[media-credit name=”bigstockphoto” align=”alignleft” width=”300″]Elderly Man Opening Gift[/media-credit]   Every family has its own traditional way of celebrating holidays. And nearly always it involves a special holiday meal, a chance for everyone to gather around one table.   For our family it used to be “going to Grandma’s”  but now it’s at my daughter’s home.  Besides the planning and shopping that goes into this feast, she will be up by 5:00 in the morning preparing her share of the dinner “from scratch. ”   But that’s the way she wants it!  There will be twenty five of us,  family and friends.  Those who live close by will bring their special dishes, but there are others who must travel to be here on that day.

Regardless of the weather, we will take a break before cutting into the pies.  We’ll help the little ones into sweaters and coats and take a brisk walk. Then back into the warm house for coffee and dessert!  The holiday programs on TV are not high on our family’s agenda;  we are too busy catching up with each other’s lives.

I count myself among the very lucky seniors who have a close family –close emotionally as well as physically.  Sadly, it is not true for many of us, so what are the alternatives?  I know what I would do if I could no longer travel.  I would have a “non-traditional holiday” meal at my house.  I’d  invite a lonely friend, perhaps a newly widowed acquaintance, or that young couple and their kids who recently moved nearby, for a non-traditional Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter  meal.   Non-traditional because instead of my doing all the cooking I’d let the market do most of the work.   I  might not cook and stuff a turkey and all the fixing if it was Thanksgiving, or a standing rib roast at Christmas, or a traditional Easter ham.   I know I would be exhausted if I tried to  do what my daughter does — and then the day wouldn’t be much fun for me or my guests.

But my dinner would be traditional with a pretty tablecloth and a fruit bowl or floral arrangement appropriate for the season. We’d have plenty to eat, of course, but the main thing would be getting together,  enjoying the talk, the warmth, the ease of friendship.

And maybe that would start a tradition of its own!