Thank You For Remembering Me!

A tall thin woman slowly edged her walker into my mother’s room. Her long silver hair was pulled in a braid, revealing bright blue eyes and high chiseled cheekbones

Are you Hallie Swift?

Yes, I’m Hallie.

She reached into her pocket, grasping a shiny gold lipstick tube

I’m Dorothy

She raised her arm high in the air;

giggling as she waved the lipstick back and forth;

her voice light, melodic

Oh Hallie, I just love my lipstick. Thank you for remembering me!

Merry Christmas!

In her monthly newsletter,

the head nurse had issued a plea—

she needed

Secret Santas

for residents with no families;

she wanted everyone in the nursing home

to find a present under the tree.

My friends and I discussed our gifts

…chocolates and sweaters and books with large print and stuffed animals and baseball caps and comforters and…

Lipsticks for the ladies!


Yes, my friend urged

after all, you never lose your vanity!

But let’s not give just one lipstick–

let’s get lipsticks for everyone!

So we asked friends coming to our Christmas party–

Please bring a lipstick for the ladies!

And with that, a tradition was born.

Year after year

we were showered with

Estee’s gorgeous reds, Chanel’s shimmering corals, Bobbi’s hot pinks;

small rectangular boxes adorned with bright paper and festive ribbons;

our own Christmas cornucopia–

we collected so many lipsticks;

I needed an extra suitcase for

the lipstick express!

On Christmas morning

each resident received

a beautiful little package–

Santa’s surprise!

A Swift Current Christmas lipstick for the ladies!

Lipstick! Photo by her granddaughter

The head nurse was effusive:

my residents are so happy–

And when my residents are happy, my nurses are happy–

And when my nurses are happy…

Well, girls, what can I say?

you made our Christmas!

And they made ours.

For many of us, the trip to buy lipsticks became a defining moment of our holiday season. One friend told me she and the Bloomingdale’s saleswoman shed tears as they selected the colors, then added every powder, polish and perfume sample in the department!

A small box;

a simple gesture;

the electricity of Christmas morning;

a gift

under the tree–

bright colors;

big smiles;


Silver braid

melodic laugh

she waves her lipstick high in the air

Are You Hallie?

Thank you for remembering me.

Merry Christmas!

A Swift Current Christmas Surprise-Lipsticks for the Ladies

Thank you for remembering me! Photo by her granddaughter

A reader in Arkansas has decided to be “Hallie’s Lipstick Girl” (her words) for her local eldercare facility. Thank you for spreading the cheer! And Merry Christmas!

The beautiful woman in the photos is the mother of a friend from grammar school.  Thank you for permission to use these wonderful photos and thank you to my friend’s daughter for taking such gorgeous pictures.


16 thoughts on “Thank You For Remembering Me!

  1. What a great idea! I’m going to bring lipsticks to a friend and former teacher who has Alzheimer’s. I was just wondering what I could give her for Christmas!

    • Thank You! It was my friend’s idea…and we adopted it with gusto! It sounds like a cliché to say their reaction was “magical”…but so be it…it was! I am keeping my fingers crossed that this essay will inspire Swift Current readers to remember the ladies at their local eldercare facility…and that lipsticks are a good (and easy) idea!

      Merry Christmas! Hallie

  2. Oh, I just love this essay — both the wonderful holiday idea & the lovely writing! Wishing you the merriest Christmas & continuingly grateful for our friendship!

    • And I love sharing something that really worked! The Lipstick Story has become my annual Christmas essay…and each year the writing reflects my change in style over the last 12 months! I so appreciate your support from the very first year…Cheers! Hallie

  3. As always, your words are wonderful! My mom enjoyed her lipstick right up to the end…I kept a few of hers, just to remember how important lipstick was to her, and now is to me. Thank you for a wonderful, giving idea…the perfect way to celebrate the holiday. Looking forward to your new posts in 2015!

  4. It is something I think we take for granted until we don’t have access! But like your mom, even in her last years my mom carefully applied her lipstick–a vestige of a generation perhaps? How wonderful it would be if readers adopted the idea for their local care facility!

    This will be the last post of 2014…time to start writing (between cookie baking, card writing, present wrapping, carol singing, tree decorating…)

    Merry Christmas, Hallie

    • Thank you!

      I hope you and Anthony have a wonderful holiday…and I hope in some small way my story here will help ease your transition this year. As I wrote earlier, I found Christmas in the nursing home quite magical…the elderly/infirm look forward to the day–just like we all you do. I know you will be surrounded by love.

      When it all calms down, I hope you resume your writing. Your posts are powerful and insightful. Having a break will help us all catch up, I hope.

      All the best for you this holiday season, H

  5. I totally enjoyed this post! Funny that you should talk lipstick, because we took my Mother to the Nutcracker last weekend and she was telling me that she was not ready to go until she put on her lipstick! I realize that lipstick is one of those things that is a part of our lives as women regardless what age we are! Made me smile, from beginning to end. Thank you Hallie and Merry Christmas.

    • I am happy that after all the tears, I can offer a post that brings smiles too! My mom always said the same thing; and reapplied after every meal! Lipsticks are a great idea if your mom has any friends at her living center who need something a little extra this holiday…even better than chocolate!

      Thank you for all your support this year for my efforts here…and Merry Christmas! Hallie

  6. You posted this lipstick story before with pictures of the dining room where your mom and and all the other ladies dined …
    And I think you should post every December, just a remainder of what Christmas is all about; bringing a smile on somebody’s face!

    Merry Christmas

    • Yes, this is and will be the annual Christmas post; though every year I do a major revision–both words and photos– because my writing style evolves over the 12 months! It is fun to conclude on a happy note, and I hope everyone remembers the elderly among us during the holidays…

      …such a simple thing can bring so much joy…

      Merry Christmas, Hallie

  7. What a beautiful holiday story! I love the lipstick tradition. Such a reminder that life is really happening at every age. Thank you for sharing your words and life.

    • Thank you Sarah! I think sometimes we forget that there is anticipation and excitement at every age…I remember with keen sadness the head nurse’s determination that everyone have a good day…for the elderly, being alone/forgotten on Christmas has it’s own sorrow. She had seen disappointment before…and it makes life even harder in the nursing home. So please share with your young friends the joy of the holiday, and remind everyone to remember their grandmothers, their neighbors and their friends! Cheers, Hallie

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