Fellowship and love are always in season

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Lois A. Bowers
Lois A. Bowers

I prefer to celebrate one holiday at a time. So although green- and red-wrapped candy has occupied store shelves since October and radio stations have been playing snow-themed chestnuts for weeks, I didn't want to think past Thanksgiving until I'd made my mother's dressing recipe for the annual family gathering last Thursday.

There's a good chance that as you read this, however, boxes of ornaments are scattered across my living room floor. December begins tomorrow, after all.

Senior living communities and their residents are getting into the late-year holiday mood, too, in serious and lighthearted ways. Some, for example, are inviting spiritual leaders to deliver messages, or children and families to sing songs and spend time with residents at special events. Other examples:

The New Jewish Home in New York City is using Dec. 2, “Giving Tuesday,” to start a matching-gift challenge to add joy to the holidays of the state's older adults living in long-term care communities.

Two colleagues at Foxes Grove of Wood River and Glenhaven Gardens of Alton in Illinois are leading an effort to help at least 300 older adults feel less lonely through their Stockings for Seniors program, now in its second year.

Epoch Assisted Living at Melbourne in Pittsfield, MA, is collecting toys for local children from the wider community.

Sunset Manor and Villages senior living community in Grand Rapids, MI, is inviting the community to view the decorated Christmas trees on its campus via a self-guided tour.

Residents at Brookdale Anderson in South Carolina have been collecting and packing up toys from peers and staff members for Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse that delivers presents to children around the world.

And as we look for gifts for loved ones and our thoughts turn to 2016, some senior living communities are offering to help with both goals. Several resident-driven, hobby-related groups at Ashby Ponds retirement community in Ashburn, VA, for instance, posed for a “Golden Oldies” music-themed calendar to benefit the community's Benevolent Care Fund, which supports residents who outlive their financial resources. (In the photo to the left, the Wii Bowling Group poses to “Lightning Strikes.”) A 2012 calendar raised $6,800 for the cause.

And residents of Pleasant Pointe Assisted Living in Barberton, OH, stripped down to pose for a calendar, proceeds from which will benefit the local Kiwanis Club fund to provide shoes to area children. Last year's timetable raised $9,000.

Regardless of the tone, the common themes in all of these holiday efforts are fellowship and love. Those are gifts that are a pleasure to give and receive all year.

How is your community observing the holidays this year? Share your plans with me in the comments section below or send me an email at lois.bowers@mcknights.com.

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight's Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.
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