Christmas Traditions

good memory

When I saw this meme I was taken back to my childhood and my memories of Christmas.  We had wonderful traditions that centered around time spent with family.   Sure, as kids we got presents from grandparents, aunts, uncles, our parents and Santa, but if you ask me about the presents I couldn’t really give you specifics.  I can tell you about the time spent making memories with my whole extended family.

Our Christmas would start by going to a midnight church service on Christmas Eve.  After church we would migrate to our dad’s parent’s house for a potato pancake breakfast.  There we would play with our cousins, rough house with Grandpa and perhaps watch Christmas specials on VHS.  There would be lots of laughter and fun.

Around 3 AM we would stagger home with our parents telling us that we were not allowed to get them up before 7 AM.  (They, of course, still had to play Santa.)

Seven AM on the dot would have us sending the youngest in to wake Mom and Dad.  We would have our own Christmas at home with us four kids and Mom and Dad.  Eventually Mom and Dad would go to have a nap and we would spend a blissful morning and early afternoon playing together.

About mid afternoon we would head over to Mom’s parent’s house for an early dinner.  Once again there was lots of laughter and fun.  We would play with our cousins.  Aunts and uncles would often join in with the insanity.  There were presents, but mostly I remember the boisterous antics of the time spent together as a family.

I used to look forward to Christmas for those times.  I still look forward to it because it offers a chance for me to make this time special for the next generation the way it was for me.

I have since lost all of my grandparents, sometimes I wish we could have just one more Christmas together.  Since we cannot, I take solace in the good memories they left and work to follow in their example.

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Words of comfort

I came into my local favorite coffee shop to work on blog posts and do some research for other projects.  I often do this as there are (actually) fewer distractions than at home.  I’m sitting near the self-serve station for sugar and creamer and getting into my writer’s brain when an older gentleman approaches to doctor his coffee.  He greets me and we exchange pleasantries.

When I speak with seniors who make negative comments about how their day is I often say “Well you’re out and about under your own steam, you must be doing pretty well.”  This often gets a smile and change of attitude.  It did for this gentleman.

He came in for some coffee while his wife was getting a massage next door.  We chatted a little more about nothing special but he started struggling for a word and got frustrated. He explained to me that his doctor had put him on a medication that has messed with his short term memory and then said if it became the real thing then he wanted to just die.  He said that he didn’t want to live when he couldn’t remember who he was.

I looked at him and explained that I care for seniors as my profession and specialize in dementia care.  I told him that while it is true you may forget about some of the people in your life that you never completely forget who you are.  It’s always there, at least some of who you are.

I told him about my dad.  Dad was bed bound and completely non-verbal, non-responsive to anything other than stimulus-response.  Still, when I walked into his room and called out his name he would grunt and move his head in the direction of the sound of my voice (the grunt was a typical guy-type grunt of acknowledgement).

I also told this gentleman that Dad had been in the Marine Corps and when I would play a CD with marching cadences Dad’s feet would tap like he was marching.  The gentleman perked up when he heard my dad had been a Marine, he too had been in the Corps.

We joked about the fact that Dad would “march” and how if you’re a Marine you’ll always be a Marine.

I brought up the fact that sometimes I would say something funny and he would giggle.  One time in particular his hospice nurse had brought more bandages for the pressure sore he had on his tailbone.  I told him that I was going to change his butt band-aid – and he giggled.

I told the gentleman that although the disease took much from him and us, it never fully robbed him of the essence of his humanity.  He knew his name, he recognized his service in the Marine Corps and he could still laugh at something funny.

He looked at me with relief on his face and just said “I’m glad I spoke with you.”

I’m glad he did too.

Words of comfort

I came into my local favorite coffee shop to work on blog posts and do some research for other projects.  I often do this as there are (actually) fewer distractions than at home.  I’m sitting near the self-serve station for sugar and creamer and getting into my writer’s brain when an older gentleman approaches to doctor his coffee.  He greets me and we exchange pleasantries.

When I speak with seniors who make negative comments about how their day is I often say “Well you’re out and about under your own steam, you must be doing pretty well.”  This often gets a smile and change of attitude.  It did for this gentleman.

He came in for some coffee while his wife was getting a massage next door.  We chatted a little more about nothing special but he started struggling for a word and got frustrated. He explained to me that his doctor had put him on a medication that has messed with his short term memory and then said if it became the real thing then he wanted to just die.  He said that he didn’t want to live when he couldn’t remember who he was.

I looked at him and explained that I care for seniors as my profession and specialize in dementia care.  I told him that while it is true you may forget about some of the people in your life that you never completely forget who you are.  It’s always there, at least some of who you are.

I told him about my dad.  Dad was bed bound and completely non-verbal, non-responsive to anything other than stimulus-response.  Still, when I walked into his room and called out his name he would grunt and move his head in the direction of the sound of my voice (the grunt was a typical guy-type grunt of acknowledgement).

I also told this gentleman that Dad had been in the Marine Corps and when I would play a CD with marching cadences Dad’s feet would tap like he was marching.  The gentleman perked up when he heard my dad had been a Marine, he too had been in the Corps.

We joked about the fact that Dad would “march” and how if you’re a Marine you’ll always be a Marine.

I brought up the fact that sometimes I would say something funny and he would giggle.  One time in particular his hospice nurse had brought more bandages for the pressure sore he had on his tailbone.  I told him that I was going to change his butt band-aid – and he giggled.

I told the gentleman that although the disease took much from him and us, it never fully robbed him of the essence of his humanity.  He knew his name, he recognized his service in the Marine Corps and he could still laugh at something funny.

He looked at me with relief on his face and just said “I’m glad I spoke with you.”

I’m glad he did too.

Everyone is important!

making an impact

 

This is a two way street in caregiving.  As a caregiver I know I have something to give to the seniors I help.  I give them the help they need to remain independent in their homes.  I give them companionship and love.  I do my best to give them a reason to smile on a bad day.  I give support and compassion to family members wanting the best for their aging loved ones.

At the same time I get so much from the same people I care for.  They share insights from their life experiences.  They tell me about the ways history impacted their lives giving me a better understanding of events from the past.  They share humorous anecdotes from their life making me laugh even on a bad day.  They offer their companionship and love making my day brighter.

We all have something to offer to each other, we just have to look within ourselves and offer what we have.  You will be amazed what you will receive when you give what you have to offer.