By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The tradition of lighting the Lovelight tree at Colfax Health Rehabilitation Center goes back many years.
But now, for the first time in CHRC’s history, instead of a tree, the facility has a Lovelight star.
The Lovelight star was announced at CHRC’s Lovelight program December 5.
“The brilliance of many lights shining together to form a star cannot be matched. During 2012, while our facility was still under construction, Market & Johnson, the builders of (CHRC) put a star on the roof of this building. They do that on all of their new construction,” said Penny Streifel, activity director.
“The star could be seen from way far off and fulfilled the prophecy that this building was going to be done. Now its 2013, and we’re in our new building, and we are loving it,” she said.
After staff and residents moved into the new building in August, “we talked about a tree, but our tree is this high [holding out her hand to indicate a small tree on the grounds of the new facility] and it can’t be seen from very far, especially if the snow is this high [indicating deeper snow than the tree is tall]. So we decided we were going to change our tree Lovelights to star Lovelights. It is on the building now, a gigantic star that you will be able to see from all over,” Streifel told the group assembled for the Lovelights program.
“Our Lovelight star will be reminiscent of the Star of Bethlehem. It will be lit through January, maybe longer,” she said.
Light is a symbol used in the Bible.
“Jesus said that he is the light that casts out darkness, that he is the light of the world. The tradition of Christmas lights comes from this,” Streifel said.
“The light of those who have gone before us continues to shine through us every time we remember our loved ones and talk about our loved ones. We remember those who are living and those who have passed with our Lovelights,” she said.
The program included the reading of names for which Lovelights were given in honor or in memory of loved ones.
The Christmas tree that is decorated in the activity room at CHRC known as The Square was used at the old Colfax Health and Rehabilitation facility on the north side of town.
The tree is covered with ornaments, many of which were given in honor of people who once lived at CHRC but have since passed away. The ornaments often have the name of a person and a year painted on it somewhere.
“When we get the ornaments out of the boxes and are going to put them on the tree, it takes us a very long time,” Streifel said.
“We say, ‘oh, that was …’ and then we pick the next ornament, and we say, ‘oh, that was …’ It took us a couple of days and awful lot of ‘ohs’ to get the tree decorated,” she said.
The tree in The Square is quite old, Streifel noted.
“I’ve done some checking, and a new tree of this size is anywhere from $1,500 (to over $2,000). That’s one thing I’m shooting for is to get a new tree so we can continue the ornament tradition on a very large tree,” Streifel said.
Although the Christmas tree in The Square looks absolutely lovely with its variety of ornaments, Streifel says the tree might not be too stable, and that she hopes it lasts for the rest of this Christmas season.
“Every year when the maintenance men put the tree up, they tell me it’s in such bad shape, they do not think they will be able get it together and that it will be a miracle if it stays together. So, it’s a miracle that the tree is up. And I do believe in miracles,” Streifel said.
“Still, it’s time to get a new tree,” she added.
The list of Lovelight names will be published in the Colfax Messenger’s annual Christmas edition.