The 2020 R.Y.A.N. Tree

The 2020 R.Y.A.N. Tree December 2, 2020, Quail Hollow Park

God delivered a glorious day today. We had several inches of frost the tree branches and make it a winter wonderland snow yesterday—and it just so happened today was the day we planned to head out to decorate the R.Y.A.N. Tree.

If you haven’t heard the story of the tree, you can find the blog post about it here, or read about it in my story called, Random Yule Action Now (#40) published in Chicken Soup For The Soul: The Wonder of Christmas: 101 Stories About The Joy of The Season.

A few years ago, my husband, Michael, was having difficulty getting into the Christmas Spirit. He’d recently lost his son, Ryan, and the holidays, well they can be difficult now.

On one side of Quail Hollow Park, where we walk off the path, sits a tiny pine. As the only pine in the area, it stands out against all the other trees in the cold months.

So we decorated it. Now, we do it every year.

When we went to decorate it this year, I was surprised at how much it had grown.

A lot can change in a year. Who knew last year what we’d all be dealing with in 2020?

Although we call this, the R.Y.A.N. tree which stands for Random Yule Action Now, there is nothing random about the decorations we use. The tiny pair of mittens we attach were used to decorate the Christmas tree in the hospital room of Michael’s mom Patricia her last Christmas here.

We add angel wings in memory of those we’ve lost. The last item we tie on it each year is a bell from the, It’s A Wonderful Life collection—because “every time a bell rings”…well, you know the rest!

From the trail view of The R.Y.A.N. Tree

The best part is the sign we leave beside it inviting passers-by to take part in our random decorating, and Christmas joy by signing their names, and the names of those they miss at Christmas.

We’ve done many things in Ryan’s name since his death, but I treasure this one most of all. Oh, what joy this tiny miracle tree in the woods brings to us and those who find it. It puts us in the Spirit of Christmas and gives us something to look forward to in January when we head back out to the trail to undecorate it. Each signature left on the sign lifts us and we start the new year filled with hope.


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