December 19

Residents Share Favorite Holiday Memories – Chapter Two

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.

Here is what residents had to say:

Pam M., a 75-year-old resident of Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Rockford, Illinois
My mother graduated from the Illinois Art Institute and would decorate our 1832 Colonial home in Oregon, Illinois beautifully. My father would play the grand piano while my mother would decorate. Then, after Christmas Eve Mass, the children would be sent upstairs to their bedrooms while Mom and Dad had their own private Christmas. Just the two of them. We could hear them laughing and opening their presents to each other. I can never recall my parents arguing. They were so much in love.

Janet H., who describes herself as an 82-year-young resident of Hellenic Senior Living on Shelby Street in Indianapolis, Indiana
A holiday memory that stands out for me is when I was about 14 to 15 years of age and played in the high school band at Hobart High School. I played clarinet and shared the first chair position. Our band always put on the most beautiful concerts. People came from near and far to hear us play. This was something that as a young girl made me feel special around the holidays.

Irene H., a resident of Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Benton, Illinois
When I was about five, I wanted a life-size baby doll. That’s all I wanted. When Christmas Day came, my sister gave me a gift. When I opened it up, there was a very small baby doll with just a diaper on. I threw the doll across the room because I was mad. I said this is not what I wanted. My sister said don’t be so mad. Look behind you. When I turned, there was a life-size baby doll.

Gary D., a 75-year-old resident of Prairie Winds affordable assisted living in Urbana, Illinois
My favorite tradition was getting up early on Christmas morning and going to the donut shop in Hegler, Illinois, to get the plate-sized nut rolls to eat at my brother’s home.

Myra, a resident at Cedar Grove Assisted Living, recalled being able to cut down the tree one year when her Dad was away from Christmas. Myra’s daughter shared this photo of her opening a gift in the 1970s.

Myra Z., a 92-year-old resident of Cedar Grove assisted living in Parkersburg, West Virginia
My favorite memory was cutting our Christmas tree down. My Dad worked out of town so I got to do it!

Lillie C. a 67-year-old resident of Heritage Woods of Chicago affordable assisted living 
My favorite holiday memory is being outside in the snow and spending quality time with my family.

Charlotte, a resident at Heritage Woods of Moline, decorates trees at the community. Growing up, she loved large family gatherings – complete with dinner, a special dessert, caroling and presents.

Pauline H., an 87-year-old resident of Grand Prairie affordable assisted living in Macomb, Illinois
I grew up in England. I remember that after we took the decorations off the tree, we got to drink the liquors in the chocolate bottles.

Charlotte W., a resident of Heritage Woods affordable assisted living in Moline, Illinois
Our extended family would gather every year and prepare a big meal. My sister and I would work long hours upstairs. When the meal was ready, we would bring it downstairs to the basement for the family to enjoy. We had to have the meal in the basement because this was the largest place that could hold the entire family. Every year, one of the dishes we would always prepare was what we called: Strawberry Junk – a combination of strawberry Jell-O, whipped cream and pretzels. This was a family favorite. Often times after dinner, we would do some caroling and, of course, open gifts.

Beverly M., a 70-year-old resident of St. Anthony affordable assisted living in Lansing, Illinois
I have a lifetime of great Christmas memories, but my most memorable one was when my sister and I got new bicycles. They were loaded with all the extras – a horn, handlebar streamers, a basket and training wheels. We proceeded to ride them in the house, ignoring our parent’s objections. We crashed into each other.  I fell off my bike and broke my arm.

Linda E., a resident of Cambridge House affordable assisted in O’Fallon, Illinois
I was about 5 or 6 years old when I received my very favorite Christmas present. It was a doll that was my size. When I put my feet in the straps on the bottom of her feet I could dance with her. I can’t remember the doll’s name, but I had so much fun playing with her and dressing her in real clothes.

Sally P., a resident of White Oaks memory care in Huntley, Illinois
My Grandpa’s recipe for Cheese and Pecan Danishes. My family have these Danishes every Christmas. It is one of the recipes I have always treasured. I have passed the recipe along to my son.

Ethel S., a resident of the Heritage Woods affordable assisted living community in Watseka, Illinois
We always had a real Christmas tree from the farm. Every year, as a family of 12, Mom would pop popcorn, and the kids would sit around the table and string popcorn to decorate the tree. When Christmas was over, we got to feed it to the birds.  The decorations were always home made by the girls and Mom.  We raised chickens and ducks and would have one of them for Christmas dinner; the boys would tease the girls about who we were eating.

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