Hear directly from our residents about some of their favorite holiday traditions

Hanukkah — An eight-day festival

Each Hanukkah season, Jewish residents at The Marshes of Skidaway Island look forward to gathering in our main lobby for the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, whose eight lights represent the miracle at the heart of this celebration. The “miracle” is that in the year 165 BCE, one small cruse of oil kept the Second Temple of Judea lit for EIGHT days instead of one, signifying to faithful Jews the strength of Judaic law and, at that time of Hellenistic influence, a need to resist assimilation.

We meet near sundown on each day of the “Festival of Lights,” reciting two blessings over the candles and lighting one additional candle each day until the whole menorah glows with all eight lights. It’s a time not only for holiness but fun and festivities. Before COVID-19, our Community Life Services Department had a Holiday Sing in the ballroom. Everyone joined in for Christmas Carols, “Oh Hanukkah,” and “The Dreidel Song” to remind us all of years long ago!

Sometimes our Gentile friends join us in the lobby for the Hanukkah rituals, after which they may be invited to join us for jelly donuts fried in oil, sofganiyot.

— Mary P.

Welcome to Our Guest Suites

The guest suites are in great demand year-round, but fortune is truly smiling on you if you win the lottery for one of them for the holidays.

Our son, daughter-in-law and two grandkids stayed in one of our two guest suites. They were very pleased with the size and comfort of the living area, kitchen, both bedrooms and the bathroom. There was a TV in the living room and another one in the main bedroom. The biggest surprise was that when the cupboards were opened, they were stocked with breakfast items!

— Don & Margaret M.

Holiday Gala

The Holiday Gala is THE event of the year at The Marshes of Skidaway Island. We all look forward to it. Anticipation builds as the invitations arrive in festive envelopes. It’s a rare opportunity to see and be seen in your formal finery. Men look dashing in their tuxedos, and ladies are resplendent in spangles and beads. Food & Beverage puts their best foot forward with a very special meal. The Gala, early in December, starts the holidays on a sparkly note.

— Mary Ellen and Dave F.

The Very Merry Teddy Bear Tree

The Bear Tree, a tradition started by residents in 2006, stands in our lobby from the day after Thanksgiving until January 2.

Eighty teddy bears or so, donated by the Salvation Army, arrive at The Marshes of Skidaway Island in October. Each one is adopted by a resident or a staff member and dressed up. In previous years, the little outfits were mostly handmade but, more recently, have been replaced by store-bought newborn clothes. Our Knitting Group is participating in the creation of the Bear Tree this year, so we will see more handmade outfits.

When the holiday season is over, the bears are taken to Police Precinct IV at the Oglethorpe Mall, and that’s where their real work begins. They are placed into the cruisers and used in situations where children are involved to provide a cuddle and a little bit of love and reassurance, like a grandmother’s hug. This is just one of the many ways The Marshes of Skidaway Island residents and staff, with their warm hearts and crafty hands, reach out to the community.

— Celie G.