A few feet away from the Christmas tree at Palestine United Methodist Church, the ground is still loose and a little soft just after a good rain.
The circle-shaped pile of dirt was once the site of the old and much bigger tree that was planted by Hugh Moore many years ago.
“I told him that tree was going to get too big, and it got too big,” said Tuney Moore, Hugh’s widow who has belonged to the Palestine Methodist congregation for over half a century.
The church used the greenery from the old tree to decorate the church, and they are using the newer and smaller tree to carry on a tradition that has been a part of Clay County for many years now.
Anyone can pay $5 to light a Christmas light on the tree in honor of a lost loved one. The money will be split between the men’s and women’s groups at the church to put together care packages for people in need in the community.
Moore’s son-in-law Keith Thompson says he spends about $25-$50 a year adding lights to the tree in honor or deceased family members and friends. His father-in-law is honored with at least two lights from Thompson and his wife of 50 years.
“I was married to my husband (Hugh Moore) for 50 years,” she said outside the church on Monday night. “I joined this church in October of 1951, and I’ve been a member ever since.”
Thompson says that the men in the church usually light the first ornaments at the top of the tree. That gives plenty of room on the bottom for the ladies who may not can reach very high.
Thompson has the tree scheduled to come on every afternoon at about 4 p.m. It will stay lit until midnight each night.
“When it gets closer to Christmas, I’ll probably keep it on longer,” he said.
Right now, the tree is already lit with several lights from people in the community. Thompson and Moore expect many more to be lit before and after Christmas.
“There are just so many people connected to the cemetery and the church,” Thompson said.
Thompson says that many send the money into the church, and members light the tree in honor of the lost loved one.
Anyone wishing to light the tree can contact Carol Sims at 494-6238 or Tuney Moore at 494-1651.