Do Gooders United

It is that time of year again, when the frenzy of shopping begins to find the perfect present to fit into the Christmas stockings for all the family, their sisters, cousins and their aunts.

Like life itself, there is a Yin & Yang to this situation, the guilty feelings of spending so much money on loved ones, not forgetting a few wee treats for ourselves, we salve our conscience with buying a gift for someone less fortunate than our selves. It makes us feel good.

The marketing folk are well latched on to this ‘guilt’ these days, and the begging envelopes start dropping through the letterboxes at the beginning of September.  Quite a few come bearing gifts, a cheap plastic pen, or gift tags, anything to lure you into sending dosh to fill their coffers.  The begging letters are not on cheap scrappy paper. Oh no! Quite a sum of money is spent in the effort to part you for your hard earned cash. All of which has to be paid for.

Then we come closer to home. Christmas parties for pensioners. If they are lucky a turkey dinner will be served, followed by an hour of a sing song, a party hat and a small swag bag. So who does it?

Let me use my small town as an example, I am not counting the surrounding villages that come under the same umbrella.

Let me start with the local council, then at a quick glance, we have a bouquet of churches and meeting houses. Add in a charity or two like the Rotary & Lions Clubs, some sports clubs and you have the idea. If you were up to it, you could have a free lunch maybe three or four times a week between now and Christmas.

“All very laudable.” I hear you say, but is it really laudable or cheap charity? I have heard elderly pensioners say that by the middle of December they were fed up of the look and taste of turkey, plum pudding and mince pies. They often accept the invitations just for the company.

How many people are involved in organising and preparing, serving and chauffeuring patrons to and from these events?  Quite a few I imagine.

Well, I have a suggestion.

Many of these pensioners live alone, they have long outlived their partners, and their children – if they have some – have flown the nest for far flung corners of the world. They may not be that agile and bus routes may not go past their doors, so getting out on a regular basis is difficult.

Take Churches for example, they have flower and cleaning rotas and people have no problem putting their names down to provide and arrange the flowers or clean the church once a month or just three or four times a year. What is to stop them having a Granny/Grandpa Rota. People put their name down and are matched up with a senior citizen to invite for lunch on their allotted dates. It needn’t be the same senior citizen, it might be a different person each time.

This type of situation can have benefits in both directions. The older generation carry years of life’s experiences on their shoulders, they can teach you about frailty and children without grandparents might have the opportunity to adopt one.

The older guest has something to live for, and look forward to, throughout the year. They have specific days with younger people and time away from the four walls of home and the problems therein.

If you were on your own, frail and elderly which would you prefer? Four weeks of feasting on the same menu and then be forgotten about for the other eleven months OR a family meal maybe once a month for the full year?

I would put it on the same footing as barging into a famine torn country and providing aid to bring the inhabitants back from the brink of death, only to then turn around and walk away. If we decide to feed the starving, we have a responsibility to see it through by providing the means for teaching them how to feed themselves.

It was speccy at me, mine and other bits who reminded me to do something about this post festering in my brain.

26 thoughts on “Do Gooders United

  1. nick

    A very good idea. A family meal once a month sounds much better than a Christmas meal blitzkrieg once a year. I know my own mum gets very bored with endless Christmas meals, and as you say just goes along for the company.

    And you know what I think of the term “pensioner”. I avoid using it myself. There’s something a bit patronising about it, don’t you think?

  2. Grannymar Post author

    Nick – I am with you on the label “pensioner” it can be so condescending, reaching that benchmark, should be a mark of honour for a lifetime of experiences gained over the years.

  3. Nelly

    A wonderful idea Grannymar.

    And I am in complete agreement with you about the charity begging letters. I have got to the point where I think – oh free pen. And then put the rest in the trash/recycling without a qualm.

  4. speccy

    Ah now, that wasn’t a rant at all, but a thoughful, wonderful way of looking at the world, seeing the real people. That’s why we love you 🙂

  5. Maria from 'gaelikaa's diary'

    My sister worked in a supermarket in Dublin which had a senior citizens evening around Christmas time every year. They’d give the selected customers a small gift voucher and have them do a little shopping and then they’d have this little reception for them (beer, sherry, xmas cake) and then have a bit of a dance and a sing song. My sister and her colleagues were amazed when a woman walked up to them one year during the function and said ‘remember Mrs Kelly who always used to come here with me?’ My sister and the others said ‘oh, yes, we do, where’s Mrs Kelly tonight?’ ‘She died during the year,’ came the reply. ‘Can I have her gift voucher? She won’t be using it now and she’d want me to have it because I’m her friend.’

