A festively decorated christmas tree, the smell of roast meat wafting from the kitchen into the heated living room, and a sumptuous table with all the siblings, children, and grandchildren. What many people take for granted, others can only dream of.
"We don’t want our residents to sit alone in their rooms at christmas, because then comes the sadness", explains the director of the BRK senior citizens’ home in kronach, tanja seuling.
That is why the nursing staff is already offering the 158 residents a colorful pre-christmas program in these weeks. "Every monday we sing together, reports the head of the care team teresa schneider. She accompanies the seniors musically with her schiffer piano.
Decorating the tree together
Sibylle buckreus takes care of the christmas decoration in the whole house. The head of the room care department conjures up tablecloths, fabric panels for the walls and cushion covers with a lot of sewing talent. A highlight every year is the joint decorating of the christmas tree in the dining room. "Some join in, others watch and tell us where to hang things – and others just want to sit by", tells the director. "The best thing is that I don’t have to worry about anything anymore", a senior citizen jokingly says "but it’s better to open a gift than a christmas present."
A visit from the christ child
Speaking of presents: of course, the visit of santa claus and his heavenly entourage is not to be missed: "on christmas eve, the christmas child from kronach comes with his angels". Then we go from ward to ward – and really everyone gets a present – even the residents who stay in their rooms", emphasizes seuling."
Before the christmas party, there is a christmas mass in the chapel on christmas eve – one year evangelical, the next catholic. "The chapel is packed every year", reports schneider.
But even in the hospital, christmas is not neglected: those who have to stay in the helios-frankenwaldklinik can enjoy the "french christmas" to experience – a colorful and atmospheric evening in the hospital chapel, for which even non-patients are happy to come to the hospital.
"A reunion with many participants traditionally takes place shortly before christmas, when the music groups visit the frankenwald clinic once again, parade through the wards and perform songs for the patients, their relatives and guests", describes press spokesman stefan studtrucker. "They send a signal of humanity and warmth, especially when someone can not spend christmas in the usual surroundings."
Also in the "leben am rosenberg" nursing home, the hospital, which is affiliated with the frankenwaldklinik, has a christmas atmosphere. A christmas tree welcomes visitors at the entrance to the home. Everywhere in the corridors, there are little snowmen and christmas men on the tables, and decorative stars hanging from the ceiling.
33 people currently live in the retirement home, and the average age, according to director stefan raible, is 84. Some of them still have relatives, others no longer do. "We still try to give the residents a reflective christmas celebration."
More family visits
A priest holds a service on christmas eve before a christmas feast is served to the residents. The granddaughter of an elderly lady has agreed to play the accordion. "After that, there are presents for everyone – but we don’t tell them what they are, of course," says schneider, says the manager with a twinkle in his eye.
Although more members visited their mother, aunt or grandfather during the holidays. "But of course there are also residents who no longer have anyone and were alone when they were still living at home. Here they are not."
Staff sacrifice free time
A large proportion of the nursing staff sacrifices some of their time with their own families to give the residents a merry christmas – not a matter of course, as raible points out: "without the commitment of our employees, it wouldn’t be possible. We have a great team that treats the inmates in a very familiar way."
According to raible, this is also important because during the holidays, some residents have memories of christmases past: "this is often a very emotional time for our seniors, when they think about how it used to be – and sometimes a few trances come up in some of them."
Early release as a christmas present in the JVA kronach
The festival of love is there for everyone – and santa claus doesn’t even stop at the thick walls of the fan park. The man with the white beard has a special present for one prisoner at JVA kronach this year: actually, the man had to serve his sentence until the beginning of january and thus spend the festive season behind bars. But he is already allowed to leave the prison on friday and thus spend christmas in freedom.
This is made possible by article 18 of the bavarian penal code: "if the end of the sentence falls within the period from 22. December to 6. January, the prisoners can be released on the working day preceding this period, if this is justifiable according to the length of the punishment period and if there are no grounds for caution against it", there are. The prisoner in question is doubly fortunate, because the 22. December is a sunday, he may already enjoy the scent of freedom on friday.
At present, the JVA kronach, which can accommodate up to 99 inmates, is almost full to capacity. The prison staff wanted to give them a merry christmas as well. "There will be an evangelical-catholic service with musical accompaniment", JVA director ulrich mann reports. "On christmas eve he will be served bratwurst with mashed potatoes." Traditionally, the inmates expect roast goose on christmas day one and roast veal on christmas day two. "The prisoners always enjoy it, too."
To avoid boredom, there is a special holiday program at the JVA kronach, with table tennis, schafkopf and foosball tournaments. "This would not be possible without the colleagues who voluntarily work on christmas and give up a bit of time with their families", stresses the prison warden.