Candles, cookies, lights, and glitter – all the trappings and trinkets of the holiday season are just around the corner. In our neighborhood, several houses are already glowing at night.
If you’re the primary caregiver for someone with dementia, you may be nearly overwhelmed with duties already. Now you may feel obligated to make the holidays the happy occasion they once were for everyone in the family, wearing yourself to a frazzle in the process.
OK – stop it right now! Step back from the pressure and give yourself a little space to think rationally about what’s possible and what’s not; what would be really meaningful and what wouldn’t. You can probably list about a hundred things you usually do: all the decorations you put up, the baking you do, the gatherings you host, the gifts you buy. They are all part of your mindset about what the holidays mean and how you recreate for yourself and others a joyous family, spiritual, and personal experience.
What you must do now, in the altered circumstances of caregiving, is rethink the list. Become its master rather than its slave. It’s within your power to cut back in dozens of small ways that will save time and stress, not to mention your sanity. Don’t drag every decoration out of the attic as usual – choose one or two favorites to put in a prominent place. Use more prepared foods instead of “from-scratch” cooking. Buy and wrap one thoughtful gift from a catalog or online instead of indulging in the shop-till-you drop mentality and fighting the crowds at the mall.
Instead of grieving for all the things you can’t do this year, celebrate how enjoyable the season is when you cut back on the trappings and focus on shared time, a slower pace, and inner peace. The people you care for will ultimately benefit from your more relaxed approach, and you’ll get closer to whatever real meanings the holidays hold for your faith and your family.