HANFORD — The holidays can be a joyous time, but they can also be a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones.
In an effort to ease some of that pain and honor the memory of those who have died, Adventist Health Hanford Home Care Services will once again hold its annual Tree Lighting ceremony.
Meredith Starrett, community liaison for Adventist Home Care Services and the event’s organizer, said the focus of the ceremony is to help people who are in a period of bereavement get through the holidays .
The tribute will take place at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 in the courtyard patio on the east side of Adventist Health Hanford, 115 Mall Dr. Families and kids are welcome. Hot cocoa, cider and finger food will be served.
The evening will feature several guest speakers, including a pastor from Lemoore who will talk about grieving and getting through the holidays, and a performance from the Lemoore High School choir.
There will be a both a tribute booklet and a basket of ribbons with the names of attendees’ passed loved ones.
Towards the end of the ceremony, artificial candles will be lit and the person who purchased the tree top star will then light the 12-foot tree.
The tree will stay lit throughout the holiday season and will be visible from the east side parking lot of the Adventist Health center.
Tribute gifts are available for the event through Home Care Services:
- $100 acrylic memorial keepsake (inscribed with your loved one’s name)
- $25 memorial ornament
- Memorial luminaria – 1 set for $25 or 2 sets for $40.
- Candles – 10 for $35
Any money raised from the ornaments, keepsakes, candles and luminarias will go to benefit home care and hospice services. There is still a little time to purchase these items by contacting 537-2860.
Home Care Services has been doing the tree lighting for several years and about 70 people attended last year, so Starrett really hopes the community event continues to grow.
The ceremony should last about 45 minutes to an hour and she encourages people to dress warmly.
Starrett has been through the event both when she was grieving for someone and when she wasn’t and said is a very healing experience.
“It makes you feel like you’re not alone,” Starrett said.
She also said the event is a healing experience for the hospice staff who lose patients throughout the year, because they become close to the patients and their families.
Clinical manager Laura Ainsworth said she has been a hospice nurse for ten years and every year looks forward to the ceremony.
"It is a time to rejoice with the families and remember good memories of their past loved ones," she said. "Lighting up the Christmas tree at the end of the ceremony is symbolic to the families, representing that there is still joy in this life and there will always be loving memories to cherish."