    Seriously, I do agree with your idea. Senior citizens are part of the community after all.

  6. Grannymar Post author

    Nelly – the trouble is that we cannot help everyone, or else we would be at the front of the queue for the lunches. I now decide at the beginning of the year which charity I will support and any spare funds go to them.

    speccy – After that comment, I’ll have to buy you a cup of coffee! 😆

    Maria G – Good story! A community covers all age groups from birth to the end of life and all are important.

  7. adinparadise

    I so enjoyed your post, grannymar. You make very valid points, and have come up with some excellent ideas. You now need to print out copies of your post and drop it off at all your local churches and charities.

  8. Grannymar Post author

    AD – Thank you. Now that is an idea, even it is too late for this year. It could of course become part of New Year resolutions!

  9. Rummuser

    I admit to some ignorance about the background to the story but over all I think that the suggestions that you make appear to be more suitable for the elderly than the routine do gooding. In India, by and large, the family does take in the elderly but there are cases where they are left to fend for themselves and If one looks hard enough, I suspect that we can find ways to implement your ideas here too.

  10. K8

    I suspect it may be hard for a lot of resident dwellers to physically get out into family environs though, some are in wheelchairs, some require nurses to handle add-ons, it would be sad for some to be left behind.

    I’m with you on this image of loneliness and separate living though, to get a break from routine can be a beautiful thing. I wish budding music artists would do more impromptu ‘unplugged’ acts in the foyers of nursing homes, local Montessori schools should unleash a few toddlers every now and then un-announced for an hour. How fun would that be?

  11. wisewebwoman

    I like the term elders and use it to the blink-astonishment of others around here. After all I is one.

    Great post GM, this whole season of an annual hour of compassion thrown sideways does my head in. And the do-gooders involved make my head spin.


  12. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – In this part of the Western world, as we approach Christmas, local charities focus on the lunches for the ‘Elderly’ or those living alone as I have described above. Others concentrate on collecting toys for children who would not otherwise have one from ‘Santa’.

    K8 – Do you mean those living in residential homes? Here the ‘party’ goes to them. The lunches are for the frail elderly, but mobile who live at home. Places like ‘Fold Housing and Abbeyfield’ often have small groups of local musicians for choirs to visit and entertain. Our shopping Malls have Primary/junior level school choirs, to sing carols for about 40 minutes to an hour at a time several times a week.

    WWW – My response is to avoid it as much as I can. I will visit and meet friends up until the end of the first week in December and after that I close out the world. If people want me in their lives, I’ll be available for the other eleven months of the year.

  13. Grannymar Post author

    Dianne – I’d say the youngsters these days think they know-it-all, something they will discover when they reach our age!

  14. Maxi

    Children without grandparents, a worthy cause, GM. I read survey done over a period of seven years. It was discovered that children without grandparents would invent them.
    Blessing ~ Maxi

  15. Barbara

    We tried to bring Wilson into our local hospice as a friendly dog, but because he is not good at ‘staying’ for longer than a few seconds, and he loves licking people, he’s not allowed :(. Dogs for visiting people have to be so well behaved they are no fun at all! My experience of people stuck indoors or in hospices & hospitals is they adore a bit of mischief, and would love to be licked by Wilson 🙁

    I think you would find the same problem with bringing some nursery school children in. They would fail the risk assessment.

    Why don’t you send a copy of this idea to Age Concern. They cater for anyone over 50, loads of whom might be interested in supporting such a scheme…. Great idea! Xx

    PS. On a completely different note… You sent me a comment at one point about watermarking photos…. You had a link in it. I can’t find it! Xx

  16. Grannymar Post author

    Maxi – Some children live a long way from their grandparents and may not see them from year to year. Adopting a granny or grandpa who lives close and can share in a family meal every month or so, does not mean they relegate or disown their real grandparents, but it might add a new de-mention to their lives. Better than having to invent them.

  17. Grannymar Post author

    Barbara – Having volunteered and worked in a hospice, I can understand the problem with visiting dogs and children. I do know one volunteer who brought a very small dog for a walk through visit at the end of her shift each week. If a patient showed interest the dog went to say hello and spend a few minutes with them.

    I was thinking more of the elderly who live alone at home more than those in nursing homes where visiting and entertainment is often organised.

    I think this was the link I shared with you for watermarking photos

  18. Alice

    A great idea, as all your ideas usually are. I like the comments almost as much. And dropping a copy of your post off to the local churches–who knows–maybe it would work.


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