The head nurse was concerned.
She knew many of her residents had outlived family and friends.
come Christmas morning
many of her residents would not find gifts under the tree.
Determined to end their disappointment,
she issued an appeal:
WE NEED SECRET SANTAS!
Eagerly accepting the assignment,
my friends and I started to plan—
but what do you need at 90?
Chocolates and sweaters and books and stuffed animals and comforters and…
You need lipstick!
Yes, urged my friend,
after all, you never lose your vanity.
She was inspired.
But let’s not give just one lipstick–
let’s get lipsticks for everyone!
And in our annual Christmas party invitation,
we issued our own appeal.
Instead of a hostess gift,
we included a specific request:
Please bring a lipstick for the ladies!
And a tradition was born.
and every subsequent year,
we were showered with
gorgeous reds, shimmering corals, hot pinks;
a cornucopia of small rectangular boxes
adorned with festive ribbons and bright paper.
Our friends were enthusiastic–
I even needed an extra suitcase for
the lipstick express!
And Christmas morning,
when the nurses presented our beautiful little packages to the residents,
(you never lose your vanity!).
The head nurse was effusive:
you made my residents happy–
And when my residents are happy, my nurses are happy–
And when my nurses are happy…
Well, you made our Christmas!
Estee Lauder; Elizabeth Arden, Chanel…?
My ladies are beside themselves;
you girls are too much!
But actually, our friends were too much. They gave us elegant brands in luscious colors, lovingly selected and carefully wrapped. One friend reported that she and the saleswoman chose lipsticks with tears in their eyes—then added every powder, polish and hand cream sample in the department. Even friends who couldn’t attend the party joined the lipstick brigade.
I wish they could have seen the smiles.
A few days after Christmas, a resident approached me; her eyes wide and glistening; her beautiful grey hair pulled back in a long braid.
Are you Hallie?
She reached into her pocket and produced a lipstick.
She giggled as she waved it high in the air;
her voice light, girlish, melodic;
I just love my lipstick. Thank you!
The pleasure was ours.
For many of us, the trip to buy lipstick became a defining moment of our holiday season. Some friends even continue the tradition; now taking lipsticks to their local nursing homes.
a friend told me
she always thinks of my mom
this time of year;
I say a little prayer
for your mom…
remembering the lipsticks of years gone by…
Remember The Ladies.