There’s an image of holiday perfection that our culture encourages. Starting with Thanksgiving, we are inundated with images of families happily enjoying each other’s company during a holiday meal. Most of us have childhood memories that feed this desire for Norman Rockwell-esque celebrations. Even those who didn’t have these picture-perfect experiences growing up often strive to create them with their own families. However, few of us can measure up to the fantasy—caregivers least of all. The vast majority of advertisements, music, and blockbuster movies sugarcoat the holidays and shirk the reality that most of us face. These images feed expectations that are simply impossible to meet. Today’s “average” family is vastly different from those of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. These days, our families are often comprised of many generations, relations, races, and creeds. For family caregivers, elders’ varying degrees of health add to the complexities of bringing everyone together for the holidays.
None of these factors stop families from celebrating, though, and they shouldn’t. It’s just that we tend to carry memories of holidays past close to our hearts. We place a lot of pressure on ourselves to meet or exceed these high expectations, especially for the enjoyment of our youngsters and elders. If we don’t feel we’ve succeeded, we end up feeling guilty. In many caregivers’ minds, failing to meet expectations is failing, period. It’s time to turn this mindset around.
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.” ...Craig William Dayton, Film Composer
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