For several years about mid-November, I made one of my ‘every 4-6 week’ trips to Spokane, Washington to visit Mom and Dad – initially when they were in assisted living; and subsequently when they were in extended care. The main purpose? To decorate their room for Christmas.
Mom loved seeing all the decorations put up. It was truly an event they both looked forward to it each year. It worked out well to come in November so they could enjoy them for a longer period of time; and when we returned for Christmas, I could remove the decorations for storage at my brother’s home until the next year.
Once the folks moved to the extended care facility, it became more difficult for them to go by car to my brother’s house for Christmas Eve festivities. So, we all (about 18 of us including great grandkids), came to them about 5:00 pm where we had reserved what was called the “family room.”
Because the folks tired easily, we stayed long enough to sing carols, read the Christmas story and have them open them gifts. An hour or so later that evening before they went to bed, I brought the traditional ‘treats’ for them to eat. They loved that! While they ate, we reminisced. It was special. Christmas celebrations weren’t the same any more, but yet, they were the same – we were all together.
The point of describing this particular memory is to be an encouragement for those of you who are also celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah with your parent(s) or other family member who are now living in an assisted or extended care facility. And, in case this is new to you, I would also like to list a few of the benefits and blessings that resulted:
• Family members gave the folks Christmas candy and cookies. Mom being the giver that she was loved handing these out to staff and other visitors. Since she couldn’t make cookies any longer, this was her way of giving to others. It meant a lot to her.
• We couldn’t give gifts to the staff but we could give them candy. I made a ‘Costco run’ on every trip to Spokane to pick up 4 big bags of wrapped candy. On a note I wrote “thank you for all you do …. and signed it from Dad, Mom and my brothers and I. Each shift received a bag and the folks had one to share between them.
• The decorated room became a sort of “get away” for the staff on their breaks. Mom loved people and this was perfect for her “socializing” skills. (Guess what the staff members were given when Mom saw them in the hallway or in the room …. Yep, you guessed it… candy).
• The little tree in the photo was made by an Aunt and given to the folks when they moved into the extended care location. Perfect size. The best part about it was the lights. Dad took on the responsibility of getting the lights turned on and off each day. That was his job and it was important for him to have this “duty.”
• We came to know several other residents but during Christmas, we also found out that many didn’t have any family to celebrate with. It was a blessing to us in taking time to visit with them as well.
You may be celebrating Christmas as we do or Hanukkah as some of my friends do; but either way, I want to extend best wishes to you. May God bless you and your families in a special way!
“Family is like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts” Author unknown