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Are you a solo senior this year? Find ways to make your holidays merry

If the holidays are looming ahead for you, consider volunteering to help others this season. Hundreds of volunteers gathered at the Lyman Community Center in Gulfport to assemble meals for those in need on Nov. 24, 2016. It was the 27th year for the Gulf Coast Public Safety Feed the Needy program, which was expected to deliver around about 2,600 meals. The program will continue this year.
If the holidays are looming ahead for you, consider volunteering to help others this season. Hundreds of volunteers gathered at the Lyman Community Center in Gulfport to assemble meals for those in need on Nov. 24, 2016. It was the 27th year for the Gulf Coast Public Safety Feed the Needy program, which was expected to deliver around about 2,600 meals. The program will continue this year. amccoy@sunherald.com

If you’ve been in pretty much any store lately, you know the holidays are quickly approaching. Thanksgiving is two weeks away, and Christmas is just over a month in the future.

Perhaps the holidays traditionally have meant for you getting ready for carloads of family arriving for a big meal, or maybe they’ve been much quieter and smaller, just you and your spouse. And perhaps this will be the first holiday season you’re spending alone, and you don’t want to think about what those days will look like this year.

If you’re dreading the holidays, here are some suggestions on how to enjoy the season even though it’s in a much different way.

Volunteer

Volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways to stay occupied this time of year. On Thanksgiving Day, there are several programs on the Coast that box and deliver meals for those who need them or serve a sit-down meal.

Check around with nonprofit organizations for seasonal volunteer opportunities, or make this the time you find something you can do all year.

For example, animal shelters often need volunteers to walk dogs or offer other pet-related help (free licks and purrs are benefits).

Area soup kitchens are another place to volunteer, as are museums. Training requirements can vary for volunteer positions, but don’t let that scare you away. Consider getting the training another fulfilling opportunity.

Participate

If your church offers a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal or party for seniors, don’t hesitate to attend; after all, it’s for you, and you will be among several other people you know or have the opportunity of meeting. Check calendar listings for holiday-themed events, and go. Take a neighbor or friend with you. Or invite that young family next door. If you hesitate to drive at night, don’t be shy about asking someone else to drive.

Take one of several art classes offered by Coast museums and some craft supply stores, even if it’s something you’ve never thought you could do. Maybe this is a hidden talent that will start you on a new, exciting path.

Do for others

Similar to volunteering, doing for others will help you take your mind off your own concerns and focus on others’ needs. If you’re going to be alone on Christmas or Thanksgiving and you know others who will be, why not invite them over to your house? If you’re up to it, you can prepare the meal, or you can pre-order a meal from an area deli or encourage everyone to bring something (it doesn’t have to be homemade). The get together doesn’t have to be big and fancy; the important thing is to gather and enjoy each other’s company.

If you’re an active senior, look for opportunities to help those who aren’t as mobile. Or if you’re a computer-savvy senior, consider helping contemporaries catch up to your level. You two are more likely to speak the same “language,” and you’ll understand your friend’s frustrations and victories as he or she learns how to use a smart phone, Facebook or email.

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1

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