November is the beginning of the holiday season. Although holidays are fun, they often carry their own stress. There is extra baking, extra food, extra errand running, extra visiting, or extra people at your house, and then there is Mom.Or Dad.
Celebrate this year by considering the caregivers in your social circle. Who are they? Offer to help. Sometimes caregivers don’t know what they can delegate or they assume they should do it all. Suggest things you can do to help. If you do not have suggestions, here are a few:
1. Offer to stay with the senior while the caregiver runs some errands. If this is your grandparent, ask for their “help” to organize and label old photos.
2. Offer to help get decorations out of the basement, or attic, so the senior isn’t climbing on ladders. Perhaps you can help the senior decorate while she reminisces.
3. Do the caregiver’s children, or grandchildren, sing in the same choir as yours? Could you pick them up so the caregiver can concentrate on getting the senior to the performance? Could you also take the children or the senior home?
4. Offer to pick up the senior to bring them to Thanksgiving dinner so the caregiver does not have to leave during the preparation. Take them back as well.
5. Make spaghetti, lasagna, or some other special dish. Bring it over as a “reserve dinner” for the day everything goes haywire, and the caregiver is at her wit’s-end. I just make two of something and put the other one in a disposable pan, wrapped for freezing.
When you are the caregiver; “reformat” the holiday celebrations.This year will be different. It is a new season in your life. We respect those in mourning, or new parents. Caregiving is actually a fulltime job, and you deserve respect for that status.
This is the year you ask others to contribute a dish, set up tables and chairs, or bring seniors to the Thanksgiving feast.
This is the year that you un-decorate. Close your eyes and picture your decorated home. What are the first three things that come to mind? Those are the only ones you do. If the stair railing on does not get done this year; it’s fine.
This is the year you un-bake.What are the three most important dishes/cookies/items you have done in the past? Those are the only three you to do this year. Enlist others.
Perhaps you always helped in your congregation or school with the holiday ….. This year you let everyone know that your situation is different; you are a caregiver. Ask for a limited involvement.
This is the year to enlist young adults. Call them young adults, not teenagers. They need to assume some holiday responsibility. This is the season you involve them in retrieving decorations, putting them up, driving their grandparents. I brought my children into the kitchen and discovered my son is a better cook than I am! He goes for Asian flavors such as teriyaki turkey: why not! Expect some rolled eyes or extra concentration on the digital screen at first. Be firm. Present this as part of growing up; the flipside of privilege is responsibility.
Caregivers have a right to enjoy the holidays as much as anyone else, maybe even agreater right. We honor your service in caregiving.