No Seniors Left Behind During the Holidays

As seniors in living cohousing, many of us may not have family or close friends nearby to celebrate holidays with. Maybe you moved across the country to live in your community, or maybe you’ve lost friends or family members. Or maybe you simply prefer the company of your fellow cohousers.

One of the great things about cohousing is that there’s almost always a holiday celebration that you can join if you don’t have another option — or even if you do. Communities celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day with barbecues, picnics and other fun activities. They throw parties to celebrate birthdays and other milestones. But the biggest cluster of holidays occurs in November and December. Following are some examples of how cohousing communities come together to celebrate these occasions.

PDX Commons in Portland, OR, typically has an “orphans” Thanksgiving potluck dinner. One year each participant chose a recipe from the New York Times, and the results were delectable. The community usually celebrates Hanukkah, too, with latkes and trimmings, followed by dreidel games and singing. On Christmas Day they’ll enjoy a French toast breakfast, then an evening of board games and drinks on New Year’s Eve.

At Heartwood Cohousing near Durango, CO, Thanksgiving begins with a turkey trot where small groups of people walk various trails on the property. They then return to the common house for coffee, sweets, and the mouth-watering aromas of Thanksgiving dinner in the making.

For Christmas, Heartwood celebrates with a posada on Christmas Eve. This Mexican tradition is based on a story from long ago and far away, when a couple knocked on many doors trying to find shelter. Heartwood residents walk through the community and knock at certain homes where they are treated to food and drinks in courses, like a progressive dinner. Then they all go to the common house for music and caroling.

Cherry Hill Cohousing in Amherst, MA (formerly called Pioneer Valley Cohousing), has community celebrations for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, the winter solstice and New Year’s Eve — with midnight sledding!

Not all of these communities are seniors only, but the common thread is that their celebrations mean no one need be left alone on the holidays. As with so many other aspects of cohousing, people come together to share what it means to live in community, to express caring and gratitude and to just plain have a good time!

Trudy Hussmann, PDX Commons; member, Seniors in Cohousing Committee and newsletter editor

Why seniors should support CohoUS

By Jim Leach, member, CohoUS board and the Seniors in Cohousing Committee

By supporting CohoUS with my time and financial resources, I feel that I am contributing to a unique community-based approach to healthy senior living that benefits the humanity, democracy and ideals of our larger culture.

Cohousing is a form of community living that, for seniors, blends concepts of aging in place and home ownership with sharing common facilities and experiences, all to the betterment of our health and welfare. As seniors, my wife Brownie and I have been part of the Silver Sage cohousing community for the past 15 years. For us, it has been a success in both aging in place and personal growth.

CohoUS is the vehicle that defines, educates, and connects us in employing best practices in community living. The organization offers a wealth of information and resources through its website and its many events and trainings (both virtual and in person), including its national conference. It’s a vehicle that enables us to learn from each other’s knowledge and experience as we strive to create a healthy senior living environment.

I encourage you to consider supporting CohoUS through a donation of any amount here so that its work may continue and grow. 

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