Friday, April 29, 2011

The Christmas Wreath Spring Rite - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Shared by: John Mickman

Back in 1970's, Mickman Brothers was operated out of the small farmstead where my family lived. The old farmhouse had sloping floors, breezy windows, a dark narrow staircase - and lots of love. My wife and I had 4 beautiful children, Heather, Maegen, John Jr. and Mariah - all 2 years apart. The office was behind the barn which was put together around hand-hewn timbers secured with wooden pegs. Our place was pretty cool and life was good.

Starting a new business was a lot of work, but since my office was at home I was able to spend much time with the kids. They all worked in the business as they were growing up and they all learned to enjoy doing a job well done.

Being the oldest, Heather was quite precocious, learned to 'be in charge' early in life and always had a lot of questions. When Heather was 4 years old, the whole family went shopping on Holy Saturday afternoon to pick up groceries for the next day’s Easter Dinner (since I was the oldest brother, all these family gatherings happened at our house).

This particular Holy Saturday was cold and blustery, like many Easters in Minnesota. After many trips from the VW bus into the kitchen with the groceries, I was looking forward to nice cup of hot coffee. But, when I went to close the kitchen door, I saw that Heather was still standing outside in the cold, warmly wrapped in her red & white checkered winter parka with the red beanie at the tip of its pointed hood. Her plump, rosy cheeks were about the same color as the red of her coat and her little red mittens. She was just standing there, looking quite forlorn - like she had just lost her favorite doll.

Her look was gently tugging on my heart-strings; something was wrong and I needed to fix it. "What's wrong honey", I asked as I kneeled down beside her. As she looked at me I noticed a tear in the corner of one eye. "Oh nothing daddy", she replied. "I'm OK."

I looked at the house as she had been looking, and everything seemed to fine to me; the only thing that was a little unusual was that our Christmas Wreath was still on the door. It looked great, still green and full and I had seen no reason to throw it away - being a frugal person that had been trained by parents that had gone through the Great Depression.

"Come on Heather, please tell me what's wrong. I can tell you are worried about something", I asked again. "Well", she replied, "Do you think that maybe the Easter Bunny won't bring us Easter Baskets tonight when he sees the Christmas Wreath on the door?"

I looked at the wreath on the door and I felt a little tear forming in my eyes. With all the problems in the world and with me trying to scratch out a living with our little family business, my daughter helped to bring the really important things back into focus. "Heather", I said as I held her little face between my well worn, calloused hands, "I don't know for sure if that wreath will scare the Easter Bunny away. But, let's not take a chance. You and I are going to take that wreath down right now - just in case. What do you think about that?"

In return, I received a daughter-to-father smile that only dad's get to experience. A smile from way down deep in your daughter’s heart that fills you up like nothing else can. Beaming in this way Heather said, "OK daddy, let’s do it right now". Then, together my daughter Heather and I took that Christmas Wreath down and put it in the garbage can.

So began the John Mickman Family Tradition of displaying our Christmas Wreath on the front door of our home until just before Easter Sunday - just in case it scares the Easter Bunny away.

This plan worked well for almost 30 years. What happened? Well 12 years ago, not long before Easter, a family of wrens built a house in the wreath on our door and started their own family. And now, each Spring the wrens build a nest and raise a family in our Christmas Wreath. All guests to our home think we're a couple of pine cones short of a full wreath, but we have to keep our wreath up well into May each year as the young chicks break open their shells and grow strong enough to fly away.

So now, the Mickman Household displays our Christmas Wreath from November to May - over half the year. Some say it's crazy - right up until the time I tell them the story of my little girl Heather who was worried about the Easter Bunny!