Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Lincoln is starting a new tradition: a Tree of Remembrance. Featuring ornaments hand-decorated to honor loved ones and a prize drawing, the tree will be lit at 5 p.m. Dec. 1, the first Sunday of Advent.
Kathi Woody, a volunteer on the advisory committee for the cemetery, said the staff came up with the idea as a way to give people a positive experience at the cemetery.
“Usually there is so much sadness at a cemetery,” she noted. “This is a way to create happy memories that will make it a little easier when you have to come.”
Since the All Souls Day Mass last November, clear acrylic ornaments have been available at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery office for $10 each, along with embellishments. Some people have decorated their ornaments on the spot, while others have taken them home to personalize.
“It’s a good family project,” Woody suggested.
Names are either painted on the outside surface, or written on paper and slipped inside. Some ornaments hold photographs of deceased or living loved ones; others contain prayer cards or tiny trinkets representing the person commemorated.
Each ornament will be carefully wired to a 20-foot tree set up in the cemetery’s roundabout by Festive Lights, a company that provides outdoor decorating services. That way, the ornaments will be less likely to be blown off by the wind.
Father Thomas MacLean, cemetery director, will keep the lighting ceremony brief, especially if the weather is uncooperative. People in delicate health can certainly stay in their cars and park around the roundabout to watch the tree-lighting more comfortably.
To add to the fun, there is an opportunity to win a $1,000 outdoor lighting prize from Festive Lights. Proprietor Dave Hastreiter has donated the prize. Anybody can enter the drawing, which will be held during the tree lighting ceremony.
Afterwards, all are invited indoors to enjoy hot chocolate and other treats.
Woody said that the Calvary Catholic Cemetery staff is planning to make this an annual event. When the Christmas season ends, the ornaments will be packed away for next year, when more ornaments will be available for purchase and personalizing.
She added that there is still time to pick up an ornament and decorate it before the tree lighting. The cemetery office is open Saturday morning until 1 p.m. Staff will be on hand prior to the tree-lighting to accept late-arriving ornaments and get them wired to the tree. For more information, call (402) 476-8787.
Tree of Remembrance to be lit Dec. 1 at Calvary Cemetery
Story by S.L. Hansen