Whether it’s baking a favorite cookie recipe, hanging an extra special ornament on the tree or attending a beloved holiday attraction like Garden Glow or Winter Wonderland in Tilles Park, one of the most magical things about this time of year are those special activities that truly make the season bright. With that in mind, we asked some local seniors about their favorite ways to keep December holly and jolly.
Doris Brown | Friendship Village
Every year, the residents at Friendship Village are invited to decorate their doors and balconies. Then one night at the beginning of December, each individual and the community itself all turn on their holiday lights simultaneously for the first time. The lighting of the community is a holiday tradition that resident Doris Brown finds magical. “It’s beautiful and very exciting,” she says. “People are scattered throughout the community. This year, I was in the dining room where there’s a large tree. After all the lights came on, we sang some Christmas songs. It was very nice.”
The day after the event, Friendship Village begins its seasonal decorating contest. Brown participates by decorating her own door, but what she enjoys most is seeing what her neighbors do. “There is quite a variety, and everything is beautiful,” she notes. “People also come up with some really clever ideas.”
The seasonal fun continues all month at the senior living community. From holiday concerts to gift purchasing and wrapping initiatives to benefit the less fortunate, there is a wide variety of activities to participate in. “It’s nice because there is so much going on,” Brown says. “After the lighting ceremony this year, a Boy Scout troop came and performed for us. Later this month, we’ll have the Christmas Ball, and the choir will perform the Christmas cantata. We also always have a Christmas coffee event to show our appreciation to the staff where we serve them.
We keep very busy here.”
Dr. Sal And Celia Sutera | The Gatesworth
When their children were young, one of Dr. Sal and Celia Sutera’s favorite holiday traditions was attending Christmas Eve mass at 4 p.m. Afterwards, they would go out to dinner as a family. While their daughters are grown now, the Suteras continue their dinner tradition. Only now, they meet annually at The Gatesworth to share a meal. “It’s marvelous,” Celia says. “The decorations are lovely. There are poinsettias and tall trees all over the community, so it is beautiful. The menu changes every year, and there is always a delicious selection to choose from. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is.”
The Suteras’ family plans to attend Christmas Eve dinner this year. It’s a welcome return to holiday normalcy after 2020. “With the pandemic, we haven’t been able to meet with one another as often,” Celia notes. “I’m most looking forward to just being together and getting to see my grandchildren. The time we get to spend with our family is magical.”
For Celia, that sense of togetherness extends beyond just Christmas Eve at The Gatesworth. It’s something she sees in many aspects of the senior living community during the holiday season. “It is terrific here during the holidays,” she notes. “And it’s not just Christmas. We celebrate everything. During Hanukkah, there is a big menorah down in the atrium that is lit every night. That’s the way it should be.”