Friday, November 13, 2015

The Gift of Time

The Christmas holidays are fast approaching. For many of us, this means an enchanting season filled with yuletide shopping, colourful-house decorations, and get-togethers with family and friends; a time to revisit and enjoy those long-held traditions.

But for others, especially amongst the elderly in our community, the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be a lonely and mournful time, leaving them feeling forgotten and susceptible to the “holiday blues,” which can trigger the grief of their losses, such as the loss of a loved one or good health or the heartache associated with losing their own home as well as their own Christmas traditions.

In my 25 years' experience working with the elderly, I had seen, many times, the sparkle in their eyes that implied a past life of freedom and agility. One such experience took place at the Sears Annual Seniors Event, a heart-warming experience that brought family and friends together before the holiday rush, an entertaining night out in the lives of our elderly, who might have otherwise felt forgotten, if it wasn’t made possible by the many dedicated volunteers. 

This event would kick off with a little shopping, stopping along the way for some yummy holiday treats and a chit-chat, followed by the enjoyment of a local bands rendition of some well-known Christmas carols. As we joined in for a singalong, the magic began to happen. From the clapping of hands, to the stomping of feet, to the footloose and fancy-free dancing, for a couple of hours, the elderly were lost in their own little world. Maybe for some, it was a flash back to their youth, and, for others, maybe it was a time away from their loneliness. Whatever the case might have been, they were living in the moment, no doubt, and it was breathtaking to witness.

Sometimes we forget that behind an elderly face is a life well-lived. It's a life that has contributed much to our society; a life that desires love and affection; a life that, in many cases, has survived the war and the Great Depression as well as the heartache of having to outlive their child/children.

Let's put away our I-phones and become more mindful of our physical surroundings. Let's get back to more face-to-face interactions that our previous generations enjoyed. If possible, let's in the midst of all the hustle and bustle this year, find ways of enriching an elderly person’s life by giving them the gift of time. It costs nothing. It asks for nothing in return, only that we show up and be present with our presence. And who knows, if it hasn’t already, it may awaken a passion in you that extends well beyond the holiday season. 

Our time is precious to us, but if we spend a portion of it at the feet of our elderly, we well, most assuredly, find great wisdom there. 

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