A Tree for Andres

Rosa was on a mission. At the time, I didn’t know it. On a crisp November morning, she pulled us into the parking lot at Memorial Park. Me in the front passenger seat. Her daughter Kimberly, age twenty-one, in the back. We had just dropped off her son Andres for his day at kindergarten.

This was my first Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail expedition. 2.9 miles. Once you start, your only option is to make the full loop or turn back. We would never turn back. The three of us opened our car doors, extricated ourselves, slammed the doors shut, and stretched a bit. Kimberly waved, smiled, and took off running. Rosa and I followed at a quick walking pace, then jogged some. She wanted to resume the walk before me, and that was new. My endurance for jogging has improved since I met my neighbor Rosa back in July. At age fifty I discovered that I could run and make progress after all.

Along the way, Rosa told me about a family tradition. Back in Mexico, when she was a little girl, her father would set off for the mountains and bring back a Christmas tree. For Rosa, he would find a tree branch, fallen and dead. He would clean it up and spray paint it white, stick it in a bucket of sand, for lights, angel hair, and decorations of her own. Rosa’s tree. And Rosa wanted that tradition for Andres.

About a mile-and-a-half into our walk, we spotted the perfect branch, dead and fallen. We stopped and together snapped off the extraneous twigs. For the final mile-and-a-half, Rosa carried it like an Olympic torch. A five or six foot branch. At one point she said, “Let’s run.” And we did.

And other runners shook their heads. And other people on the trail shot photos or video. And Rosa and I jogged and laughed. A laugh that jingled all the way. And when Kimberly discovered her mother walking toward the car, carrying the dead tree branch, she covered her face with her hands and turned various shades of crimson, but she didn’t run and hide. Kimberly laughed a jolly laugh and said, “Oh my gosh, you’re going to be all over social media.” And she helped her mother fit the tree for Andres into the back of the SUV.

And Rosa reminded me of how the dead and fallen can take on new life, how the broken can bring new joy, how traditions are a form of magic, a way of speaking with the past.  

43 thoughts on “A Tree for Andres

  1. A great story Crystal. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we could all do recalling simpler happy times, where we appreciated the little things, instead of longing for more and more. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank God, He always sends a “Rosa” when we need one. What a beautiful tree, and to think it started out as a dead branch! As they say, “Broken cookies taste the same.”
    Happy Thanksgiving 🦃 Prayers continue for your Drew.


  3. Sparkling tale, Crystal, leading to a striking decoration, and to a striking takeaway. Namely, that we have within us the imagination and the determination to change reality. What most would’ve dismissed as debris, Rosa gave life made it into a beacon that brightens Christmastime for a world that could use some cheer.

    Rosa’s continuing the family tradition and, no doubt, she’s inspired its perpetuation..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was reading some of my own writing and came across a conversation with another friend who said something like this—having a friend is the closest thing to being happy. I think it’s true. All other concerns seem to melt away in the presence of a friend—if even for a moment.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Collette, I admit it—I lifted that line about tradition and magic and the past. I have no doubt, I should have footnoted it. For now, this is my footnote. It was paraphrased from the Netflix series We Are the Champions, “Cheese Rolling” episode. 30 minutes that I highly recommend, and the quote comes from the first five minutes of narration. So thank you, but I’m really just a good thief. 💕


  4. Thank you for sharing a lovely story and photo!… it all comes down to what lies in one’s heart.. “it is not the image without, but the love within that matters”.. 🙂

    Hope all is well and have a wonderful holiday filled with peace, love and happiness!!.. 🙂


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