Traditions make holidays special. Many are passed down through generations, while some are born from a mishap and then carried on.

The latter is true for Barbi, Minna, and Tammy and their annual tree search.

Three years ago their artificial tree went kaput. Since then, they’ve been heading out to Lowe’s the first weekend in December in search of the perfect tree.

“The ladies love it!” Community Living Manager Vicki Schulte says. “They start talking about getting their tree right after Minna’s birthday in October.”

On December 3rd, the trio, along with Schulte, made their now annual pilgrimage to Lowe’s, after stopping for their favorite drink.

Once at Lowe’s, the judging begins. “It’s like a tree fashion show,” Schulte says.

Schulte pulls out the trees the women suggest. One by one she twirls them around and taps them on the ground to see how many needles fall out. A vote of ‘yah’ or ‘nah’ is the deciding factor.

As soon as they get home, they put up the tree and dress it with lights and each lady’s collection of ornaments.

You can often find their cat, Sherman, under the tree. So this year, Barbie and Minna added stuffed animals to the base of the tree to keep him company.

Soon, the final touch will join the stuffed animals: the presents the ladies will exchange with each other. And that makes the tree a perfect image of a special holiday tradition.

“I like the tree!” Tammy says. “Decorating it is my favorite part.”

Another tradition they have is the holiday house calendar. Direct Support Professional Jonnette Whittler designs a detailed calendars each month for the ladies.

The calendar is filled with community activities, appointments, shopping trips, holiday outings, and even healthy and seasonal recipes to try on certain days. But the important dates are not marked in words. Rather, they use pictures so everyone can see exactly what’s going to happen.

“I love Jonnette’s calendar. It really gives the ladies of visual of the events coming up,” Schulte says.

This month, they are having a hot chocolate night, getting their nails done, going to a holiday party, shopping (of course!), and making gingerbread cookies.

The calendar is the “go to” decoration any time of the year. But it’s especially nice, and pretty, around the holidays!

Their beautifully decorated house.

Schulte continues, “I want to give a shout out to the Community Living employees I work with. They greatly improve the quality of life of each person they serve. And they take the ACT mission, vision, and value statements seriously. I appreciate their hard work and dedication to the individuals and the agency. Thank you everyone!!!”