Marlys Mittelstadt can't remember the last holiday season when her husband wasn't trying to fit an over-sized Christmas tree through their front door.
"The boys would be pulling on one end and he'd be pushing on the other," said Mittelstadt, "we finally got it in."
Marlys had been sharing the holiday season with her husband Russell for the last 53 years, up until he passed in February.
On Tuesday, Marlys Mittelstadt was sharing this holiday season with someone else ... hundreds of people from around the Madison area, who've all come together to remember the people they've lost in the past year.
"These ceremonies are one thing that help you through another day," said Mittelstadt.
For the last 15 years, Gunderson funeral home has been holding candle-lighting ceremonies, to help people deal with the loss of a loved.
Grief counselor Judy Koeppl says the group atmosphere helps people cope during a season that is usually very lonely, without the ones you love.
"In the midst of so many other people who are grieving, there is a feeling of solidarity and kind of being there for one another," said Koeppl.
Koeppl says the holidays are already stressful enough.
Add grief to that mix and some people would rather not celebrate the holidays at all.
"It's just difficult because they have a lot of memories of that person and the roles that they've played in the holidays."
Koeppl hopes ceremonies like this one will help keep the holidays happy for grieving families.
And help keep Christmas trees in the living room of Marlys Mittelstadt.
"Probably not as big or as tall," said Mitelstadt. "Probably something a little bit easier that my son can put up for us."
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