Dear Readers: I'm re-running some thoughts about Christmas as a caregiver. Some may apply to your circumstances, some may not. That's how life is. We take what works and leave the rest. Holiday blessings to all of my readers. - Carol
Many people are celebrating Christmas Day, today, December 25th. Caregivers may find the word celebrating a little over the top, but try not to be too dismissive.
If you are caring for a parent or spouse who doesn’t recognize you for who you are, that doesn’t mean your efforts are unappreciated. Know that on some level, your love is understood. Celebrate that.
If you have rushed around like a wild person trying to make a perfect holiday happen for your family, well, today you are done, no matter where you are in the process. Celebrate that.
To me – a rather obsessive person when it comes to doing everything I can do to make something right for everyone else – there’s something nice about knowing that I can do no more. The time has come that I must be done, so I may as well enjoy myself and accept the less than perfect results.
There’s an old saying dating back to William Shakespeare that I should attach to the wall next to my computer. It reads, “To thine own self be true.” This may seem like a selfish statement, but it’s not. The rest of the quote ends like this: “We can then be false to no man.”
This quote is from literature, not a religious text. However, the Bible does say we should love our neighbor as ourselves. This kind of self-love isn’t meant to be egotistical. Rather, it’s a way of knowing that we, too, have value, and when we respect that value we can be better at loving our “neighbor.”
Caregivers can easily get caught up in thinking they are only good people if they sacrifice everything for the good of others. Yet, since literature and even holy texts tell us we should value ourselves, why do we so easily forget our unique worth?
As a person who has been a caregiver for decades – different people, different age groups – I’m aware that we can become caregivers even when we don’t realize that we are caregiving. We can also become caretakers, which can imply that we are taking on more responsibility for another person than is healthy for that person, or ourselves.
Many of you are deep in serious caregiving challenges. No article you read can change the course of your life or that of the ones you love. However, I’m hoping that today, this day of celebration for many, you can let well enough alone, realize that you are a wonderful person who has given a lot to help others and celebrate this day – really celebrate it.
For me, the celebration of Christmas means going to church Christmas Eve, then spending time with people I love, and also some quiet time alone or with just the person or people who are closest to me, who share my faith. For others, celebration may mean spending several days with family members that they haven’t seen in months, or years. We are all different, as are our circumstances and cultures.
You are here to get the most out of your life, and that means realizing your own value so that you can also realize the full value of the love you give away. Merry Christmas. May this day bring you joy.
An amazing book of stories that will touch your heart and encourage you, especially if you are a caregiver. Carol Bradley Bursack also has an excellent website devoted to the elderly and their caregivers. - Carol Heilman