Remembering the elderly at Christmas

533539_4029571942594_884633089_n[1]A test of a people is how it behaves toward the old. It is easy to love children. Even tyrants and dictators make a point of being fond of children. But the affection and care for the old, the incurable, the helpless are the true gold mines of a culture.
~ Abraham J. Heschel ( – December 23, 1972)

The woman sat in the room by herself, alone with her thoughts as three young children entered.
Her room was beige, and by all accounts, it was a rather sad, lonely room.
But yet as the three young children walked up to her, all wearing Christmas red, her face brightened.
“Oh, thank you. You are going to make me cry,” the woman said as she sat in her wheelchair collecting the three Christmas cards that were given to her.
“Merry Christmas!” the children said as they bopped out of her bedroom, and across the hall to another friendly face.
As the children continued to spread Christmas cheer, a mom turned around and saw the same woman with her face in her hands. The woman must have sensed someone looking at her because she lifted her head and smiled.
“That was so nice,” she said quietly.
I smiled at her and wished her a Merry Christmas.

During the holiday season, it seems that the focus is on children. There are many programs, such as Toys for Tots, geared toward making the holiday season special and memorable for the young.
But, what about the elderly who are living day to day in a nursing home?
As a child, I was not a fan of visiting the nursing home where my great-grandma lived. It scared me.
I don’t want my children to have the same feeling. It is important not to forget the elderly in our society. They are the keys to our past. They unlock the heritage of our families.
The men and women my children and their friend came in contact with today were once fathers, mothers, soldiers, teachers, engineers, railroad employees, grocery store managers, doctors and nurses.
But more importantly, they are still here. They are still among the living and deserve to have a Merry Christmas just like the rest of us.
So, this holiday season, if you have a loved one in a nursing home, take a break from your hectic life and visit your dad, mom, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend. The 30 minutes you spend with them will be worth it, and it may even be the best Christmas present to yourself.