[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]GREEN RIVER– As Kristine Lessard was growing up, her family’s Christmas tree was exactly what most people would expect for someone whose father worked in the timber industry.
“You’d run up in the timber and cut a tree. Bulbs, garland strung all over the place,” Lessard said. “Christmas was always a comfort, and a warm and safe time.”
For as long as Lessard can remember, she has always loved Christmas. Now, as an Administrative Assistant for the Green River Parks and Recreation Department, she has brought her love of Christmas to Green River City Hall.
“I think I’ve got 24 trees in here this year. I decorated 20 trees, over six feet tall, by myself. I don’t really like to considerate it a tree unless it’s six feet. Otherwise, it’s just a decoration,” she said.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1545009308404-4fb191f9-9831-7″ include=”221077,221074,221070″][vc_column_text]With over 24 trees displayed throughout Green River City Hall, Lessard believes everyone will be able to find at least one that fits their style and comfort. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Sprucing the Holidays Up for Her Kids
Lessard’s love for Christmas developed early on in her childhood, but she did not get involved with making and decorating Christmas trees until 18 years ago, in 2000.
“As you grow up and go through life situations, you realize just how good that Christmas feeling was when you were a kid,” she said.
In the year 2000, Lessard’s family was going through a rough time with the loss of Lessard’s daughter.
“The kids were really going through a lot,” she said. “Just to spruce things up for my kids, I wanted to change up their holiday. I didn’t want them to focus on everything else that was going on. So I started doing these, what I call ‘Specialty Trees’.”
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Though Lessard will tell you her trees are “nothing special”, most people who see them would disagree. She coordinates the colors of the trees, and some are themed, to create a one of a kind Christmas tree.
“I don’t like to do a lot of repeats,” she said, explaining that she does not like putting her trees in the same spot year after year.
As Lessard began creating her trees for her family, her kids started to get excited about what she would come up with that year.
“My kids were finding so much joy and excitement in it,” Lessard said.
Pretty soon, people outside of her family started asking her to make them a tree.
“When I’m decorating, I find such peace, because I have to concentrate on what I’m doing,” she said. “And with Christmas being my favorite, it’s like I’m being taken back to that warm and safe time. I guess it just got carried away.”[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1545009308410-4c34a96c-2611-0″ include=”221080,221081”][vc_column_text]
“All of this village stuff actually belongs to my son, but he made the mistake of asking me to store it, so that means mom gets to do what she wants with it,” Lessard said.
Finding Peace in Creating Trees
Decorating trees became a personal therapy for Lessard. She is able to lose herself in her work and feel herself being taken back to the comfort she felt as a child during Christmas. However, her trees mean so much more to her than a means of healing.
“My joy comes in what I give to people that have nothing to do with me,” she said. “They don’t know me, they probably wouldn’t recognize me if they see me on the street.
“But when they see a tree, even if they want to be gruff and bah-humbuggie, you can catch them staring a little longer at it and trying to make something light-hearted out of it. To me that’s the ultimate reward, because I have brought their inner-child back out.”[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1545009308414-a651a538-8958-4″ include=”221069,221079”][vc_column_text]
Left: These are toys from her mother’s, her own, her children’s, and her granchildren’s generations. “I want these toys to bring out people’s memories from their childhoods. Right: This Christmas-themed checkerboard is sitting in the City Hall break room. “I want people to come in and play and be comfortable. I caught some of our rec guys playing this earlier. One of them was one of our bah-humbug guys, so that was cute,” Lessard said.
Her Trees Are A Gift to Whoever Sees Them
Though the trees take a lot of work and time to create, Lessard truly believes they’re worth it as long as she can make someone feel the warmth and comfort they felt as a child. Her trees are her gift to whoever sees them.
“I guess I would say, my purpose is my sanity, and my passion is just giving the joy and comfort to everybody,” Lessard said. “You know when people come through here and see these trees, it takes them somewhere. I just wish I could have their memories put out here so I can see them.”[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1545009308419-98202a73-8557-3″ include=”221075,221076”][vc_column_text]
These trees can be found in the City Council Chambers. The bulbs on the multi-colored tree were a Christmas present from one of Lessard’s kids. “They all know my passion for Christmas,” she said.
A Team Effort
Lessard likes to look at her trees as a team effort.
“Even though they may be my trees, it wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have the governing body agree to it, a supervisor that that allows me to juggle to get it done, and a coworker that helps me decorate,” she said.
That coworker is Debbie Hansen, Administrative Assistant for the Green River URA/Main Street.
“She’s the first person outside of my family that I’ve been ok with helping me. We work well together. We balance each other out,” Lessard said.
“We have a lot of fun doing trees together,” Hansen said.
They even end up trying to put ornaments on the same place on the trees at the same exact time.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1545009308423-ecbdefd2-4877-8″ include=”221071,221072,221073″][vc_column_text]
This is the view visitors to City Hall see when they come by the URA/Main Street office. Debbie Hansen decorated the office, and Lessard believes it is the most beautiful decorated area in all of City Hall. “The only time I’ve ever fallen off a ladder after hundreds of trees was when I was helping Debbie with that tree,” Lessard said.
Come In and Enjoy the Holiday Spirit
Something Lessard, the city council, and Mayor Pete Rust want the community to know is that City Hall is the residents of Green River’s building.
“I like to think of these trees as our gift to the city, so come in and enjoy it,” Lessard said. “You don’t have to just come in to pay a bill or file a complaint. Come in and enjoy. It’s your building.”
During the Mayor’s Tree Lighting, the city employees invited the community into City Hall to check out the trees and decorations.
“It was so fun to see people come in and be taken back to their childhoods,” Lessard said. “It was fun to see the kids have fun and play, and to see this stuff bring them joy.”