As the Wheel of the Year Turns: Winter

As the Wheel of the Year Turns: Winter

In our family, we are very fortunate to have several generations to learn from, spend time with, and love. My Grandma, Patricia, is the most wonderful woman. The feisty octogenarian has spent her life working hard at her career, tending a farm, raising children, gardening, and volunteering for local organizations. Now retired, grandma is a self proclaimed "Lady of Leisure." When I first heard her say that, I pictured a Jane Austin heroine sprawled on an overstuffed sofa with a book in hand and surrounded by chocolates and steaming mugs of tea. Turns out, that was exactly what she meant. Just when I thought I couldn't love her any more than I do, she creates new inspiration.

Grandma does not need to run about, so she now gladly hibernates in the winter. With the help of her daughter, mama Barb, her pantry is kept well stocked, freezer full, and needs met. The family gifts her books, puzzles, fabric for quilting, fluffy throws, wooly socks and piles of her favorite chocolates. All the important things a lady of leisure needs to hibernate happily.

During one of my visits, Grandma mentioned that she really enjoyed receiving a little note I sent her in the mail. It was just a little card to thank her for a gift, but she said it made her day. She said it was so nice to make the walk to the mailbox to find something nice inside, instead of just a pile of bills and advertisements. The little card had pride of place in a basket on display in her living room.

Her words made me think about the gifts we give our grandparents. My grandma is the easiest person in the world to buy a present for, she loves anything and everything we do for her. She is genuinely the kindest person, filled with compliments and loving encouragement and gratitude. But after a lifetime of gifts and collecting, does she really need another pretty nicknack to sit on a shelf collecting dust? Why buy her more stuff, when I can give her my time instead?

I started writing. Once a week I sit down and scribble out all the fun things happening at my house. Sometimes it is one long letter and other times I pick it up and set it down several times like a journal. I tell her all the antics of Rowan, her great-great grandson. I share what I am making, harvesting, creating, and cooking. I share my thoughts and dreams, just as I would when visiting in person. Grandma lives over an hour away and I don't get the opportunity to see her as much as I would like, but now she gets to see just how much I think of her every day. I watch for lovely stationery and cards by local artists to tuck my notes in, now always on the hunt for something pretty Gran will enjoy. When I visited Grandma last, I smiled to see her card basket overflowing with joyful cards and letters. I was gifted a big grin when she said she looks forward to them now.

I write about this because I fear our grandparents and precious elders are being left behind, and in some families, forgotten. Our modern world is changing at a faster and faster pace. Instead of a phone call, people now text each other. Instead of coming to visit with a fist full of photos, folks now simply post on social media. The joy of family visits now only happens on holidays and special occasions. Everyone is rushing forward, moving faster, and eager to jump on the newest trends in communication and information. The catch is, our elders are being left behind and they are the folks who carry the wisdom we need!

It is now hibernation season; we all have more time to create and dream. Put down the cellphone. Embrace my grandma's example and have a lad/lady of leisure day. Surround yourself with cozy things and tasty treats. Grab a pen and notebook and write about your day, your week, your month. Ask important questions, share recipes, look for advice. Share your time, and let them know they are in your thoughts and heart. It costs less than $1 to include your grandparent in your world. Do you not have a grandparent to write to? Get one. Contact your local senior center and nursing homes, the magical places filled with wise elders waiting for someone to say, "hello in there.”

Remember that someday, if we are so very lucky, it will be our turn to share our wisdom with young ones. I have hope they will make time to listen and share with me.

Jennifer Parsons

Jennifer Parsons

Jenni is a life long herbalist who is a book obsessed, nature lover, who follows the old ways, and who lives and loves by wit, wisdom, and community.


I absolutely love your kind heart and your powerful observations and actions. My parents are quicky aging and my grandparents have long passed. I see my 100 year old friend almost every week. You have perfectly captured the need to connect with our elders in a meaningful way and absorb their love and knowledge before it’s too late.

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