I have seen Christmas

listening and pondering

christmas_starNearly half a century ago an article I wrote was published in a Minnesota newspaper. There is much I could add to the article since becoming a resident of a retirement community nearly two years ago but the original content remains appropriate.

Some things change – the Mrs. printed before my name was standard form for 1971. Not so in 2016.

Some things remain the same – I continue to see Christmas every day.


the idea mart


nursing homes: the picture’s not all black

In submitting this piece to Capital, Mrs. McCann wrote: “The nursing home business has received considerable negative newspaper publicity recently. While in my experience as a nursing home supervisor in Rochester I cannot agree with much that has been printed, and do not at this time wish to refute specific claims, I feel compelled to inform the public that the nursing home world is not colored completely gray and black…”



nursing homes: the picture’s not all black

By Mrs. Elva McCann

In the atmosphere of a nursing home is much grief and despair, for old age for some is more discord than harmony. Working with members of a past generation does have rewards, though, such as gaining a better understanding of the intangibles of life. Christmas, for example, is more meaningful to me because, without looking for it, I have witnessed Christmas every day of the year.

I have seen Christmas:

In delight, as a grampa’s eyes twinkles when he spies a child and then rushes to his room to secure a candy to treat the youngster.

In patience, when a resident says to the nurse assisting her to her room, You are so kind to bother with an old lady like me, and the nurse never reveals that that this is the tenth time that day for this occurrence, it is an oft-repeated task, but unhurriedly guides the aged footsteps.

In devotion, as a relative visits daily to feed and fuss over a mother whose conscious mind no longer recognizes her visitor, but whose spirit undoubtedly is sustained by the attentions.

In action, when a son tangibly reminds a speechless, partially paralyzed father that he still is a desired member of the family circle by taking him home for dinner at least once a week, and for automobile rides to view the countryside he loves.

In affection, in the spontaneous hug and kiss given to a grandma as the nurse tucks her into bed for the night.

In thoughtfulness, when a faithful husband has been reminded of past happier days because someone caring for his wife’s withered body cared enough to grace her with make-up and jewelry, and to create a becoming hair-do.

In pleasure, in the quickened footsteps of a mother whose family has treated her to a permanent wave and thereby increased her self-esteem.

In concern, as residents gather in clusters and share their interest and worry when a fellow resident lies seriously ill.

In courage, of ones ill with terminal diseases who have accepted their fate, and are able to remain cheerful, and to die with dignity.

In joy, of a blind resident appreciating through the sense of smell a birthday tribute of roses.

In fidelity, when a son or daughter who is miles and miles away remembers a parent with a weekly card or letter.

In love and pride, expressed on the face of the aforementioned parent as the letter is read to him.

In caring, when the staff, after eight hard hours of nursing sixty residents, during a coffee break, rejuvenates its own spirits by planning a special party that will bring happiness to the residents.

WHEN I SEE a once intelligent, rational, full-of-life person reduced through the aging process to an irrational being, I see sorrow and my heart aches. But when I see that same irrational person rejoicing and contented because he is able to cuddle a small, stuffed animal all day long, I see love. Then I understand a little bit more of Christmas.

And I marvel at its simplicity!