Ani’s Advent Invitation: Christmas Trees with Marian Beaman

She’s slacking. She hasn’t got the Christmas Tree out this year. Okay, I can accept that digging through the snow to the shed might not have been on her menu…but she hasn’t even started on the festive stuff yet! If she doesn’t hurry up, it will all be over and the tree will have to come down before it has gone up!

It’s not good enough. She hummed and ha’ed about whether or not to put the tree up last year, but she finally saw sense. Just as well, really, as Santa had plans for it. She says that as I still have almost all of last year’s ‘baubles’, he is unlikely to do the same again…but you never know! And he might have other stuff planned, if he thinks I’ve been good.

Anyway, we’ve got to have a Christmas tree… it isn’t the same without one. But she says it is not about all the trimmings anyway and it is the other stuff… the real stuff that you shouldn’t put away when the holiday is over, that is more  important… love… caring… kindness…  Maybe there is hope for two-legses after all…

Much love, Ani xxx

The Longenecker Christmas Tree.

Marian Beaman

Well, there was none. Not one. Not ever. Despite the fact that the Christmas song, “O Tannenbaum” is of German origin, most Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite homes of the 1950s and 60s did not light Christmas trees. Decorated trees were lumped together with other worldly pleasures like jewelry, makeup, and movies and therefore not permitted. At least the Ray Longenecker family did not have one. We were plain and I longed for some fancy.

One year I found a limb from our maple tree out front with little branches that looked as forlorn as Charlie Brown’s tree. I brought it into the living room and tried to find trinkets and a red ribbon or two for decoration.

It was a sad little tree. It looked something like this, only wedged into our living room radiator and anchored by balled-up newspaper no doubt.


Good grief! I know how Charlie Brown must have felt. But at least his had “a wooden trunk and soft green needles” with a red ball on the end of a branch instead of a timid little ribbon.


Charlie Brown’s luck seems to change when Lucy appoints him as director of the Christmas play in which Linus reads Luke 2 from scripture. After the play, the performers migrate outdoors toward Charlie’s sagging tree. Charlie Brown eventually gets his wish for a fine Christmas tree as the gang “donate” the festive string of lights from Snoopy’s doghouse to the dress up the little tree. Charity in action.


No, there was no Christmas tree in our home or in the sanctuary of my family’s home church, Bossler’s Mennonite Church. But like Linus and friends, we heard the Christmas story from Luke 2 faithfully recited and at the end of the service, we received hand-outs of navel oranges every year, the orange orbs passed hand to hand down the rows.

Nowadays in the Longenecker-Beaman home there is a happy fir tree, bedecked with ornaments from several generations. And we all rehearse the precious old story of the nativity in the Bible passage Luke 2 on Christmas morning.

A wondrous story, plain and simple, read beside a fanciful tree.

O Tannenbaum! Longenecker-Beaman Tree 2013

O Tannenbaum! Longenecker-Beaman Tree 2013

This post first appeared on

About the author

Marian Longenecker Beaman’s life has been characterized by re-invention: Pennsylvania Mennonite girl moves to Florida to becomes traveling artist’s wife, then English professor with credits in the Journal of the Forum on Public Policy published by Oxford University Roundtable Press. She is also a contributor to My Gutsy Story Anthology, Volume 2 published in 2014. The September 2016 issue of The Mennonite features an article entitled: Making Love Edible: Lessons from Fannie Martin Longenecker.

Along with her work as a community activist leading her neighborhood to take on Walmart expansion, she is a writer and blogger in this second phase of her career. Fitness training and Pilates classes at the gym have become a metaphor for her mind-flexing experience as a writer, mining stories from her past along with reflections on current events in her blog.

Her work in progress is a memoir set in the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania landscape of her Mennonite childhood.

Find and Follow Marian

Plain and Fancy website/blog     Facebook     Twitter@martabeaman

Antlers are for Reindeer!

If you would like to help save Ani from a fate (she says) worse than death, send your Letters to Santa, festive memories, short stories, flash fiction or poems to the Small Dog. She will post them every day through December until Christmas.

She would especially like to hear from her four-legged or feathered friends (she has a special place very close to her heart for turkeys)… but she says that two-legs are better than none, so she will accept submissions from humans too.

To get in touch, please use the form on the contact page or you can email Ani at

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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21 Responses to Ani’s Advent Invitation: Christmas Trees with Marian Beaman

  1. 🙏🏻❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Darlene says:

    I love your attempt at providing a Christmas tree for your family when you were a young girl. You certainly made up for it now! That tree is Gorgeous, Marian. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lovely post Marian.. so pleased that you now have your tree and all its fripperies it looks beautiful.. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. marianbeaman says:

    I love the word “fripperies,” especially since I can enjoy all the fancy decorations I want in this season. Thanks, Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. marianbeaman says:

    Thanks again for reading – and then reblogging. What a gracious gesture that you share!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. C.E.Robinson says:

    Marian, loved your Christmas tree story! Look forward to your book. Back in 1961 I lived in Rexmont, PA. First child born in Lancaster General. I know the Mennonite area well. You do have a story to tell. 🎄🎄🎄 Christine

    Liked by 2 people

  7. marianbeaman says:

    Thank you, Christine. I checked out your website before commenting – all those gorgeous sunsets. I see you understand something of the Mennonite culture too. And I noticed that you said your have a strong connection to Washington State, the home of my last blind date, my husband of 50 years. He sacrificed the land of tall evergreens so we could make frequent visits to my homeplace in PA. I appreciate meeting you here.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. dgkaye says:

    Loved your story Marian. It kind of reminds me of my story when I was a child of the wrong faith and longed for a tree too. Nice to see you here at Sue’s
    And Sue, I hear ya on the tree – one week to Christmas and I can’t summon the energy to drag the old tree and fixings up from the basement locker and the little grandie’s presents have taken up residence on my living room floor going on 3 weeks now awaiting me to wrap. Just wrapping those presents will be enough Christmas exercise for me. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jennie says:

    A lovely story, Marian!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. marianbeaman says:

    Thank you, Jennie. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your Christmas tree stick made me smile. My sister has a stick like that, painted white, and covered with select and carefully chosen white ornaments. It is supposed to look artistic.

    Liked by 2 people

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