St. John Valley

Holiday tree lighting kicks off family Christmas season for Crosswinds residents

FORT KENT, Maine — A holiday tree lighting ceremony at Crosswinds Residential Care in Fort Kent on Friday proved a happy and hopeful occasion for residents who last year could only greet loved ones through windows due to COVID-19.

Residents of the assisted living facility are looking forward to spending in-person time with family again this Christmas.

The tree lighting celebration this year provided a preview of that when family members were able to visit with loved ones at the facility.

Crosswinds Residential Care lit up a Holiday tree on Dec. 3. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

The family of Charles Bouchard, 84, attended the event. Molly Cairns, 10, said last year she spent the tree lighting only seeing her pepe through a window. 

“It was so sad,” Cairns said. “He’s special to me because he’s always making me laugh even though sometimes I can’t understand what he’s talking about. I’m very happy that I get to spend my Christmas with him.”

Molly’s sister, Sadie Cairns, 14, said she enjoyed being able to visit her pepe inside the facility this year. 

“He’s very important in my life and he’s very funny too. He always tries to make everybody laugh and make their day,” Sadie Cairns said. “It feels more back to normal, how it was before.”  

The girls’ mother, Jill Bouchaird Cairns, who is Charlie Bouchard’s daughter, said being together is what Christmas is all about. 

“It’s not about the gifts. It’s not about anything else but food and family,” she said.

Lillian Cyr enjoys a Christmas tree lighting at Crosswinds Residential Care in Fort Kent. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

Crosswinds resident Lillian Cyr, who will turn 90 in February, said she is all about celebrating the holiday season with her loved ones this year.  

“Last year you could see your kids only through a window; it was very sad,” Cyr said. 

The holidays have always been an important part of Cyr’s life. 

“I love Christmas. I always had a big Christmas with my seven kids. I’d start baking a month before and put everything in the freezer. Come Christmas, they all came home,” Cyr said. 

Cyr and her husband of 63 years, the late Gilman Cyr, raised a family that grew to include 16 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. 

“No Christmas really stands out; they were all special,” Lillian Cyr said. 

Crosswinds administrator Cathy Roy said the timing was right to welcome visitors to the tree lighting activity. 

On Nov. 12, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed visitation guidelines for nursing homes to allow open visitation at all times. 

Crosswinds’ 45 residents benefit from spending time in-person with loved ones. 

“They deserve that, having family back in the building,” Roy said. “It’s a big part of their well-being.”

Fernande Cyr toasts some holiday cheer at a tree lighting at Crosswinds Residential Care. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)


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