December 15, 2009

O Tannebaum

Monday night, at a little Christmas/post final celebration, I got into a discussion with one of my adopted brothers about Christmas trees. He shared how he used to love Christmas trees and decorate the best one he could find with meticulous care and joy. He then went on to say how, since becoming a Christian he doesn't like Christmas trees. His reason being the pagan history with the evergreen.

I have heard this reasoning before. And if someone chooses not to have a Christmas tree then that is their business and it is no sweat off my back. From my stand point, though, I have always enjoyed a Christmas tree. Being a Christian gave new meaning to the Christmas tree tradition that has caused me to admire it even more.

When I see the Christmas tree I think of the name, and see the beautiful name of my Saviour. The first thing that comes to mind is the Almighty God who created the tree and all of the universe around us with just one word. The God who made that tree to reproduce itself from the tiniest of seeds to grow into a towering symbol of creation. I can't help but think of what a tree meant to his mission on earth when he paid the debt for my sin, because he chose to hang on the tree of Calvary. I see the evergreen and think of my eternal life secured by his sacrifice and suffering in my place. I see the lights and hear Him standing in the temple announcing to the awed bystanders, "I am the Light of the World!" I see the hope that He became and the hope that he gave to all who choose to believe.

No, not for one minute do I see the pagans in their false religion and false gods. I was still thinking on this yesterday as I was rocking Elisabeth, who was ill and inconsolable most of the day. I got to thinking on this topic again, as the children and I sang some Christmas carols to calm her and pass the time. In a pause from the singing, I asked the children what do they see when they look at our Christmas tree.

They sighted the lovely ornaments, the train and the other visual things. Then I restated the question. "Why do we have a Christmas tree? What does it mean?"

Nathaniel was the first to answer. "Well, Jesus was placed in a manger made of wood." Someone else said that Jesus was the tree and we were the branches. Another, mentioned the green makes them think of the life that we gain through Jesus.

On a slightly different note, somehow over the years, our family has found ourselves in the position of spreading holiday cheer in the way of delivering Christmas trees. In the process we find ourselves filled with the joy that this time of year should truly bring to the hearts of believers.

The first time I remember delivering a tree to an unsuspecting party, was when I was little more than a teenager. My own father had a particularly trying year and was in no mood to celebrate Christmas. The sun was getting ready to set on Christmas Eve when my sister and I were driving from my apartment in town to my dad's house out in the country. Our friends and family were all planning on meeting at my dad's house to share some fellowship and then attend the midnight candlelight service together. Diann and I were lamenting my dad's refusal to put up a tree when we drove by the electronics shop that hosted a tree lot. There was one little stubby tree left that was about 3 or 4 feet tall. At that hour the boy scouts has long since abandoned the lot so we ran inside and asked the man how much for the tree. He gave it to us and we stuffed it into the back of my gremlin and continued our journey. What fun we had setting it up with the guests and decorating it together as we sang Christmas carols. I don't know if it brightened my dad's spirits but it did wonders for the rest of us. We talk about this still today.

One year, when my sister was stationed far away in a remote place, we boxed up a miniature tree with lights, ornaments, cookies and presents and shipped it off to make a little Christmas at home, away from home.

About ten years later, our next door neighbors were working around the clock to make ends meet. Both husband and wife were working two or three jobs each. They had gotten a tree and put it in their living room but never found the time to decorate it. While they were at work one evening we made our way into their living room and did that tree justice. Just for the fun of it, Allen put some lights on their front bushes, while we were at it.

Last Christmas, my brother and his room mate, both being single men, had no Christmas tree. We had an artificial tree that had been stored in our attic when we bought a prelit one a few years ago. The Sunday before Christmas we gathered up some ornaments, eggnog and cookies and dropped by for a tree trimming party. A year later, that tree is still standing in his living room.

This Thanksgiving, while we feasted on Turkey, my dad said he was not going to put up a Christmas tree this year, stating that it was too much trouble for just the two of them. For one thing, let me publicly state here, that even if it is just Allen and I, it will never be too much trouble to be festive. Secondly, anyone who knows our history should have known they were setting themselves up for a Wachter attack.

The date was set up perfectly for us since my parents were out of town on business this last weekend. We even arranged to borrow my dad's pickup for the maneuver. Which, occurred to us later, we didn't even need. The plan was easy. We would drive out to the town where I grew up, which happens to have a wonderful tree farm. We would bring the tree back and set it up in their living room. Add some lights and what a beautiful sight they would come home to Sunday evening.

Emma had a little extra bonus, since her friend Gracie came to stay the night with us.

The children ran to the far reaches checking out every tree.

And then they ran to the other end checking out each tree.

