“The Generous Heart is the Most Beautiful”

Both sides of the road were covered with crowds of white snow. However, in the middle, this whiteness was spoiled, mixed with the color of imprinted footsteps left by hundreds of hurried feet. People rushed back and forth, carrying many things in their hands. They laughed and shouted to each other, while making their way through the crowd.

Above the path, the long arms of an old tree reached towards the sky. It struggled and sighed as the strong wind twisted its branches towards the ground. Underneath it, a sound of proud rustling was heard, and there, a beautiful fir tree spread and cleaned its thin green branches, shaking off the snow that fell to the ground.

“I could have guessed,” said the fir tree in a mocking voice, “that you would have to work hard to stay upright. You’re ugly with leaves, let alone now, when you’ve lost them. It seems you’ll end up completely bare.”

“I know,” replied the old tree. “Everyone is wearing their finest clothes for Christmas. Even from here, I can see the decorations shining at every corner. Yesterday, a man came and put really beautiful lights on every tree along the road, except on me, of course.” It looked sadly as a clump of melting snow fell to the ground, just like a tear.

“Of course. Did you think they would put a light on you, to make your ugliness even more apparent?” sneered the fir tree.

“You’re probably right,” the old tree responded sadly. “If only I could hide somewhere until Christmas passes. But here I am, like an ugly picture amidst all this beauty around me. I wish they would come and cut me down…” it gazed into the distance.

“I don’t wish you any harm,” said the fir tree, “but you really are an ugly sight. Maybe it would be better for all of us if you were cut down.”

Once again, the fir tree shook its thin branches. “Better take care of those three leaves you have left. At least you won’t be completely bare.”

“I really tried,” lamented the old tree. “Every autumn I tell myself: this year I won’t give away a single leaf out of generosity, no matter what, but there’s always someone who needs my leaves more than I do,” and again it looked into the distance.

“I told you not to give so many leaves to that boy who delivers newspapers,” said the fir tree. “Why did you even lower your branches so he could reach them? You can’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Indeed, you warned me,” replied the old tree, “but those leaves made him so happy. I learned he gathered them to take to his sick mother.”

“Yeah, they all have their reasons,” muttered the fir tree. “Like that girl… coloring the leaves for her celebration… nonsense. Those were your leaves, not hers.”

“She did take a lot, didn’t she?” said the old tree, a gentle smile appearing on its face.

Suddenly, a strong wind blew and a small bird fell to the ground, right under the old tree. It was shivering, too cold to spread its wings. The old tree looked at it pityingly, then quickly dropped its last three leaves. The golden leaves fell down and gently covered the bird, warming it.

“Now you really went too far!” exclaimed the fir tree. “You dropped your last leaf. Tomorrow, you will be decidedly the ugliest tree in the entire town.”

The old tree didn’t respond. Instead, it spread its bare branches as wide as it could to prevent snow from falling on the little bird. The young fir tree turned away in disgust and then noticed a painter nearby, deeply engrossed in his brushes and canvas. His clothes were old and torn, and his face bore a sad expression. He thought of his loved ones and the empty, cold morning that awaited them, as he hadn’t been able to sell a single painting for a month.

But the fir tree didn’t notice his sorrow. Instead, it turned its back on the old tree and scornfully said, “At least keep your disgusting branches away from me. You see they are painting me, you’ll ruin the background.”

But the fir tree didn’t notice his sorrow. Instead, it turned its back on the old tree and scornfully said, “At least keep your disgusting branches away from me. You see they are painting me, you’ll ruin the background.”

The next day, it woke up late and, while shaking the snow off its beautiful branches, was surprised by the crowd of people surrounding the old tree with warm sighs. Even those hurrying along the road stopped for a moment.

“What’s going on?” wondered the fir tree, stretching to see if the wind had perhaps broken the top off the old tree. Just then, a newspaper flew from the hands of an astonished newspaper boy and landed near the fir tree. It was shocked. On the front page of the newspaper was a photograph of the painter, holding a painting of a large, completely white tree, its bare branches covered in snow stretching towards the sky. And beneath it lay the small bird covered with three golden leaves. Under the photograph were the words: “The most beautiful is the one who gives.”

The fir tree quietly bowed its head in awe of the incredible beauty of the old tree’s humility and generosity.