You’ve said “yes” to a new home. And while your retirement community may not do things exactly the way you did them with family and friends through the years, a new setting may provide experiences you like. Group activities, meals, and celebrations can be enjoyable. Whether you’re eager for Christmas or you’re feeling apprehensive about this season, here are some thoughts about celebrating Christmas with your retirement community this year.
Acknowledge Grief and Loss
The Christmas season ushers in a festive spirit almost everywhere you look. Television shows, lights, decorations, and music all declare the joys of Christmas. But for many, Christmas can be a time of heartache. Memories of loved ones who have passed or become estranged surface. Pangs of grief and loss follow. The dark nights overtake the glowing lights.
All the energetic bustle can feel disorienting if you’re grieving loss. Celebration and grief just don’t seem to go together. Acknowledging this reality can be helpful.
Your losses are real. Allow yourself to miss them. If you’ve lost someone and all the traditions that surrounded them, it’s right to recognize that reality—and all the emotions that come with it.
Therapist Amy Morin says, “The holidays can bring about a wide range of emotions. You might feel joy, guilt, and sadness all within a few minutes. Allow yourself to feel those emotions without judging yourself or thinking you should be happy or you shouldn't be laughing.”
You can even take it one step further. In addition to recognizing your grief, you can actively remember the loved one who is gone. Morin continues, “Create a special way to memorialize the person you've lost. Whether you decide to light a candle every night or eat your loved one's favorite food, honoring your loved one can serve as a tangible reminder that although your loved one is gone, the love never dies.”
Look for Joy
Even in the presence of grief, joy comes. Keep an eye out for simple joys, and watch what happens.
Is there anything that perks your spirit? Is there anything, even if it’s little, that you anticipate with some excitement? Maybe it’s your favorite holiday dessert or the visiting carolers. Or a special outing with friends or family. Let that little thing become big. Look forward to it. Enjoy it.
Try practicing gratitude for the things or people you are enjoying. Get specific and say why you’re thankful for them. This could take the form of a prayer or telling a friend. It could even look like simply naming these things to yourself. Simple gratitude leads to simple joy.
Try New Things
Start a new tradition where you are. What is available to do? Get a group of your favorite people together and have some fun. Remaining alone can feel isolating and lonely. Getting together with just one or two people you enjoy can be a treat for everyone.
Many activities can make the season a bright experience. You could introduce new friends to a beloved recipe. Invite them to bake with you, and tell them the old stories about the cookies, pies, or breads you’re preparing.
Decorate your living space and invite others over for a sing-along. Share those storied cookies, sing some songs, and celebrate the joys of now.
What sounds like fun to you? Who knows? Maybe you’ll start something new.
Giving our attention to others can lift our spirits and create stronger bonds. Be the first to reach out to those you love. Make a phone or video call with those who live far away. Take the first step to make a connection, even if it’s not in person.
Do something for others. Find out what kinds of giving opportunities exist in your community. Make cookies for a neighbor down the hall. Shop for or create items to donate to a local shelter. Encouraging someone else will warm and lift your spirit as well.
Let the Spirit of Christmas In
Attending to your spiritual life over Christmas can be a rich and important experience. If your faith is important to you, nurture that. Attending faith services allow you to actively remember and celebrate the Christmas story with other worshipers. Sing carols, light candles, and make this time be about more than presents and activities.
Whether or not faith is a central part of your life, you can look for those deeper meanings this season brings up. Some things to ponder might be the pleasure of the company of others, the magic of laughter, the spirit behind a carefully-chosen gift, or perhaps the silent beauty of the frozen night outside your window.
Allow yourself to be still, to take in, to wonder.
The Cedars Retirement Community
The Cedars Retirement Community offers a full calendar of gathering times, hands-on activities, and fun events. Located just outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana, The Cedars believes in providing the highest quality of life and opportunity for seniors. We want to ensure that your latter years are lived with joy, enthusiasm, and relational connections. Please contact us with any questions or to schedule a tour of our beautiful lakeside retirement community.