Editor’s note: The Kansan asked its readers to submit entries for our Christmas trees decorating contest, with information about why their tree has special meaning to them. The first-place entry wins a $75 gift certificate to Flowers by Ruzen. The second-place winner receives a $50 gift certificate to Stone Creek Nursery in Hesston. Here are the winners and the other entries:


This story first appeared in the Dec. 20 edition of the Kansan.

Editor’s note: The Kansan asked its readers to submit entries for our Christmas trees decorating contest, with information about why their tree has special meaning to them. The first-place entry wins a $75 gift certificate to Flowers by Ruzen. The second-place winner receives a $50 gift certificate to Stone Creek Nursery in Hesston. Here are the winners and the other entries:

Victorian-themed Christmas tree

has place in parlor of 1885 home

The tree in the parlor of our 1885 home displays the centerpiece of our Christmas celebration. Because of the age of our home, the Victorian theme is the best complement.

While in specialty shops, I watch for remembrances to add to our collection of angels, Santas, snowmen, nutcrackers, tassels, and every shape and size of ball ornaments.

Once the tree lights are working, I drape the tree with several feet of ribbon.

Next, I swag strings of pearl and gold beads. I place silk poinsettias with gold accents on some of the branches. In keeping with the Victorians’ way of decorating abundantly, the nine-foot tree is covered with hundreds of sparkling ornaments collected over the years.

I have many favorites — they’re all important because they’re Christmas! Of course, the most treasured are gifts from grandchildren and other family members.

As I decorate the tree, I catch myself smiling as I reflect on memories an ornament might trigger.

Lastly, it’s best if the ornaments reflect the light so the tree glimmers and glows from top to bottom waiting for Christmas day when the family gathers around to exchange gifts and after dinner the “tea party” beside the tree.

Most importantly of all, the family gathers!

— Marjorie Wells,

Newton

Youths at Youthville

share life story through tree

My name is Cody. I’ve been in foster care for six to eight years. During my time in the “system,” I’ve seen many kids come and go with nothing but plastic bags with clothes in it.

I’ve seen kids come in with nothing except what is on their body and others with nothing but a suitcase with three pairs of clothes and a couple of books.

This is why the tree we designed is in a suitcase along with books and toys. There is a lot of uncertainty in the “system” — we never know where we’re going to be. Things that are special to us we keep in our suitcases so we don’t leave them behind.

— Cody,

Newton

HONORABLE MENTION

A ‘Nightmare’

Christmas tree

3. My husband is an avid fan of the movie, “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” We both also love to make art. So, last year we began making the characters from the movie out of Sculpey clay. This year we bought a black Christmas tree and hung clear ornaments, plus we added bugs and other creatures, too, along with orange lights, orange ornaments, eyeballs and a few other miscellaneous Halloween treats! The tree is a truly unique and fun display of our creativity and fondness for the holidays.

— Tiffini Clark,

Wichita

The ‘blessing’ tree

4A. We used “found treasures” to decorate this frugal tree — from garage sales, clearance tables and the Et Cetera Shop to our own backyard (sweet gum balls, crepe myrtle berries and maidenhair grass). The nearly eight-foot tree features a collection of nativity ornaments from our first year of marriage to now — almost 40!

The main colors of the décor are shades of red, glittery gold and apple green. Several pheasant feathers from our son-in-law’s hunting excursions adorn the branches. Paper stars of various sizes in gold and buff colors accent the tree and, with the miniature white lights, the stars appear to be shining. That’s an important design element to us because, in our Christian faith, we are called to “shine like stars,” especially at this Christmas season.

‘Shine Like Stars’

4B. During this Christmas season, we have reason to count our blessings. On this tree hang key tags with the names of children, grandchildren, parents, friends, etc., who are a blessing to our family. Red “fur” yarn adds a fun garland with teal paper stars carrying out a secondary “shine like stars” theme. White-tipped pine cones and glitzy gold pipe cleaners add a touch of whimsy to this special family blessing tree.

