Family continues thumbprint ornament tradition despite Fantasy of Trees cancellation

Eufemia Didonato

KINGSTON, Tenn. — For 32 Christmases and counting, Kathy Tilley and her family have made Fantasy of Trees an annual tradition. 

“Even though my husband and I have lived away from Tennessee for five years, we still come in for Fantasy of Trees every Thanksgiving,” Tiffany Chambers, Kathy’s daughter, said. 

While quality time together, face painting, and family pictures in front of the Christmas trees are part of the fun, the thing Kathy most looks forward to each year is getting a thumbprint ornament for her tree. 

“It’s just so sentimental. So, you look at it and you see the thumbprint, and you see how every year it’s changed. It starts out little bitty, and then we’ve got some big ones now,” Tilley said. 

Tilley’s daughters and grandsons make an ornament at Fantasy of Trees each year, so the wooden mementos are adding up. 

“Too many to count. I should probably count them. I have no idea,” Tilley said.

While her daughters are grown, they still get in line at the event to keep the tradition going.  

“I’m looking around and there are little kids, and I’m like ‘oh man, they’re probably wondering what in the world I’m doing in this line.’ but, then I see kids my age and I’m like, ‘oh your mom still makes you do this, too?'” Sarah Tilley said. 

When Children’s Hospital announced it was canceling the annual holiday fundraiser this year, the sisters tried to break the news gently. 

“She thought I was joking, but then I sent her the screenshot that it was actually happening…that it was canceled this year,” Chambers said.

“She sent it to me. I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness. No, no, no. Anything but Fantasy or Trees,” Tilley said.

While the decorations and performances and holiday lights won’t be there this year, luckily for Tilley, the ornaments still are. 

Families can order the ornaments online to be delivered to their home.

The Tilleys gathered around the dining room table to make theirs, and Kathy is excited to have five new 2020 ornaments for her tree. 

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