The ‘Legend of the Spiders’ is not a Halloween story at our site. It is a beautiful Christmas story. It is a popular folk tale commonly shared across the Ukraine and also in Germany. There are numerous variations of the story, but most of them end up with the beautiful glistening spider’s webs creating tinsel on a tree as a gift for a family unlikely to have a decorated tree. It is the classic ‘Christmas Surprise’ story. I believe that the many trees in our Christmas exhibit include these themes: beautiful, unique, artistic, sentimental, traditional, fun, documentary, and even kind of silly (you have the right job when one of the most popular trees is the ‘Cellar to Stein’ beer tree with special beer lights from Frankenmuth.)
I admit that after 14 years of designing this exhibit layout, I have frequently experienced joy watching this team put it together, but I have rarely experienced a ‘Christmas Surprise’ feeling like I had this year when I saw the United in Christ Lutheran School’s folklore Spider tree. It is magnificent! Sandi Schmidt thoughtfully and lovingly designs a tree each year and works with the UCLS children to create the ornaments. It is always one of my favorite trees, but this year it stopped me in my tracks.
When I saw the tree for the first time it was a Christmas Surprise almost equal to my Mom’s beautiful soprano solo in our Christmas Cantata in my hometown church decades ago. As children, my brother and I would sit in the pews and experience the delight of her angelic voice with our annual “that’s our Mom” hand squeeze. Seeing the spider tree was like that for me. What an unusual theme to create such beauty.
It is a personal favorite Christmas tradition for me to read to our youngest UCLS children each early December amongst the museum trees. It is the same story these past 14 years, a story of friendship and support of the forgotten ones. After the story we tour the trees. Approaching the spider tree, I asked, “who created this tree?” The delighted responses of ‘ownership’ touched me deeply. I get misty writing about how much it means to me that our incredible children have ownership in a place that frankly, we created for them to hear and TELL the stories of their ancestors…a place where they can leave shining webs of their stories for their future descendants.
My Christmas wish is for all of you, who support the mission of this site with your time, treasure, talent, and presence, to be able to find the ‘Spider Stories’ this Christmas. I wish for you to find ‘Christmas Surprise,’ and joy in unlikely things. Because, what is more unlikely than a tiny baby bringing salvation to the world—inside a lowly, not lovely place, our Christmas story was born.
I’ll be at the museum from 10:00-Noon on Christmas Eve. Please take a little time to stop in and see me if you are in the region, or drop us a message if you are out in the world. Share your ‘Christmas Surprises’ with me. I would love to wish you Happy Christmas personally and show you the Spider Web tree. Love, Carla