By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

The focus of our blogs during this holiday season are on the favorite holiday memories and traditions of residents of the assisted living and memory care communities Gardant manages.

As Meghann Giarraputo, Gardant’s memory care director, noted in a recent blog, asking your older adult loved ones about their favorite memories is one way to make the season more magical. Your loved ones will benefit from your time and attention; you will be filled with a cherished collection of their remembrances.

We highlight the memories and traditions of more residents who live in Gardant-managed communities:

Terry, a resident at John Evans Supportive Living, will never forget the Christmas when he got his first car.

Terry, a 68-year-old resident of John Evans affordable assisted living in Pekin, Illinois
When I got my very first car – a 1952 Ford!

Lanor, a resident of Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Batavia, Illinois
I was living with my aunt and uncle, and my father and my brother came to visit on Christmas. They built a model train while we enjoyed the many homemade baked goods that my aunt prepared. I also loved watching my dad and my uncle peeling apples while telling stories.

Janice, an 88-year-old resident of White Oaks memory care in Williamsburg, Virginia
We would line up in the hallway, which led to the living room where the tree was.  I had four brothers, no sisters. We would go into the living room and start opening our gifts, laughing and talking. My father would read the cards on the gifts.  Sometimes it was pretty hot where I grew up even in December, but we would have a little small fire in the living room fireplace; it just made the place look really homey.  We had a really good time during Christmas; we looked forward to it.  We did the same routine every year. We would go into the kitchen after opening our gifts where we would have a cup of coffee or whatever we were going to have that morning. We would line up according to age, with my father always going first. It was just a tradition.  We had a really good time, with family all together!  

Polly, pictured-right while working on a gingerbread house with Stella, recalls fantastic food spreads and her brothers using her doll’s underwear as a slingshot.

Polly, a resident of Bowman Estates affordable assisted living in Danville, Illinois
My favorite memory was the Christmas morning when I received a baby doll. My four brothers took the doll from me and began using her underwear as a sling shot. I also remember all of the great food my mother made. She always had a big spread of food for Christmas.

Sheila, a 67-year-old resident of Montclare affordable assisted living in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago
Baking cookies with my sisters and brothers and putting them out for Santa before bed. Once my Mom and Dad were asleep, I would get up to see if Santa had come. The next morning, my Mom would wake us up to say Santa was here.

Mildred, a resident of Eagle Ridge affordable assisted living in Decatur, Illinois
My favorite holiday memory was going to church on Christmas Eve. There would be plays, speeches and singing. They also would exchange gifts at church around a real tall Christmas tree.

Carmen, an 83-year-old resident of Oasis at 30th affordable assisted living in Indianapolis
I would spend time decorating the entire house for my children and preparing Christmas dinner early on Christmas Eve, so at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, my children and I would do nothing but watch Christmas movies back-to-back until midnight. I would let them to open one Christmas gift from under the tree while singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Then, off to bed they went.

Melissa, a 39-year-old resident of GateWay at River City affordable assisted living community for adults with physical disabilities in Peoria, Illinois
The pajama race. One year, Mom got us all pajamas. She decided we should open her gifts to us on Christmas Eve so we had a race to see who opened them first. I always lost, but it was fun. We did it every Christmas Eve.

Leroy, a resident of Summers Pointe assisted living in Winchester, Indiana
When I was a kid, we would always spend the holidays at the Grandma’s house. She was kind of tight with her money, but we always had fun and ate good food.

Joyce, a resident of Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Ottawa, Illinois
My father was kind and a sweetheart of a man. My Mom was quiet, caring and calm in the thick of all the children. With excitement brewing for the upcoming Christmas holiday, my parents decided that the week of Christmas, each child would be allowed to open one gift each night. What a wonderful week it was. When Christmas Day finally arrived, my brothers, sisters and I would have one gift left to open and enjoy. It helped cut down on all the “Christmas chaos”, and left my family feeling grateful and happy to spend the day together. Each year, we have continued the tradition of “a week of presents.”

Norma, a resident of Cambridge House affordable assisted living in Maryville, Illinois
My favorite thing about the holidays is always the people. Family and friends all came together. Even the neighbors would stop by. And everyone would bring treats, such as pies and cookies to share. We would laugh and sing. But the best part was that we were all together.

Mathilda, an 84-year-old resident of St. Anthony affordable assisted living in Lansing, Illinois
Memorable yes, repeatable no. One Christmas morning I felt pain between my shoulder blades. Knowing something was not right, I sat in my front room until I was able to call my son, who was at church.  Arriving at the hospital and having tests done, the result was a mild heart-attack.  My youngest daughter brought me a unique wooden Christmas tree, which I have displayed every Christmas since.

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