David and Mercedes Rizzo's family participated in a new parish tradition: decorating a memorial Christmas tree.
There is something magical about a Christmas tree. It makes everything look festive. This year our parish is trying something new. You can purchase a Christmas tree in honor of someone or in memory of them. 75 trees now stand on the church grounds and will stay through the Christmas season. We purchased a tree in memory of our parents who have passed away. Each family who gets a tree can decorate it. All the trees have lights on them, and when they are decorated and lit it is really a beautiful sight.
Having the Christmas tree donated in memory of our parents makes us feel their presence. Many other families in our parish also dedicated trees in memory of their loved ones. Seeing the variety and creativity in the ways the trees are decorated is lovely. We chose a few special homemade ornaments and also added ornaments made by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Three generations! Wow, what a legacy.
As the years go on, we hope to continue this tradition and add to the ornaments in an even grander way. December is the month when we remember our four parents for a birthday, wedding anniversary, and anniversary of one's passing. The tree serves as a reminder of some of the cherished memories we have of when they were alive and with us.
Our daughter Danielle helped us decorate the tree. Today this seems almost miraculous to us. When she was younger, she didn’t understand why we suddenly had a tree growing out of our living-room floor. She has autism, and the excitement of Christmas was hard for her to handle. We remember the year she pulled down our beautifully decorated Christmas tree. It isn’t a good memory for us, but eventually she learned to love Christmas. That love was evident as she helped decorate this tree.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches.
Copyright 2021 David and Mercedes Rizzo
Images copyright 2021 David and Mercedes Rizzo, all rights reserved.
About the Author
David and Mercedes write and speak from a faith perspective as parents of a child with autism. They are available to speak, and have appeared on radio and other media. Visit DavidAndMercedesRizzo.com to learn more. Follow them on Facebook at Autism With The Rizzos. Authors of Praying For Your Special Needs Child, (Word Among Us Press) and Spiritually Able and The Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit (Loyola Press).