Lights of Heaven This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I held the aged Christmas ornament in my hand; smelling its faded scent of pinecones and watching it shimmer under the attic’s dim light. The memory of my first Christmas tree popped into my head without a warning. I found myself recalling the time when I first laid eyes on that magnificent tree.

I remember when my dad walked through the door and set it up in the corner of our apartment. I just stared at the rough, bumpy trunk with its prickly, pine-scented leaves. While decorating it, I wondered, with my six-year- old mind, if Santa felt the same way I did about this tree. Were all trees as magical as mine?

I stared up at the highest point, feeling dwarfed by its celestial height. When I came back to earth, I realized my parents had finished hanging up the lights, including the sparkling star on top. It was time to switch on the lights. I looked at the tree again. Now it was transformed. The tree’s lights glistened like stars, only these were colorful. It was spectacular, and I was breathless. They were like the lights of heaven.

When the guests arrived, their mouths dropped open at the sight of our incredible tree. Some even wanted to sit under it and wait for Santa. All my cousins and best friends sat there drinking my mom’s delicious hot chocolate while watching the tree’s light change color.

We played a game of sharing our best memories. Promising that we would cherish this moment forever, we took the “pinecone oath.” This was way better than our usual trips to Rockefeller Center. Soon everyone started to yawn and fall asleep. I stayed up staring at the tree until my eyelids drooped. I fell into a deep sleep.

At three in the morning, we all awoke and discovered beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree. Everyone started screaming that Santa had come. I looked for my gift. Then I saw a tiny box with my name written on it. Looking inside, I found a brand new ornament in the shape of a tree. With a huge goofy smile, I showed everyone what Santa had gotten just for me. Soon people started to leave, and, sleepily, we all waved goodbye. I stared at the ornament, noticing its meticulous artwork. It was beautiful, but not as amazing as my Christmas tree. Even once the lights were removed, I still loved the merry sprit it had.

A few weeks later, I discovered that the tree was looking much older than before. To my dismay, it was slowly rotting away. Later that same day, my dad came into my room telling me the news; he was going to throw out the tree. The cruel words came out of my dad’s mouth without his showing any real concern. I started to cry. When I touched the tree for the last time, I noticed the tree not only had grown old, but it smelled. Although the trunk was still strong and sturdy, it still had to be thrown out. Still, I felt sadness throbbing in my chest. I looked glum as my dad carried the tree through the same door it had once entered.

As I put down the ornament with the pinecone scent, I wondered why we never got another tree like that one. I regret losing that old tree, even after it’s lights were taken off. Yet memories of that Christmas party with the magical tree have healed my heart a little bit. And if I close my eyes tightly, I can still imagine those lights of heaven.





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