If a tradition can be established in three seasons, my favorite tradition as Baptist Homes president is visiting each campus during December. I enjoy seeing the attractive display of lights and the well-adorned Christmas trees that grace each campus. These lights are a reminder that Jesus, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, has come into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him” (John 1:9-10).
My favorite decorations are the nativity scenes that serve as a symbol of the true reason for the season. Every time see a manger scene, I am reminded of the words James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
These symbols of the season make the Baptist Homes campuses a happy and festive place this time of year. Christmas is a joyful time for residents as they share memories of Christmas’ past and enjoy the sights and sounds of the present. For those who take the time to listen, our residents revel in sharing memories of Christmases past. Consider the following Christmas mileposts for a resident born in 1931.
Age 10, Christmas 1941: The attack on Pearl Harbor thrusts America into war with Japan and Germany. Oranges, nuts in a box, pajamas and shoes were typical Christmas gifts.
Age 20, Christmas 1951: With the great depression and WWII well in the rear-view mirror, the economy is booming. Mechanical dolls and toy trains were typical gifts this year.
Age 30, Christmas 1961: The Norelco Santa advertisement makes Triple Edge shavers the top gift for men. Bing Crosby Christmas songs top the charts.
Age 40, Christmas 1971: Color televisions become a popular “family gift.” Many listened to The Carpenter’s Christmas on the 8-track car stereo.
Age 50, Christmas 1981: Half-million American workers are unemployed that December while inflation rages. Mortgage rates are 18.75% and gas prices top $1.00/gallon.
Age 60, Christmas 1991: Soviet President Gorbachev calls president Bush on Christmas day to announce the cold war is over.
Age 70, Christmas 2001: The events of 9-11 cast a shadow over Christmas this year. For most Americans, the sober celebration is new. For most residents, it feels like 1941.
Age 80, Christmas 2011: America is coming out of “The Great Recession.” Toymaker Mattel’s Sing-a-ma-jigs!™ is seasons most popular toy. This causes grandparents everywhere to ask, “What’s that?”
Age 90, Christmas 2021: After 20 months of pandemic mandated visitation restrictions, Baptist Homes welcomes family and churches to visit members and loved ones once again.
This Christmas, take time to visit your loved ones and seniors from your church. Encourage them to share memories from Christmas’ past. Here are some great questions you can ask this Holiday season:
1. What were the winters like at Christmas when you were young?
2. Did you have a Christmas tree growing up? What was it like?
3. What Christmas traditions did you enjoy?
4. Did you ever take a car or train to visit family at Christmas?
5. What was your favorite holiday food as a child?
6. What inventions or technology do you remember seeing or using for the first time?
7. Did you ever see or meet someone famous?
8. Did your church have a Christmas eve or Christmas day service? What was it like?
9. What was your favorite Christmas song? Can you sing a few bars for me?
10. Is there a Christmas gift you gave to someone that stands out, and why?
These simple questions may become the foundation for one of your best Christmas’ ever. Merry Christmas from Baptist Homes & Healthcare Ministries.