The Christmas Syndrome

December 19, 2016

·Holidays, Residents, Retirement

Christmas can be described as many things.  It’s the time of year where we come together and spend time with family and friends, exchange gifts, eat way too much and of course remember years past with loved ones who sadly are no longer with us.  Every year I’m reminded of how Christmas is a joyous time for many, but it can also be a sad time for many.  As I walk through the halls of Arbutus Park Manor, I see smiling faces of our residents enjoying the festivities throughout the holiday season, but I also realize that many of them struggle with the memories of how things used to be.  I’ve heard many of them talk about wanting to be home for the holidays and how they find themselves feeling more down at times, wishing they could turn back time.  I too find myself falling victim to “The Christmas Syndrome” thinking of past Christmas’ as a child and waking up to the sound of my Dad playing Christmas music and making Christmas pancakes, both of which he immensely enjoyed.
I think about multiple Christmas Eve services where he’d sing his signature solo “O Holy Night” and how  much I miss hearing his voice and seeing his shoulders bounce up and down as he laughed like Santa for all the grandkids he loved so dearly.

My last Christmas with him was 11 years ago and I can say with great certainty Christmas hasn’t been the same since and although I’ve tried to keep that Christmas morning tradition alive with my own children, my pancakes can’t hold a candle to his.  So once again as Christmas approaches I try to be mindful of how an extra smile or “hello”, “good morning”, “how are you” and of course “Merry Christmas” can go a long way.  Spending an extra 5 minutes with a resident, allowing them to reminisce or talk often does wonders, if only for a moment.  No matter what age one is, we all have the capability of being empathetic.  Every single one of us has felt that simple feeling of having something taken away and wanting it back so badly, knowing it isn’t going to happen.  The residents, OUR residents, need to know that although they may have lost wives, husbands, friends and children they are still part of a family at Arbutus, they still have a place to call home on Christmas morning, a place to have their very own Christmas pancakes made with love. – vw

Contributor: Vicki Webb is a Social Services Coordinator at Arbutus