Do you consider yourself an Empath? I know I am. An Empath is a person who is extremely sensitive to the emotions and energy of other people, animals and places. In my case even trees, fictional characters (like the poor Willy Weasel in the ice cream van ad from the 70s - I was heartbroken his ice cream went splat on the road) - but even fairy tales can be deeply upsetting, especially to a child. Here's an example: "The Fir-Tree" is a literary fairy tale by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875). The tale is about a fir tree so anxious to grow up, so anxious for greater things, that he cannot appreciate living in the moment. The tale was first published on the 21st December 1844 with "The Snow Queen", in Copenhagen, Denmark, by C.A. Reitzel. One scholar (Andersen biographer Jackie Wullschlager) indicates that "The Fir-Tree" was the first of Andersen's fairy tales to express a deep pessimism.
Why do we have fairy tales like this for children? Well the simplest answer is that many were written to try and teach us life lessons. But for an empath, some stories can be very sad. In the woods stands a little fir-tree. He is preoccupied with growing up and is thoroughly embarrassed when a hare hops over him, an act which emphasizes his diminutiveness. The women call him the baby of the forest and again he is embarrassed and frustrated. A stork tells him of seeing older trees chopped down and used as ship masts, and the little tree envies them. In the fall, nearby trees are felled and the sparrows tell the little fir-tree of seeing them decorated in houses.
One day while still in his youth, the fir-tree is cut down for a Christmas decoration. He is bought, carried into a house, decorated, and, on Christmas Eve, glows with candles, colored apples, toys, and baskets of candy. A gold star tops the tree. The children enter and plunder the tree of its candy and gifts, then listen to a little fat man tell the story of "Humpty Dumpty".
The next day, the fir-tree expects the festivities to be renewed, but servants take the tree down and carry him into the attic. The tree is lonely and disappointed, but the mice gather to hear the tree recite the tale of "Humpty Dumpty". Rats arrive and, when they belittle the simple tale, the mice leave and do not return. In the spring, the fir-tree – now withered and discolored – is carried into the yard. A boy takes the star from its topmost branch. The fir-tree is then cut into pieces and burned.
Pessimistic indeed and well, that had me in tears when I was small!
So this might explain why I was making little fir tree glass globe necklaces the other day, in a little tribute to the fir tree in his prime, covered in snow just before Christmas, and how I wish he had stayed that way!