about!”

He was cross…

“I have all the presents to prepare, my sleigh to service, and now this! The baubles look minuscule on you now…”

And I look minuscule too, I thought.

“Mr. S. sir, I don’t think anybody is doing this on purpose,,,” I said hesitantly… and regretted it straight away: Big S. (that’s what we call him) was looking at me now, clearly not quite sure what to answer. And the others were also looking at me, like if I was a traitor even though I was trying to defend them. It is true that they were big enough to defend themselves, if you pardon the incongruity of this comment: I was the only Christmas tree which had not grown by 3 meters in the last 3 days. And it looked like they were not finished growing yet… Minuscule – that’s what my 1.20 meters felt like today indeed.

Big S.’ air of anger and despair was slowly turning into one of resignation.

“Go and see the boss”, he said, in a roared whisper, “she said something about making some anti-soup” he carried on while turning back towards the workshop “might make you small again she says…”

We could hardly hear this last part, but it didn’t really matter.

We only call him Big S. when he is not around, but the boss is a different story: Nobody would dare calling her Mama S., even if we knew she was a hundred miles away. She isn’t bad or anything, but she would surely find out. She always does… about everything. And a bad look from her is enough to make you shake from all your branches, up to your trunk. Plus, Sam was always with her.

Don’t ask me how Big S. and the boss managed to have a son, they don’t seem to have any seed falling off them to make that happen. Plus nobody has seen him coming out of the ground. One day the boss went to bed feeling more unhappy then usual, and the next morning, he was there with her, feeling more happy then usual… which mostly meant that she looked like this (“_“) instead of like this (— _—)

It was all very suspicious.

He is a nice enough boy, but he is always in our branches, moving from one tree to the other as if we were his toys. Nobody dares saying anything of course, but it is really a bit awkward and I generally prefer to stay away from him. Actually, right now, I prefer to stay away from everybody – following the “talk” from Big S., the others are now hoping in their pots, which are barely able to contain them anymore, towards the kitchen, making the whole North Pole shake.

I was going to say something, but the look on my friends’ faces (which you guys can’t see – Christmas trees’ faces. Don’t ask me why, it is just right there! On the tree!) make me think I should rather not. We are clearly not friends anymore.

Christmas treeWait a minute! That’s not fair! It’s not my fault that it did not happen to me. They all started growing super quickly 3 days ago and haven’t stopped since. I’m sure it has something to do with the Northern Lights – they were particularly bright the day before, and almost, but not quite exactly, of different colours than usual. I know that: It was my turn to turn them on and I remember precisely thinking that while eating my dinner of canned sunshine and its side of soil nutrient concentrate, with a glass of water.

The water was frozen… as always.

I know! I will go check them tonight, it’s not like I have any business to do with the boss anyway.

The Northern Light switch is just a few minutes walk away. While I go there, I think about how it is to live in the North Pole, Big S., The Boss, Sam and all my friends – it will go back to normal and all will be fine, I’m sure. Big S. will distribute the presents and we will have a nice big party afterwards, as always.

Ah! Weird… Sam is here.

“Hi Sam, what are you doing here?” I ask.

“Oh, hi. It is my turn to switch on the lights.” He replies with a faint smile.

“Ah…”

I just stay here for a bit, expecting him to get back to the boss any minute.

It’s getting long…

It’s getting awkward…

“You’re staying?” I enquire, as innocently as possible.

“Well, you know, with everything going on…”

Yes, indeed, I know, but…

I wait a bit longer. More awkward moments in the cold.

“Don’t you want to go back now? You must be cold…” I try after some more minutes of nothing.

But, wait, why does he have ice under his eyes?

“Sam?”

He is crying! What am I going to do? What will happen if she finds out?

“I didn’t want this to happen.” he says sobbingly “I just wanted to be like you guys.”

Now, if you could see my face, you would know what a Christmas tree looks like when in shock.

“What do you mean Sam? Are you responsible for what is happening to my friends?”

“Yes…” here replies… more shock on my face… “I thought that if I looked like you, you would agree to play with me.”

“So, I have been mixing some of your food with my soup… except… the other day, my bowl fell into the container and…”

I connect some dots: “And I wasn’t affected because I had already taken my dinner with me to the Northern Light switch.”

I think a bit, and connect more dots: “Sam… you don’t need to look like us for us to be friends…. I’m sorry we were not nice to you. It is our fault. I will tell the others and if it is soup that made this happened, the anti-soup the b… your mother is making will undo it.”

We go back together, a big smile on both our faces (you still don’t believe me about the face, do you?)

He asks: “You won’t tell her, right?”

And I reply: “I can promise you that… but I can’t promise you that she doesn’t know already.”

 

By Mathieu d’Aquin

Images by Matthew Savage and Mark