CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – To people passing by it may just look like another giant Christmas tree. But for the family who donated this year’s West Virginia state Christmas tree, it shines not just with lights but also with priceless memories.

The family who donated the tree wants people to know why they call the giant Blue Spruce Andrea’s tree.

“These are my cuttings, the last couple of summers I had to cut a pathway to my front door where it had gotten so big,” explained Michael Buchanan while walking around the tree on display now on the Kanawha Boulevard side of the complex.

Buchanan has been a West Virginia Treasury employee for 36 years. He picked the tree up as a sapling at an employee appreciation event more than two decades ago.

His family was renting a home at the time so he and his young daughter planted it in a bucket where it grew until the family bought their own home.

“We planted it in the front yard where it has outgrown its britches so to speak,” he said.

Those memories made with his daughter Andrea and the tree are now more dear than they could have ever imagined they’d be. Andrea passed away in a car accident at the age of 17 coming home from school. She’d have turned 30 this week.

“I hated the fact of just cutting it down and hauling it away with what it meant to me and knowing the fact that my daughter helped plant it,” Buchanan said. “So I reached out to some friends of mine in the Governor’s office who helped me get this going.”

He said it looks even bigger in the shadow of the dome than it did in their lawn in eastern Kanawha County. A tree grown with love now honoring the life of a daughter gone too soon.

“She won an award one year at school called the Citizenship Award that was given by one of her teachers for being the kindest kids in class. She was helping others and always being there to support other people. And she always had a big heart and a kind soul,” he said.

Buchanan hopes those qualities are what people will think of as they look at the tree this holiday season. “Think of that, yes. Think of my daughter.”

Buchanan kept some cones from the tree. He’s hoping to start over with the seeds.