At the beginning of December every year, a tree is dressed in our Great Room here at O’Mahony Manor, to start the festivities of the Christmas season. The Recreation and Maintenance staff pulls the tree out of storage – along with boxes of ornaments, wreaths and swags – to kick off our annual Resident Family Tree Trimming Party.
This year, however, was a little different.
Instead of our regular ‘catalogue’ Christmas tree, we decided to decorate with meaning, and put together what we have called a “Family Tree.” This Christmas season, each one of our residents and employees brought an ornament to symbolize themselves as part of our family at the Dr. Albert O’Mahony Memorial Manor.
Deanna Burns, Resident Care Manager for the facility, loved the idea.
“Over time, each of us collected a variety of tree decorations, either commercially bought or home-made, that we use year after year,” Deanna said.
“Many of these ornaments are associated with happy memories that we relive each year, as we place them on the tree. I thought it would make our tree trimming meaningful this year, if residents, family members and staff each brought one special decoration to place on our tree.”
On Tuesday, December 2, 42 residents and family members, along with Manor staff, attended the tree trimming party.
Deanna Burns welcomed everyone there and placed an angel on the tree top to open the special tree trimming.
Each participant took a turn placing their special ornament on the tree, pausing for pictures and waiting for Santa’s visit. The residents and staff who couldn’t make the event were not forgotten either, as those who were present took turns placing an ornament on the tree on their behalf.
There were many special moments. One family member brought a tree ornament that was special to the family as it belonged to their late mother and had hung on her tree for many years.
Peggy Harnett from housekeeping, who’ll be retiring in January, 2015, hung her angel ornament on the tree and hopes that in years to come it will continue to take its place on the tree as a reminder of her work and involvement at O’Mahony Manor.
She said: “I think it is the prettiest tree I’ve ever saw. The way we decorated it with old-fashioned ornaments and the meaning behind it…it’s like back in the day!”
“The tree just stood proudly as the staff and residents at Dr. Albert O’Mahony Memorial Manor one by one, hung the ornaments this Christmas season,” she added. “It reflected individual taste, memories, and all who live and work at O’Mahony Manor.”
As I stood amid the hustle and bustle of residents, family members and staff enjoying Christmas punch, cookies, and admiring the tree – I, too, reflected on the beauty of the tree, and how each ornament symbolized all the ‘family’ members who live and work here.
Some cannot be ‘home’ for Christmas; some staff will have to work during Christmas – but we hope that this tree will make everyone around us feel at home this Christmas season and remind them, as I see it, of the family that we have truly become at O’Mahony Manor. ■
This story was written by Stacey Duffett, a recreation development specialist, Dr. Albert O’Mahony Memorial Manor, Clarenville.