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Sparking JOY every day in remembrance of a daughter

This isn’t a story about clutter, but Marie Kondo’s message of choosing joy resonated with Jennifer Naylor when she first heard it in 2016.

So for the past three years, Jennifer has visited Lowe’s each holiday season to snap a selfie with a larger-than-life JOY sign, as a way to remember her daughter.

In 2016, Naylor’s daughter, 13-year-old Reese, had spent nine years battle leukemia, having undergone two bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy. Naylor said their family realized at that point they needed to focus on providing Reese with the best quality of life, so they adopted the mindset of only choosing joy. Soon, the Naylors’ friends and families also were tagging them on social media when they saw joy-related objects.

All that joy carried Reese through until her passing in August 2016. Choosing joy has now taken on even deeper meaning for Naylor, who continues to collect joy décor and objects.

That was also the same year Lowe’s began using a 6-foot tall, light-up JOY sign as part of its holiday display. On a visit to Lowe’s in Derby, Kansas, Naylor saw the sign and couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a photo with the decoration. Then she did it – again and again and again – every time she went in the store.

The next year, Naylor knew the sign was coming out for the holidays, so she challenged her social media connections to take a photo with the sign and spread the joy. Soon, #choosejoy was popping up frequently on her Facebook timeline from friends close by and far away.

“It’s my way to keep her legacy alive and keep her with me,” Naylor said.

Store Manager Danny Wimberly said the JOY sign is a popular photo backdrop during the holidays, and Naylor didn’t draw attention to herself when she visited the sign. This past holiday season, when store employees heard why joy was meaningful to Naylor, it was an easy decision to give the sign to her. They delivered the sign shortly before Christmas.

“I didn’t expect a big company like Lowe’s to even notice the small people or be so giving,” Naylor said. “I was just really moved.”

The gesture is just one of the ways Lowe’s is serving Naylor. Naylor also is in the process of renovating her kitchen, which she uses for her cooking show, “The Joy Kitchen.” Unfortunately, due to the size of the JOY sign, it won’t be making regular appearances on her show.

Naylor said her family displayed the sign outside their home during the holidays, but it’s currently in storage to protect the sign from long-term exposure to the outdoors. She plans to take out the JOY sign during the holidays and special occasions, as a remembrance of Reese.

“I don’t get to be her mom in the physical sense so this is my way to still be her mom,” Naylor said. “It’ll keep her more present as the years go by. It’s a big deal to not let her be forgotten.”