Does the warmth of your holiday table bring residents together?

A friend said the winter holiday season was a favorite of hers because it was the only time of year when extended family came to visit when she was a child. The adults gathered around the dining room table laden with all the holiday foods that were never seen during the year. When the table was cleared, the nuts, fruits, and drinks were set out. That was when the stories began to flow. The children were set up in the kitchen to eat, then outside to play afterwards.

At that time, she was sure to sit quietly on the floor in the perimeter of the room so she wouldn’t be chased away with “go play. Grown-ups are talking.” That’s the exact reason she wanted to remain. No one told family stories the rest of the year. This was her time to learn the family lore, the struggles that were made, and the triumphs. She also heard the stories of the childhoods of this older generation. She could never get her mother or father to talk about when they were children. They always replied with, “Oh, that was long ago. I don’t remember.”

Of course she continued with the same tradition in her own household. Now that she lived in a retirement community she thoroughly enjoyed gathering with the warmth of the dining table to listen to her friends and neighbors tell of their holiday traditions. They were varied from different ethnic backgrounds and religions.

“That’s what makes it so interesting to me.” She continued, “The friends I met in the community have stories that are new to me and diverse. We all reminisce which keeps our own stories alive. Sometimes photos of earlier holidays are brought out to share. Family stories flow and there is no one to chase me away.”

Kind Dining® training centers on the dining room being the heart of the residents’ day. This is a certainty during the multi-holiday season. Most residents prefer to remain in their home where convenience reigns rather than the challenge of travel with all its fuss and chaos. Celebrating the season by sharing stories at the table chases isolation away. Being able to speak of one’s own past holidays actually keeps a senior active in the present.

Food servers can add to the ambiance of festivity by wearing holiday related accessories that will spark comments and conversations between residents and the food serving staff. Holiday aprons that are cheerful and attractive are popular and fun. The chef may take requests for particular holiday foods to bring authenticity to the stories shared. Decorations in the dining room add to the joy of the season increasing even the weakest of appetites. It is a season for enjoying the camaraderie of retirement community life.

Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Sharing stories of past holidays chases away feelings of isolation!

 

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy Heilman MS, DTR: Cindy Heilman has over 25 years of experience in enhancing hospitality, and food service standards. She is the CEO of her own company, Higher Standards LLC, and creator of Kind Dining® Training. Her unique background in restaurant ownership, in hospitality and healthcare food service, in working as a Dietetic Technician Registered and Healthcare Specialist at SYSCO Foodservices, led her to the development of her exclusive program that improves relationships and lives of aging residents through the dining experience.

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