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Residents Share Holiday Memories While Giving Back

November 15, 2021 Caring Communities

In 1958, 13-year-old Brenda Lee recorded “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” written by Johnny Marks, the creative behind other classics such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas”. The hit took off in the 60s and has remained a favourite. This year, it’s also the theme for the Mental Health Foundation’s Festival of Trees.

In many ways, holiday traditions in the 60s resembled modern-day festivities where family gatherings and fun were front and centre. On the other hand, new trends resulted in a metallic and modern flare to holiday décor, with aluminum trees lit up by tri-tone electric colour wheels and a heavy dusting of tinsel.

TV commercials and the beloved Sears catalogue inspired letters to Santa, with timeless toys such as Play-Doh and the Etch-a-Sketch topping the list. And perhaps most iconic in the mid 60s (aside from the cars!) were two newly introduced characters—Charlie Brown and the Grinch—who learned the true meaning of Christmas. The 60s was a decade in which the tree became a symbol of unity, meaningful connections and friendship—a fitting symbol and source of inspiration for a collaboration between in-house designer Karen Dixon and a group of residents from Parkland at the Gardens. Their project, A Classic Christmas, is a nostalgic tribute to a decade that, for many, still brings joy to the holiday season.

Karen Dixon is thrilled to be working with residents on the project and drawing inspiration from their memories of a traditional 1960s Christmas with a modern twist. Finding inspiration from a line in the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, the concept aims to create the “sentimental feeling” that’s mentioned in the lyrics, using an “new, old-fashioned” design, inspired by trees that residents had in their homes in the 60s when the song first hit the airwaves.

In addition to an eight-foot fir adorned with a variety of decorations including candy canes, large, colourful baubles, pom-poms, candles and other homemade ornaments, we have gathered a collection of memories and traditions from the residents who decorated the tree. We hope you enjoy stories and we also hope you’ll consider supporting the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.

Called “A Classic Christmas”, the tree we created honours a decade that still brings joy to the season and is shared in memory of Kai Matthews. See the tree on display at the Doyle in downtown Halifax from Nov. 20-27, 12-2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m.

This is just one of many ways that Parkland residents stay connected to their communities. Learn more about life at Parkland.