Article in the New York Times

‘What Day Are You Picking Me Up for Christmas?’

By Amy Harmon Dec. 8, 2020

This article featured in the New York Times highlights one of our individuals and their family’s struggle with the interruptions caused by Covid over the holiday season. While many people will not be getting together this year, including individuals at St. Coletta of Wisconsin, we remain dedicated and focused on bringing special moments to the people we serve while maintaining a high-level of quality care. Here we are family and we will see to it that our clients get the holiday celebrations they deserve.


The coronavirus pandemic has upended the lives of many American families. Follow this weekly feature called “Family, Interrupted” to find out how.


Monica Duffey, 61, looks forward to the day before Christmas Eve. That is the day, every year, that one of her brothers picks her up from the group home in Waukesha, Wis., where she lives with seven other women who have developmental disabilities. Rituals are important to Monica, an avid consumer of Penny Press crossword puzzle books and a lifelong fan of the R&B group Brenda & the Tabulations. Since her parents passed away, Christmas has meant celebrating with her eight siblings, Joe, Maureen, Tom, Tess, Anne, Katie, Dan and Peter — who have been known to compete over giving Monica the present she likes most.


The holiday usually also includes a weeklong visit with Maureen, who along with Tom, serves as her guardian, and a rotation of visits with other siblings and their families. But this year, as coronavirus infections surge through Wisconsin, residents of the group home have been asked to forgo family visits. Maureen and the other Duffey siblings have discussed the change in plans with Monica many times, yet it still dominates their phone conversations. With Monica’s permission, Maureen conferenced a New York Times reporter in to one of their regular calls last week. Here is a lightly edited excerpt.


MAUREEN Hi sweetie.


MAUREEN How are you tonight?

MONICA What day are you picking me up for Christmas?

MAUREEN Well, you know, the virus is really, really bad in Wisconsin right now. Remember I told you that? I think it’s bad everywhere. So none of us are getting together for Christmas this year.

MAUREEN We’ve got some surprises planned for you.

MONICA What for?

MAUREEN What for? For the holidays. For Christmas. So we’re working on those now. You gave Anne a list, right?


MAUREEN And Katie’s making one of your favorite things for Christmas, and she’s going to send it to you.

MAUREEN What do you think? What do we always have at Christmastime and you like to eat? It begins with a “G.’’

MONICA Gingerbread.

MAUREEN Yes. And Katie was baking it today, and she’s going to send it to you. So look for that package.


MAUREEN No, well, she’s sending it probably tomorrow, which is Wednesday. So look for it around Saturday, or maybe on Monday. Do you have all the decorations up in your room that Tess dropped off? And your tree ornaments?


MAUREEN What about the outside lights, can you see them? What colors are out there?

MONICA Orange, yellow, blue, green.

MAUREEN What’s your favorite?


MAUREEN What are you doing tonight? Are you just chilling now before dinner? What are you going to have for dinner?

MONICA [indistinct]

MAUREEN What is it called? Spell it?

MONICA [quickly] S-L-O-P-P-Y

MAUREEN Oh, Sloppy Joe, OK. Good.

MONICA Who is picking me up on the 23rd?

MAUREEN We’re all going to stay in our homes this year, sweetie. Everybody is staying away from each other because of the virus. And we don’t want you to get sick because if you get sick you may have to go to the hospital and we couldn’t come with you. And we would hate that.

MAUREEN We have some more surprises, but I’m not going to tell you what they are yet. We miss you and love you.

MAUREEN I’ll call you in a couple of days.


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About Author: Noah Smith


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