My mother, Eleanor S. Lankford, died March 8, 2006.

Her birthday is December 24, and in 2006 I wanted to do something to honor her death and birthday. It was a way to help me celebrate my first Christmas without her.

I ordered 500 luminary candles, and with the help of family and friends put them out in the one section of the Oakdale Cemetery in her memory.

The next year, we put out 1,000, then 1,500, and the gentlemen at the cemetery put out 3,000 luminaries this year.

Many of my friends were involved in the first lighting and said, “If you told me I would be lighting candles in a cemetery on Christmas Eve I’d say you were crazy!”

Seventeen years later, all the friends — and now many family members — assist, and it has become a tradition.

It is a time to reflect and heal as you light the candles and walk the path of grief that one must travel alone.

It is a personal time where you come to a quiet place and let your mind wander on the memories you have had and shared.

— Lankford is the funeral director and owner of Lankford Funeral Homes located at 220 E. New York Ave.


  1. Thank you! It has become my families Christmas Eve tradition to take a walk around the cemetery to enjoy them.


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