“Stacy’s Year-Round Giving Tree,” Friend, Dec. 1996, 31
Christmas was Stacy’s favorite time of year. She loved the music, the colors, and the smells. She also loved helping her mother trim the family Christmas tree and looking at the many decorations they had collected over the years. After unwrapping each ornament, she placed it carefully on the tree. The little angel she had made in the second grade was there, and an old glass Santa Claus that had been her grandmother’s.
When the family tree was “perfect,” Stacy found a small artificial Christmas tree in the bottom box of decorations. “Mother,” she asked, “are you going to use this little tree?”
“Not this year, honey.”
“May I use it?”
“Yes, but you will need to make your own decorations for it. We can’t afford to buy any more this year.”
“Thank you, Mother. It’ll be fun to make decorations for it.”
Stacy blew at the gray layer of dust that covered the small tree. Taking it into her room, she cleaned it, cleared a space for it in the center of her dresser, and put on a set of miniature lights. Then she got scissors, glue, glitter, and colored paper, and cut stars, angels, and spirals for the tree. Best of all, the picture of the Savior that her Primary teacher had given her was just the right size to fit beneath the little tree.
Standing back to look at it, she felt a warm glow. But something was still missing. … Gifts! Checking her bank, she saw that she had only nine cents. What could she do for gifts? That night after thanking Heavenly Father for her blessings, she asked if He would help her think of some gifts to put under her tree.
The next day, while Mother was trying to make Christmas cookies, three-year-old Derick kept getting in her way. She asked Stacy to watch him.
Stacy started to complain, then had a wonderful idea! “Sure, Mother,” she said. “I’d love to watch him.” She took him into her bedroom, and got out her favorite coloring book, sat him at her desk, and gave him her crayons. Then she took one of the decorations from her tree and wrote “Watch Derick for Mother” on it. Satisfied, she replaced the ornament on the little tree.
Removing all the rest of the decorations, Stacy thought of other things she could do for her family and friends before Christmas. She wrote things like “Be quiet when Father is napping,” “Share my toys with Derick,” “Don’t talk about Susan,” and “Help Mother with the dishes” on them. Then she put them into a little box next to the tree. Each day when she woke up, she chose a decoration from the box, read what was written on it, and placed it on the tree. Sometime during the day, she gave her “gift.” Before Christmas was over, the little tree was covered with her pretty gift-ornaments.
When it was time to put the Christmas things away, she helped Mother take the ornaments off the big tree. Carefully wrapping them, she placed them back in the box.
When she went to take down the tree in her room, she thought about how much fun it had been doing things for her family and friends. After taking all the ornaments off, she plugged in the lights one last time. Looking at the little picture of Jesus Christ, which was still under the tree, she had an idea. Why take the tree down? Why not decorate it each month of the new year?
Stacy got out her art supplies again and made ribbons, streamers, and banners for the tree. On each one she wrote what she was going to do for someone in January. What fun! She made new decorations for each month—hearts for February, clouds and kites for March, flowers for May, pioneer wagons for July, autumn leaves for October, etc. It was her year-round giving tree, and giving service to her friends and family all year would make it seem like Christmas all year!