No matter how well we plan, most of us have some loose ends to tie up Christmas Eve day, just before going to church or having the family gather at our home. The present that was ordered early and then delayed remains in question. Will it arrive in time? The fruit tray reserved at the grocery store. Will it be there when we arrive to pick it up?
Probably more worrisome for caregivers is how their aging loved ones will make it through the family events. Will Dad be sleepy from his medications or agitated from all of the excitement? Will Mom’s touchy stomach allow her to eat her favorite foods or will you spend the evening wondering if you need to make her a nutritional shake to drink while everyone else eats? Will Aunty throw a tantrum over the fact that no one made white chocolate fudge this year and, well, Christmas isn’t Christmas without white chocolate fudge?
We can plan ourselves silly, but the unexpected will always occur. The only remedy for this is to not take ourselves or our plans too seriously. Life throws curveballs, but many of them aren’t that huge if we don’t exaggerate their importance.
Humor rather than irritation can save the day
Is it really that important if the order for the fruit try got lost and you end up just grabbing a fresh pineapple? Will the world end if the intended recipient of the errant package opens a box that contains a bag of cookies and an IOU for the gift that will arrive late?
As for the elder issues, assign someone to keep an eye on each elder or another vulnerable person who may need extra attention. That way, if Dad sleeps through dinner, the person in charge of Dad’s comfort can get some food for him later.
If instead, Dad’s anxiety is in full swing, his designated watch person can take him off to a quiet corner of the house for a while where they can relax together. He may settle down and be ready to join the crowd again, later, if only in small doses. If Aunty predictably throws tantrums, resolve not to fall into the trap. Smile and say, “Sorry I messed up, Auntie. That’s a big goof, I know, but I ran out of time.” Then, ignore any other rants. When people itching for combat don’t have anyone to argue with, they will eventually run out of steam.
Simplify the holidays and take lightly things that really don’t matter
If we all keep in mind the true meaning of Christmas, we’ll more easily remember how simple the first Christmas was. We’ll remember that perfection in decorations, food or even people’s tempers isn’t what the holiday is about. If there is love in the room and some attempt at harmony, how bad can it be? Concentrate on all that is going well, and let the rest flutter away. In the end, most of the preparations for the holidays don’t matter that much. It’s what they represent. You did your best out of love. People will recognize this. A few glitches, handled with humor, will just add fodder for family stories in the coming years. It’s all part of the legacy built through the decades.
Try to relax a little if you can. You deserve to celebrate, not worry about each little detail. Enjoy the holidays with all of their imperfection, and you will be closer to the true meaning of Christmas.