Write a Letter to Santa

Christmas Wish List

One year, the nursing home I was working at decided to have a “Christmas in July” party; the previous December they had a huge flu epidemic and couldn’t have a Christmas party for fear of getting even more people sick. We put the Christmas trees up, sang carols, drank hot cocoa, the works. One of the staff even dressed up as Santa and went from table to table taking pictures with everyone and generally adding that extra holiday authenticity. It was really fun for everyone, but I was particularly touched by the residents with significant memory loss, many of whom had forgotten that Santa wasn’t real. They audibly gasped when he entered the room, and a few even yelled out his name and started waving frantically, trying to get his attention so he would visit them first. When he did, they excitedly told him what they wanted for Christmas. Some asked for toys, some for more time with family, and one even asked for the end of the war so her sweetheart would come home (I checked with her husband later. It turns out he was that sweetheart, or at least he hoped he was the only sweetheart his now-wife had pined for!).

So, in that spirit, why not ask if your person with memory loss would like to write a letter to Santa? Some may look at you like you’re crazy, but you might be surprised. If they’ve lost the ability to write without frustration, offer to let them dictate the letter to you. Even if they remember the “truth” about Santa, it’s always fun to think about what you want for Christmas (hello, last minute gift ideas!) or reminisce about what you asked for in the past (and if you got it).

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