LANCASTER – Holding candles that symbolized loved ones lost and softly singing “Silent Night,” dozens of families gathered around a Christmas/Memory tree Tuesday for Hoffman Hospice’s 9th annual Light up a Life ceremony. The holiday event honors the memory of loved ones who have passed away with the reading of their names, a holiday musical choir, tree lighting and an evening of camaraderie focused on remembrance.
Nearly 200 people attended the somber ceremony, which was held on The BLVD and Date Avenue. The West Coast Baptist College Choir led the crowd in singing holiday music, before City officials, including Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, Assemblyman Steve Knight, and Councilmember Sandra Johnson offered words of inspiration and encouragement to the crowd.
Johnson spoke of the pain of losing her mother and became emotional as she reflected on those moments with Mom that meant the most to her.
The choir hummed softly during the reading of names of deceased loved ones. Some embraced, while others cried quietly as their loved ones’ names were recited. After the final name was read, the 20-foot “memory tree” was lit, setting a mass of colors dancing against the soft glow of candlelight.
Sarah Cain Smith attended the Light up a Life ceremony with several family members to remember her beloved husband, Eugene.
“He was truly a good husband and I miss him being with the family,” said Smith.
Though Eugene has been gone for 15 years, Smith says she still misses him everyday, and the holidays are especially hard for her.
“These holidays bring back memories,” Smith said.