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'Tis the season to spread the spirit
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The luminous lights that set the nights aglow, coupled with individuals’ newly sparkling spirits, have once again emerged this holiday season.

While reminiscing on the success of our 2011 Christmas Parade, Turlock teems with activity as its residents rush to finesse the perfect pudding recipe, learn the new Christmas carols, and locate the smartest sales for shopping. But there is some truth to be found in writer and reporter John Clayton’s words, “Just as a puppy can be more of a challenge than a gift, so too can the holidays.” The test this time around is remembering to bring the festive holiday spirit that punctuates this season into the worlds of our elderly residents.

This message is not unique to adults. In fact, knowing that a child, who could be out frolicking about, would rather spend some moments with a senior relative or friend kindles an appreciation all the more sincere.  

During my visits to Turlock’s Covenant Village Care Center, I had the blessing of encountering the forever steadfast strength, diversity, and hearts of the previous generations. But it all merely prompted me to face the fact that families frequently forget to visit their elderly kin, and society as a whole tends to leave itself little room to consider this important group. The difficulty of constructing a common core with someone of a generation past and keeping the connection are often blamed in an attempt to mask the worsening reality, but these so-called obstacles simply don’t hold true.

A visit with a senior citizen presents the ideal way to integrate the present with the past that you could not experience, and from a different angle look into what the future holds for each human being. The privilege to take a glimpse into this infallible crystal ball should serve as the drive to overcome whatever age or interest barriers that may prevent one from gaining the insight.  America will be needing leaders who can listen — who can socially, emotionally, and intellectually connect — and interacting with all slices of society will help cultivate the skills to blossom off of.

The views of one resident of the Covenant Village Care Center reinforced this concept: “When I was young, I did not take time to consider what was in store for me when I would grow older. Looking back, I think the best way to have understood life was by spending time with a senior citizen. Individuals who have lived through the stages of life you may be going through now have lived through the same troubles and emotions; they’ve seen the different sides of humanity that the new generation has yet to discover.”

When asked of her overall outlook on the appreciation and effect of visits, she contemplated:  “I have derived many hours of pleasure from watching this era’s youth grow up. I often wish my generation had the example of anybody giving the impression that we could contribute to society other than our own development. Although there still remain elderly individuals who do not receive visits from their relatives and children, I do feel more youth now have the opportunity to understand that sharing their hearts and time with us makes a difference, and I hope they are encouraged to do so.”

While visiting senior citizens holds essential for any time and anyone, the arrival of the holiday season only reinforces the need for collective community effort in this aspect. Any individual conflicted should remember, though, that the religious beliefs that may govern an outlook on holidays do not need to crumble the concept of tying visits with the elderly to the festivities during this time of year. This season is simply an opportunity to enliven the surroundings, and create an aura that places such visits in a new light. The duty of all the dynamic, developing generations will continue to be to sweep the same spirit into the residences of the elderly, and watch it magnify a hundredfold.

Even if the approaching of the holiday season may signal the onset of chaotic times and increased personal responsibilities, such need not interfere with the spreading of the season’s spirit to a significant slice of society.

  — Henna Hundal is a high school student and resident of Turlock. She writes a monthly column on matters related to youth and our society.