Twelve Days of Christmas

Virtual recreation offered to seniors

Namrata Bagaria

When you say Christmas, my brain automatically conjures up a week full of potlucks, meet-ups with friends, parties and lights. Until last year, Christmas was an annual potluck ritual at my home, but this year is special. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have to get creative.

Although I am physically distanced from my friends and family during this pandemic, I am not socially isolated. I am an avid technology user. I have been using Skype and Zoom for many years. When we entered the lockdown, I reminded myself how it was living in Afghanistan (three months in 2015). I asked myself, “What made you successful there?” The answer was using video calls to stay connected to my friends and family and creating new opportunities for Kabul and appropriate recreation with my local friends. So throughout the pandemic, I have organized social events for my friends online―karaoke, dance-offs, dinner parties, game nights, coffee dates, poetry slams, writing café, summits, technology meet-ups, workouts, dance workshops, etc. What amazed me was although I missed the in-person meetings and human contact, I could still live my life in a modified manner.

Namrata Bagaria organizes online programs from her Sandy Hill base.

At the beginning of 2020, I decided that I would improve my health and exercise regularly. In the face of the pandemic, I found that I would miss this goal if I did not get creative about it. I emailed a few friends to come online and exercise with me on Zoom. It has been nine months since we started. We exercise six days a week. Social accountability and personal motivation helped me. I found friends or friends of friends joining the exercise activity, and guess what―all of them were senior women.

I was excited to find out that many seniors use technology and are keen to commit to a scheduled recreation time. The experience led me to start Seniors Junction―a program dedicated to providing purposeful and meaningful recreation to seniors. At present, all the programs are virtual. But over time, these programs will be both online and offline and sometimes hybrid. Through my experience over the last nine months and numerous conversations with people, I found that the real problem the workouts were solving was social isolation. They had something to look forward to and added “a thing to do” in their day.

With Christmas around the corner and considering that I love planning parties, I have now decided to combine my passion for technology and parties by offering a virtual holiday program called “12 Days of Christmas” for seniors (not-yet-seniors can join as well).

It includes singing Christmas carols, sharing Christmas stories through breakout rooms, holiday recipe exchange, ugly Christmas sweater mixer, musical mornings, sharing your favourite winter stories, sharing your 2020 learnings, New Year’s brunch, making and sharing 2021 bucket lists, creating indoor and outdoor recreation schedules for winters and other such events. All the events are virtual through Zoom.

The events will be posted on our website by mid-December. You can buy tickets through the website or on Eventbrite. Sign up if you are missing potlucks, meetups, parties and lights!