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Image by Iryna Bakurskaya from PixabayIn the last few days, I’ve seen discussions about experiencing the holidays as we grow “older.”

As I write in my book on aging, I would challenge everyone to take the concept of “age” out of any discussion.

For instance, in my article on aging and Covid, I quote sources showing wide variance in immunosenescence (i.e., weakening of immune systems due to aging) based on physical activity. Most medical studies show outcomes based on age, but don’t break down the data by health status of “older” people. I did talk to one doctor who acknowledged that age might be a surrogate for other conditions, such as multiple comorbidities.

Similarly, you can discuss changes in holiday traditions without introducing the word “age.”

As the children in your family grow up and establish their own families, traditions will change. Depending on the age of childbirth, that could happen well before “old age” sets in.

Holiday celebrations can be affected by changes in employment, finances, health…even adopting a new dog or buying a home. These changes can happen whether you’re twenty-nine or ninety.

Being single has influenced my holidays far more than my age.

About 20 years ago, I wrote an article about this, and nothing’s changed.

Like single people of all ages, I prefer to avoid joining other people’s families. Making small talk with strangers? Watching family fights erupt just as the dessert is served? Answering awkward questions about my marital status?

Well, it might be different this year. I don’t want to take a chance.

Let’s get rid of the question, “What’s it like being old on this holiday?”

Instead ask, “What’s your holiday season like now that your kids have grown and gone?”

Or, “What holiday traditions have you developed over the last five, ten or twenty years?”

Or, “How do you celebrate holidays since you relocated to your new home?”

These questions would be interesting for any age.

For instance, some young couples seek new traditions when they have children.

Some want to add religion to the mix so their children will grow up in a tradition; some abandon childhood religions they feel they’ve outgrown.

Some develop gift-giving rituals. Some go skiing as a family. Some bake cookies; some decide on a sugar-free holiday.

Single people develop traditions, too.

When I had a dog and lived in a warm climate, we’d head for the dog park for the day. Now that I’m down to two temperamental cats, my day feels different. I usually have several projects to work on…or I may be heading for a vacation far away from home.

But “How have you changed as you’ve gotten older (i.e., moved to the “old” demographic category)?

I for one don’t know how to answer that. And I’m not sure I want to try.