WEST PORTSMOUTH — Many of us may not have heard of the “Tree of Remembrance Memorial Service” or a local tree of remembrance, but the Roger W. Davis Funeral Home has been having one for the past 27 years.
This service is a way that the Davis family found solace after the passing of their father Roger W. and now is a way for any family or individual to remember their loved one and possibly find comfort during the holiday season.
Speaking with Scott Davis, son of Roger W. Davis of Roger Davis W. Funeral Homes, he said that there was a history on how the Tree of Remembrance Memorial Service got started, but that it all stemmed from what the family of Roger Davis felt like doing that very first Christmas without their father.
Davis shared the Memorial Service is usually a very big event each year, but due to COVID, last year, they just let people come and put their loved ones names on ribbons placed them on the tree. He said that with the service back on this year, they would probably see more than 500 people like in years past. He said that people will start coming and putting on their ribbons from 3 p.m.- 4 p.m. and the service will start at 4 p.m.
The history of the tree, according to Davis, was a tree with candles that has been a part of the Davis family’s Christmas tradition for many years. On Christmas Eve, the family gathers around the tree to light the candles and celebrate this sacred night.
As the holiday season approached in 1993, the year of Roger’s death, the family felt as if they could not continue the tradition but didn’t want to let it go. As the season came closer, they found a special candleholder and decided to make the lighting of that candle the center of their celebration.
”It made us all realize the wonderful memories we had of Christmas’ past,” Davis said. “So each year, we take the special candle and holder and remember and give thanks for the wonderful memories.”
Since the new tradition was helpful to the Davis family, they looked for a way to help the families they served.
“We thought of the beautiful tree in front of the funeral home. We then searched for candles to complete the tradition, but something wasn’t right. We were missing something,” Davis said. “Thus came the bows, a way families could put their loved ones name on the bow and place it on a candle on the tree in their memory.”
Davis explained they thought of how being around family and friends helped the grieving process. That’s when they decided to have a memorial service inviting all those who had lost a loved one, and that maybe their sharing with one another would help as well.
“We also wanted to give the families something to take home to put on their tree,” Davis said. “We decided that an angel was probably the most perfect ornament we could give, being that we were celebrating the lives of those who are now angels.”
To make the whole celebration complete, Davis decided at the end of the memorial service they, as a family, would light the tree and keep it illuminated throughout the holiday season in memory of every person’s name on the tree.
“After our very first Tree of Remembrance Memorial Service in December of 1994, families came to us to tell how much that service meant to them and how it helped,” Davis said. “We decided from that day on that we would set aside the second Saturday of December every year to have this service. A once small family tradition of healing has now become a new community tradition.”
As each family arrives between 3 and 4 p.m., they will be given a ribbon to hang on the Tree of Remembrance and an ornament to take home in memory of their loved ones. At 4 p.m., a memorial service will be presented by area ministers. Following the memorial service will be the lighting of the Tree of Remembrance, which will stay illuminated throughout the holiday season. Special music will be provided by the Portsmouth West High School Chorus.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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