I imagine at this time of year you’re as knee-deep in it as I am: the incredibly hectic pace of the holidays. I have to wonder at the juxtaposition of the calming strains of holiday music piped into the mall, beckoning us to roast our chestnuts by the open fire, while throngs of shoppers are racing to grab yet another sale item to tuck under arms already overladen with shopping bags, as blaring car horns urge others to move along and give up those coveted parking spots. Now!
The one commodity we need most of all, and certainly won’t find at the mall, at any price, is time. And no one realizes the value of time more than those of us who’ve expended greater quantities of it.
Just ask any older adult what they wish for most this holiday season from family and friends; no, it’s not another pair of socks, a knick-knack or a picture frame – as nice as those may be. Offer instead an uninterrupted afternoon simply spent together with a beloved senior, and you’re likely to receive in exchange a wealth of gratitude, among a plethora of intangible benefits.
We all know by now that it’s so much more rewarding to give than to receive, and to give the gift of your time this holiday season to seniors feeling the sting of isolation and loss of so much – independence, control, youth, loved ones, and more – offers them:
- A reinforced sense of self-worth and value
- An opportunity to give back themselves, through sharing their wisdom and life stories
- A reprieve from what’s been coined as “skin hunger” – the deficit of human touch, which is as essential to our wellbeing as food and water, and sadly, quite prevalent in the senior population
And in return, carving out precious time for older adults sets a much-needed example for the next generation to understand that those who are more frail, perhaps limited in hearing or vision or cognitive functioning, are valuable and worth honoring and celebrating. It’s only through our own actions and attitudes that we’ll ever have hope of combating the Americanized effects of age-ism that, sadly, tend to relegate the elderly to a position of being less than worthy of our time and attention.
Leo Christopher is quoted as saying, “There’s only one thing more precious than our time, and that’s who we spend it on.” So think with me, if you will, this holiday season: who’s precious enough to you to warrant the priceless gift of your time? Wishing you, and your very precious someones, joy and peace throughout the holidays and into 2017.