Parsons Presbyterian Manor residents Kenneth and Maxine Schooley are looking forward to continuing a Christmas tradition this year, and they have their grandchildren to thank for it. Their daughter Karolyn Schultz recalls when not long ago, there was talk of possibly disbanding the annual “Schooley Christmas.”
“When we discussed not having the “Schooley” Christmas due to scheduling conflicts, the grandkids said no way! They didn’t want the tradition to end, and so it hasn’t. We’ve decided to host it right here at Presbyterian Manor this year,” said Karolyn. “Every year, the family
grows, and it’s harder and harder to find a date that works for everyone, but we’re so glad when we do. They have grandkids, great grandkids, and even great-great grandkids, so it’s amazing almost everyone goes.”
“When we were kids, mom and dad never had much money, but always made sure we got one big gift at Christmas. We would visit a retired school teacher, Mrs. Sewell and celebrate with her on Christmas Eve. Before leaving our house, our parents would put us in the car, and run back in because they ‘forgot’ something. As it turns out, that’s always when Santa must have come because we’d find gifts under our tree when we got hom.
The Schooley’s relationship with Mrs. Sewell began when she agreed to teach their oldest daughter, Laura, at home.
“My sister Laura had down syndrome, and at that time, there weren’t many resources for her in school. She wasn’t able to stay in traditional school past 4th grade, and Mrs. Sewell was retired and started teaching her. My parents were incredibly grateful and a strong bond was formed.”
Perhaps Maxine Schooley’s desire to have a warm, loving holiday stems from her upbringing.
“My mother was a self-made woman. She wrote her story for us, and it’s just amazing. Her mom died when she was six, and she bounced around from home to home until she left home at 14 to live in a boarding school to finish her degree. She worked in the kitchen there to pay her room and board. She then went on to be a school teacher to pay for nursing school, and then became an RN. All she wanted was a family of her own. She realized how important family was, and it still is,” said Karolyn.
As their children grew older, it was more and more difficult to get everyone together on Christmas Day.
“We couldn’t spend Christmas together, so it became a tradition that all of us would get home on Thanksgiving. But we’d still find another day to have our “Schooley” Christmas,” said Karolyn. “This year it will be on Dec. 16, my dad’s 96th birthday, so it’s extra special. Everyone brings crockpot soups. It’s easy to do, we all just bring them and plug them in. It lets us spend more time socializing.”
We’re honored to host the Schooley family this Christmas season, and wish you and yours a joyous holiday as well!