Shamed to eat seconds and thirds of the turkey dinner, loud conversations about uncomfortable topics, menfolk sleeping in the assorted Lazy Boy chairs while womenfolk did the dishes. That about sums up my childhood Thanksgiving tradition. We didn’t dare do anything different lest we offend someone. But times have changed.
Family caregivers tell me they feel stressed to keep up with intense holiday traditions “for Mom and Dad’s sake.” But if one of your parents has any dementia or physical limitations, putting on “the big family affair” no longer makes sense. All the hustle and bustle becomes overwhelming, especially for someone with dementia. Remember the acronym KISS—Keep it Simple Silly—and replace stress with letting go of what you think needs to happen.
Last Christmas our family scrapped the usual tradition of making all the food and ordered it from the local grocery store. We supplemented with some favorites, but overall we let go of the need to be in the kitchen all day. As you enter the holiday season, consider these ideas for creating more S.A.N.E.* holidays:
- Have smaller gatherings—one of them with hot turkey and the other with cold turkey sandwiches while watching a movie
- Book a table in your parent’s assisted living or commons room, order food and listen to Benny Goodman tunes
- Schedule time outdoors and play in the snow or at the beach
- Gather old photos and help your parents create books to give to younger family members, OR
- Consider time as your gift: put away cell phones and electronic devices and be present with your loved ones
*S.A.N.E.—Supported, Appreciated, Not guilty, Energized™