Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Chris Tree

I am so stinkin’ excited about an idea that’s come to me from various sources! I’ve actually been playing around with a thought along this path ever since my hubby died in May, but I just didn’t know the specifics…until now!

First…a little background information, and then I’ll spill the beans…

My sweet husband LOVED Christmas! Now, I know there are a lot of people out there (me included) that just love that “most wonderful time of the year”. But, I’ve never met anyone that loved it as much as he did. He loved it so much that on the 25th of every month, he would watch a Christmas movie just to keep the Christmas spirit alive all year long. It was never about the gifts for him…it was purely the season. But, he loved to shop for that perfect gift for that special person in his life. For me, he would search high and low to find me a new Nativity set every year, because I collect them. But, for himself, he simply wanted others to be blessed…he never wanted money spent on him. As a matter of fact, last Christmas he announced to his extended family that he would rather they “shop” out of the Samaritan’s Purse or World Vision catalog for a gift that could be used in a 3rd world nation as his Christmas gift this year. Always so giving and “others focused” that man of mine was!

(Just a little side note: a memorial fund was set up immediately following Chris’ death in his hometown in Virginia, and all of the gifts received went to purchase goats, cows, sheep, chickens, etc. for those developing nations that Chris had such a heart for. He would be so pleased!)

Anyway…I’ve been really wanting to find away to make this Christmas season one of joy and not of dread. I, too, LOVE Christmas! And, I learned to appreciate it with child-like giddiness again because of my husband. But, this year, I’ve already been feeling a sense of dread over that season. It won’t be the same without my husband. To think of the many things that will be void during this special season because of the absence of my Chris brings me immense sorrow. So, I’ve been desperately trying to find something to replace that sorrow – even now.

So, that’s where my idea for a Chris Tree comes in! I want to put up a tree strictly in Chris’ memory (in addition to our “normal” tree) this year. I envision a tree that has everything to do with Chris…his passions, his hobbies, his loves, his journeys, etc. Celebrating CHRISTmas was so much a part of his makeup – that I can’t think of a better way to celebrate him at that time of year than by having a tree of his own!

But, I could use a little help (and...wow...those are hard words for this girl to write)! I've had so many requests from people asking what they can do for Anna and me or how can they help out a new widow? Here's a small but practical way. It’s a little daunting to think of trying to find enough ornaments to fill an average-sized tree when it’s now just under 4 months until Christmas. So, like so many of us, maybe you have some ornaments that no longer mean anything to you that you’d like to get rid of or run across an ornament or two in a flea market or yard sale that might fit Chris’ tree perfectly. If so, would you consider donating it to his special tree? If you’re interested in doing this, please contact me by direct message on Facebook or by email: leahgillen89@yahoo.com, and I’ll be happy to send you the address to which they can be mailed.

To give you some ideas of the types of ornaments I’m looking for, anything to do with…

Scuba diving
The beach – ocean
Hot sauce
Silly hats
Fire and rescue (Chris served on the fire dept. & life saving crew for many years!)
The song Amazing Grace
Superman (long story with that one)
Green Bay Packers
Fish fries
Australia - Great Barrier Reef (his dream scuba trip he took many years ago)
Anything w/ his name or initials (CAG)
Jesus (well, obviously all of CHRISTmas is Jesus-centered...but, something specific that might "look like" Chris)
Or anything else that God might lay on your heart

Thanks friends! I know this is a strange request, but I think it can be something utterly amazing with the help of others! And…it would absolutely “bless my heart” (one of Chris’ favorite expressions by the way…ha!).


  1. Great idea, Leah! I will be sure to see what I can find! Also, why not add cute envelopes with money gifts too? See how much you can raise for Chris's cause to feed the hungry: like Samaritan’s Purse or World Vision. Add those in with all the ornaments to fill it all in. Then on Christmas day open them all up as a gift to Jesus in Chris's name? Something like that. Just a thought!! It would kind of give you some form of "excitement" to look forward to Christmas day I think. :) Sure do love you gal!

  2. Awesome idea!! I love it! And I thought of him the other day as I was putting some of my DVDs away. I picked up White Christmas and just laughed. I never met someone who loved that movie as much as I do until Chris and I mourn the fact that I never watched with him (that would have been a BLAST). But he will forever be with me every time I watch it from now on... And GO PACKERS!! Love you two!

  3. Super Idea! I love this :-)

    Please send your address to


    I'll be on the hunt!

  4. What a great idea! As things get into the swing for Christmas and ornaments start to appear, I'll keep Chris in mind. Feel free to e-mail me your address: elaineolsen@live.com


  5. Great idea! My husband was a firefighter for years as well. He's currently a policeman. I am going to look for a firefighter ornament. Bless you dear Leah. Praying over you and your fam. I've never met you but you guys story touches my heart. Steph

  6. Would love to help! Have some I am already thinking about! God bless you, Leah. And I will help you remember your sweet husband, Chris. I am married to a Chris as well.

  7. I would love to help, Leah! What a great idea. I am writing down the things on the list and will be on the lookout for the perfect ornament. :)

  8. Leah, I totally understand the 'dread' part of Christmas having 3 children celebrating Christmas with Jesus each year causes us to look for unique ways to celebrate ourselves. I will look for an ornament for your tree and pass on this idea to the many grieving families we minister to on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Count me in, friend! I'll be on the lookout. <3

  10. I will soooooooo be looking out for something truly sepcial! I just e-mailed you :)

  11. What a wonderful idea Leah! It sounds as if you have some extremely special and giving friends in your life which is such a blessing just now!!! I have no idea how I'm going to get through Christmas this year since Mark died on Christmas Eve! I can't even imagine, I already start getting sick to my stomach when I think about it. Sure wish God would place some friends in my life to help me! I feel so terribly alone!!