Christmas 2022 at the Old Folks Home

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover firsthand experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The  blogs will be short and appear once a month on my website or by email if you choose.  Nadine Block

Christmas 2022 at the Old Folks Home

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly” is sung and put into practice  here at the Old Folks Home. Fresh boughs and twinkling lights grace outdoor trees and the building entrance.  Musicians often entertain after dinner in the weeks before Christmas.  Musical events are likely to  end with audience sing-alongs.    Christmas trees and a collection of Nutcrackers decorate public areas. A  Christmas party and Christmas dinner are scheduled. There is an increase in smiling faces here at the Old Folks Home.

My apartment in independent living has  reminders of the holidays, a poinsettia, a couple of live wreaths, and fragrant candles.  I gave away my tree and decorations before moving here.  I have no place to store them.  I am happy to enjoy public area decoration.  If I really want to keep some familiar holiday  practices, I can sign up to help decorate trees and display the nutcrackers. 

I sit in front of a public room Christmas tree and let my mind wander to happy holidays when my husband and I played Santa after the children went to bed.  I remember wrapping presents and  shushing him from cursing as he put together toys. Little ears were listening as mine once were on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa.    My sister and I, little preschoolers,  laid fitfully in our bed Christmas Eve. We peeked out the window looking for Santa.   Our family farm in Wisconsin  was quiet.  The buildings, fences and snow were lit by a bright full moon.  It was impossible to sleep. We finally fell asleep after we heard reindeer paws on the roof. Santa had come.  A few years later, the same sister and I convinced our younger brother to believe in Santa until he was in fourth grade.  Of course, his friends told him the truth, but he refused to believe them because his big sisters said there was a Santa.  Our family of five children remains close and we still believe one another’s lies.

If I sit long enough reminiscing, Christmas sad times come back.  My husband died on December 21st of last year.  His last years were dimmed by dementia and my grieving is complicated. My youngest son died from cancer two years ago.  His cancer journey began in his forties.   I am still mad at God about that.    I let the memories flow through me.  I cannot remove the grief, anger, and sadness. It hits me at unexpected times. Someone mentions a recent family death, or  a photo of my deceased son shows up  on Facebook and I tear up.  

The old folk’s home is full of elders whose memories of Christmas, like mine, are both sad and happy.  All of us  have lost dear ones.  With silent  admiration and warm love, we feel unspoken kinship.

I remember the fork in the road that I want to take.  I want to honor but not dwell on sad times.  I think about why I am lucky.   That gets boring and ineffective after a while. I laugh.  It gets me out of a sad swoon.  I decide to go to Happy Hour and have a glass of with wine with my neighbors.   Cheers and happy holidays to all.  Nadine Block


To learn more:

Stress, depression, and the holidays: Tips for coping

Mayo Clinic:

Health Line: How to Deal with Stress and Depression During the Holidays