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Tree of Lights Tradition Continues, as Family Illuminates a New Light

Margaret Taddeo (then Margaret Bergstrom) was pregnant with her sixth child when her husband Carl died from polio in 1955. With the support of family and friends, Margaret would continue to raise her six children as a single mother.

“She was just a very strong lady,” said daughter Patty Bonfanti. “And we were lucky to have family around to help.”

In the decades that followed, Margaret saw her family grow: from six children to 22 grandchildren, and later, 40 great-grandchildren. There are a half dozen great-great-grandchildren (so far). In August 2021, they gathered for a surprise celebration of Margaret’s 100th birthday. For the most part, it was “immediate family only.” More than 75 loved ones attended.

“She loved the kids and grandkids, especially the girls,” recalled daughter Margaret Vaccaro, with a smile. “She was also a Catholic; religion was a very important part of her life and her identity.”

The Tree of Lights has been a special tradition for the family since 1999, when two of Margaret’s children – oldest daughter Mary and oldest son Carl – both died of cancer after spending time on hospice. Margaret illuminated two lights in their memory and added their names to the Tribute Book, which is on display each year at the Tree of Lights ceremonies.

In 2011, another daughter, Anne, who had worked as an aide at Care Dimensions, passed away. Margaret lit a third light. And each December, her goal was to attend the Tree of Lights ceremony in Danvers to honor those who were gone.

This year, the family will illuminate a fourth light. Margaret died last February, and this will be their first holiday season without her. There was never a doubt that they would carry on the tradition in her memory.

“The Tree of Lights was very important to her,” said Patty. “She donated for over 20 years. She couldn’t always get to the ceremony, but it was important that she made the donation and got her family represented on that tree.”

“She had such a big heart,” said daughter Margaret. “It will be nice to drive by that tree, see the lights, and be able to think of her.”

The Care Dimensions Tree of Lights Ceremonies will take place the week of December 5th, with public remembrance events planned in Gloucester, Danvers, Lincoln, and Swampscott. Learn more about how you can join us and illuminate a symbolic light for a loved one: CareDimensions.org/Illuminate.

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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore,  has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in over 100 communities in Massachusetts.

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