"What is your name?"
With a slight hesitation the former Christmas tree whimpered, "Lil...Little Chubby."
After 500 years of ushering discarded holiday trees to their final resting place, Ingrid readily recognized the sadness and fear in that whimper. She reached down and brushed aside some small icicles from underneath some of Little Chubby's needles. Even in the cold, her slight smile radiated warmth.
"Little Chubby suits you perfectly. A well-chosen name, my little tree."
"I used to be so beautiful," recalled Little Chubby sadly. "The white lights were so pretty at night. The kids had made chains out of paper. When they wrapped those colorful links around me, I felt loved."
"You were loved, and that is important to remember," she tried to reassure him.
"If I was loved, then why was I thrown out?" he snapped back.
"Love is not a forever thing and we shouldn't expect it to be." There was compassion in Ingrid's quiet reply. "Everything is temporary."
"Then what was it all for?"
Ingrid's smile deepened. "Does our life need to have meaning to be worthwhile? You, my little tree, breathed the air and grew in the sun. That alone makes you special. Even if you had spent your whole life without knowing what it was like to wear holiday lights and decorations, your life would have had meaning. You are loved, because you are."
Little Chubby thought for a moment. He was ready. He stretched his branches and Ingrid tapped him on the spot where a star had once sat. In that very last moment, just as his needles turned brown and fell, Ingrid saw the squat little tree stand a little bit taller.