A Christmastime Blessing

December 10, 2020

Arlen Solem

The Gift We Give This Season: Gratitude, Blessing and Sacrifice for Others

This past year has been difficult in so many ways. There is not enough space for me to attempt to detail the struggles that so many, and indeed all the world, has been through and is going through.

I was talking to my wife last night about the isolation, and so many things that were part of our lives now being absent. My wife and I are both extraverted people. We are energized by interaction with others. We also have three kids ages 13, 6, and 5. Prior to COVID-19, it seemed to me that there was often too much going on in our lives. There was always something, or multiple things to do and places to go. Whether there are outside demands put on us or not, with three children, a dog, two bunnies and a Beta fish named Goldy the Goldfish, we’re kept quite busy. We are outside a lot and our kids are outside even more, whether they want to be or not. My wife and I each get some alone time occasionally, too.

The Gift of Friendship

I have been thankful for the interaction I have with our residents, your loved ones, on a regular basis. I was telling my wife how the residents at Emerald Crest really are my friends. In the most important ways we have friendship, some do not always remember this, but I have changing and growing relationships with your loved one. We laugh together, cry together, help one another, talk about important things and talk about trivial things. We worship together. We get mad and frustrated with each other sometimes.  As an organization we strive to foster fullness of life. Fullness of life is to experience the scope of life, all the things I mentioned above and more. My life is full because of your loved ones. They give me not only genuine friendship but also purpose. I am blessed by them. 

The Gift of Staying Safe

My family’s quarantining has been relatively easy. We enjoy being outside, we have one another, I have my work to go to, we have resources to make distance learning work. My wife and I are both gainfully employed with little fear of that changing due to the pandemic. I know that this is not the case for everyone.

Knowing this, I ask of all of you to please continue to keep safe this Christmas. Stay away from your loved ones because you love them. When you go anywhere wear a mask, while not perfect they do work very well. Please don’t do what I often have seen, where someone wears their mask while not near anyone, but then pulls the mask down when they want to talk to someone. I am sure I have been guilty of this too. If you are low-risk, you are helping those who are higher-risk to not just live their life but to survive. You are helping kids get back in schools. You are helping to get businesses open sooner and to stay open. You are helping overrun hospitals, and patients who do not have COVID-19. 

You are also helping our staff. When there have been multiple deaths from COVID-19 in a house, it is devastating to our staff. Our staff are used to people they care about dying, but they are not used to it happening en masse. They are not used to worrying about getting sick themselves at work. They are not used to fearing that they might bring something home to their families. They are not used to fearing that they might bring a devastating illness to people that they care about at their work.

The more COVID-19 is in the community, the greater the chances that even our most careful staff will contract the virus. 

The Message of Faith: Sacrifice for Others 

One of the basic messages of Christianity is sacrifice for others. That is what Christians believe Jesus did by dying on the cross. Jesus sacrificed his life for us. Wearing a mask and staying away from others is not a huge sacrifice. Don’t believe the fallacies that precautions are not effective. Spread is not inevitable.  We can all limit or increase the spread of COVID-19 through our actions. What we do matters. With distribution of vaccines beginning to happen, there is hope on the horizon. There will be an end to this pandemic. Now is the time to buckle down and decrease the devastation as much as we can.   

Merry Christmas to you all and thank you for blessing me with so many wonderful friends, and for my relationships with so many of you as well.

Reverend Arlen Solem

Chaplain and Campus Pastor

If you are considering giving a year-end gift, or just want to support the important work of senior care, please consider a donation to our organization. 

It is simple to give online at https://www.cassialife.org/give/ 

In gratitude, thank you so much to all of our volunteers and donors who make all of the work we do at Cassia possible. Your contributions are greatly appreciated and needed to ensure we are able to fulfill our mission.

For questions about our spiritual care program, or if you would like spiritual care and support for you or your loved one, contact Chaplain Arlen Solem at 612-263-0503. or apsolem@augustanacare.org.

At Emerald Crest, we offer a deep knowledge of memory care in a specialized assisted living setting for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions. We encourage you to contact us directly with any questions or request a tour. For tours and general information, please contact Christine Drasher at 952-908-2215.

Emerald Crest by Augustana Care provides memory care in a unique environment, specifically designed to support those with cognitive issues. Utilizing this exceptional model of care, individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s and related conditions can flourish in positive relationships and participation in meaningful activities. Memory care is offered in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area with communities in four convenient locations: ShakopeeBurnsvilleMinnetonka and Victoria, MN.


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The care given at Emerald Crest in Victoria is excellent.  My mother felt safe, content, and very comfortable.  The staff were informative and accommodating as they guided me through questions and information significant to my mother’s care.  The were approachable and responsive.

— Suzan, daughter of Emerald Crest-Victoria resident