Since the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I have watched twenty-three Christmas movies on TV, and my list is growing. That’s because I am recouping from an intensive case of shingles that erupted on my face and in my ear, causing nerve pain and draining my usual energy and focus.
I’ve been secluded in my home at the busiest time of year, when the rest of the world is bustling with Advent/ Christmas activities. Even so, a sudden turn of events has a way of bringing new perspective. I have come to realize that I am experiencing what frail older adults experience every day. I’m on the inside looking out.
Like many shut-ins, I have been unable to attend worship services at my church for this entire Advent season. My husband brings me the bulletin each week, but it’s just not the same as standing with the congregation to sing a Christmas carol. I’ve had to decline invitations for holiday concerts and parties because I just haven’t felt up to it. I’ve also had to depend on others to do countless tasks like get stamps for my Christmas cards and to buy more tape and wrapping paper.
But unlike many frail older adults, I have had the luxury of being plugged-in to technology. My Christmas shopping has been done with a few clicks. Even though I’m not bounding with energy, I am able to keep up with correspondence and writing projects. And I can watch live-streaming of worship services in churches thousands of miles away.
Just as God’s economy is often surprising, being sidelined this year has brought many blessings. There have been neighbors who have called and left soup on the doorstep. Friends who have run errands and others who have surprised me with poinsettias and Christmas CDs. But perhaps the greatest blessing of all is that I better understand the feelings of those frail elderly whose physical limitations keep them at home. I think I understand what it feels like to be on the inside, looking out.