Festival of Trees entry has special significance for local business woman

Vintage Petals co-owner Julie Puchala poses with the Christmas tree she entered in this year’s Festival of Trees in memory of her husband Brian who passed away suddenly Dec. 15. – Submitted photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Entering a tree in the annual Festival of Trees is a common occurrence for some artistic types, but Vintage Petals co-owner Julie Puchala’s 2011 entry, her first, had a particular significance. The tree was entered in memory of her husband Brian who passed away Dec. 15, 2010.

“Christmas was the time he loved with the kids – all our kids,” Puchala said. “It was always a big part of our family being together.”

Puchala explained the tree she donated to the Festival of Trees, who this year were raising funds for the University Hospital’s head and neck cancer research program, was the last thing she had been working on prior to her husband’s sudden passing.

“Something told me to do this,” she said, adding she wanted to do something in his memory.

The tree is hand made from pieces of young poplar trees from her and her late husband’s lake property, together with garland tied and wired together. “I left an area at the bottom void,” she said. “I was wanting to put something to represent family, and what better represents family than Mary, Joseph and Jesus?” The New Testament family is surrounded by garland at the bottom of the tree, which was kept simple. The remainder of the tree has been decorated.

Puchala had originally created the tree to put on display at Vintage Petals, and had just got the creation out of her house when her husband passed. The local business woman said Brian had always been supportive of her work. “He was always so patient with all my stuff at home,” she said. “In the middle of our kitchen for a good week and a half was this tree. He was always content with all my stuff all around.”

Noreen Radford, Puchala’s partner,said the tree took a bronze ribbon for the designers’ award Thursday night. Details on just how much Puchala’s tree raised for the Festival of Trees cause were not available by our deadline.

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