— Janet Ingmire,

Newton

OTHER ENTRIES

Lights glimmer

on flocked tree

5. This Christmas tree is a flocked concolor fir purchased at Tree Top Nursery. The tree stands about 8 1/2 feet tall. Before the tree was flocked, it was wrapped with 10 strings of clear lights. The light glowing through the white flock is beautiful. Being a close business acquaintance of the Tree Top Nursery owners, my husband had the opportunity to flock most of the tree himself, making the tree even more special.

The thick flock gives the appearance of a heavy snow accumulation on the branches, just as if you were in the woods after a winter snowfall. The tree is adorned with Christmas floral garland, berries, pine cones and other ornaments of sparkling red, green and gold.

It is a unique way to enjoy the wintry outdoor elements within the warmth of our own Holiday home.

— Kati Sartain,

Newton

Grandmother

starts collection

6. My tree is decorated with ornaments that have been collected for more than 34 years. When my older sister was born, my maternal grandmother bought a Santa ornament and continued with this tradition when I born and angels for my little sister.

When my grandmother died, my mom continued with the tradition. Every year, we get a new Santa ornament. As our kids have been born, we have started collecting for them, as well. Every year, we are on the hunt for Santas, angels, snowmen, reindeer, teddy bears, penguins, gingerbread men, elves and Christmas mice.

When mom died, my older sister took over the hunt for odd ornaments to fit in the categories needed. My tree holds old ornaments my mom made when were kids, as well as the collected ones. Every year she had a new theme and, when we left home, she split the ornaments into fourths so we could all have a piece of home, no matter where we found ourselves for Christmas! My favorite part of Christmas is looking through the ornaments and sharing memories of them with my own kids.

— Dana Geuther,

Hesston

Cedar trees

from the farm

7. Decorating our Christmas tree has always been a family affair. Each year, we would head to the pasture to pick out a cedar tree of our choosing. Our children would carry the ax, and we all wore gloves to protect from the prickly branches. The days with snow made it even more festive. Sometimes we would chop down a little tree for each of the children to have in their bedrooms to hang their own ornaments, which we always gave them each year as a stocking stuffer.

Once the tree was safely secured in the back of the truck and we squeezed into the cab with our boots and coveralls, we headed back to the house to see if the tree was bigger than our eyes imagined in the pasture.

We enjoyed pulling out the ornaments collected during the years, which included the ones given to me each year by my husband and the ones made by the children while they were in grade school.

My mother crocheted white stiffly starched snowflake ornaments. Others were purchased during the after-Christmas sales locally. I would say the most unique ones would have to be the black turkey feathers that remind us of our farm where we have lots of poultry, including turkeys, chickens and peacocks.

— Carol Entz,

Newton

Snow the theme

of the tree

8. The theme of our tree is snow. It has white lights and an assortment of white balls and many snowmen. It also has snowflakes and large snowball balls. Two types of white ribbon adorn the tree, along with two strings of small snowballs. We have enjoyed our white snow tree for several years. Our four young grandchildren get to choose a snowman ornament to take home and keep to place on their tree each year.

— Tom and Jeri Schrag,

Hesston

A Victorian

Christmas tree

9. I have always had a Christmas tree. I can't remember even one year when there wasn’t a tree — not even the year we were living in the basement of our first house.

Actually, that year we bought our tree for $1 on Christmas Eve at the local nursery back in Marshall, Minn., and it was the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen.

When I was a young child, we got the leftover tree from a classroom at my school one year. The next morning, all the needles were on the floor, so my mother insisted we drive into town and get a tree they barely could afford.

So, with those humble beginnings, it seems ironic I now have an elaborate, pretty Victorian tree. The Victorian era refers to the prosperous time in England between 1837 and 1901 during Queen Victoria’s reign, so to me a Victorian Christmas tree should be very elegant and have many beautiful, unusual ornaments depicting the grandeur of the times.

The theme of my tree is “Memories — Of days gone by and of family times.” My tree is primarily pink and gold and with crystal accents. A few of my ornaments are antique, but most are reproductions. When my tree looks completely decorated, it is transformed by “stuffing” it with mauve silk poinsettias. A somewhat unique thing about my tree is it rotates so you can see all of the ornaments.

