Almost all of us celebrate birthdays. We love to be able to mark how many years we've stayed alive on this planet, have cake and talk with friends and family. Some people insist that you don't know the number of years that they've managed to collect during their sojourn on earth, but it is indeed something that no one should be ashamed of. Think of how many things have happened throughout your lifetime that could have cut those days short. Near death experiences, wars, natural disasters, or common poor health are a few things that could take us earlier than we deem fair. Now think of how many years you've lived after any of those things have occurred. Each day is a gift, each year is a miracle! In our country, we have a day to remember soldiers who have gone before while fighting for our freedoms, Memorial Day. It's good for us to remember and to be thankful. It's even more important for us to celebrate those who have made it to their twilight years and have lived a full life in spite of all of the hardships & disappointments & with a perseverance that will inspire us on our journey.
Life has never been easy, not for one person who walked this earth. Each person's life has it's own pain & suffering. Even those people whom we perceive to have lead a charmed life often have hidden hurt that they cover. So doesn't it make sense to raise big hurrah for those who have figured out a way to walk each day in spite of that, while choosing to look at the amazing, joyful things that crowd into view? So here are a few ideas that might help you celebrate old age with someone you love. You could celebrate on their birthday, or on a separate date that might hold more meaning for them.
- Get people together! Throw some sort of a party or lunch & invite people who have shared in a certain part of the person's life. If they are a war veteran, consider getting comrades together. If they've been involved in other important things, get fellow workers & friends together. It needn't be a formal affair wrought with expense. Oftentimes people are just wanting to connect, and even coffee or tea and a light snack will help them to do that.
- Get out the photos. In this digital age, we often forget that photographs held such meaning for a number of people. They were their only physical means of reminder of the people they cared about. Put photographs on display in order to help start conversations, & also to help them feel comfortable in their surroundings.
- Play music! Find music that they've enjoyed or music from their era. Play it softly in the background. Ask them for input if they know about the party. You might be surprised at the style of music that they prefer!
- Create comfortable places for people to visit. If you have a main table with chairs for eating, also make a few smaller spots with more comfortable places to sit so that people feel free to linger longer for conversations. No one likes to sit for hours in folding chairs, least of all those who've lived so many years! Make some cozy locations in the room that are easier on old bones!
- Arrange transportation. Keep in mind that many of their friends may not be able to drive, or feel comfortable driving long distances. Arrange for them to get there, if need be.
- Say a few words. Let them know how much they've meant in your life. Whether you give a speech or not is up to you, but this is your chance to speak up about how they've impacted your life & about how grateful you are that they're still around.
- Have fun! Visit with those who are around you & get to know new people. You'll be amazed at the stories you hear & the new appreciation for life that you'll find in the midst of old age!