Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Can it be nearly three months since I last posted? And why today did I decide the time was right to resume writing? I guess I am in a reflective mood, and when I get in those moods, I want to write.

Since the last post in early October I took a new job -- one helping older people get the services they need to remain living independently or in jargon it's called aging in place. I once worked in a senior center, got side-tracked with other matters, and have now returned to a job whose focus is this age group. To me, age is relative. Some of the "youngest" people occupy the oldest bodies.

Through the new job, I am becoming reacquainted with how Thanksgiving (and other holidays) may be observed among older people.

Is there a more iconic portrait of the American celebration of Thanksgiving than Norman Rockwell's Freedom From Want illustration, which was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943? A modern version of this scene is still repeated around the country, but I have found older people who prefer to celebrate in their own fashion. Maybe it's a free Thanksgiving meal from a local church, a meal they make themselves, or one delivered by a volunteer.

Some continue to embrace the traditional family celebration, often traveling to be with children or other relatives. Others prefer the comfort of their own homes and say traveling and adjusting to the younger crowd's schedules and ways is too much. Then, there are those for whom holidays are a stark reminder that as we age, we lose loved ones and friends. One of my older relatives tells me she "hates holidays." She humors her closest relations, though, and dutifully goes to the family farm where she grew up to spend holidays with them. I imagine her niece tells her that it wouldn't be the same without her. And it wouldn't.