The Gift of Celebration at MACS
The MACS’ community sees itself as one big family. And MACS is what the residents call home. No doubt about it. Everyone belongs; diversity is what MACS has embraced for well over twenty years. Every person is included, remembered and valued. And the festive season is when MACS draws even closer to family, friends and various other communities. Family ties and relationships are pivotal. It’s the best time to be acknowledging and appreciating their presence in our lives.
Don’t take our word for it. MACS’ 12 days of Christmas video says it all. Warmth and high-spirited connection with others simply exudes from the footage. It flies beyond any meaningless jargon about togetherness for it’s a collaboration in every sense of the word. MACS’ Board Chair, CEO, residents, a Home Care consumer, volunteers and staff, dressed becomingly in the latest Elven wear, simply pound out the good cheer.
Celebrating the multicultural Christmas in 2017 is far different from what has gone before us in the past. The Christmas tree was introduced in Victorian Britain but we now emit jolly messages globally. Whether we believe that the Christmas Elf helps Santa, and has pointy ears, is beside the point. We’re social beings and we reach out to others in different ways.
At MACS there’s a sense of dignity that runs alongside all this frivolity. It’s overt in the generous roll out of MACS’ Christmas parties held for different sections of MACS – Annie O’Malley House, Mary Costa House, Borrela House, Gerda’s House and Bella Chara. For instance, in the multi-faith chapel, there are festive tables set; the lifestyle and volunteer teams in particular make it happen. Mobile or not, residents are brought to join family and friends in the festivities. They sing along with a musician playing the organ or accordion; some songs might be those they loved long ago. Some family members bustle down to these parties. “I’m not going to miss out on this,” exclaims one as he races to find his seat.
These parties should rightly be called feasts. The tables groan with the loaded up platters of festive fare. There are prawn delicacies and mini quiches, down to gingerbread trees and exquisite miniature plum puddings, wine and other beverages.
Many of us associate specific foods and tastes with Christmas. Some of these delicious desserts and meals become highlights of the holiday season. Christmas pudding for instance, is associated with paper crowns, Charles Dickens and English Christmas fare. http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/the-holiday-history-of-christmas-pudding
In Germany, though, Christmas is when making gingerbread (lebkuchen), going back many hundreds of years, is what features. It can be gingerbread cookies or houses. https://www.kaiserslauternamerican.com/gingerbread-traditional-christmas-cookie-long-history/
Yet, making, sharing and celebrating food is part of Christmas time for everyone, no matter what religious custom is followed. Sharing food is one of the most primal and authentic acts human beings can perform. Our very existence has revolved around communal eating and feasting.
A great example of communal gathering is when MACS hosts and celebrates Christmas in the Piazza.
Hundreds attend: residents and Home Care consumers, their friends and family, staff from all departments, volunteers, their children and grandchildren as well as a local school choir. In some instances, four generations of family turn up. All share food from a huge barbeque spread, followed by mountains of ice-cream and fairy floss. They sit at tables and chatter away as if they’re at the Riviera or the Amalfi coast. Then there are those who parade in Christmas gear such as a reindeer, Christmas fairy and countless bright, sparkling T-shirts. And you guessed it, more elves with bells on. Gentle music plays in the piazza and wafts past the fountain. Through the large, open doors to the lounge area of Annie O’Malley house, it finds the residents who sit inside.
One dazzling attraction on the piazza is the lifestyle shop front. Looking through the panes of the window, you can see how the office is crammed with pixies and elves climbing ladders, seated on shelves and clutching little, tantalising-looking gifts. It immediately reminds us of Europe, perhaps Scandinavia. In Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, a Christmas gnome or elf brings children their holiday gifts. Children come to this magical space with their families. It’s been uniquely created by the MACS’ lifestyle co-ordinator who has collected all these figures. It’s not food to eat but food for the imagination of those who visit.
In this space, standing in his stout boots, is a large woodland elf. He gazes out through the window on to the piazza. Perhaps he’s looking for the wondrous delights the next Christmas season will bring. One thing’s for sure, there’ll be lots of eating, and happiness.
And maybe, next Christmas, there’ll be even more laughing and cheery elves with bells on. The elves are a gift to us at MACS as they enhance our feelings of well-being and playfulness.