The Story of Kristian's Fir (warning: looong read and 15 photos!)


Just Corinna in real life
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Feb 1, 2004
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Lower Saxony, Germany
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This is the story of a little fir tree that took a fir tree's most desired start in its early life to have excitement galore as a bigger tree after all.

In December of 1988, Andreas (my husband) and my first-born son Kristian had the honourable task to bring us a Christmas tree, which, according to our German traditions, always is a real tree, mostly recently cut. (There are real "Christmas tree plantations" for this purpose). And we only set up the tree on Christmas Eve. My two men at the time (while I was pregnant with the third to arrive in April the year after) took their time in getting the tree, and finally went about their task on 23 December. The only tree the size that would fit into our then still quite small attic home was a live tree with a root ball.

Here is the tree chosen by Kristian on 24 December 1988 in all its glory:



(pic with flash to make sure it can be seen)


Kristian between his grandfather (my father) and step-dad (Andreas) with "his" little tree on the right.

When the Season was over, we asked my dad if we could plant the little fir into his garden, for we didn't have one. He agreed.
The family grew, the little apartment in the attic would soon become too small, so we started to have our house built. Kristian, however, never saw it finished.

While this photo was taken on 25 November 1990...


...he all unexpectedly died in the night of 12 December of the same year.

When we had moved in and started our garden, my father said: "That little Christmas tree ... well, it is Kristian's tree, really, and I think now is the time it moves from my garden to your garden." And we gave it some room in one of the corners. There it grew, slowly, but ... Florian's birthday in 1994 (he turned five), when my sister took this photo of Sabine (then 1 year and 2 1/2 weeks old) and my aunt (her godmother), it happened to get into this photo here (a discreet little arrow marking it ;))...


...and again in May of the same year, when I photographed Sabine playing with Annika (a girl from four doors down) in our sandpit (find the arrow).


(I went through all my albums to find some pics of Kristian's tree in the garden of our house that we had in my home-town!)

It was in 1998 when Andreas decided he wanted to switch jobs and started looking for new tasks. He moved to Hamburg on his own (first of all) at the end of October 1998, while the children and I decided to stay on until the beginning of the summer holidays of 1999 before we would come after him. He lived in a small apartment on his own for the time being and came home for weekends. We sold our house and settled in the contract that we'd only have to hand over the keys at the end of June 1999, and bought the house we now live in in January 1999, agreeing to receiving the keys at the end of July 1999.

In amongst all our planning the move, I got struck by a sudden thought: while it is easy enough to move ones belongings, you normally leave your garden behind. But what about Kristian's tree!?!?!?! It had so much meaning to us, and would have no meaning whatsoever to the people who had bought our house and would move in eventually. They might as well dig it out and throw it away! No!

So we phoned the sellers of this house, who still lived here, and asked: could we move one tree, one particular, very special tree, early, like in early spring, before it would start growing again, please? And already plant it in what was going to be our garden about 4 months later? They agreed.

So out came the big shovel and a meanwhile 9-year-old Florian helped his dad dig out Kristian's (now no longer quite so small) tree.


A neighbour helped getting it to the front of our house...


...where my cousin waited with a borrowed truck into which it was loaded.


Then my cousin, Andreas and myself set out on the 3 1/2 hour trip up north to take Kristian's tree to its new home.

We decided on where we wanted to plant it and the two men started to dig the hole for it, curiously eyed by the little girls who still lived in "our" house at the time - and you can see it was only March and still quite cold.


Then the tree could be unloaded and transported to its new home.


The woman who at that time still lived in "our" house helped steadying it while the men put back the earth around the root ball.


Before Kristian's tree made the move, I went to ask an expert about what to do at the new place with a tree whose roots needed to get cut by undigging it. And that person said: "Sad as it may seem to you, you will have to cut off the top of the tree and generally make it smaller. Now that the roots are smaller, what's left will not be able to nourish the tree big as it is. You must adapt the above-the-earth-size to the new below-the-earth-size. If you don't do it, you will lose the whole tree."

So at some point in the course of replanting Kristian's tree, the moment came of the big "scissors" came...


...and the tip went :(


Andreas made it smaller all around, and we said bye-bye to our tree and the previous owners of this house, who promised to look after it well and water it in the first four weeks for us.

Kristian's tree is still here with us, has meanwhile grown a new tip, is the star of this_thread_of_mine and today looks like this:


To all those who actually read to here, thank you for your interest, and please forgive me the quality of the first 14 pics, all of which are scanned prints, only this very last one was taken just a couple of hours ago with my digital camera, just so I'd be able to round this story off.

Thanks for reading.
Its great Cori...I loved the story....(ehh..real story) could be titled, "Fir the family member" :)
What a beautiful tribute! Wonderful photos :)
Indeed, what a wonderful tribute. It has grown into such a beautiful tree that has so much meaning.
Well, that was a heart wrenching as well as a very touching story, Corinna. Thanks for posting it. The photos were great, they really told the story. Having planted about 10,000 trees in last 25 years it never, ever ceases to amaze me how much a tree can touch peoples lives. The relationship between trees and people is one that is complex and wonderful. God bless you, your family and that little tree!
Thank you to all those who read and liked the story.
Yes. This tree has become a very special tree to us and I am glad it still is with us after so many moves. Kristian's grave is in my home-town, i.e. a bit far away. But his tree is right here with us (same as himself in my thoughts and whole being).
reading your story was difficult; it had me sad at times and inspired at times.

but it goes to show how how photography can hold a special place in everyone's life. as well as a tree. =)

i wish you the best!
Hallo Aaron, and welcome to ThePhotoForum,
I feel very honoured to see that you only just joined and went to read the little story of my first son's tree (who would be about your age, actually he'd be 26 in August of this year) and felt like you want to comment on it, too. Thank you so much.
Have a wonderful time here on ThePhotoForum and send us many of your photos, will you?
I missed this until tonight. :heart:

Very enriching to read all of this and the effort your family put forth to keep his tree with you. It has grown into a beautiful specimen! It flourished under your care.

Thanks for sharing that with us, Corinna! :hugs:

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