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.


Marion said...

I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving, Sheila!! So nice to hear about all your doings...isn't it funny that I'm also working with the ageing population. I've been volunteering with Hospice and I know exactly what you mean when you say some of the youngest minds are in the oldest bodies.

I have met some awesome people with life histories that are hard to believe. Poets and authors, artists and photographers, cowboys and's been so great to have the ability to meet and talk with them all.

I'm so glad you were in a reflective mood...and wrote! I've missed you! xoxo

Sheila said...

It's good to hear from you Marion! I've missed you too.

In your work, I'm sure you are fulfilling one of the greatest needs of older people (and those with limited days on Earth I suppose)--the presence of someone to really listen. This validation of time here in this world may be skipped by busy "professionals" intent on documentation, procedures, and policies. To me, however, your work is selfless and just as necessary as that of other care providers. I don't think I would be up to it. I admire anyone who is.