The holidays are supposed to be joyous times of celebration, of enjoying Grandma's baking, of sitting in Grandpa's lap reading stories by the Christmas tree.
But for many senior citizens, the holidays are times of solitude.
"Around the holidays there's a lot of different emotions," said Lisa Fry, president of the Hall County Senior Provider Network. "There's a lot of grief around the holidays because they're missing their spouses or their families."
For that reason, members of the network, which includes Legacy Link, The Longstreet Clinic and the Gainesville-Hall County Senior Life Center, decided to give the elderly a reason to be joyous, with the second annual Senior Celebration Christmas service.
More than 100 senior citizens from around Hall County gathered Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church for a nondenominational morning of Christmas carols, stories about Christmas pageants and a time for the community to show its appreciation of its oldest residents.
"As a culture, we have gone away from any respect for our elderly, and we need to regain some of that," said Scott Morrison, president of Brightstar Care in Gainesville and member of the network.
"They should be revered and respected as an active part of the community. ... I hope they will realize they are appreciated."
Fay Pocock, a senior citizen living in South Hall County, said the service was wonderful.
"It's nice that we have something to support us," she said. "The (Senior Life Center) was coming and I've never been here before. I just started getting out and getting to know people again. It's very nice for them to do this for us seniors."
Susan Rogers, co-owner of Your Senior Insurance Solutions in Buford, attended the event this year and last year.
"It's always so nice to see the seniors get all dressed up and be social," she said. "One of the things I've always seen is when people are here by themselves, they tend to get depressed. It's good to have an opportunity for them to get out."
After being serenaded by and singing with Julie Ann Hamilton, executive director at Dogwood Forest of Gainesville and The Holbrook of Lake Lanier, and listening to the church's senior pastor the Rev. Paul Evans speak, attendees were invited to sit down and enjoy holiday refreshments and take home tote bags provided by network members and sponsors.
There were also door prizes provided by Gainesville area businesses.
Charles White, certified senior adviser, told attendees that Tuesday was about celebrating their lives.
"You guys, your parents or perhaps a husband went through Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War," he said. "Through all that, you, the seniors, have made our country what it is. You were there to bring back those soldiers, to perhaps bury a loved one. ... Because of you, your grandkids and great-grandkids and children you don't even know yet will come about and make our country more valuable."