It was just recently that I realized something about myself: I like old people.
I think it all began back when I was about six. Or maybe I was seven. Regardless of my age, I remember distinctly liking my great grandmother. For one thing, she made waffles that did not go in the toaster. For another, she was always happy to see me.
In the last few months, I’ve found myself around a number of people whose ages trump mine by a minimum of 40 years. I’ve had a chance to share these wonderful experiences with some of the young people in my life, and it’s been a gift.
It’s been a gift for the young people (myself included, though I’m not such a spring chicken), because they need to see that respecting life extends all the way to the end. The natural end. The end that God gives us, which isn’t always pretty, or comfortable, or exciting.
It’s been a gift for the older folks (myself included, though I’m not really all that old), because they’re lonely. They need to see the energy and the hope that these young people embody. They need to be inspired and reminded why they worked so hard, why they sacrificed so much, why they keep on going.
It’s been a gift for the people who have heard about it (including you, dear reader, though you may not know it), because we need the reminder to love.
As we enter the hap-happiest time of the year, many around us suffer. They suffer from loss and loneliness, from heartache and sorrow, from despair and grief. They suffer in ways invisible to our eyes but resounding to our hearts.
This Christmas, whether it’s the nursing home down the road or a relative’s apartment, I challenge you to give the gift that, in our society, is worth far more: your time. In doing it, you will find your heart home to a gift far greater than that which you give.