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Short Stories for Children of all Ages: The almond tree's birthdayPedagogical Project “The Joy of Reading”
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The almond tree’s birthday
 

Near the house, in the shrubbery, an almond tree grew. She was graceful and green and lovely to look at. Towards the end of summer, she shed all her leaves; and all through the winter she looked very bare. Indeed, she was cold and sad.

One winter’s day a gust of wind blew across her branches and whispered a secret message into her ear. “Tomorrow,” said the wind, “will be the almond tree’s birthday...”

All the other trees began to wave their branches and to repeat to each other: “Tomorrow will be the almond-tree’s birthday.”

Then a little bird, who heard the trees murmuring, flew over to the almond-tree, perched on one of her branches, and began to twitter: “Tweet! Tweet! Almond-tree, is it really true that tomorrow is going to be your birthday? Tweet, tweet! I’ll collect all my friends together tomorrow, lots and lots of birds, and we’ll come along to wish you a Happy Birthday...”

* *

Then a bee who was flying past, overheard this little chat. He flew over to the almond-tree and buzzed: “Zoom, zoom! Almond-tree, is it really true you’re having a birthday tomorrow? I think I’ll invite my friends in our bee-hive to come along and join in the celebrations...”

A little boy called Noam then came over to the tree and said: ‘Tomorrow is Tu Bishvat (The 15th Day of Shvat), and that’s Trees’ Day’, the New Year for all trees. I’m going to ask my friends to come along tomorrow to bring you special greetings...”

The almond-tree just listened to all this, but didn’t answer a word. She nodded her head and then muttered to herself quietly:

“So tomorrow is a holiday,
My birthday, in fact;
Crowds of visitors are going to come,
And I haven’t got a dress to receive them in.
How can I face them?”

All day long she worried about the next day; all night long she worried. The other trees were sleepy and closed their eyes. The almond-tree alone wasn’t able to sleep.

It was at the dead of night when something happened.

The Angel of the Plants suddenly appeared, all dressed in green and crowned with flowers. He approached the almond tree: “Whatever’s keeping you awake? Whatever is making you so worried...? Do tell me, almond-tree...”

“How can I possibly sleep in peace, or be free from worry when tomorrow is my birthday, and lots of visitors are coming, but I’ve nothing to wear..?”

“Stop being so sad, almond-tree,” said the Angel, as he gently patted her, “I promise you that by tomorrow morning you will have a wonderful dress.”

“You really mean it?”, she asked.

“Why, of course,” answered the Angel. “It is quite usual for every almond-tree to wear a pink and white frock in honour of her birthday. So, stop fretting, and get some rest now, so that when morning comes you will feel fresh and bright. Good night and sleep well...”

The Angel then stroked the almond-tree till she fell fast asleep. While she slumbered, the Angel bent over her and kissed her. And behold! Every single spot that his lips touched suddenly burst into flower—pink and white and delicate blossoms.

Next morning the almond-tree hardly knew herself, so beautifully covered was she with blossom. The trees looked admiringly at her new appearance and said: “Hello, almond tree.” One said BOKER TOV; another said SHANAH TOVA; and in chorus they all said TITHADSHI (which means “We wish you well to wear it...”).

A flock of birds arrived; they perched upon her branches and began singing her a Birthday Song. Then a great swarm of bees came, buzzing from bough to bough, from one flower to another, and saying: “Bzzz-bzzz — isn’t this a pretty almond-tree? Bzzz-bzzz... And what a delightful dress... Bzzz-bzzz...”

Finally, Noam came on the scene. He had his playmates with him and they all danced and sang in a circle around the almond-tree.

Leslie Daiken
Gan-Gani Let us play in Isreal
Tel-Aviv, N. Tversky Publishing House, 1966

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