Saturday, December 3, 2011

Aging Christmas

It's a Holly, Jolly Christmas...or is it? As I sat knitting a gift this afternoon, I considered all the aspects of celebrating the holidays as a senior citizen. I'm somewhat computer literate so I spend a bit of time on the Internet.

Conversations about Christmas shopping and baking and decorating leave me wondering about the relevance of those holiday traditions--especially for the elders. Think about it.

If an elder is alone (like the house hunk and I) and on a restricted diet (like the house hunk and I) then what point is there to baking six dozen cookies? Or cakes? Or...whatever? Most of that stuff is on the forbidden list so, baking as a holiday tradition has ceased.

Shopping was an early casualty to living five hours to three days travel away from the rest of the family. Everyone receives gift cards in their annual Christmas card.There really is no point in buying something, packing it, mailing it, paying postage(!), when I can save the postage and send it directly to the gift recipient. See how that works?

Truthfully, our gift giving is also limited by dwindling income and living on retirement/Social Security. It's a good thing presents aren't a major part of my family's Christmas expectations.

As for decorations--well, let's just admit we don't bend as well as we used to. The tree branches close to the floor are a little barer each year. The wreathes and hangings that are at eye level are getting a more strenuous workout, while the tinsel and ornaments that normally hang from the ceiling remain in the box. Ladders aren't recommended for folks with bad hips and knees...or those who use walkers.

Do I sound like I'm having a pity party? Well, not exactly. But I do want to make a point. In the rush and hustle and bustle don't forget those elders around you who might be alone. They may not be physically able to decorate their living spaces. Maybe they'd like a helping hand to hang a wreathe on the door--and take it back down after the holiday. It might be they'd really enjoy a small tin of cookies or fudge. You know, one of those really small tins? One they could put in the refrigerator and sneak out for a nibble or two?

And if you're going to the church Christmas pageant, you might want to consider asking if they would like to go too. As you get older, it's more difficult to get around, especially in the evening.

How about inviting them for Christmas dinner? I live way too far from my folks to fix them dinner. I call down blessings every holiday on the friends and neighbors who live nearby and make sure they invite them to share their meal.

The holidays are a lonely time. Many of our elders suffer depression more this time of year than any other. If your family becomes involved with including an elder in your celebration, your family will likely receive an unexpected blessing in return. Our elders have wonderful experience and knowledge to share with us, if only we let them know we're interested.

Take an elder to Christmas!



  1. Agreed. Far too many people are lonely at this time of the year. But, also many don't care so it's a matter of drawing a line between patronization and true caring

  2. I figure you check and make the offer with no expectations. Sometimes you get far more in return than you expected.

  3. Such great advice, Anny. There are lonely people who would love to share the holiday with someone.

  4. When we'd visit the MIL at Thanksgiving, part of the weekend was spent putting up her Christmas decorations. And taking them down again the day after Christmas....and she'd load us down with candy and cookies she'd spent the entire month baking for all of her friends and family.

    Now there's only my family left, and my college kid has been recruited to help Grandpa hang the lights and decorate the tree this first weekend of December, since he's in the same town:)

    I guess since both mine and the husband's family does this automatically, we forget some friends and neighbors aren't so fortunate to have family close by or friends who automatically include them. Thanks for the reminder to check on and extend the invitation to others!

  5. Living for years in college towns where there was always someone "stranded" at the holidays, it's always been our habit to invite any and all, and we've been the richer for it. I miss that now I'm in a place where I don't know anyone.