Lifestyle, Residents

Decking the Halls at Blue Skies of Texas

A resident-run initiative helps spread holiday cheer to both campuses.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens

And to borrow a phrase from Andy Williams, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Family gatherings, delicious treats and all those festive tunes make us feel warm inside when it’s cold outside. It may not be snowing in San Antonio, but the holiday spirit is no less abundant at Blue Skies of Texas. Residents come together to give both campuses a coat of tinsel.

Pat Hochstat leads the holiday decorating committee at Blue Skies alongside two other residents. “Oh, I love the holidays. I really do. I helped in 2019, so when they needed a volunteer to head the committee, I was happy to step up,” Pat said. She and her two cohorts evenly divide the responsibilities of organizing the interior décor and the outdoor lighting competition.

Pat’s enthusiasm for decorating is contagious. She’s been a resident at Blue Skies of Texas for a few years, and she likes to help new and existing residents get involved. “It’s a way of bringing people together. Some of our older residents maybe can’t quite stand up to decorate a tree. We have them unwrapping ornaments or fluffing tree branches or putting hooks on ornaments and handing them off to somebody who can place them on the trees. I like to see everyone get involved if they have a feeling for the holidays,” she explained.

The committee Pat heads up oversees the tree in the main lobby, as well as many other themed trees around both campuses. The tree in the lobby is about 16-feet tall so the custodial team assists with ladders to attach the top and the far-reaching branches. While that’s going on, volunteers fill baskets of ornaments and send them up the ladder like a festive pack line.

One tree isn’t enough for Blue Skies though. There is a handful of themed trees, and it takes a village to put them all up. We have about a dozen trees including an all-white wonderland tree, an elegant crystal tree, a Texas tree, a toy tree decked out in teddy bears and a remembrance tree for spouses who have passed.

“This year we’re trying something new for the dining room. To save space, we’re doing a half tree. The tree will be flat on one side and pushed against a wall. We have a larger tree for the open area outside the dining room. That’s something my fellow committee chairs and I do together. After we put all the ornaments on it, we cover it with flocking to look like snow. It really looks great,” Pat said.

Her team also encourages those in the High Rise building to decorate their elevator lobbies. “I think all but two floors out of four towers with seven floors each participated last year,” Pat said.

A tradition residents at Blue Skies anticipate the most is the annual outdoor lighting contest. Our cottages and detached homes are arranged on cul de sacs. Some neighbors organize amongst themselves for a cohesive design, while others are more of a hodge-podge of individual decorating styles. Residents enjoy driving through the community to see all the lights. The entertainment committee decides the overall winners.

Decorating for the holidays brings residents together and brightens the lives of those who live, visit and work at Blue Skies of Texas. Holiday programming is another way residents get to enjoy the season.

Paula Qualls is the activities coordinator at Blue Skies. She looks forward to putting together the holiday programming because she knows how much joy it brings to the residents. “As a matter of fact, we have the Village Voices, which are residents from East and West campus who sing and organize a show. We have student choirs from all over the area that will also come in and provide entertainment throughout the month. We’ve got a cookie exchange, an internal Christmas party and a Resident Appreciation Day all coming up this month. There’s a lot going on,” Paula explained. The events and activities calendars are distributed throughout the community as well as appear on the internal television channel.

Giving back is another way residents at Blue Skies show their holiday spirit. They volunteer at a food bank where food and clothing are collected and distributed to the less fortunate. Food drives and animal shelter fundraising drives are other ways residents get together to give back. Residents also take care of each other. Those who drive often volunteer to run errands, pick up necessities and assist neighbors to get where they need to go. The comradery and neighborly warmth at Blue Skies demonstrates what community is all about. True to the words of Charles Dickens, residents honor the holiday spirit all year long.

Come see what makes the holidays such a magical time of year at Blue Skies of Texas. Take a drive through our outdoor lights display, and enjoy the spectacular views. To schedule a tour, call one of our Life Care advisors at 866-553-5389 today!