Monday, December 09, 2013

The Perfect Christmas Tree

Apart from my collection of Austen-inspired short stories, Intimations of Austen, I also have written a number of non-Austen-related stories.  My favorite of these is from 2001 and I called it The Perfect Christmas Tree.

Here's how it starts...

The Perfect Christmas Tree

By Jane Greensmith
Copyright © 2001.
All rights reserved.

When Carl asked her to work the yard on Saturdays starting the weekend after Thanksgiving, Kim didn't even hesitate.  It wasn't like she had much Christmas shopping to do since her parents had died and her sisters had moved away, not to mention she had no money for Christmas presents anyway.  Her job at the bookstore didn't pay much, and what little money was left over after taxes, food, and gas went to keeping the bookstore in business by making ample use of her twenty-percent discount.  Sometimes she felt like a druggie, feeding her habit, but, as her father used to say, "words on a page keep body and soul together even when the pantry is empty and the fridge is bare."

 Carl and Cassandra Gibbons owned the farm next to Kim Kaplan's, east of Piñon, Colorado.  The Gibbons and Kaplans had been neighbors for over a hundred years, each family trying to eke out a living from the dense clay soil that lay under prairie grass.  The families had worked together through fat times and lean.  Cassandra Taylor had been Kim's best friend since they had met in diapers thirty-three years ago, and Carl Gibbons had been the only one of Cassandra's boyfriends that Kim could even stand.  She sang at their wedding and was godmother to their children.  She endured dozens of blind dates they sent her on until finally, three years ago, all parties called a truce and agreed that Kim was just too fussy to be happy with a twentieth-century mate.

 Seven years ago, Carl had asked Kim to lease him a portion of her land.  The government was offering a sweet deal—free evergreen seedlings to anyone who was willing to devote at least forty acres to growing Christmas trees.  Kim leased Carl twenty acres and he put up the rest.  The twenty acres Kim had leased was now all she had left.  The rest of it was tied up in litigation with Michael Zekendorf Homes—Kim had sold most of the farm to the development company two years ago after her father died, only to watch them file chapter eleven within three months.  The court sold the Kaplan land to pay off Michael Zekendorf's other debts, and the lawsuit in which she was suing to get either her money or her land was moving through the courts at glacial speed. Meanwhile, Kim was living on soup and wearing lots of sweaters so that she didn't need to turn on the heat.  Now, the Gibbons Christmas Tree Farm was finally able to start selling the trees Carl had planted seven years earlier and maybe, just maybe, they would turn a profit this year if Kim helped keep costs down by working the yard with Carl, while Cassandra worked the store.

 If you would like to read the rest of the story and find out what Kim thinks is a "perfect" Christmas tree, please go to my website where you will find the complete story of The Perfect Christmas Tree.

Happy Holidays--may your days be merry and bright!


  1. I did not know that you wrote stories and a website Jane. The writing in this story is outstanding and I think that you really do a great job of shaping characters.

    I will check out more of your stories in the coming days.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Brian. I haven't done much fiction writing in the past few years, but am planning on gearing up to recharge in January.

  2. Jane, this sounds awesome. You have real talent. I am so happy you shared this with your readers. I love the pictures as well.

  3. I really liked that, Jane.
    I also checked out your other stories. I had read There are Eagles among Us when you originally posted it. Rereading it years later, it still moves me. A beautiful tribute.

  4. Thanks, Louise. I will never forget that week, ever.