This year's Christmas party on the Memory Care Unit was an extravaganza of Santa, presents, food and music. My parents, Jude and Gord, came along and even agreed to wear Santa hats and reindeer antlers to help make the second floor south feel more like the North Pole.
It started out with volunteers passing out lefse and julekage, sweet treats from Scandinavia that probably meant more to Gudrun (above) from Sweden than to Rosalie from New Orleans. The residents that can't tolerate solid foods enjoyed chocolate Snack Pack pudding instead. Nobody seemed disappointed by this, no matter what I might have thought. After snacks, the lyrics to several well-known Christmas songs were passed out to everyone and I'm pretty sure not one of them was used. Folks either sang from memory or they didn't. Lorraine, one of my favorites, knew the words to every song and happily sung along, her tiny little mouth ringed with chocolate pudding and shaped into a huge smile. I've never seen Lorraine so happy and just that alone made the whole party worth the effort. Singing Christmas carols while using the lyric sheet always reminds me how few of the words I actually know to the classic tunes. Lorraine had it all over me there.
When the three carols had been sung, suddenly a very feminine Santa showed up, much to the delight of the residents who didn't seem to know Santa wasn't a dude. I knew there had been trouble finding a Santa, I think in the end they had to use a female employee. But it was neat because she knew sign language so she was able to communicate with Inez. I never see anyone communicate with Inez, who is deaf and mute, so that made for a nice Christmas itself. Santa brought two gifts for everyone and we assisted residents in opening them and then labeling their new stuff so that they would be sent to the proper room. Presents ranged from new shirts and track suits to socks and boxes of fancy shortbread cookies. Don, below, was thrilled with his fancy new pen and notebook and immediately wrote his name in an old man scrawl on the first blank page. Don already sports quite a fine pen collection in his shirt pocket that I comment on every time I see him. You can't say too many things about a four-color pen!
Today someone asked me if it's sad for me to visit the nursing home every week. I really had to think about it because, in a way, it certainly is. It would be nice if the folks could still be in the homes they loved, near the people that adore them, and it is sad that this is no longer a possibility. But since that's not reality and as sad as it is that the Memory Care Unit is home now, I think it would be even sadder to think of nobody visiting them at all.