VNA & Hospice's Tree of Memories a way to remember loved ones

A wooden sign marks one of the locations for the Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice’s Tree of Memories. Porcelain doves inscribed with the names of loved ones will be placed on trees in Alton, Meredith, Wakefield and Wolfeboro.

Preparations are underway for the 24th Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice Tree of Memories, a celebration of life and remembrance.

This annual event will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at four locations: the Medical Arts Building lobby at Huggins Hospital, Wolfeboro; Wakefield Town Hall; Moulton Farm, Meredith; and the Pearson Road Community/Senior Center, Alton.

The Tree of Memories is a way to remember family, friends and neighbors by placing an inscribed porcelain dove, a symbol of serenity and peace, on one of the lighted trees. The VNA & Hospice said many local clubs and organizations also honor past members with doves.

“The touching ceremonies involve lighting of the tree, sharing of music and prayers, words of comfort, reading of names and placing doves on one of our evergreen trees,” the VNA & Hospice wrote in a news release.

The tradition began 24 years ago after Shirley Richardson and her now late husband, Bob, visited Cape Cod during the Christmas season. They remembered her parents during a ceremony organized by a local hospice organization that included placing an inscribed seashell on an evergreen tree. “It was such a profound experience that Shirley brought the idea to the local hospice organization in Wolfeboro, and in 1995, the first Tree of Memories was established,” the VNA & Hospice wrote.

Since then, hundreds of doves have been placed on trees each year, where they have remained throughout December.

Proceeds from the sale of doves are used to improve the quality of life for people living in the Lakes Region communities served by Central VNA.

For more information or to purchase a dove in the name of a loved one or friend, call the VNA & Hospice at 569-2729 or (888) 242-0655 or visit www.centralvna.org. The deadline for purchases is Tuesday, Dec. 3, but it’s not necessary to buy a dove to attend one of the remembrance celebrations; everyone is welcome.