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 What to do about Christmas 
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Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 4:46 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Salem, Oregon
Post What to do about Christmas
Our family tradition has been to meet in my home or my parents' home for brunch (my parents, my sister and me, our husbands, my 2 nieces and 2 sons). Mom had handmade Christmas stockings for all of us and would fill them with fun things. Getting into those stockings was a highlight each year. One of our earliest indications that something was amiss was in 2008 when she had trouble filling the stockings. She apologized and said, "Every time I went to the store to get stocking stuffers, I couldn't remember what I wanted to get. My thoughts keep swirling around and around." In 2009 she filled her grandchildren's stockings with tape and Elmer's glue. They all looked confused. We donated it to a school. My mom's diagnosis came in May 2010. My sister's husband died in his sleep at age 48 unexpectedly in August 2010. That Christmas I took over the stockings because Mom was no longer capable, and I wanted as much normalcy for our family as possible. With working full-time, it was very stressful. Everyone still came to my place for brunch. This year I told my family that I can't keep the stockings going. I'll still do them for my husband and boys, but not for everyone else. I feel bad, but it was just too much last year. As for brunch, Mom can't climb my stairs anymore, my sister has an evil dog who will bark the entire time (and possibly even bite), and my dad doesn't want to bring her home because he's afraid it will upset her to have to leave again. We can all cram into a very small private dining room at her care home, so that's what we have to do. We decided to meet right after lunch and bring pie and ice cream. She will likely be nodding off the whole time. I feel like it's going to be a very sad shadow of what used to be, and the idea makes me sad, especially since this very well could be her last Christmas. I wish I had an elevator at my house. We really have to focus on what is important--being together. And I personally have to focus on why we have Christmas in the first place.


Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:13 pm
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
I think you can make the private dining room into a nice gathering for your family. Try to find some laughs that can be shared. Maybe appoint someone to be the chief photographer. I hope it'll be a lovely event that you can find something good to remember.


Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:38 pm
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Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:07 pm
Posts: 1039
Location: Minnesota
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Changing holiday traditions is very sad, isn't it? I hosted my large family of origin for many years. Then one year my sister-in-law wanted to do it. It made sense. My brother had recently been disabled in a car accident and it was easier to keep him home, they had a large shed on their hobby farm that would suit us just fine, etc. etc. It made sense and I didn't object, but I cried in private over the loss of my roll. My immediate family has gathered at my house for holidays, too. But now with the grandkids marrying, having partners, and a few great grandchildren the house is too crowded for that kind of event. We had thanksgiving at a community center this year.

I commend you for focussing on what is important. Losing holiday traditions can be sad and I think it is OK to feel that sadness. Feel it, let it pass, and get on with celebrating in a new way.

It may help (or may not) to be reminded that family traditons change not only for health challenges but also for happier reasons, like family growth. Change is an integral part of life. We don't always have to like it, but it is least painful to accept it and move on.

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Jeanne, 68 cared for husband Coy, 86. RBD for 30+ years; LDB since 2003, Coy at home, in early stage, until death in 2012


Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:05 pm
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:55 pm
Posts: 355
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Yes, I know exactly how you feel. This year Christmas will be difficult. We will have to split our time between Mom at home and Dad at the nursing home , whereas we always gathered at home on Christmas day. We can't bring Mom or Dad to each other as I think it would upset both of them too much, plus we would need an ambulance to move either of them. As it is, Dad is crying all the time at the moment, begging us to bring him home, and I think bringing him home will do more harm than good. I'm dreading Christmas this year - poor Dad is so upset and I know when decorations are put up and people start talking about Christmas, he is going to get even worse. We have been telling him he is only at the nursing home temporarily, getting away with saying this as his concept of time is way off, but realising its Christmas will really bring it home to him how long he has been there. I am repeating my mantra to myself, one day at a time, trying not to think about it, but as it gets closer, and Dad only seems to be getting more upset by the day, I am finding it more difficult to not dread what is ahead of me.

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cared for Dad who passed away on January 28th 2013 R.I.P.


Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:00 pm
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3406
Location: Vermont
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Having to find new ways of celebrating holidays can be sad and stressful. I just try to tell myself that nothing lasts forever, and that I need to find new ways of celebrating, and to be glad for what I have. That doesn't mean I don't have moments of feeling pretty sad, depressed and missing the way things used to be, however.
My dad loved Christmas and was very sad his first year at the ALF that he couldn't go out and shop for everyone. Luckily he didn't ask to go home that year - that has to be super-tough for those of you experiencing that. He had deteriorated so much between Thanksgiving and Christmas that I guess he knew it just was not going to happen for him to get out to dinner or go home. I "helped" him with his Christmas cards and that seemed to make him very happy, although it was exhausting for both of us. He was determined to "write" messages to several of his friends and I had to ask him what he was saying to them because I knew his writing just looked like scribbling, so I wrote what he said below his "calligraphy". Amazing how an 88 yr. old man still had about 100 people he sent cards to!
I hope you all can find some news ways of celebrating and trying to reduce the stress and sadness. I at least made it through decorating my Christmas tree today without being in tears. For 12 years after my mother died I cried every year when I decorated my tree. I've now made it 3 years in a row without sobbing.
Try to focus on the positive, do something different, try making a new tradition (I know that's kind of an oxymoron!). And you can always come back to your forum friends for support! Lynn

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Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.


Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:31 pm
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 4:18 pm
Posts: 835
Location: Acton, MA
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
One of Frank's traditions had been to go shopping, for the last 47years, with our daughters and then grandchildren to buy presents for me and then they'd have lunch out. They always came back laughing about their shopping spree. With Frank gone, we started a new tradition, the kids came over and helped me decorater the tree and then we ordered "take-out" from a local restaurant. We had fun, lots of laughs and stories about all the hand made ornaments from their school days. I miss Frank terribly, but life goes on so this was one step into the future.

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Gerry 67, cared for Frank 71, married 49 yrs; dx 2004, passed away October 26, 2011.


Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:52 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
Posts: 3213
Location: WA
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Good for you, Gerry! :P

_________________
Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.


Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:42 pm
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Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:25 pm
Posts: 12
Location: NY (state, not city)
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Reading this topic made me cry. We're having the same problem, and my dad is still in the early stages. But they moved to a new house that's really too small for everybody to get together the way we used to. And they're talking about not getting a tree for the first time. And it's all just very depressing :P


Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:56 am
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Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
Posts: 3213
Location: WA
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Maybe it's time for one of the offspring to host Christmas dinner? :P

_________________
Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.


Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:08 am
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Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:28 pm
Posts: 744
Location: LA
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
And sometimes we just mark time and let the time pass us by.

Christmas 2009 I know Christmas happened but it was four weeks after Mr bobby died. I was vaguely aware. Then Christmas 2010 came and with it the numbness had worn off. My dau.-in-law came to decorate my tree as she has done for years. She brought out all the decorations and I was excited to see our "treasures" when I spotted a prety white box. I opened it to find dozens of red ribbons on a bed of white tissue paper. I asked, "Sandy, what's this?". She told me that last year I wanted a simply tree and we did not put all of our things out. I had no memory of it. Then we found pictures of the lovely tree with family all around. Yes, Christmas had truly come and gone that year.

Survive anyway we can as we walk through the hard times. Happy times will come again. Build new memories onto the remaining past experiences. They blend well together. Accept change if you must.

Yes, its hard, a cheery smile will spread. I think the more we have had happy times this time of the year, the easier it is for sadness to creep in uninvited.

The best to you all!

Dorthea

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"See this lady she's 85 but she's nice" When I joined in 2007 this is the way Mr B. introduced me to the people only he knew,he added "You need to listen to her" he was 89 then, death due to Lewy Body Dementia/pneumonia in 2009.


Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:08 am
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Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:07 pm
Posts: 1039
Location: Minnesota
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Dorthea that is very touching. Thank you so much for sharing that.

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Jeanne, 68 cared for husband Coy, 86. RBD for 30+ years; LDB since 2003, Coy at home, in early stage, until death in 2012


Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:53 am
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Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 4:46 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Salem, Oregon
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Thank you. Your comments make me feel less alone, and this is easier to accept. I do have to remember that family traditions change for good reasons, also, and I hope to have grandchildren in the future. Then I expect we'll have more brunches in my home, and of course, I'll be filling stockings for them! :P


Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:44 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:35 pm
Posts: 344
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Grandchildren are the very best medicine of all.

_________________
Pat Snyder, husband John, dx LBD 2007
Author of [i]Treasures in the Darkness: Extending Early Stage of LBD...[i][/i] [url]http://www.amazon.com/Treasures-Darkness-Extending-Alzheimers-Parkinsons/dp/1466428228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334092686&sr=8-1[/url]


Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:07 pm
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Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:28 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Minnesota
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Thank goodness the sister that just moved back in town bought a house with aging in mind! We won't be able to do all of Christmas there, but it will be our last event and the easiest. Only one step up into the house.

Last year we had Christmas at my niece's house. Luckily we had a few strong and coordinated arms to help Mom in because it is 5 steps into their house. We will be there for part of it, because that's where the baby is, but I expect those same arms to be there, even though Mom is unlikely to be able to help at all.

I can't have the celebration at my house for so many reasons. Even if I weren't selling it, I haven't been able to even drive within 5 miles of it without expecting to be brought home. And way to many stairs! But I'm very pleased about not hosting any part of the event. Holidays for our family tend to get a tiny bit stressful and I am trying to get rid of stress. Every one of us makes sure we have our migraine meds filled and handy.

Christmas does get better after a major loss. It just takes time. My 48 year old father died two days before Christmas back in '71. When we finally felt we could have some form of the holiday, it was very emotional. Dad had gotten all of our gifts ready for us, of course. Each one of us cherished those gifts long after they became tattered and worn. Christmas became a pleasure again when, 5 years later, the first grandchild was born. Children do make a huge difference. If we didn't have any, I'd be tempted to go out and borrow some! Life moves on and bit by bit, happy event by happy event, you get it back. Forty years later, we still pause to remember Dad. But we remember the fun, not so much the loss.

Kate

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Kate [i](Cared for Mom for years before anyone else noticed the symptoms, but the last year of her life was rough and we needed to place her in an SNF, where she passed in February 2012)[/i]


Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:54 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
Posts: 3213
Location: WA
Post Re: What to do about Christmas
Quote:
Children do make a huge difference. If we didn't have any, I'd be tempted to go out and borrow some!
I hear you, Kate! :P

_________________
Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.


Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:55 pm
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