The Last Christmas Tree is a story about sudden change in a woman’s autumn years. After her husband Roger’s death in late September, Andrea Morgan is left in a blur of confusion. When family conflict arises over Andrea’s impending future on the day following his funeral, Andrea leaves her home to take a walk.
Within minutes, an adolescent-aged boy jumps the curb with his bicycle a few feet away from Andrea in an effort to avoid hitting her. While apologizing and helping him with the bike’s broken front wheel, she discovers he is her old friend Carmela Dempsey’s grandson, Jessie Michaels. During a short visit at the Dempsey home that follows, Andrea becomes amused with Jessie’s charismatic personality and the endearing interaction he has with Gramps George and Grams Carmela.
Upon returning home though Andrea discovers the discussion among her children has escalated, and their voices are ricocheting against the walls. In a moment of haste coupled with raw emotions, Andrea tells them to leave. During the following days and weeks, her children, all of whom live hours out-of-town, attempt to phone, but their calls go unanswered.
Jessie Michaels is intrigued with the newly widowed woman who lives down the street from his grandparents. Hoping to perhaps help her with yard work and maybe earn some Christmas money, he appears at Andrea’s doorstep with a bouquet of mums, and a warm friendship blossoms between the two. Jessie feels a connection with Miss Andrea, secretly comparing her to a grandmother he never knew, while she compares him to the grandsons she hardly knows. And although Miss Andrea doesn’t say much about her children, Jessie senses something is wrong.
The old friendship Andrea once had with Carmela and George Dempsey is soon rekindled, and slowly laughter and hope enters Andrea’s solitude. As time passes, she can’t help missing her children and grandchildren all the while dreading the approaching holiday season. She can’t bear looking at Christmas decorations, hearing Christmas carols or watching any kind of holiday special. Andrea Morgan simply wishes Christmas would go away.
After Andrea spends Thanksgiving with the Dempseys, daughter Marissa invites her siblings and mother for a holiday gathering in Vermont. Initially apprehensive, Andrea fears the tension with son Larry might worsen, however slowly comes around with the influence of Jessie and his grandparents and begins to look forward to it. She would not have to stay in her dark, undecorated home. She would not have to envision the brightly decorated mantel, the white lights that trimmed her front porch, and the beautiful, perfectly shaped balsam fir Roger used to get every year. When a serious mishap occurs, plans are changed and Larry Morgan must solicit Jessie’s help in searching for a Christmas tree at the eleventh hour. What remains in the garden centers and shopping center lots hardly come close to the Morgan’s traditional, elegant tree, until…