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Volunteer making seasons bright at nursing home

Cindy MacLean, left, enjoys decorating Valley View Villa every year for Christmas much to the delight of residents and staff. She is pictured showing one of the residents some of the decorations.
Cindy MacLean, left, enjoys decorating Valley View Villa every year for Christmas much to the delight of residents and staff. She is pictured showing one of the residents some of the decorations. - Adam MacInnis

At Valley View Villa, Cindy MacLean decks the halls.

MacLean, who works at the long-term care facility, was back at it again this year decorating throughout the facility as has become her Christmas tradition.

MacLean said she first became involved with decorating through the recreation department at Valley View Villa and has annually volunteered time in her off hours to beautify the building.

“People noticed I had a bit of a gift for it and it went from there,” she said.

The decoration involves hours of prep work and she usually takes over her husband’s garage to set up trees ahead of time. She said she’s thankful for her husband and a friend who help lug everything to Valley View.

Each year she tries to add something new and switches decorations to provide a fresh view.

She said for her the decorating is more than just something she does as ritual, but has become almost a spiritual experience for her.

“I hope it helps (the residents) to know that they’re special and that somebody bigger than me loves them,” she said. “People talk about the Christmas spirit, but to me it’s God’s spirit. His presence is all the decorations here I hope.”

As she’s gotten older, MacLean said she’s had more time to spend decorating. While in the past she would set it all up in one evening, this year she said she partitioned off a section and took a week to set everything up perfectly.

She said the trees are her favourite part. She does a traditional tree and then some other more unique ones like a candy tree.

“The residents can walk around and have something different everywhere,” she said.

While she doesn’t usually end up being at the facility when the residents first see the decorations, she’s told they usually are awestruck.

“People say they line up here at the stage and they’re just amazed. Everybody enjoys it.”

Staff at the facility also like the decorations.

“It brings out the little child in everybody. It really does,” MacLean said.

For her personally it brings a sense of joy.

“It’s energizing. I lie awake at night thinking about this stuff. It’s fun for me. I come alive at Christmas.”

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