By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

In a blog we posted last week about “Five Ways to Make this Holiday Season More Magical for Older Adults”, one of the tips Meghann Giarraputo, Gardant’s Director of Memory Care, shared was asking your loved ones about their favorite holiday memories. Your loved ones will benefit from the time and attention, and you will be filled with a cherished collection of their remembrances, she noted.

We asked residents of the assisted living and memory care communities that Gardant manages about their favorite holiday traditions and memories. We will be sharing them with you during the holiday season.

Here are the first ten:

Doris C., a 91-year-old resident of Cambridge House affordable assisted living in Maryville, Illinois
When I was little, we were every poor. We never had money for sweets. But we knew at Christmas, we’d get candy in our stockings. That was the best part. My Mama liked to make taffy. She’d make it, and us kids would stretch it and pull it all over the house. She’d never minded if we made a mess or dropped any because she was so kind and gentle. She made Christmas very special for us.

Betty B., a 93-year-old resident of Prairie Winds affordable assisted living in Urbana, Illinois
There were 12 kids in my family. The most exciting part of Christmas was opening our one gift the first thing in the morning. My parents couldn’t afford to buy gifts, so my Mom would sew each of us an outfit out of flour sacks. I was always so proud to go back to school in my “Christmas Dress.”

Wayne D., an 80-year-old resident of Cedar Grove assisted living in Parkersburg, West Virginia
Getting a Red Rider BB gun.

Vivian, a resident at Heritage Woods of Freeport, holds her dog while sitting in a chair at the community.

Vivian, a resident at Heritage Woods of Freeport, told us that enjoying one of her mother’s special dishes is one of her fondest Christmas memories.

Vivian R., an 83-year-old resident of Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Freeport, Illinois
Our family had four children, and one of my fondest memories is of my Mother’s potato dumplings. She would make these when the whole family was over. Generations after have tried and tried to recreate her recipe . . . but none have been as good as Mom’s.

Glen S., a resident of Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Yorkville, Illinois
Every Christmas morning, we would start with opening our stockings first, having Christmas breakfast consisting of fried pork steaks and fried eggs, and spending the rest of the day with our family.

Dick J., a resident at Heritage Woods assisted living in Noblesville, Indiana
There were six children in my family, and we each got one pair of socks, a t-shirt and a small gift. The gift was not wrapped, and we would pick what they wanted.

Mable S., a 94-year-old resident of Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Rockford, Illinois
Every year, the boys went out and cut down a Christmas tree – they would just go out onto people’s land with permission of the landowner and pick one out. Sometimes, they would just cut off the top of a tree because they were the prettiest. We celebrated on Christmas Eve with a traditional Swedish meal – Lutefisk; ham; meatballs for those who disliked Lutefisk; and rice pudding with a cinnamon stick. After dinner, we would walk down to church for the Christmas Eve program.

Carol B., a 75-year old resident at Prairie Living at Chautauqua affordable assisted living in  Carbondale, Illinois
Decorating the Christmas tree with homemade ornaments made with cookies and stringing popcorn and cranberries. After Christmas, putting the live cut tree out in the yard for the birds to enjoy.

Glenda, a resident at Eagle Ridge of Decatur, stands in front of a tree at the community.

Glenda, a resident at Eagle Ridge of Decatur, shared a story about the time her brother went missing on her watch. After a frantic search, she and her sister found him hiding behind the tree, opening all of the presents!

Glenda G., a resident at Eagle Ridge affordable assisted living in Decatur, Illinois
My favorite holiday memory was when I was babysitting my sister and brother while Mom and Dad ran to the store. My brother was 2.  All of a sudden, he disappeared. My sister and I looked and looked for him. She yelled and yelled. Finally, he answered her. He was hiding behind the Christmas tree where no one could see him and was opening presents until he found the ones that were his.

Barb B., a resident at the Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Gurnee, Illinois
My favorite holiday memory was when I hosted a Christmas Eve Party for my neighbors. The party went so well that it seemed like it was going to be a perfect Christmas. After the party, I washed all the dishes and was so excited to wrap gifts for the children with my husband. We stayed up until 5 a.m. We had five children and were looking forward to seeing the looks on the faces of our twins as they got their very first bikes. Their looks were priceless; I can see it now.

Later on Christmas Day, after serving the first round of turkey, my husband thought it would be a good idea to place the turkey on the floor. Our dog thought he was being rewarded for something and helped himself. The dog was generous enough to leave a turkey leg for the rest of us. I rested for days afterward because I was just so tired. Nevertheless, it was the best Christmas ever.

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