2013-12-19 / Senior Savvy

Making the First Move

By Florence Archambault

Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 83 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 83 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. If we are not careful, the joy of the holidays can disappear as we worry about the pressures and expectations of the season, all the things that need to be done, and everything else that accompanies this time of year. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed as we wonder how to cope with it all. There comes a time in life when we begin to question if all the hoopla surrounding Christmas is necessary.

Some of us no longer have the energy to meet the physical demands of preparing for the holidays, while others labor under the burdens of grief and guilt.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is up to us to change our approach to the season.

It isn’t a crime to decide not to put up a tree with all of its paraphernalia. Get a small tabletop one if you want to continue the tradition with less work. It’s also a good time to get ornaments and decorations out for distribution among friends and family, allowing them to chose the ones they have admired over the years. Downsizing is good for the soul.

Don’t be afraid to change as you grow older or as your living circumstances require. Holiday traditions are not written in stone and new ones can be much more comfortable. Ask yourself if you really need to cook a big dinner for a crowd. Why not offer coffee and pastries on Christmas morning? Let the children and other family members help. However, you have to learn to ask for help. I have yet to meet anyone who can read my mind and you probably haven’t either (which is probably a good thing).

If you don’t have familial connections and struggle with loneliness this time of year, there are many ways to cope with the situation, but you have to realize that you need to help yourself.

I’m sure there are others who experience feelings of isolation, especially at this time of year. You might know some of them. Reach out and invite them to attend a program with you, or go to lunch. Things might never happen if you don’t make the first move.

When I realize I haven’t seen some friends for a long while, and knowing that we are all busy with our day-to-day routines, I’ll occasionally invite a couple of them over for early morning coffee and muffins. It’s a great way to start the day before the daily rush ensues, and it’s also pleasant to catch up with what’s happening in each others’ lives.

There are many seasonal activities going on now at our local senior centers, including teas, parties, plays, and musical programs. Most are free or charge only a nominal fee. Christmas in Newport has many great offerings in their annual program, which continues until the end of the month.

Most of Newport’s churches offer musical performances as a gift to the community. Everyone is always welcome at these events, regardless of church affiliation. I can’t emphasize enough how being part of a church family can help one over the hurdles that arise in our everyday existence.

Decide to take charge during the holidays and you will recapture the spirit of the season.

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