— Pat Olson,

Newton

Trains key in and

around this tree

10. Every year we put up two Christmas trees at our house — the traditional tree upstairs in the living room window, and “The Boys” tree in the family room downstairs. The Boys Tree started when my oldest son Kyle was 1. It was 1993 and his second Christmas. That year, I bought what could only be described as a Charlie Brown tree, a skinny six-foot artificial scrawny thing for Kyle’s ornaments.

Over the years, Kyle and now my stepson Douglas have lots of ornaments that have been given to them by teachers, their grandmother from California, or my mother, who traditionally hands out a Hallmark ornament to each grandchild, or ones they have seen in a store and liked. Somehow most of the ornaments are trains.

Kyle has the Hallmark Train collection and Douglas has the Hallmark miniature train collection. There are a Mickey Mouse train, a Daylighter, a Hiawatha, a crystal engine and a ceramic train that plays music. There also are “Thomas” trains and Scooby Doo on a train. We have a train tree skirt, and two trains around the bottom of the tree.

— Cathy Ragon,

Sedgwick

Tree a little nice,

a little naughty

11. I use Hallmark ornaments on my tree. I have been collecting them for 16 years. My tree is a nine-foot artificial and has a total of 1,200 lights. I enjoy decorating my tree as so many of the ornaments do different things, such as saying something or playing something. I have one that is a naughty or nice meter — press the button and you can see if you are naughty or nice — with about eight different sayings. A lot of my collection is snowmen. It is always a conversational tree when someone comes to visit as they like to look and play with the different ornaments. One of my cats also is in the picture, in one of its favorite spots — under the tree.

— Kelly Cordell,

Sedgwick

Family makes

this tree special

12. Our Christmas tree is decorated with all homemade ornaments that have been made by Terry (my brother) and Karen Menges (sister-in-law) from La Junta, Colo. For about 25 years, they made a new ornament for each family member. We used to add lots of other ornaments to the tree, too, but now we have a smaller artificial tree so now use those homemade ornaments only.

Our kids are grown with families of their own, so we have given them their ornaments for their own trees. Growing up, my parents always had an angel on top of Christmas tree, so we have continued that tradition on our tree.

We have a drum, crochet skates, sled, feed bag, sheep, stick horse, peas, hats, hooded Santa, macaroni angel, snowman, peanut reindeer, envelope mice, clothes pin candle, ceramic mice, block elves, puzzle wreath, pipe cleaner Christmas tree, Christmas spider in web, Sand Dollar, Christmas nail, mail boxes, bird feeder and wash cloth Santa. Some of the ornaments have a story to go along with them. Our decorations are simple but very beautiful to us. A “special thanks” goes to Karen and Terry for the beautiful ornaments that fill our Christmas tree every year.

— Tom and Sandi Pryor,

Newton

Tree helps youths,

staff feel at home

13. The Wiebe Media Center at Hillsboro High School is decked out for the holidays with this “Deck the Halls” Christmas tree. Decorations include embroidered towels with the theme phrase, burgundy and gold glass balls (school colors), burgundy and gold glass candles, and some natural bark-covered balls and bark cone baskets.

Snowflakes accent the tree. A papier mache angel overlooks the room. The tree is placed in a conversation area with couches and easy chairs. A portrait of John and Harriet Wiebe presides. The funds for the media center were given by the Wiebes.

Another feature in the area is an electric fireplace. It is the goal of the library staff to afford the student family a cozy and joyous place for the season.

— Anita Boese,

librarian at

Wiebe Media Center,

Hillsboro High School

Ornaments are all

cross-stitched

14. Our Christmas tree is special to our family because I have handmade all the ornaments on it. They are all counted cross stitch. There are nativities, Santas, snowmen, redbirds, wreaths, stockings, trains, candles, poinsettias and skating bears. It is always fun getting them out each year to decorate the tree and remembering when I made each one and what they mean to me.

— Maxine Williams,

Newton

Grandchildren

rule this tree

15. We have traditional children’s Christmas tree featuring bears, ornaments collected during the years and pictures of the grandchildren — with new photos added each year since birth.

