Oklahoma Mom Honors School Shooting Victims In Touchingly Personal Way

Tuesday, December 18th 2012, 10:39 pm
By: Craig Day

A Green Country mom, who knows what it is like to lose a child, has put up a special tribute to the victims of the Connecticut elementary school massacre.

It's beautiful, touching and in a very unusual place for a Christmas tree.

Every year, Andrea Holliday puts up a Christmas tree at her daughters' grave in the Pryor Cemetery. After all, her daughter loved Christmas. But this year, it's a tree like no other before, and one with extra special meaning.

For the past few nights, just as it starts to get dark, Holliday has been bringing a car battery to power the lights on the Christmas tree next to her daughter's headstone.

"Carissa loved Christmas so much that she'd be the first one out to go shopping and the first one to decorate the tree," Holliday said.

Carissa was shot and killed in 2009. She was only 17.

6/27/2011 Related Story: Claremore Mother Seeks Answers In Her Daughter's Mysterious Death

For any parent who has lost a child, the holidays can be an especially hard time.

When Holliday saw news of the horrible school shooting in Connecticut, she said it hurt her in a personal way. She knows that kind of shock, heartache, and loss those parents felt.

"I cried. It felt like my heart was ripped out. I knew what all those families are going through," Holliday said.

So, on this year's tree, taller than any she's put up at her daughter's grave site before, at 12 feet, she hung ornaments for each of the 26 victims killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Each ornament has their name on it. For Holliday, the big tree is a small way to show she cares.

"We do love them, we do care about them. We're thinking about them. Our thoughts are with them," Holliday said.

In a pitch dark cemetery, the tree is beautiful, not just for its strings of lights, but also for its simple yet heartfelt sentiment, which she hopes people who see it will share.

"The parents will hold on to their kids a little tighter, love them a little bit stronger and they won't take anything for granted," Holliday said.

Holliday will keep the tree up through Christmas and on into the start of 2013.