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Once upon a time the animals decided to have a Christmas tree, and this was how it came about. The swifts and the swallows in the chimneys in the country houses, awakened from their sleep by joy and laughter, had stolen down and peeped in upon scenes of happiness, the centre of which was always an evergreen tree covered with wonderful fruit, bright balls of many colors, and sparkling threads of gold and silver, lying like beautiful frost-work among the green fir needles. A sweet, fairy-like figure of a Christ-Child or an angel rested high among the branches, and underneath the tree were dolls and sleds and skates and drums and toys of every sort, and furs and gloves and tippets, ribbons and handkerchiefs, and all the things that boys and girls need and like; and all about this tree were gathered always little children with faces oh! so full of wonderment and expectation, changing to radiant, sparkling merriment as toys and candies were taken off the tree or from underneath its boughs and distributed among them. The swifts and the swallows told their feathered friends all about it, and they told others, both birds and animals, until at last it began to be rumored through all the animal world that on one day in the year the children of men were made wonderfully happy by means of some sort of a festival which they held about a fir-tree from the forest. Now, of course the tame animals and the house animals, the dogs and the cats and the mice, knew something more about this festival. But then, they did not exchange visits with the wild animals, because they felt themselves above them. They were always trying to be like men and women, you know, putting on airs and pretending to know everything; but after all they were animals and could not help making friendships now and then with the wild creatures, especially when the men and women were not there. And when they were asked about the Christmas tree, they told still more wonderful stories than the swifts and the swallows from the chimneys had told, for some of them had taken part in these festivals, and some had even received presents from the tree, just like the children. They said that the tree was called a Christmas tree, because that strange fruit and that wonderful frosting came on it only in the Christmas time, and that the Christmas time was the time when men and women and little children, too, were always kind and good and loving and gave things to one another; and they said, moreover, that on the Christmas tree grew the things which everyone wanted and which would make them happy, and that it was so, because in the Christmas time everyone was trying to make everyone else happy and to think of what other people would like. This they said was what they had seen and heard told about Christmas trees. They did not quite understand why it was so but they knew that the Christmas tree, when rightly made, brought the Christmas spirit, and they had heard men say that the Christmas spirit was the great thing, and that that was what made everyone happy.