Roberta's Tree

December 16, 2013
by Mary Jane Hanson

Luke 2:10-11 – But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (NIV)

When my sister, Roberta, died of cancer at age 49 in July of 2004, I decided to plant a small mugo pine in our front yard. Like others who have lost loved ones, I wanted to have a living memorial for my sister. I named the mugo pine "Roberta's tree" and watched it grow. In 2008 when we sold our home to move to a townhouse, I thought that it would be useful to write a note of welcome to the new owners. The note provided helpful information about the house, which was new when we had moved in 18 years earlier.

In the note, I mentioned how we had enjoyed living in the home, and I included information about Roberta's tree so that the new owners would know that I had planted it in her memory. I also requested that they keep the mugo pine. Although they did not live in the house long before it was sold again, my request must have been passed along to the new owners.

Last December, I had the occasion of going to the house to pick up a parcel that had been delivered in error. Much to my surprise and delight, the mugo pine was about four feet tall, and it had spread out a lot. Best of all, it was adorned with Christmas lights. This came as a wonderful surprise and source of joy, since I had never expected to find lights on Roberta's tree.

God's ways are often surprising and beyond our understanding. The Almighty, who brought joy to the shepherds of old at the time of Jesus' birth, still brings joy and encouragement to the hearts of His children today, often when we least expect it. This is a cause for great rejoicing.

Prayer: God, You brighten dark December days with light. We praise You for bringing joy to the world at Christmas and all through the year. Amen.

About the author:

Mary Jane Hanson <mjh013@sasktel.net>
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Wonderful story Mary. Thanks for writing.


    Thanks you Mary Jane for that lovely devotion. Have a wonderful Christmas!


    Thank you for sharing your story with us, Mary Jane. My thoughts are with you in the loss of your sister at such a young age. Your devotional is every bit a lasting tribute to her memory as is the “Roberta Tree”. Peace be with you at Christmas.


    Mary Jane
    It’s been a long time coming (the devotional that is)!! Good to hear from you — now lets see some more! This one is special. Thanks for sharing and have a Merry Christmas. God bless.


    Dear Mary Jane,
    Thank you for your devotional.
    A very fitting tribute, the tree that lives on to glory at Christmas.
    We thank our God that the baby born at Christmas lives on forever, and that all who believe in him will live on to eternal glory with him.
    There is a little book about a little boy who had the experience of being in heaven and came back to tell of it. It is called Heaven Is For Real, by the father of the boy, Todd Burpo.
    Thank you for sharing your love. I pray for continued love for you now and forever.


    That is a very touching email. I never thought of planting a tree in my son’s memory who died of cancer a few years ago. How sweet that the New owners not only kept the tree planted in Roberta’s memory but also put lights on it.


    That was a lovely devotional Mary Jane. Thank-you for sharing. A blessed Christmastide to you and yours!

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