There is a reason why the winter months have spawn so many traditions of holidays, merriment, and social festivities over the centuries: The shorter days, colder temperatures, and at times, treacherous conditions make life seem heavier to bear than normal. But for many seniors, the opportunities to participate are greatly limited, due to physical limitations, or a lack of transportation. This year more than ever, holiday cheer is the kind of thing we should be spreading to friends, relatives, and neighbours!

And for some festive inspiration, the staff at Community Support Connections have seven great ways you can give the gift of belonging and care for a senior this season:

     1. Write a holiday card. In the days of sail and horse-drawn transit, writing a letter or sending a card was often a necessity. In our modern digital world, taking the time to mail a handwritten note, poem, or letter means sending an extra special message of thoughtfulness.

     2. Provide a holiday care package. Whether it is necessities, treats, or other gifts, assembling a stocking or gift for a senior is a wonderful way to show that you care. There may be local organisations in your area with special holiday programs to collect gifts for seniors, such as Community Support Connections’ Stuff-A-Stocking campaign.

     3. Go carolling – physically distanced! Nothing quite lifts the spirits like strains of music. If you have a song or two to share, consider visiting a senior you know – using proper distancing guidelines from their door and/or Personal Protective Equipment like a mask, of course!

     4. Deliver a baked or preserved good. Preparing food for another is a very special form of love. If you have some talent in the kitchen, consider boxing up some baked goodies, jarring some jam, jelly, or salsa, or canning some fruits. Or, consider checking out your local Meals on Wheels service, and volunteer to deliver hot or frozen meals over the holidays. You’ll be delight to both their hearts and their tastebuds!

     5. Shovel their pathways. Many older seniors especially can struggle with clearing out their driveways, walkways, and sidewalks, and risk facing municipal fines if they fail to do so. Depending on where you are, there may be programs available to match you with local seniors in need – such as Community Support Connections’ Snow Buddy program.

     6. Share a memory. You can touch the soul of another by sharing with them a photo of a place, a copy of a song, or a trinket that reminds you of them, or that you think they will enjoy. Regardless of what you share, the sentiment is sure to bring a smile to their faces!

     7. Give them a call. There is a calming reassurance in the sound of a familiar voice. If we cannot gather together, then a good, old-fashioned phone call to check in and say you are thinking of them is the next-best thing! There are many seniors who will be unable to see or hear from their families this year, and for whom a phone call would be an incredibly meaningful gesture. It’s a simple gift that can be given year-round, too! See if there is a local service you can become involved with that will match you with a senior you can be a check-in partner with – like Community Support Connections’ Friendly Visiting Program.