North Summit seniors have a holly jolly celebration | ParkRecord.com

North Summit seniors have a holly jolly celebration

Nearly 30 seniors gathered around the fireplace at the North Summit Senior Center on Wednesday, quietly chatting among themselves as the cook, Jair Ramirez, prepared their holiday feast.

The Senior Center has been decked out for Christmas for most of the month. Ornament baskets and garland are strung throughout the center. A tree adorned with lights and Santa Claus ornaments stands in the lunch room, where tables are decorated with Santa Claus centerpieces and poinsettias.

Several women even wore red blouses or Christmas sweaters on Wednesday to mark the occasion. Around noon, the seniors lined up at the kitchen and piled their plates high with ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a medley of vegetables. As they ate, Kathy Chappell, a pianist, and her daughter, Paula Moore, a violinist, played Christmas tunes. Chappell's father, Donald Judd, regularly attends the center.

Kay Jones, president of the North Summit Senior Center, said some of the seniors don't have family in the area so the holiday celebration is especially significant for them. Then she said there are others, who don't regularly attend but are welcomed just the same.

"We have a lot of widows that come here and other members that are just wanting to get out of the house," she said.

For the last couple of weeks, Summit County's senior centers have hosted holiday-inspired lunches and various outings to help the seniors ring in the holidays. On Wednesday, South Summit's seniors traveled to Salt Lake City to view Christmas lights. Earlier in the week, they attended a holiday lunch, which included a visit from Santa Claus as they played games and sang carols.

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Park City's center also had its Christmas dinner, where the tables were adorned with holiday décor, according to Heather Nalette, director of Summit County's senior services. She said the group also likes to invite members to a special dinner outside of the senior center once the holidays have passed.

"Some of our attendees are transplants, they don't have a lot, if any, family nearby, and the senior center becomes their family," she said. "Spending time with family during the holiday season is so important. Many of our attendees for so long took care of their family holiday dinners for years, they did all they could to make it extra special for their families and friends. The holiday season gives us an opportunity to return the favor, show each of them how much they mean to us and take that opportunity to provide something a little extra special to such a wonderful group of people."

Nalette said the senior centers' hours will vary during the holidays. The South Summit Senior Center will have lunch on Dec. 28 and will return to its normal hours on Jan. 4. The Park City Senior Center will be closed the entire week of Dec. 25 to Dec. 29. It will reopen on Jan. 4. The North Summit Senior Center will be open during its normal hours on Wednesdays and Fridays next week, with lunches returning on Jan. 4.

While Santa Claus and gifts were noticeably absent from the North Summit holiday celebration Wednesday, Jones said it is because the members choose to do something more altruistic instead. Each year, they hold a clothing drive for different charity organizations.

"We usually pick a charity to donate to and then we have lunch," she said. "We don't give gifts anymore for Christmas because when you get to our age, we don't really need anything. In January we take all of our members out to a sit-down restaurant and that's the club's gift to them. We'd rather eat. That's what we love to do."

As Christmas music played in the background on Wednesday, the seniors continued their quiet conversations over their meals, applauding each time a song ended.

"We like our holiday lunch," Jones said. "Our cook is so good and it's just a nice way for us to get together and visit."