The Season of Giving
Member feature: by Jenni Franz of VA Connect
The Season of Giving – a fantastic phrase to capture the essence, create a buzz and get our feelings stirred up and into action, but for me, this also raises the question – why only a season. ‘Season’ indicates something that comes and goes in cycles, and even though it is repetitive, there are still the gaps in-between. This led me to think about the old folk that sadly fit into this category, and how many of them, although loved by their families, often spend a lot of time alone in-between visits and in some cases, just contact with their family – being taken out and dusted off for the season and then put back in the box and living out the year in loneliness.
Spending time with one’s elderly is so meaningful for them, and not only during this Holiday Season. Making time for them all throughout the year makes such a difference in their lives. With our fast-paced demanding world we can get so caught up in the “busyness” of it all that time speeds by for us and yet, at the same time, drags for them, highlighting the total contrast in the pace of life. Are we so rushed for time that we cannot slow down to their pace, even just for a while?
There are those who are fortunate to be in a shared environment which gives them the relief of having friends around to take up the slack, and though it does not take the place of family, still gives them contact, warmth and companionship. Then there are those for which my heart truly breaks – those who are living alone with very little to no contact for days, weeks and even months on end. Many of these people are living under very difficult circumstances, existing from month to month, rather than living out the winter of their lives. Not only is life extremely challenging in their surroundings and stature, but very lonely and frustrating. They feel cast out, hollow and devoid of any value. What we need to keep in mind is that these people all have stories to tell, encounters to share, and, in a lot of cases, experiences we can learn from.
Now there are some societies that, with the help of donations, organise End of Year meals or small gifts for these people which is really great for them and yet at the same time so very sad that it is only once a year and even though I know that they are always really grateful and thoroughly enjoy these times, it would be wonderful if it could be a more regular occasion. And so my ‘Season of Giving’ wish would be that more homes could be converted to accommodate groups of these people and they get to live amongst others and share in the daily contact, warmth and spoils of a family-like life and not be existing out there on a limb somewhere alone. It seems that the elderly are the most easily pushed aside, ignored and yes, even forgotten about sector in our society and it is saddening, especially as not so long back, they were the trailblazers, mentors and active contributors we enjoyed, and besides, everyone deserves to be loved, understood and heard and whole.
Happy Holidays to all, may you have some wonderful memories being made with everyone in your circle, and remember, even if grandma or grandpa is a little slow or repetitive, show them love and respect and that will stay with them for months to come. Let them tell their stories over and over and listen like they are new each time. Walk slowly with them and be their memories when they can’t remember. Have lots of laughs and hugs and some little naughty antics. This small amount of time will be etched into their minds and give them plenty of stories to dine out on, and how wonderful will that be.
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