ALOHA FROM JENNIE: With Thanksgiving and the December holidays around the corner, we breathe a sigh of relief on making it through another year, enjoying the privilege of living in a beautiful state that is part of a powerful and relatively prosperous country, full of bountiful resources and independent citizens, with opportunities and freedoms not as readily available in the global landscape.
As I reflect upon the people that I’ve interacted with over the past year, I see those of us who have just lost a loved one, some after a long illness, some unexpectedly, some tragically. This first set of holidays after the loss will be full of grief and memories of happier past times. Nothing can take away the pain, not really, but hopefully there can be some comfort through the strength of friends, family and/or clergy.
We see people who have had setbacks, who will need to deal with the disappointment of their children during the holidays, too young to understand why they are not in their foreclosed upon homes anymore. True, things could be worse, there are those who rent an apartment, or pay for a weekly room, or live in their cars, or a tent. I admire the fortitude of all those who are ‘making do’, as well as military families who can’t be with their loved ones during the holidays. No wonder the lower and middle class are the backbone of America.
Now and then, I see children of privilege, those who have never been without a roomful of presents under the holiday tree, who have had the best education that money can buy, and yet they’ve developed a strong sense of duty and compassion, and as adults join Doctors without Borders, or charitable foundations, not for the tax write-off or the lip service of being involved, but to sincerely better the lives of those less fortunate, because they actually see the need. There are so many who donate anonymously, or who set up private endowments, in addition to all of the public taxes that they pay. Hopefully, their voices and actions can motivate our leaders.
Finally, I see senior citizens grappling with the sadness of losing their circle of friends and family to old age and dealing with senior issues such as the high cost of medications, fixed incomes versus escalating expenses, their deteriorating physical ability and increasing aches and pains, and the loneliness of a world passing them by. Tasks and routines that were simple are now a struggle. Technology invades everything from telephones to market checkout lines. Everyone else is seemingly smarter and faster, doing everything with ease. The hustle and bustle of holidays are just additional hurdles, making the isolation and depression more pronounced.
And yet, I also see the resilience of the senior spirit. They didn’t get to where they are without a lot of trial and error, gumption, and crazy experiences. They’ve raised the children that are now out conquering the world, so to speak. Our fiercely independent seniors are the ones that help the housebound with grocery trips, and watch the children of a neighbor caught without a babysitter now and then.
They persevere with home upkeep and repairs, and walking and bathing their dogs, even though it would be just so much easier to stay in bed. They volunteer to write letters to deployed troops, despite arthritic fingers and dimming eyesight. These seniors who push on, often by themselves with little support, because things just need to get done, are the ones that make their generation the foundation of what we have today.
As the new year approaches, I wonder what the future holds, who will give up, who will soldier on, who will remember their roots as things get easier and better, who will try to make a difference, no matter how small. Our wish to you is that wherever you are in this walk of life, that there are moments of success in your personal struggles, along with contentment, comfort, and tranquility. Happy holidays.