Every artist dips [their] brush in [their] soul and paints [their] own nature. – Henry Ward Beecher

Havergal’s 2020 community Christmas card highlights the talent of Grade 11 student Yufei Wang, who reflected on the story The Fir Tree, by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, to create the illustration you see here.

“This image depicts the story of a fir tree who spends its childhood growing up in the woods with friends and sunshine,” explains Yufei. In the story, the tree is so  consumed with thoughts about the future and its greater purpose in life that it neglects to appreciate the joy of living in the moment. It isn’t until the end of the story, after the tree has been chopped down, used at Christmas and stored in an attic does it realize that some of its happiest days were in the woods. “I connect with this story because I’ve noticed that I am often so busy moving forward, striving for improvement and trying to accomplish great achievements that I forget to enjoy what’s happening in my life at that moment,” she says. Especially in 2020, Yufei admits to focusing on the negatives in her life as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions instead of the positives. “But then I started to notice that my stress levels from my usual fast-paced life have slightly lifted and that I enjoy being able to spend more time with myself and my hobbies.”

Despite having written the story in 1844, Andersen’s themes of mindfulness and gratitude live on today as important skills in developing hope and resilience on the path to becoming ready for whatever the future holds. Thank you to Yufei for highlighting these lessons for us this holiday season.

painting of a Christmas tree in the snowy woods Memory of the Fir Tree, an illustration by Yufei Wang.