Spreading Christmas Cheer With A Mini And A Tree
Photography by Laura Kukuk
I must admit, this year I have simply not had the time to start feeling “Christmassy,” no time to get into the mood and even less to prepare for all the festive occasions approaching much too quickly.
Then again, I don’t necessarily want the stress that holiday cheer always brings along with it… At the end of the day, it’s the time of the year when we should be focused on love, happiness, sharing, and our friends and our families, not necessarily gifting yet another iPhone. We should all take these days at the end of the year to reflect on the past, our goals, our relationships, priorities, and how to strike a balance between them. Take time to go for that coffee with your friend you have been delaying for weeks, call your mother, be present, and simply try to spread positive energy.
And what better way to do so than with an adorable car and a Christmas adventure? The first thing that came to my mind for said adventure was, of course, getting a Christmas tree. Picking out a tree is enough to put most in the spirit of the holiday, but this year I wanted to make it extra special, not simply drive over to the nearest market to choose one of the hundreds of perfectly wrapped trees—no, I wanted to do it right! What does that mean? Well, hunting one down and cutting it yourself, for starters.
With that goal in my mind, I wanted to put a certain twist on it in order for me to share this experience with as many people as possible, you know, spreading cheer and so forth. Being a car girl that obviously meant I was soon searching for the perfect car for the wintry mission ahead. Having owned a Mini before (a 1992), I have always wanted to create an image which makes the car look as tiny as it really is. I approached the guys from BMW Group Classic with my idea, and they loved it, offering to let me borrow their 2000 model year Mini Cooper in a very fitting paint scheme of red with white stripes. So, step one done: the perfect tree transporter was arranged.
Then of course, we needed to wait for the snowy season, and by now it has started coming down in Germany, and the night before these photos were taken I drove through a true snow storm. And yet, the next day saw almost none of it left on the ground. A sad fact, but that didn’t stop us from moving forward with the plan and making everyone smile anyway as we brought some classic Christmas vibes into the city of Munich. Here’s how it all went down.
Start of our mission: Pick up the Mini at the BMW Group Classic headquarters, always a great visit which I can highly recommend to everyone who has not been there already. BMW Group Classic is located in the old building of the original “Bayrische Motoren Werke“ factory, which they have moved back into following an historically sympathetic restoration completed in 2016.
There are all manner of Bimmers in the collection here, but that’s for another time. Let’s jump into the little red Mini and get going! After a quick pitstop in the DIY shop to get the last few pieces of gear to bring our Christmas tree home later, we make our way towards Markt Indersdorf. Who would have thought that there are quite a few places around the area of Munich where its possible to cut your own tree in the woods? We head northwest, towards the family-owned business with a huge selection of the majestic “Nordmann” trees.
Arriving, we are warmly welcomed in; the news of our mission has spread it seems. We are here to cut the biggest possible tree which we can fit on the roof of the tiny Mini, an idea that once explained to the employees is met with laughter before they realize we are serious and not just posing for a staged photo. A hacksaw in the boot and off we go, making our way into the tree farm, up a tiny little path worn into the field.
We eventually arrive in front of a fence, and there is no way forward for the Mini or we will get stuck immediately. No worries though, we got our equipment with us and are close enough, so we start searching for the best looking, biggest Christmas tree we can muster onto the roof. Our criteria: a tree taller than two meters.
Soon we find our perfect specimen, standing proud and true, much wider and taller than the both of us—BMW’s Ben Voss had happily accompanied me on my Mini mission. So, we start cutting the tree, every few minutes swapping places and making slow but sure progress, and then, the moment of truth, our tree is down!
Much heavier, bigger, and of course taller than we first anticipated, we realize the “hard work“ wasn’t over yet. We made our way down a hillside while searching for our tree, and now of course, we must carry it back up said hill. Sweating, laughing, and feeing rather ridiculous, we finally arrive with our holiday loot back at the Mini, standing there in the woods beginning to doubt ourselves now that the tree and the car are juxtaposed in person. Not sure that it would fit on top, we give it our best shot anyway. You have to try, right?
I think it was during our third attempt that we finally managed to lift the tree up and on top of the tiny Mini’s roof. A few straps were all it needed to securely snuggle it down for our way back to the marketplace where we would pay and be on our way.
We packed the tools back into the boot and jumped into the car, backtracking slowly as to not cause any capsizing. The Mini looked pretty ridiculous underneath the sizable piece of vegetation, but it made me and Ben grin like kids on, well, Christmas morning! It looked silly, but to our eyes it was more than we could have asked for.
Back in the market proper, our Christmas tree was measured and came out to 2.4 meters, well above our goal and a height that we both agreed was just the perfect fit for our little red sleigh.
Quickly wrapping the tree in netting—for the drive back into Munich—we make our way home again, but the mission is not yet finished. We want to share the whimsical nature of this day with as many people we can find in person; the first people to see it at the market were already smiling joyfully at our scene, and we were sure that others in the city would feel the same way.
Every car that passed us, the pedestrians and bicycles riders too, everyone is turning their heads with the biggest smiles on their faces. We are being flooded with attention, laughter, happiness, and love. It’s perfect. The Mini is doing its job much better than we could have imagined, spreading Christmas cheer on St Nick levels. People approach us, young and old, and thank us for this wonderful bit of holiday fun, bringing a little unalloyed joy into the crazy busy pre-Christmas rush.
We stop at as many places as possible, starting with the Siegestor, pictured above. We park the Mini next to the “love” sculpture, the same message we are trying to deliver, and so a fitting backdrop indeed. Such a scene causes many other drivers to crane their necks and for pedestrians to join us in the taking of many pictures. We started a mission to bring some happiness into this season, and here we are receiving love and joy from everyone around us instead! I guess it does go both ways.
Heading down the famous Leopoldstrasse, we turn right onto the Wittelsbacherplatz, where a medieval-themed Christmas market pops up every year. A perfect spot for us to enjoy a Glühwein—without alcohol of course, still driving to be done!—while watching people admire the heavily loaded Mini.
People stop, take photos and selfies, admire the little car, and wonder why and who parked it here. Some are a bit stodgy about the rules and whatnot, but most are just curious to know whose great idea it was! We get caught up in many conversations here, people start telling us their stories, relating their own Christmas memories to us in front of the one we’re making. Mission accomplished, I’d say.
The night starts to take over soon enough as it’s wont to this time of the year, but we simply do not want to stop and so continue our trip towards Marienplatz and Viktualienmarkt. Several policemen and women are standing at the spot we were hoping to park at. I jump out and ask whether there is a chance to take a quick photo. The response was incredible, quite the opposite of expected, as every one of them wanted to take pictures with the Mini, and they even thanked us for bringing it over! Who says Germans are all about the rules? People got off their bikes, slowed down from their shopping trips, and just admired the cute picture of this massive Christmas tree drowning the festive Mini supporting it.
Back in the car we notice the fuel needle is rather low and decide it’s best to quickly stop for fuel before returning the car. We happen across a beautiful old Shell petrol station, and of course the cameras come out once more.
On our way back to BMW Group Classic, we make one last stop at Schloss Nymphenburg, one of Munich’s most beautiful places to visit and an excellent spot to shoot cars when the crowds are minimal. Back home, the Mini received such admiration from the people at Classic that it was promptly decided that the car would be parked outside for a little bit, in front of the famous gates where it could continue spreading Christmas love for just a bit longer.
Merry Christmas to everyone, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!