Christmas: A Special Time To Share With 'Older New Zealanders'
by Tim Burns, Executive
Volunteering New Zealand
The Christmas holidays are rightly regarded as a special time for families to gather, and for children to take centre stage.
That's as it should be, but this is also a time for recognizing that Christmas is equally about remembering the importance of the 'older New Zealanders' in our communities, be they our parents, grandparents, friends or neighbours. We should specially remember those who are single and live alone and those who are are not in the best of health and cannot get out and about.
It is at Christmas time, a time especially of reviving memories and looking ahead to another year, that a sense of loneliness can be most acute.
At Elizabeth Memorial Hospital, which I managed for some years, there were those who had no family and no friends other than the staff who cared for them and a small team of volunteers who provided extra support. Making Christmas special for our residents was our challenge.
From this experience this is clearly an aspect of Christmas that highlights the challenges of making the concept of positive ageing a reality for everyone.
It is often the work of volunteers, and those who work through the holiday season, that combines to bring a genuine Christmas spirit to people in the community, a spirit that regards all families as extended families and a spirit that puts a special emphasis on respecting our kaumatua, our kuia, our elders, our older people.
See also: www.nzfvwo.org.nz/files/ND21web.htm
(New Dialogue, NZ Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations)