Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Memorial Christmas Trees for Mom and Dad, by Charlene Farnsworth

My best friend, my dear mother, passed away in November 1998 at the age of 85.  This was a particularly difficult time as it was the week of Thanksgiving. 

With my significant loss, particularly at the holidays, I needed an extra push to accomplish the usual “much-to-do.”  To ease my loss and better my motivation, I decided to decorate a Christmas tree that would be a dedicated memorial to Mom.

I felt the most appropriate decorations for Mom’s tree would be hearts.  In my craft supply, I already had a variety of dainty doily hearts in red, white and gold.  There were many family members and friends who had comforted my Dad, brother Jim and me in our loss through beautiful flowers and plants and lovely cards and notes of sympathy. 

How could I use the doily hearts to acknowledge the thoughtfulness of so many?  With my own heart filled with love, it was easy to answer that question.  I went about decorating the hearts with various Christmas seals - candy canes, wreaths, snowflakes, etc. 

Added to each heart, in script, was the name of a person, family or couple who had lovingly remembered Mom and acknowledged our loss.  Fortunately, I took a picture of Mom’s unique Christmas tree to capture forever her special remembrance.

Two years later, in October 2000, our Dad passed away at the age of 88.  Again, Jim and I received a significant outpouring of kindness and sympathy from other family members and friends. 

Dad, of course, must have his own memorial Christmas tree in his honor.  Mom and I had learned how to make envelopes of various sizes when we were struggling with the art of origami.  That was the inspiration for Dad’s tree. 

I made colorful miniature envelopes of like size with a facsimile thank-you note peeking out from the top of each envelope.  These brief notes were typed in script and acknowledged each family member or friend’s personal contribution in offering comfort.  I had the good fortune to also photograph Dad’s memorial Christmas tree to reflect upon for years to come.

Although few of the people who were identified on the hearts and envelopes that decorated Mom’s and Dad’s memorial trees were present during the Christmas holidays, those who were present enjoyed the enchanting effects.  Personally, it was an immense comfort to honor and pay tribute to our parents who were no longer with us during the holiday season.


  1. Charlene, your stories always tug at my heart strings; because of your loving, thoughtful, caring,contributions. You have mastered the art of making conscience legacies for the people, experiences, and events that color your life.
    I admire you greatly!!!

  2. Charlene, each year hospice has a "Light up a life tree" for families to remember and pay honor to their deceased loved ones. It is very meaningful and helps in the healing process for family members. This is exactly what you have done, honored your parents and helped in the healing of your own heart. Your wonderful poetry is another reflection of your love. You are a woman of feeling and you allow it freedom to show itself in a positive way without letting it destroy you or your creativeness.

  3. Your character of caring comes through in those special things you do to remember your family members but also every member of our memoirs class. You have a special gift.

  4. Charlene,

    What strikes me most about this story is your amazing creativity and follow through. It is a joy to know you, and you are a gift to those in your life. Thanks for sharing this beautiful tribute.

  5. From Kacie:

    I just adore what you did in remembrance of your sweet Mother and Father. It's a great tribute. It tells a lot about you; Sweet Thing.
    God bless,