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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)

TITLE: Evergreen Faith
By Amy Procter


As I hung up the phone with my cousin, Siim, my mind raced to find a way that my family could still afford the trip next summer. But in my heart I knew that this trip would have to wait indefinitely. The economy was much too uncertain to make plans. Tears of disappointment stung my eyes. “Why are you not helping me, God?” I kept thinking.

A decade had passed since I’d visited Estonia with my mom and my sister, Molly. We’d met so many of our cousins. This time I’d had high hopes for my husband and daughters, as well as my dad, to be able to go, too. To visit this land — my grandmother’s homeland — that is such a part of me.

Flashes of the “summer of my Estonian cousins” (for that’s how I thought of it) ran through my mind. Smiles and hugs. Much laughter. Caravanning across the beautiful countryside. Exploring castle ruins and walking on beaches at sunset. Filming Siim with my camcorder as he was filming me with his. Trying so hard to learn the language.

It shattered my heart to climb on the airplane that carried us away after those magical summer days. We looked out the tiny plane window as we sped away, and all the cousins were still waiting at the runway fence. One of the children had climbed the gate and was waving from his perch. Waving at our plane disappearing into the blue sky. I cried the entire flight, as I worried I’d never see them again. Worried about possible Russian aggression, and danger to this tiny nation and my family there.

I hadn’t seen them in so very long. I pulled out my trip journal that I’d kept, intending to refresh my memory with details. As I reached to open it, a folded paper fell to the floor. The memory came rushing back, almost before I’d picked up the paper and opened it all the way.

“O Joulupuu, o joulupuu! Kui haljad on su oksad!”

The tears then came like a blinding flood, and I was back in that beautiful midsummer’s evening.

I’d shared a special memory from my childhood with my then 15-year-old cousin, Siim. A memory of my grandmother.

She rarely spoke of her homeland. I think it was just too painful. She’d left at the age of sixteen, to attend school in America. How could she have known when she left that she would never see her mother again? That the Iron Curtain would close, cruelly barring the way home. We knew of our cousins in Estonia, but sadly we also knew we’d probably never get to meet them.

On those rare occasions that she would speak of her childhood, she always ended up singing in Estonian, or sometimes just humming a tune. I remember it seemed to be so important to her that her family knew a song in her native Estonian. One song, in particular, was her favorite.

Unforgettable, when Siim brought me the sheet music, one day toward the end of our stay. He’d made a special trip to the town library to find a copy. He laughed as he told me the plan. He’d let us film all the cousins together singing the song in English, only if I’d let him film my mom, Molly and me singing it in Estonian. I’ll never forget their howls of laughter as we attempted the song in very broken Estonian. But they loved it, and smiled warmly.

“O Joulupuu, o joulupuu! Kui haljad on su oksad!”

Finally, it was their turn. Such earnestness on their faces as I heard them sing the words and tune so dear to my heart. Some voices fluent in English, some just struggling to sound out the words. It was Christmas in July, as lost years fell away.

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree! How lovely are your branches!”

I started to fold up the sheet of music to replace it in the journal, when my eyes caught the verses toward the bottom of the page. I didn’t usually get that far in the song, but suddenly I saw the last verse.

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree! Your boughs can teach a lesson.
That constant faith and hope sublime
Lend strength and comfort through all time…”

I smiled to myself as I felt God speaking to my heart. All was well and He was listening. Lesson learned, I would wait on Him.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Diana Dart 10/23/08
Congrats - very nice story and a creative use of the topic. Excellent descriptions.
Sheri Gordon10/23/08
Congratulations on your 2nd place. :)