Yesterday the electricians came over to take the lights off the Tree of Light, and I managed to persuade them to fetch the stars down for me too. This time we had over half as many stars again, although turn out at the switching on ceremony was pretty poor – it had been raining all day and I don’t think people were prepared to come out for a guaranteed soaking, no matter how many mince pies and LED candles were on offer! It does seem to be growing in popularity, but as with all things to do with bereavement, we never seem to make it into the papers and word is slow to get round. It’s a shame as those in the know really seem to appreciate it. The messages on the stars range from the perfunctory to the elegiac and can be funny, heartbreaking, uplifting or a complete mix. I’m always surprised how many of the names I recognise and how many of the relatives I remember.
My heart sank when I came into work after the holidays and found a note asking for some stars to be returned to the family. Last year a lady came in and asked what we did with them afterwards, I said something to the effect that they were ‘disposed of’ and the lady looked aghast and asked if she could have hers back. Caught off guard, I said somewhat incredulously ‘You want me to look through 250 stars for yours?’ but her lip trembled and tears started to well up, so of course I put on a bright smile and said ‘Certainly’ 🙂 I had hoped that over the course of a year that she may have realised what a time consuming job it was, but no such luck, so I spent half an hour going through the 400+ soggy stars we had this time, for her two. I’m going to suggest she asks me before we hang them next year and I will make sure I know exactly where they are so that I can take them down and save myself a bit of time!