Advent Meditation by Phil Letsinger
In 1974 Judy and I decided that we should spend Christmas with my parents in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mother had turned 74 on Halloween and Dad celebrated his 80th birthday in December. Both were still active and in apparent good health. But we thought we should spend Christmas with them while they were still in the home where my brother and I had grown up. So we made plans to fly to Fort Wayne for the holidays, and my brother and his family would also come from Indianapolis. Judy and I told my parents they could put up the usual ceiling height Christmas tree in the living room but we would like to help decorate it.
When we arrived in Fort Wayne there had been a good snow, the ground and trees were covered with a fresh layer of white. Sure enough, there was a large spruce tree in the corner of the living room waiting to be decorated. The next day we all put on our coats and boots to take a walk around the home-place to enjoy the snow. In the beginning of the Depression, a couple of years after marrying, my parents were able to buy a house on about six acres just outside the city. Dad soon planted long rows of Norway Spruce trees as windbreaks for the back yard, orchard and garden. While my brother and I were growing up, our Christmas trees were always cut from the tops of the then very tall Norway Spruce trees. We also provided Christmas trees for our grade school classrooms, our high school hallway, and very large trees for our church. So it was no surprise that the Christmas tree in the living room was a spruce similar to the ones I had grown up with.
By the 1970s, the area was suburbanized, a thoroughfare to the airport went through the former orchard, and subdivisions had grown up across the street and next door. But the spruce windbreaks were still there. As we walked in the snow along one of the windbreaks by the orchard we came across a tall ladder and a somewhat scrawny treetop lying on the ground. Then we came across another, and another. Finally, my parents somewhat sheepishly confessed that they had tried to find a special Norway Spruce treetop for Christmas but had not been able to do so. What had looked nice and full, high in the top of a tree, was not full enough when cut and down on the ground. Or some branches of the treetop had broken as it fell to the ground after Dad cut it. For the first time ever, they had to resort to buying a Christmas tree for the house, especially when family was coming.
As things turned out, it was Dad’s last Christmas. Early the next year he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in July.
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