Part 14: Christmas is in the Air

Thanksgiving is over; all the weary travelers are back. It wasn’t an easy year to connect with family, particularly in the east; lots of snow, blizzards and airline delays.

Margery's Friends with a Community Christmas TreeNow we’re full time into the holiday season. Every year, our place looks wonderful with decorated fir trees and poinsettias. When you walk down the corridors you’ll see lovely wreaths nestled on residents’ apartment doors. The Nativity scene display will be seen in the living room. With sundown Dec. 16, Jewish residents begin observing the seven days of Hanukkah. There will be a menorah at the entrance to the dining room for the seven nights of candle lighting.

Just the other day, there was a notice in our mailboxes suggesting where our holiday visitors should park. It’s a busy time with people in and out and lots of congestion. We have a private dining room here that gets reserved well in advance for parties for friends and family at this time of the year.

One of the annoying issues most of us faced when we moved here was downsizing, which resulted in stuffing our small amount of basement storage space to the hilt. And then Christmas comes along and we face the challenge of grabbing through golf clubs, suitcases and whatever else to get the Christmas tree and ornaments out. There are lots of gripes, but the results are some beautifully decorated apartments. We’ve lived a long time and have accumulated some wonderful ornaments and decorations.

This place is more than six years old now, and some nice holiday traditions have developed. One of the nicest is the annual residents’ gift giving to the employees. Since tipping is not allowed, the Resident Advisory Committee (RAC) organizes a fund drive so each of us can annually gift our staff for the wonderful services they offer us throughout the year. It is quite clear from the surprise and pleasure on the recipients’ faces that the residents are very generous. Last year, when I was Chairperson of RAC, I had the heartfelt pleasure of being the one to distribute the gifts in front of the assembly of residents. I got lots of hugs and tears of pleasure, a very happy event for all of us.

The Holy Corridor

It happens that a much-loved monsignor of the Catholic Church is a resident here. He offers daily Mass for those interested, and at Christmas he officiates at a Christmas Eve Mass. The first year he lived here, not only did residents attend but large numbers of community folks arrived. Our place could not handle the numbers. Now the Mass is reserved for residents and their guests.

The Resident Monsignor at Margery's CommunityWe also have a Methodist minister and his wife living here. The two clergymen by chance live on the same corridor, which is nicknamed the Holy Corridor.  Some wish a Rabbi would move in. I haven’t heard of that happening yet. I have a friend who would like to consider moving to a larger apartment in the building but won’t make the change because she lives on the Holy Corridor.

Holiday Activities

The Lodge’s December calendar is filled with holiday events, which is great. Here are the in- house choices: St. Andrew Handbell Choir; Resident Party for Employee Appreciation Fund Distribution; Carols by the Rock Canyon High School; Christmas Sing Along; Hanukkah Happy Hour; Holiday Movie, “Miracle on 34th Street”; Dickens Carolers and Confections; Platt River Second Graders Perform; Ukrainian Holiday Egg Decorating and Confections. If you chose to go out and have reserved a ticket, Lodge transportation will take you to: A Cambridge Christmas; A Hanukkah Celebration; The Nutcracker; Zoo Lights and Dinner; How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Amahl and the Night Visitor; A Classic Parker Holiday; Holiday Brass; Let it Snow; Big Band Christmas; Let All the World in Every Corner Sing. If anyone is bored, it’s their own fault.

It is not just December. but every month is filled with myriad activities to choose from. That’s one of many advantages in living at a senior retirement community. The management is able to provide the choices that most of us would never have had if we continued to live on our own. I know I would never have arranged to go to see Amahl and the Night Visitor if I lived on my own. However, living here, in our monthly sheet of activities, I read about the opera being performed in the area. I signed up here at the concierge desk to reserve my seat. They bill me and at the appointed time I took myself down to the lobby to board the bus with a number of my friends and to attend the opera. Not at all bad. On Christmas Day there will be a special Holiday Brunch, which my friends tell me is wonderful.

As I have in the past, I will spend the holidays with my family in the mountains. Lots of snow this year. I’ll be back for New Year’s and plan to attend our New Year’s Eve party—A Night In Morocco. So, Happy New Year and on to 2015.

This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”