— Rita Flickinger,

Newton

Loss of job makes

tree more special

16. After 15 years of employment at a local cabinet company, my husband was laid off. That was the single worst day of our lives. And wouldn’t you know, right before Christmas. So we buckled down and began pinching our pennies.

This, of course, meant less Christmas presents for our family. And the last thing on my to-do list was decorate a tree. But my husband convinced me to decorate our pink Christmas tree.

For the last six years, I’ve been collecting pink and gold ornaments. I’ve always imagined having a romantic, non-traditional tree. Our tree is trimmed with pink glass roses, beaded ivory boots and white-bearded Santa heads. Gold-laced ribbon and an antique angel tops off our Victorian-style tree. Now I see our tree as more than just a lighted display of greenery. This holiday season, I’ve been brought closer to my husband than ever before. Thank you, Mario.

— Love, your wife,

Shonna Llamas

Patriotism

is the theme

17. Many people show their patriotism through flags, lapel pins, or flags or ribbons on their cars. I find it honorable to decorate my tree in red, white and blue. Ever since 9-11, I have felt the need to support and remind myself of those who have fallen, have served and continue to serve our wonderful country.

This reminds me to be mindful of those who cannot celebrate anymore, who have given their lives and are continuing to serve our country now.

— Monica Seldern,

Newton

Our family’s

Christmas tree

18. My husband and I have three children. We both were raised in a family of seven kids, so family has always been important to us. We decorated our tree in kids’ ornaments, also ornaments made by our kids. It was our family tree. Then, as the kids got older, we had a second tree for sports ornaments since our kids played sports. Life was good.

Then, on March 1, 2003, our family was shattered. Our Brian, our middle child, was killed in a car accident. Distraught, shocked and numb, how could life go on? Life would never be the same, much less Christmas. How do you go on? How can you even care or live without one of your kids?

We all struggled in our own ways. Our oldest, Jen, came up with an idea for our first Christmas without Brian. Send a letter to family and friends to make an ornament for our tree in memory of Brian. I, mom, was hesitant because what if no one responded. Jen was determined and sent the letters out in October. People were supposed to make an ornament and bring them or mail them to our house by Thanksgiving weekend.

The response was overwhelming. Ornaments with stories poured in. We had a “Brian Tree.” Our tree is beautiful! We put up our Brian Tree every year. it is our special tree! And now my grandkids know Uncle Brian and his tree.

As we put the pieces back together to our broken family, life does go on and our Brian is always with us. Thank you, Jennifer, for your wonderful idea. Merry Christmas.

— Stacy Arellano,

Newton

Couple collects

items for 54 years

19. Our Christmas tree is our pride and joy. We have more than 300 ornaments on the tree, which includes Hallmark Collectors’ ornaments dating back to 1958, White House ornaments, handmade ornaments, Kansas ornaments, collegiate ornaments, pixies that came attached on the 1970s Ivory Dish Soap bottles, and three dimensional pop-up cards from our son and his wife. On the top of our tree is a handmade angel.

The decorations on our tree are important to us because we have been collecting them for more than 54 years. They contain lots of memories.

— Phil and Jan

Anderson,

Newton

Niece who was shot offers thanks

20. I did not take a picture of our tree. It’s just an ordinary tree full of Hallmark ornaments. A couple of ornaments made by our grandson, Blake, in 2000; an ornament my mother’s neighbor put on the Hospice tree in Enid, Okla., after her death in 2000; and an ornament that has a special meaning.

My brother’s daughter, Mary Beth Talley, was shot in the back in 1999 at a youth function at Westwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. She layed her body over a disabled friend to protect her from the shooter and got shot herself. Because she has curvature of the spine, the bullet lodged in her back differently. God spared her life.

A few years ago, she gave the family members an ornament she made. She dried all the flowers that were sent to her from well wishes. She put the dried flowers in small, plastic Christmas trees. She wrote a note explaining what it was and, on the other side, she wrote a very important message:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” — Genesis 50:20.

What a great testimony for the world to hear!

— Deanna Ray,

Newton