Random House, October 1996
About the Book
The Christmas Tree is the tale of a little girl named Anna, who is orphaned and sent to live in a convent. The lonely girl befriends, as only a child can, a tiny fir tree. Anna and Tree, as she calls him, grow up together, unlocking the secrets of friendship and sharing the wonders of nature. It is this same profound appreciation and love of nature that the grown-up Anna, now Sister Anthony, passes on to her students.
When Tree is threatened by a winter storm, Sister Anthony, by now an old woman, decides to give up her dearest friend, allowing him to become the most enjoyed and famous tree of all: the tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
A perennial holiday favorite, The Christmas Tree is about learning to love and, ultimately, being able to share that love with others.
What I like best about this feel-good Christmas story are the flashbacks. The chief gardener for Rockefeller Center narrates Julie Salamon’s The Christmas Tree. In his own words, this gardener tells of his search, his on-going, never-ending search for the tree. If he’s not looking for this year’s tree, his mind is already on finding next year’s tree. The book is about one special tree in particular, one that led to an ongoing friendship.
One day the narrator spots the tree from a helicopter. He learns it’s on the property of a convent. He goes and meets Sister Anthony, the nun who will decide if he can have the tree or not. They have more in common than he was expecting certainly. But she’s not ready or willing to part with the tree, called Tree.
Sister Anthony is a storyteller, and the narrator turns out to be a good listener. Over several years at least, he keeps coming back to visit with her and hear her stories. He has things to share as well. Through these sections, readers learn of Anna.
In the flashbacks, readers meet a young orphan named Anna who eventually came to be raised at the convent. Her story is very personal, and it reveals her affection, her connection to nature. The young girl as you’ve probably guessed is Sister Anthony herself.
I loved Anna. Her part in the story is what made it work for me. It was her connection with the tree—in the past and present—that kept me reading.