Happy Christmas every body!
Yes, I know this seems to be a bit on the early side, however, as this item is being published it will be Christmas that I will be celebrating along with many others. It will be a time of sharing Christmas meals and the pulling of the traditional Christmas crackers. There will be the singing of Christmas songs and the festive joy. The town puts on a Christmas treat to the elderly of the town on the third Wednesday of December, so along with the committee my wife and I will be mingling with hundreds of folks who are over 70 years of age as they enjoy a Christmas meal and concert. Many of them do not manage to get out regularly due to health issues relating to age, so this is a unique time for them to interact with their peers, to reminisce, relax and revel in the joy of it all.
It is Christmas, even if its not the 25th December. December is, of course, a month that will include many other social events. We will be having a children’s party for the Parent and Toddlers group. That should be fun with the children enjoying the games. Then there will be the Christmas meal with the Bowlers, and the same with the men’s drop in, with the opportunity of good company. The list of events seems to be endless, and such a variety of the kind of people and age groups involved. Yet, for all of that, it is the senior citizens event that I prefer to focus on with regard to the social aspects of Christmas. Why?
When I lived in Edinburgh I recall a project I was involved in that required me to go from door to door visiting the residents. I found one lady very helpful and quite pleasant and appreciated how receptive she was to what we were discussing. As I prepared to leave she called me back to enquire as to whether I planned to visit her neighbour. On my confirmation that I would she advised, “Do note that she is elderly and hard of hearing, and if she does hear the knock at the door she will be quite slow in walking, so take your time”. I thanked her, its always good to hear of such good neighbourliness, taking time to ensure she did not miss out on the visit. I knocked loudly and waited, and waited, and waited. It was just as well I was warned, I thought, she really is taking a long time.It was at this point that a car pulled up and the driver called across. “Are you looking for ‘Mrs Smith’, because if so you will be waiting a long time”. I confirmed that I had been made aware that ‘Mrs Smith’ was both deaf and also very slow moving, and understood she would need to take her time. “No, you do not understand”, he said, “You see, what I was meaning is that ‘Mrs Smith’ died 3 months ago. She will never answer that door again for anyone.” I was astounded. The neighbour I thought was so caring did not know that ‘Mrs Smith’ had died 3 months previously. There was a superficial sense of caring, but clearly she had not given time to her on a regular basis. The real need had escaped her attention. On reflection, I would guess that could have happened in any city. We nod, we smile in the passing, but so often no one has time to get to know each other, and when we fail to give the time we fail to care adequately.
So, coming back to Christmas. The gathering of these elderly people in a safe environment means an opportunity to know peace, love and joy, important elements in the Christmas story. Tomorrow, they may see no one, but today they see everyone and enjoy every moment of it. In 1973 the pop group “Wizzard” recorded the record “I wish it could be Christmas every day”. It was destined to be high in the British pop charts for for weeks over December 1973 to January 1974. I am not sure I agree with all the words of the lyrics, but I guess that the title encapsulates the words I want to express. I wish that every day we could find a way to bring together those who need such care. I wish that every day we could be a society that can share the love, joy and peace that’s at the heart of the Christmas message.
Author of “From Barren Rocks to Living Stones” & “Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey” http://about.me/Jonmagee.author.minister