Utah family creates, ‘Angels Among Us’ Christmas tree in tribute to daughter, mother

Nov 29, 2022, 3:54 PM | Updated: 5:26 pm

SANDY, Utah — A more than 50-year-old Utah tradition, the Festival of Trees features extravagant trees, wreaths, hand-made gingerbread houses, and quilts for families to walk through and enjoy.

For many families though, it’s an event about more than just the spirit of Christmas.

Janet Shumway was there Tuesday afternoon putting finishing touches on the tree she and her family created.  Decked out in white and gold, she explained the tree was in honor of their daughter, Katie McKay.

“Two and a half years ago, she had twins and then an hour and a half later, she had a brain hemorrhage and she passed away,” Shumway said. “We took her off life support three days later.”

This tree, like so many others, stands as a tribute to a life lost.

“We entitled it Angels Among Us because we have felt her presence near especially in that home with her sweet little twins and then she had a 3-year-old as well,” Shumway said.

Shumway showed me a photo of two bright-eyed 2-year-olds, a boy and a girl on her phone background, Katie’s twins.

“We know that she’s there, the babies know her, they know her face, they like to look at pictures of her, they know their mom,” Shumway said.

A photo of a smiling pregnant woman sits to the right of the tree.

“The picture here was taken the day before she went to the hospital and they decided to do a C-section on her,” Shumway said. “So we were able to get a photo of her pregnancy before she passed.”

Despite the challenge of losing a daughter, friend, mother, and sister, Shumway said her family saw many miracles that carried them through that time.

“We had the siblings of her husband and of her come over with their individual families and they each put an angel on the tree,” Shumway said. “And if you notice there’s subtle angels in the tree….reflecting the light of which she carried. She was a beautiful woman inside and out and we’re just blessed that we had her as long as we did.”

Katie’s tree, “Angels Among Us,” will be up for a silent auction along with hundreds of other trees, wreaths, quilts, and other items.

All funds raised from the Christmas products will support patients at Primary Children’s hospital.

Shumway agreed to share her family’s story with KSL in hopes it would encourage others to attend and support the Festival of Trees event. She said she had children traveling from as far as California to see Katie’s tree.

Festival of Trees will be held at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy, Utah Nov. 30 – Dec. 3.

Tickets can be purchased here. 

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Utah family creates, ‘Angels Among Us’ Christmas tree in tribute to daughter, mother