And then back again just to make certain they had seen everyone possible good choice before organizing to discuss which would be perfect for Pop Pop and Nana's living room.
Next Kaitlin did the height test to make sure it was not too tall and not too short.

And I was called in to make sure it was full enough in all the important places.

Then the vote.
Just to make sure everyone is happy, one more vote. This is an important decision.
Everyone is happy. One picture for Mama.


took a turn
through the trunk.

There was only one injury. Not bad considering the number of us.
Until at last... TIMBER!

We worked together to wrap it in a blanket

I taught the kids my briciole tying trick to secure our package.

With help from everyone we made quick work of getting it on the roof and securing it tightly.

Pa inspects the work and gives it his stamp of approval to make sure we won't lose it in transit.

We were about 30 minutes back to town when I remembered something I'd forgotten. The key to my parents house. It was now late in the afternoon, Elisabeth was uncharacteristically out of sorts and crying (of course we didn't realize she was coming down with something) and no one had eaten since 9 am. It was another 30 minute round trip to our house and back. We decided on a plan of action.

All plans must have 3 parts.

  1. Pick up burgers and fries to feed the gang.
  2. Leave the tree on dad's porch and get it in water.
  3. Come back later that evening and bring it inside.

Step one went great.

Step two went well, too. I even shook the loose needles out so as not to track them into the living room.

Allen commented on how we should do this every year. We can't have a live tree because of allergies but we got all the fun of going to the tree lot and playing a little funny on my folks. We thought it was funny, anyway. We laughed and joked all the way there and back. Note to Dad: when you read this turn off your outside faucets and bring your hoses in. They were filled with ice.

Step three was where things got a little sketchy. No sooner had we got home when our friends stopped by. We had a delightful time with them playing air hockey and cards and chatting. We were excitedly talking about the possibility of snow the next day when it occurred to us it was 9:30 and we still had a tree on my dad's front porch. That's alright, we reasoned. We would stop by after church in the morning and take it in. Oh, no. That plan won't work because it will be all wet from the freezing rain. It was nearing ten when our friends left. We settled the children in bed and were planning on taking care of business when Allen decided we would have to wait until morning and figure it out then.

Only morning came and went and with Elisabeth's birthday, we didn't. The next plan was to leave early for the cantata and drag it in and not decorate it. That would still amuse them.

The catch is we left with just enough time to get to the program. The folks were due back before the end of the show and we figured a tree on your porch is still a good surprise, right?

And that was that. Or was it?

I expected to hear something from my parents on the matter but it was late when we got home and I forgot all about it. Until Monday afternoon. When my phone rang with a text message from my dad. It read like this: "Kat, we found a tree growing in our living room when we got home last night. You wouldn't know anything about that would you?"

Of course, we knew all along he would know it was us. It wouldn't have been funny otherwise.

To continue the fun I started typing a reply: "Dad, I plead the fifth." Before I hit send I realized he said the tree was in his LIVING ROOM!

After a brief minute of wondering how that came to be, I deleted my reply and started a new one: "Dad, I don't know anything about a tree in your living room." A fun and true statement that would keep him wondering a while longer. But I couldn't resist and had to add this addendum: "We left it on the front porch." Ha!

To which, dad responded: "Thanks it is beautiful. Guess I'd better find my lights." My final reply was along the lines of: "Anytime. Joke's on us as, unbeknownst to us it was a group effort." Ha, again! I had a pretty good guess who was responsible.

Monday night at our exam I asked my primary suspect if he knew anything about a tree at dad's house. At first he was a little puzzled as he explained that there was a tree on dad's front porch and he thought it was a Wachter thing to do. My brother's confusion came for the brief moment when he thought we didn't know who left it there either. He dragged it inside thinking it would be a good joke on us when we found the tree gone or moved. Was he right! Here we were trying to play a joke on my parents and we got my brother also and then he got us in the process.

And that is how Christmas is. A group effort at fun and laughter and little surprises that bring joy and light and beauty to the lives we have the honour of touching.



  1. Love it..sounds like something that would happen in our family.
    Blessings and hugs,

  2. How fun is that! What a great idea!!
    I bet that although your parents were opting out this year, they are truly enjoying the tree now :-)

    Merry Christmas!

  3. ...and this is why I love you, Wachters!!!

  4. Kat,

    I love this post! It's so funny how the whole family got involved without really knowing it! I can only imagine just how beautiful and surprised your parents found their home with a Christmas tree just waiting for decorations when they got home.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  5. How fun. We love to go get our tree and cut it down and take it home. Nice that you all got the experience of the hunt, and your parents benefitted from the tree. Great compromise when you have allergies in the family!

    And we watched the Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart this week and really liked it! Thanks for the tip!

  6. I am finally catching up on some of your posts. That is hysterical! I knew about the tree at Dad's house but I had no idea of the whole story. Pretty darned funny.