What is it that makes Christmastime the most wonderful time of the year? Certainly for those of us who are Christians, the celebration of the birth of our Savior is the most important part of this joyous season. A little research, however, will reveal that there is very little evidence that Jesus was born on December 25. It is considered likely that this particular date was borrowed from the pagan holiday Saturnalia. During the seventeenth century both in England and parts of the American colonies, Christmas was banned by the church because it was believed to be connected to pagan rituals and not properly reverent. Other faiths and traditions also seem to celebrate at this time of year. Maybe we all need something to celebrate when it is cold outside and many living things seem to have retreated into the earth. At any rate, for most of us, the Christmas season is a time of sights and sounds and tastes and smells that we cherish and look forward to all year. It is a time when we are more likely to pause and consider what is important in life. A time when we take to the time to ponder how important our family and friends are to each of us. Life is short and none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Make time to enjoy the season and spend time with those you love while you have the opportunity.
When you gather at the homes of family and friends to enjoy the special fellowship of the Christmas season, please be mindful of safety and accessibility in the home. Most of us never consider fall prevention or access into and out of the home until we are forced to by a fall or the loss of mobility in ourselves or a loved one. At Christmastime when we often have extended family visiting or we are visiting them is the perfect time to consider increasing the safety and accessibility of our homes. Some of these modifications can be quite simple, like removing throw rugs or trailing extension cords. Other modifications, such as adding a master suite addition for multigenerational living can involve a significant investment of time and money. Most modifications to improve safety and accessibility are somewhere between these two examples. Adding grab bars, railings, or other features to help prevent falls is often a first line of defense when creating a safer and more accessible home for people of all ages and abilities. I believe that we all benefit when we gather together with family and friends of differing ages and abilities. Young people glean the wisdom of their seniors and older folks enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of the young. As you make your plans for this holiday season, make sure you plan for safety and accessibility in your home and the homes of your loved ones.
Whatever other plans you have for this festive time of the year, I hope you plan to spend time enjoying the company of those you hold most dear. Take time to consider those things in life that are most important to you. Please consider how great a gift the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ really is. I would like to thank each and every one of you for reading Housing Matters. I hope that I have made a difference in some of your lives and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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DEDICATION: TO SUSANNA