Celebrate the life of a loved one with Light a Light

As Christmas approaches, it's easy to be swept up in the excitement of presents, late night shopping, work nights out and even talking about the weather. Although Christmas is a time for friends and family, it's easy to forget this amid the noise and bustle of the Festive Season. However, if you take a minute to think about your memories of Christmas, the chances are that it's those closest to you that will come to mind.

Whether it's returning to the home you grew up in, seeing brothers and sisters who now have their own lives far from your own, or having parents and grandparents visit, for many of us it's the only time of year free of pressure to do anything else other than enjoy the pleasure of others' company, or indulge in that most under-rated of activities - simply hanging out.

Although Christmas is a special time of year to spend with those closest to us, it can also bring sadness when we remember the family and friends who are no longer with us. Memories of previous years spent with them drift to the front of our minds, making their absence felt all the more.

In Charlotte Square, one of most beautiful squares of Edinburgh's New Town, the annual Light a Light ceremony has come to offer many a way to celebrate the life of a loved one. Those taking part can dedicate a light on The Tree of Remembrance and join with others, celebrating memories and singing carols, at a group ceremony held in the Square at 6.30pm on Monday 5th December 2011.

The tradition, established by St Columba's Hospice, has become popular. Those dedicating a light are part of the Light a Light community and are helping to provide care for over 1000 patients and families from Edinburgh and Lothians when they need it most, as all money raised goes towards running costs of the Edinburgh hospice.

For many the simple act of coming together and taking a moment to celebrate the life of a loved one has become a vital part of the Christmas celebrations. During a season when there are so many other things competing for our attention, it's a very easy way to get some perspective on what this special time of year is really about.

You can take dedicate a light at the St Columba's Hospice website. There is also a Facebook page for sharing Light a Light memories and you can also follow the event on Twitter.

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