The Foundations of Christmas Tradition

A Gesture of family love from Glendale Crossing’s Brighton team

By Kristian Partington

For Matthew Crombeen, the neighbourhood coordinator for Brighton at the Village of Glendale Crossing, Christmas is about family and the traditions that are built together year after year. Yet for many people living in a long-term care setting, the traditions of the past live only in memory, and distance or time have left them with no family over the holidays.

The team members in the neighbourhood are family for many residents, Matthew says, and this year the team came together to do something special for those they support and care for. Team members in the neighbourhood contributed $20 out of their pockets and a Christmas stocking was filled with things like chocolate or toiletries, simple gifts but personalized for each resident.

“On Christmas morning after breakfast we had the entire neighbourhood sit down in the open area and open up their gifts,” Matthew says, noting that what makes the gesture special was that it was an initiative the team came up with entirely on their own.  

“I had nothing to do with it,” Matt says. “It was the team that came up with it. I just helped a bit with organizing what they needed to do.”

Personal Support Worker Angela Stairs was working the morning shift on Christmas Day, and says she enjoyed herself much more than she thought was possible. “I thought I’d really miss being around my kids, but just seeing the residents smiling and having that fun connection with them was really good,” Angela says. Like Matt, she points out that the neighbourhood does function much like one large family, and the feeling of togetherness on Christmas morning was a special gift for her and her fellow team members.

After the gifts were opened, nearly all the residents stayed together in the common living room, singing carols and listening to Christmas music when the voices died down, sipping on hot chocolate. “It was so nice, and made it all worth it,” Angela says.

As Matt reflects on the gesture offered by the team he supports, the pride in his voice is clear and he suggests that this is the way the foundation of traditions are built. “The team, they are the ones that see these residents day in and day out and become family to them, and Christmas is about family and traditions,” Matt says.