HEFLIN — Sandy Weston, a longtime Cleburne County Nursing Home volunteer, was trying to make sure everything was perfect Saturday as she helped put out food for the annual Christmas party for residents and their families. The nursing home’s dining room was turned into a festive holiday gathering spot complete with Christmas music, merriment and joy.
“It’s their Christmas spirit — and seeing the twinkle in these residents’ eyes when they come in. This is their second home, so we want it to be treated like their second home. I get great pleasure out of just helping — no one asked me to come — I just came because my heart was heavy for these residents,” Weston said.
Longtime employee Lena Smith helped Weston arrange the holiday confections. Smith, a certified nursing assistant, has been working at the nursing home for 44 years.
“Lots of joy — joy and happiness — everybody’s expression, everything is such a joy, really a joy,” Smith said.
Families and residents huddled in groups and around tables.
Jamison Edwards brought his family to spend time with his grandmother, Louise Key, 89.
“We’re just thankful to get to spend a little time with my grandmother. I know she’s happy to still be around where she can see her grandkids and her kids and her great-grandkids,” Edwards said.
Edwards said that Key has Christmas presents for all of the family members as the nursing home had a “store” for the residents to chose gifts for loved ones this week.
“It’s just a special time of year,” Edwards said.
Resident Hazel Mitchell was also surrounded by family members. Mitchell’s great-granddaughter, Anna Lee Crosson, 11, placed a Christmas hat on Mitchell’s head and her smile was a mile wide when other family members remarked on her new accessory.
“I think it’s great,” Mitchell said as Christmas music played over the sound system.
Nursing home administrator Tony Culberson made sure the party ran smoothly. He had gone down the hall to bring in more chairs.
“Of course we do several thing at this time of year but basically this is their Christmas party — we’ll have a Santa Claus that will go around — even though we’ve given out gifts the last few days we want to make sure the Christmas spirit continues on through the season,” Culberson said as he brought the chairs into the room.
Seated at a table with fellow residents, Paul Gay said he was doing fine and was content to just enjoy the party — he did not want any presents for himself.
“I’d rather see somebody else have something,” Gay said.
Sherry Brown, chairman of the Cleburne County Hospital Board, was also awash with holiday cheer.
“It means a lot that we see a lot of the residents’ family coming out and sharing in the joy of Christmas with everybody and I’m just glad to be a part of it,” Brown said.