The Little Christmas Tree and Mary’s Song



Today was the first really frosty day of the winter,  so I took my camera out for a walk with me, through the woods to the river.  As I walked, I was thinking about the story of The Little Christmas Tree, and how it connects with the story of Mary, mother of Jesus.  It had been on my mind since going to a talk by Rowan Williams at Grundisburgh Church (you can listen to the talk here , it is well worth listening to).

The Little Christmas tree is not strong and proud, thinking itself important.  It knows it is smaller than the other trees, and far less imposing.  What it does have to offer is shelter, hospitality, for the small animals and birds who are blown about in the storm.  It also has a song to sing, a lullaby, at which “even the wind hushed to listen”.

Early in her pregnancy, Mary escapes from the storm that is brewing about her, to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who offers her refuge, caring for her as she shelters her growing child.  They, two women with unexpected pregnancies, offer the profoundest hospitality to each other, that of love and acceptance. On her arrival, Mary pours out her joy in a song traditionally called The Magnificat

Here it is from The Bible Retold

I’m so full of joy my spirit is dancing
before God, my Lord, my Saviour.
God did not turn away from me
because I am poor, and now
I will be called blessed by
all the generations yet to come
God, the great, the holy,
has done so much for me.
God brings down the powerful,
but lifts up the weak.
The well fed are empty,
and the table of the hungry
is piled high with good things.

God looks at us with kindness,
giving hope to the hopeless,
caring for those who trust him,
remembering his promises to our people.

You can read Luke’s account here

And from Prayers and Verses

O God,
be to me
like the evergreen tree
and shelter me in your shade,
and bless me again
like the warm gentle rain
that gives life to all you have made.
Based on Hosea 14:4-8

Let there be little Christmases
throughout the year,
when unexpected acts of kindness
bring heaven’s light to earth

Earlier this year we spent a few nights in Canterbury, and made evensong at the Cathedral part of of daily practice.  It was as glorious as you might imagine!  One thing that made a profound impression was hearing Mary’s song, the Magnificat, every day.  It felt a powerful reminder how God does not favour the rich, even in the richest of cathedrals, but the poor.  It helped me to see the homeless, those lacking shelter, on the streets of Canterbury, it helped to soften my heart.  I picked up a stack of gift cards from various cafes to pass on to people, after I had sat with them a little and asked them their names and their stories.  A very small gesture, I know,  but perhaps a beginning.

Cold nights make me think of those who have no shelter.Perhaps it can be part of our Advent preparations to support those who do not have a room, and have to take shelter in the most inhospitable of places.  Some suggestions are below.

Hope into Action

Ipswich Night Shelter

Porchlight in Canterbury

Salvation Army


Habitat for Humanity

christmas tree

Grundisburgh Cribfest, and The Little Christmas Tree



Rev Wendy Gourlay’s beautiful collage


from the Polish mountains


Cardboard City Crib – some interesting characters here.


Angel from recycled materials – Jesus is made from a book, among other things….have a look! by St Mary’s School, Woodbridge

I have just spent a beautiful morning at St Mary’s Church, Grundisburgh, Suffolk.  Rev Canon Clare Sanders and her team were putting the finishing touches to their Cribfest, which opens tomorrow November 16th.  The church is full of Christmas cribs from around the world, with such variety of figures and materials.  It glitters with precious things made from sweet papers, it is full of wood and stone in its natural state, of Russian eggs, of tiny figures and huge angels.  Each one has a story to share, something to tell us.
There is also artwork from the village art club on display in the choir, and two large pieces made of Christmas cards.  The faces and hands are cut from the inside, showing the words of love and greeting that people have sent.

The more you look, the more you see.

I was there to read The Little Christmas Tree to children from the local school which was such a joy.  One half of the class was looking at the cribs, while the other listened to the story.

Do go to visit the Cribfest if you are in the area, it is well worth it.

christmas tree

The Little Christmas Tree – a few pictures!



I love the illustrations for my first book by the fabulous Lorna Hussey, so I thought I would take it out on a sunny day and snap a few pictures to share with you.  She draws out the different characters of the trees so well, and the animals are delightful.  I am particularly fond of some of the minor characters, such as this beautiful owl, and the badger who appears later.

Whenever I take the book to schools, I always take the foreign editions.  The children enjoy trying to work out the different languages – and are particularly intrigued by the different scripts.  It’s a wonderful thought that the book has found  homes so far away.

I am very grateful for the way young readers have taken this book to their hearts.

The Little Christmas Tree remains a favourite of mine, too.
It is selling quite fast on Amazon at the moment, but other on-line shops and actual shops have it too if that’s your usual and it’s out of stock!  Here is a link to the publisher’s online shop

The Little Christmas Tree – in stock!

christmas tree


This is the very first story I wrote after leaving school – and it is still such a favourite.  It is a Christmas fable of kindness and gentleness, beautifully illustrated by the very talented Lorna Hussey.

Last year, a new edition was issued, with very festive sparkles.  These don’t show up on the photo, but they are glittering away on my shelf as I write.

You can ask your bookshop to get it for you, if it’s not in stock, or you can order it online.
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Last Christmas, the book sold well in the USA, so thank you very much for your support!