By Helen Hirsh Spence
This is Thanksgiving weekend in the US and just another wintry weekend in Ontario. As I was walking with a friend through the forest near home, I couldn’t help but think of all the families who, like Canadians last month, were having their traditional holiday disrupted in a way that no one could have foreseen.
I am not sure if I would have framed the reflection in the same way had it not been for my friend’s comment about a Xmas gift she was preparing for her in-laws. Sarah had gone through her now grown-up children’s early photo albums, selected all the pictures in which the whole family had gathered together for Xmases in the past, copied them, and assembled a special Xmas album for her in-laws. What a creative and perfect gift for nonagenarians who really don’t need anything but will now have their cherished memories of past holidays reignited.
We then started talking about the inevitable… what will we be doing this year at Xmas? Unfortunately, neither of us will be undertaking as much as usual. Xmas will be scaled back considerably given that we are only allowed to share our traditional feast within households. And although it is incredibly sad not to be spending time with as many loved ones this year, it is the first time in over 6 decades of my life that the holidays will not be spent with everyone.
When put into perspective I must admit that I have been extremely lucky. There have been no wars, no famines, no climate disasters, no plagues (until now) that have touched me. My generation and that of my children’s have enjoyed such privilege. Even though there is a global pandemic, Canadians, unlike others (such as those in Ethiopia) are fighting in wars, and many are spending Xmas in refugee camps. I don’t think I am alone when I say that I often take for granted the wonderful life I enjoy.
Although we are not immune to the political struggles and polarizing views, such as those just south of our border, Canadians are pretty lucky. Why not focus more on our good fortune, rather than lament our misfortune.
And these reflections are truly bittersweet. There are many in this great country who don’t have the same privilege as I do. The social injustices are many and require everyone’s attention. The pandemic has served to highlight the inequities and we need to address them.
But back to my walk with Sarah and how the one topic about her in-laws led me to consider another— about the elderly who are completely alone this Xmas. How can we extend our privilege to those we don’t even know, but who are stuck in care, or in homes with no family to visit? Although we can’t be with them or see them up close, if we know someone in that situation, here are a few ideas to brighten their day.
- Handwrite them a note or letter.
- Have a child make a drawing for them.
- Prepare a special meal and bring it to them.
- Send flowers with a note.
- Make a telephone call (Facetime, Skype or Zoom with them, if possible).
- Buy them a small gift such as a box of chocolates (if allowed), a magazine or book.
- Find any way possible to remind them that they are not alone!
I want to wish all of you, our Top Sixty friends, a good holiday season and a big thank you for being a part of our growing family. We love hearing from you and enjoy our interactions in courses and conversations.
Stay well, stay safe, and enjoy whoever is in your bubble!