It’s nearly Christmas. We look to the coming of the Christ who came to us simply, born in poverty though rich with love.
We are a grateful people, truly blessed.
And I’m going to be blunt in my gratitude.
It’s that time of year when seniors, like me, get the notice from Social Security that our benefits fall short — again — of the cost of living and climbing healthcare. Each year we live at an ever-increasing deficit, an ever-decreasing journey to poverty though living, according to the government, above the true poverty level.
Many of us are without family, and winters can be hard seasonally and emotionally. We placate our isolation by finding and serving Christ in others, seeking joy through doing what we can as the weakest of God’s servants.
To those of you who can, I offer you a few ways to bless us who are growing old.
- Call and offer a ride to Mass, or to special events in the evening when we cannot see to drive.
- Buy our hot pads, wood workings, or any of our crafts. We may not be the best of artists; we are trying to support ourselves.
- Come shovel snow out of our drives, spread salt when it’s icy, mow our yards, weed the garden, change the bulb in the security light, nail up the gutter that came down in the last storm, and take away that broken limb that damaged the gutter. You are our neighbor; you can see our needs and we, often too shy to ask, need you.
- Bring us a breakfast sandwich and some coffee. You get the idea.
- Gift cards for restaurants are nice, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness. A handwritten voucher from you for a shared dinner at the same restaurant is better … much better.
- Bring us good food as gifts. A casserole, some chocolate or cookies are a nice treat, but love us enough not to give us a heart attack or throw us into a diabetic coma. Fresh fruit and nuts, small veggie trays, artisan breads, specialty coffee or teas … gosh, even a few red bell peppers and a couple of avocados would be great!
- Magazines are often appreciated and one of the first things to be cut from the budget. Ask us what we like: out-of-doors, crafts, spiritual, literary, or lifestyle publications, to name a few. Digital services for music or audiobooks (especially if our vision is bad) are also appreciated.
- Ask to wash the kitchen walls, clear out stuff from the basement, replace burned out bulbs, or wipe off the top of the refrigerator or cabinets where getting up on a step stool might be a challenge.
- A flowering plant or some such thing to brighten our spaces.
- Above all, be attentive. Some of the sweetest gifts I’ve received are from those who ‘see’ me.
- A friend brought me two cases of bottled water. A whopping $5 investment but priceless in that I cannot lift the cases from the shelf, in or out of the car, up the stairs, and into the kitchen.
- A young woman each night during Advent sent a file of her singing a hymn a cappella. I not only loved her voice, but felt her ‘presence’ while listening.
- Another gave a super fluffy, oversized throw because I have to keep heating costs down.
One last thought about our giving gifts at Christmas: Is there something we can do for you? I find great joy in making soups and sharing them with other elders. It was delightful to help a friend write a memoir for their kids. We can give generously of ourselves and our time; bless us by allowing us to bless you. Sometimes our poverty isn’t monetary.
As you’re discerning gift-giving and looking for ways to serve — not only in December — take the spirit of Christmas and bring it to those who need you in different ways, whether elderly relatives or friends.
Copyright 2019 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB