The holidays are a time of joy and togetherness for most families. For some, the holidays bring heartbreak. For some, the holidays are a reminder of what is missing. So, three Christmases ago, Marianne Asher-Chapman, co-founder and executive director of Missouri Missing, decided to do something special for families with missing loved ones.
The Missouri Missing’s Christmas Tree of Love and Hope, located in Marianne’s Holts Summit home, aims to honor missing or deceased loved ones during an otherwise painful season for their families. “We hope to bring some measure of peace to families with missing loved ones,” says Marianne, “as this time of year is not so festive to many who live with the anguish of having a loved one missing at their table. We take requests from anywhere in the country to add their person to our tree.”
Each ornament, of which their are now around 140, are handmade by Marianne to hang on her personal Christmas tree. “These ornaments are not great works of art, but they are a labor of love, and I enjoy making them,” says Marianne. “I know, first hand, the pain of getting through the holidays when you have a loved one missing, or deceased. Of course we want our loved one noticed and honored. This will be the fourteenth Christmas without my daughter, Angie Yarnell.”
That is where this began, with the placing of her own children’s ornaments three years ago. “I recalled thinking to myself there are a lot of names that belong on my tree, so I made them,” says Marianne. The ornaments come in different shapes and sizes, but all the children are memorialized in the shape of gingerbread men.
“I place a beautiful fiber optic angel on the top, advocating for love and hope,” says Marianne. “We always keep hope and never, ever give up. We, with Missouri Missing, are proud of our tree, and always look forward to more requests.”
Through December 24th, Marianne is opening her home to those who wish to see the Christmas Tree of Love and Hope and honor those who the tree memorializes.
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