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Tis the season for joy

Holidays are merry and bright at Highland Springs

Created date

November 24th, 2015
Highland Springs residents Jim and Mimi O’Neill, pictured with Community Resources Coordinator Barbara Blachly (center), pose as Santa and Mrs. Claus during the holiday season.
Jim and Mimi O’Neill pose as Santa and Mrs. Claus

Highland Springs resident Jim O’Neill donned a Santa suit for the first time in 2014.

“I’d never played Santa before,” he says. “But Barbara [Blachly, community resources coordinator] asked if I was interested. I like to think she asked me because I’m jolly.”

Jim and his wife Mimi moved to Highland Springs in February 2014. They spent their first Christmas at the North Dallas community posing as Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“We dressed up for a number of appearances in both independent living and the continuing care neighborhood,” says Jim. “Residents could either sit on my lap or sit between us and get their picture taken.”

Jim and Mimi are reprising their roles as Santa and Mrs. Claus this month. Jim says the smiles he encountered last year added joy to his holiday season.  

“I had a great time,” he says. “It was exciting to see people light up when they saw us in costume. It just shows that you never outgrow Santa.”

Hassle-free holidays

The maintenance-free lifestyle residents enjoy at Highland Springs extends to the holiday season, which can be a time that leaves many people frazzled.

“We want our residents to enjoy the season and celebrate in ways that are meaningful to them,” says Blachly. “Throughout the month of December, we offer a number of holiday celebrations.”

The Highland Springs Chorus performs their annual holiday concert on December 6. A community-wide Christmas party featuring the McKinney Community Band is scheduled for December 7. Other seasonal offerings include off-campus trips, with several tours of holiday lights.

“We also celebrate Hanukkah with our Jewish community,” says Blachly. “The decorations in the Hillcrest Clubhouse reflect a variety of faith traditions. We recognize that this season is significant for many reasons.”

The gift of time

Lynn Couch moved to Highland Springs nine years ago from Nashville, Tenn.

“I used to do all the things people do during the holidays—decorating, entertaining, and shopping for gifts,” says Lynn. “All that activity has become so much simpler since I moved to Highland Springs.”

Lynn appreciates the beautifully decorated Hillcrest Clubhouse and says it puts her in the holiday spirit, particularly since she’s not the one dragging decorations out of the attic.

Frantic trips to overcrowded malls are also a thing of the past, as Lynn shops for holiday gifts at the community’s annual bazaar in early November or in the community’s on-site store. 

“I can pick up gifts in our market,” says Lynn. “Nancy [Hebert, store supervisor] does an excellent job stocking the store with thoughtful and up-to-date gift items.”

Since loosening her grip on the season’s frenzied rush, Lynn says she has more time to enjoy the time spent with family and friends. 

“At this stage of my life, it’s wonderful to have someone else taking care of the holiday bustle,” she says. “That’s a gift in itself—the chance to really enjoy the season.”