We Can Find Gratitude In the Caregiving Journey
Holiday Gift Ideas for Older Adults, People Living With Chronic Illness, and People Living With Dementia

Thanksgiving: The Difficult Choices Caregivers Must Make During the Holidays


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To my readers, thank you. I am deeply grateful to you for your loyalty. Whether you've been drawn to my writing by recent events or you've been following me for years, you are valuable to me. This little piece is something that I often run on Thanksgiving because it seems to illustrate to many what holidays are often like for caregivers. Blessings on this day of thanks. Carol

I’ve been thinking of our family’s past Thanksgivings. For a number of years, the grandparents on both sides were relatively healthy and we’d have them over for Thanksgiving. They could climb the steps – sometimes with help – but they managed.

At the time, my boys were in grade school. We'd “adopted” our neighbor, Joe. He was a widower in his eighties and was totally deaf. Joe's deafness made him uncomfortable in groups, so he chose not to come to our house for holiday meals. Therefore, my sons and I took the meals to him.

One of my sons would carry the salad, one would carry the pumpkin pie with whipped cream (they traded every other year because pie was more fun to carry than salad), and I carried a plate heaped with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, and rolls.

If it was really cold – below zero cold – we’d have to throw on a jacket. Usually, it was – oh – maybe fifteen above zero, so we’d just slip on some shoes and scurry over from our porch to Joe’s. We’d burst through the door, waving at him to get to the table, since he couldn’t hear us come in. We wanted him to eat while the food was hot. I’d pour him something to drink, we’d wave and race back home to get the meal on for the grandparents. It was busy but satisfying.

Early on, I'd tried to change Joe's mind and get him to join the group, but he made it clear he truly didn’t want to. So, we deviated from the “big, happy gathering” tradition and made our own little tradition. That’s where flexibility comes into play. People enjoy things in different ways. There is no “have to” about it.

Some may have thought Joe should have been guilt-tripped into coming to the gathering. I knew him well and also respected his right to make his own decisions. I believe he still had a fun holiday. Earlier in the day – before I was too busy cooking – I would have had my daily visit with Joe, so he wasn’t alone all day. He enjoyed his meal the way he wanted it. He was content.

I am aware that in this wonderful, diverse world technology has created for us some readers won’t be celebrating this day as my family does. As a matter of fact, even a lot of people in our community have different traditions and aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving as we do. 

I am hoping whatever and whenever you, my readers, celebrate, you have a wonderful time.  As I said, there should be no “have to” about celebrations. We each must decide what is important to us, and respect the other’s choice. Peace be with you.


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