Christmas is all about family

How do we celebrate Christmas when our loved ones are residents at Actionmarguerite? How does it change family traditions? The Morin family, whose parents Léo and Yvette have lived at Actionmarguerite St. Vital for the past three years, share their experience.

For the Morin clan, the Christmas season has always been an important, treasured and much-anticipated time to gather as a family.

“Mom and Dad always hosted a big Réveillon (Christmas Eve) celebration,” says their daughter Carole Robidoux. “Mom would start baking months ahead of time.”

“Oh yes, there was always plenty of baking!” chimes in Yvette Morin. “And lots of sweet and salty treats, as well.”

Before Midnight Mass, which they would all attend together, the family would gather for the Réveillon, sometimes with a few surprise guests. “Our door was always open,” says Yvette Morin. “If someone didn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with, we would invite them to our place. We sometimes had close to 80 people!”

Another tradition took place the next day, when the family would send out holiday greetings via radio. “That was on CKSB,” recalls Carole. “You could call to wish others a Merry Christmas. It was a family tradition to call CKSB on Christmas Day to send our warm greetings to family members far from here.”

Did they have to break with family traditions when their parents moved to Actionmarguerite? The family doesn’t think so. While things have changed, the transition started well before Actionmarguerite and occurred gradually over time.

“We stopped going to Midnight Mass when all the grandchildren came along,” says Carole Robidoux. “We would go to the earlier Mass. And we stopped having the Christmas Eve dinner at my parents’ place and started doing it in my home. But my parents would still buy a mountain of gifts for their seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren!”

When she was 62, Yvette Morin had a ruptured aneurysm. That led to another transition involving the person making all the Christmas goodies. Her daughter continues: “Mom still wanted to do her baking after her aneurysm, but she needed some help. So for three or four years, I would pick her up and we would cook together for two days.”

While the move by Yvette and her husband to Actionmarguerite meant the matriarch had to cut back on her kitchen activity, the couple are still very much a part of the holiday festivities. Their children rent a hall where the immediate family – some 30 people – gathers together.

Léo and Yvette Morin have not missed a single family Christmas celebration at home or at Actionmarguerite, except in 2018.

Carole’s sister, Jeannette Morin-Kitkoski, explains: “Last year, we had to cancel our December 24 family gathering because both my parents were sick and under quarantine. Fortunately, they were doing better the next day. They were able to go out and we could all celebrate together on December 25.”

And while the couple have missed virtually none of the Christmas family gatherings, Actionmarguerite also offers them other opportunities to share with others.

“At Actionmarguerite, there is always an evening where everyone decorates the Christmas tree,” says Jeannette. “Every resident puts something on the tree. There is also a singalong. The events are open to families and I go to both with my parents.”

Yvette Morin really appreciates the festive atmosphere of these holiday celebrations at Actionmarguerite.

“Our family’s Christmas routine has changed a lot, but that’s normal,” says Carole Robidoux. “All routines change for everyone, for many reasons. But the most important thing for my parents is having people around them. It’s the family gathering together to the sound of Christmas music that brings joy and sweet memories. That’s what Christmas is all about for them. And we have always kept it alive.”

Léo Morin adds, “That and watching the kids open their presents! That’s my favourite part of Christmas. Sometimes, I even show them a little bit of their gift beforehand. I could never wait!”

To read the Winter 2019 Newsletter – click here