The Christmas tree, is a deeply moving made-for-television film, directed by Sally Field and written by Julie Salamon and Jill Weber, which tells the story about a man by the name of Richard Reilly, played by Andrew McCarthy, who is the head gardener at New York's Rockefeller Center and as it is nearly Christmas, he must complete his quest to find the perfect tree to cut down, for their famous Christmas display.
After flying over a remote convent, in a helicopter, Richard spies the most perfect Christmas tree he has ever seen, so he arranges to speak with the nuns about taking it away, but that's when he meets with a snag in his plans, in the form of Sister Anthony, played by Julie Harris, who instantly objects to the idea of losing her beloved tree.
As Richard arranges many more meetings with Sister Anthony, she begins to tell him more and more stories, of how she was an orphan, who was abandoned and bullied at an orphanage, and how the nuns of the convent adopted her and how she would not utter a word to anyone, until she met her best friend Tree. The more Richard visits, the more he learns.
Sister Anthony has led a life of anguish and heartache, from losing her mentor to the war through to losing the love of her life when he moved away, all with tree always being there beside her, to comfort and protect her.
Eventually Sister Anthony finds a sapling, the offspring of Tree, who is older than most trees of his species ever make it to be and so the heartbreaking decision to let Richard take Tree's life away is made. The absolutely tear-jerking scene in which Tree gets chopped down, is one I will never forget and I have never looked at a plant in the same way since!
In Tree's death, he bestows one more gift to Sister Anthony, when she travels away from the convent for the first time since she got there, to see Tree dressed in finery at the Rockefeller, where a long forgotten puzzle piece is restored to her memory and the last unknown mysteries of her life are revealed.