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The Mata's decrorate Tess' grave for Christmas at Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Dec. 22, 2022. They placed two light up miniature christmas trees on either side of the tree that is growing at Tess' headstone.
Uvalde school shooting

Broken hearts lead to broken traditions in Uvalde as Mata family celebrates first holidays without Tess

The Matas never celebrated Day of the Dead before; this year they built an altar at the grave of 10-year-old Tess, surrounded by family. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, they broke their traditions.

Family members of the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary shooting held a ceremony for their loved ones during a Marcha de los Ninos rally in Austin, on Nov. 1, 2022.
Family members of the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary shooting held a ceremony for their loved ones during a Marcha de los Ninos rally in Austin, on Nov. 1, 2022.
A mariachi band sings during a ceremony for the children killed during the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, outside Governor Greg Abbott's mansion in Austin, on Nov. 1, 2022.
Jerry and Veronica Mata follow behind an altar built for their loved ones as they march from the state Capitol to Governor Greg Abbot's mansion during a Marcha de los Ninos rally in Austin, on Nov. 1, 2022.

Nov. 2, Uvalde

The Rubio family visits with the Mata's, who show them Tess' ofrenda at her gravesite in the Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Nov. 2, 2022.
Jerry Mata leaves a vanilla coca-cola drink at the head of his daughter's grave in the Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Nov. 2, 2022. Mata said that his daughter, Tess, loved the drink during her life.
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Jerry Mata motions to a table of tamales to offer Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke as he visits with the Mata family at the gravesite of Tess in the Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Nov. 2, 2022.
A woman lays yellow flowers at the head of Tess Mata's grave for Dia de los Muertos in the Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Nov. 2, 2022.
Relatives of Arnuflo Reyes, a teacher who was injured at Robb, release paper lanterns to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in the Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Nov. 2, 2022.

Thanksgiving Day, Dallas

A shirt with the phrase "My Dad is a Bigger Cowboys Fan Than Your Dad!" hangs inside Tess Mata's room at her home in Uvalde on Dec. 22, 2022.
The Mata family cat, Oliver, sits atop Tess' bed at her home in Uvalde on Dec. 22, 2022. According to the family, Oliver will often sleep in Tess' room, and run to the door when there is a knock or doorbell, as if still expecting her to come home.
A portrait of Tess hangs in the home of the Mata family, while they visit with their cousin in-law, Teresa Perez, and her daughters at their home in Uvalde on Dec. 22, 2022.

December, Uvalde

The Mata's decrorate Tess' grave for Christmas at Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Dec. 22, 2022. They placed two light up miniature christmas trees on either side of the tree that is growing at Tess' headstone.
The Mata's decrorate Tess' grave for Christmas at Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Dec. 22, 2022. They placed two light up miniature christmas trees on either side of the tree that is growing at Tess' headstone.
The Mata's decrorate Tess' grave for Christmas at Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Uvalde on Dec. 22, 2022. They placed two light up miniature christmas trees on either side of the tree that is growing at Tess' headstone.
U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) leads the Mata family, whose youngest daughter Tess was murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, to their seats before a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Examining Uvalde: The Search for Bipartisan Solutions to Gun Violence, on Capitol Hill on Thursday, December 15, 2022.
U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) shows a photograph of a child's funeral from the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Examining Uvalde: The Search for Bipartisan Solutions to Gun Violence, on Capitol Hill on Thursday, December 15, 2022.
Veronica Mata, whose daughter Tess was murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, comforts her husband Jerry, as they listen to their daughter Faith testify during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Examining Uvalde: The Search for Bipartisan Solutions to Gun Violence, on Capitol Hill on Thursday, December 15, 2022.
Christmas lights and holiday decorations light up the Memorial Plaza in Uvalde on Dec. 21, 2022.

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