The holidays always bring to mind my parents, grandparents, and family traditions.
I was very blessed growing up to have all four of my grandparents living close by and active in my life. Every Christmas, I spent the days before the holiday with my Polish grandparents, Julian and Stasha Madejski, helping to prepare a very traditional Polish celebration (Wigilia) for all the extended family.
Throughout the year, Sunday was always the day to go to my Italian grandparents, Ross and Rose Crimaldi, for spaghetti. While our family gatherings always centered around a meal, they also included counting our blessings and sharing with others.
My parents, Jan and Rose Mary Madejski, continued the ethnic traditions and started new ones that involved sharing our Christmas traditions and our blessings with those less fortunate.
While I was growing up, my parents always opened their home at Thanksgiving and Christmas to friends and schoolmates who did not have family or could not make it home for the holidays. They collected gifts and baskets for the Salvation Army or visited nursing homes to sing Christmas carols (and Polish Koledy), always including their three children.
As we grew up and married, this tradition of sharing and giving to others has continued in our own families. Our family has grown from five to 18 with the addition of spouses and children. The most exciting part is to see these family values and traditions started by our parents and grandparents take root and blossom in our own children.
Often during the holidays, we get caught up in the commercialism of the season and forget that the best gifts are often those things that we cannot buy. There are many individuals alone during the holidays that would cherish a small act of kindness. This can be as simple as sending a card in the mail, shoveling a walkway, or visiting with someone who has difficulty getting out. Maybe you have time to assist a neighbor who doesn't drive do holiday shopping or maybe you can pick up groceries for that person while you get your own. If you are so inclined, there are many organizations in need of help this holiday season. Consider ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, serving a meal at the soup kitchen, or help OFA deliver Senior Christmas Baskets. Involving children and grandchildren in these activities ensures the tradition of giving and helping stays vibrant in our community.
We at Office for the Aging are blessed to receive many generous donations throughout the year to help seniors who are alone or struggling to make ends meet. Thank you to everyone who has donated their time, talents, and funds to assist us in our many projects including our holiday project, Christmas Baskets for Seniors. This year with the support of county employees and many community partners, we hope to bring a little joy to 150 seniors who would otherwise not celebrate Christmas.
In addition we want to thank everyone who volunteers time to help an aging or disabled person. The work of friendly visiting, delivering meals, driving to medical appointments, and leading exercise classes helps us fulfill our mission of keeping seniors independent in the community for as long as possible. We could not do this with out you. Thank you to our volunteer Ombudsmen who visit people in nursing and adult homes to ensure their wishes and rights are maintained.
Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another holiday tradition, we hope that the spirit of giving continues to touch your heart throughout the year and that the blessing you bestow on others comes back to you ten-fold.
From all the staff at Office for the Aging, we hope you have a very Happy Holiday and Many Blessings in the New Year! Stay well!