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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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People can ponder meaning of season at ‘Contemplative Christmas … Through Trees’

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

After a year’s hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “A Contemplative Christmas … Through Trees” event is back on Spokane’s South Hill.

The privately funded event was founded in 2018 by Rosella Reggin and her husband, Jim. The event features themed, decorated trees that are designed to inspire reflection and contemplation.

Rosella Reggin, who has a strong Christian faith, said she thought Christmas was becoming too commercialized. She was inspired by several biblical verses that mention trees and thought it would be a good way to tell the story of Jesus’ birth.

“I never wanted to start a Christmas event,” she said. “I wanted to tell a story through the trees. We celebrate his birthday, but there’s so much more.”

Each tree tells a part of the story and some trees are grouped together. But the focus is on more than just the Christmas story. The first tree is based in the Book of Genesis and is called The Word Tree.

“We start at the beginning, the word, because in the beginning there was the word of God,” she said.

The next three trees represent the creation tree, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Another tree focuses on the angels announcing Jesus’ birth. There are 25 trees in total.

Reggin made some of the ornaments on the trees. She also made the small banners that hang on each tree that feature words of contemplation.

“It’s told metaphorically,” she said of the story. “You put up Christmas lights. And who is the light of the world? Jesus.”

Reggin said the trees are designed to inspire reflection, not be fancy.

“The trees are not glitzy,” she said. “They are all meaningful. They all have a message.”

Each person who arrives gets a program and then can take their time going through the display while Christmas music plays in the background.

“Then they just browse at their leisure,” she said.

There’s a space for people to sit down and have hot chocolate and cookies before they leave.

Marie Hartis discovered the event in 2019.

“It’s a very small, intimate gathering,” Hartis said. “I was blown away. I thought it was beautifully done. I went back the next two nights, and I brought people. I was so excited.”

Hartis liked the event so much she now handles marketing for the couple free of charge.

“They just did this as a labor of love for the community,” Hartis said.

Hartis has made it her mission to spread the word of the event. “We’re hoping that, after 2020 and being shut in, people come,” she said.

The Contemplative Christmas event runs from 4 to 8 p.m. daily Dec. 15-19 at Undercliff House, 703 W. Seventh Ave. Admission is free. Any donations made during the event will benefit the Union Gospel Mission children’s camp. A different charity is selected each year to receive any donations.

The Reggins and a crew of volunteers spend several days setting up the event. Rosella Reggin is dedicated to keeping the event going, even though the couple now live in Phoenix.

“It’s been a bit challenging coordinating it from a distance,” Reggin said. “We couldn’t do this by ourselves.”

The couple do, however, fund the entire event by themselves. They purchase the live trees each year using money from their own pockets. The trees are sold at the end of the event, but the money raised by doing so is given to whichever charity is the beneficiary of the event that year.

Reggin said she’s been looking for a sponsor to help fund the event, but hasn’t found one yet. If she can find a sponsor, she’d like to have the event open longer. But even if she has to continue funding the event herself, she’s determined to continue it and grow it.

“As long as we have open doors, we’ll keep doing it,” she said.

Correspondent Nina Culver can be reached at nculver47@gmail.com.

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