The Fir Tree is a classic Han Christian Andersen tale originally published in 1845. The tale tells the story of a fir tree who yearns to grow big, strong, and tall like the other trees in the forest. He yearns to be used like the others he has seen felled, whom he has heard are sailing across the ocean as ship masts, or being adorned in people’s living rooms. The little fir tree is so focused on growing big and being chosen that he forgets to enjoy the process of growing up. Finally, one day the fir tree is cut from his roots and chosen as someone’s Christmas tree. The tree thinks this is just grand, finally his adventure will begin. He finds himself put on display in a parlor and decorated with candies and candles, surrounded by excited small children picking the candy from his branches. This is so thrilling, thinks the lovely fir tree! But alas, the very next day he finds himself moved to the attic, where he lives until the next spring, the whole time believing he will be brought back out for the excitement, or replanting when the ground has thawed. It finally occurs to the fir tree that he had a pleasant life as he was growing in the forest, but he was so focused on growing big and tall to be chosen, that he hadn’t realized how lovely his life had been.
Prior to reading this new illustrated edition of The Fir Tree I was unfamiliar with the story. As a child I seemed to have missed the fairy tale obsession phase, I was never particularly interested when I was younger. However, I think stories like this mean a little more to me now anyhow. The Fir Tree reminds us we need to live in the moment and enjoy the lives we have instead of just waiting for the next thing. We shouldn’t live our lives like the fir tree, thinking: “Tomorrow I won’t tremble… I will fully enjoy all my glory.”
The illustrations in the edition are absolutely charming. I love all the simple and neat geometric shapes coming together to create these lovely illustrations, the color schemes as well are very visually appealing, using lovely earthy tones in the forest and a classic Christmas color scheme during the Christmas celebrations. A slightly disturbing read if just read literally; a tree wants to grow up to be loved, is cut down and used for a day and then sits in an attic all winter. But also a nice quick reminder to love the life you live, stop waiting for this, that and the other.