This is so simple and sweet, yet so hard to put into practice.
As a large family, we never have a one day celebration of anything. It’s carried usually over a weekend with many meals, visits with family, and late night caps with early morning coffee. The little ones being so excited to be together are usually up at 5:00am while I am scrambling to get them back into bed for a few more minutes. Then breakfast lasts 4 hours or more because no one gets up at the same time. It can get very confusing, irritating, and exasperating, but it’s also an opportunity for me to relish the “old” times when all my children were home and this happened everyday.
I enjoy every part of the family life and wish we could actually be together more often even though I am wiped out afterwards and feel a bit like I’ve stepped into outer space. The house goes from non-stop noise, yelling, playing, to utter quiet in one sweep. It’s also a moment I relish and puts the weekend into perspective.
The busyness gives me very little time to just chat or to spend those quiet moments with my kids. I would like a moment to sit and talk to my 6 year old granddaughter who is growing so quickly and has so many things in her life, I know nothing about. She is my first born and I believe how she goes the other girls will go, but I had a moment of sweetness with her yesterday when we visited the Great Opa at the Nursing/Rehabilitation Home he resides. We all arrived as they started lunch and Opa had ham. My husband asked him if he could cut his meat but I also noticed another resident and one sitting at his table also needed his meet cut. After finishing cutting this gentleman’s meat, my granddaughter started telling me to go over and cut everyone’s meat. Of course that was a room of about 65 people, but she was so excited that I should continue helping the residents that it was inspiring to me that she showed such concern. Of course, she was too scared (as she put it) to do it herself, but nonetheless, she showed me her sweet empathetic side. That is a moment I would never have had, if we did not have an elderly family member in a “nursing” home. As we walked out the door, I asked her if she enjoyed her visit and she beamed with happiness. I told her I was so proud of her for being such a thoughtful little girl. I am proud of her and I am proud of my daughter for instilling compassion in her oldest daughter as well.
Another incident was one of the 5 year old grand girls had a temper outburst in church. She is too old for such moments, but she was ill with a cold and over tired. Her mother, my middle daughter, was horrified so both she and her husband had to take her out to calm her. When they returned she sat quietly in the pew. After Holy Communion, she showed me that she wrote a paper filled with I love God, I love Jesus, Crosses, etc., and hoped that would make us proud. I chuckled at that because she must’ve been inspired by the Holy Spirit to do this, since it reminded me of my education under the Religious Sisters who would make us write papers, “I will pray at Church”, “I will keep my eyes on Jesus”, etc., if we acted up during our morning Mass. This was not imposed on my grandchild, but she was so happy and beaming that she spent the rest of Mass filling out this paper with love notes to God.
It’s these moments I crave and the moments that show me the inner workings of my grandchildren. I don’t necessarily think the dance contests, the soccer games, the school activities and the business of their lives impress me as much as those little glimpses of their inner selves, that I can occasionally see in my children and grandchildren. These moments are my greatest joy and I can’t think of anywhere else, including a Paris vacation, a trip to the Bahamas, etc. that could top these moments I experience with my children.
I am busy putting together the menu for next week. Our immediate family actually celebrates the following Saturday, because so many are at other family gatherings from in-laws. While I am disappointed at not celebrating the actual day with all my children, I also love the rest provided for that day. My two sons join my husband and me and that’s always a joy, since they work so many hours, and rarely get a day off to be with family as it is. They also are good eaters so I enjoy making a dinner that is truly home-made for them.
My father-in-law was moved to an assisted living community over the weekend, and this gives us an opportunity to make a quick visit on Thanksgiving as well. I just read that any change of routine can upset them very much, and the home is very busy with entertainment, visitors, etc. He is a very quiet man by nature and I sometimes wonder if this is suitable for him. I know we try to entertain the patients and keep them active, but his anxiety has increased. I hope he adjusts soon. It is hard enough to see a loved one affected by dementia and feeling helpless to change their circumstances to make them a little more comfortable.
Family is important this time of year. Memories of past experience, both good and bad, accentuate the Season’s customs and traditions. I truly love the Catholic traditions and they are not easy to keep in motion if one goes into the Season halfheartedly or too busy to put them into practice. It’s the Faith that gives the meaning to this Holiday and I hope that my kids carry them on in their own families. Some have married into mixed faiths, so it’s hard for the Catholic partner to give wholeheartedly without the pressure of feeling alone. On the other hand, there is a certain feeling of being alone in this time of year anyway which can bring one to really appreciate the darkness of the season and the hope of the Birth of Christ which brought light into our world. However one celebrates this season, it is truly a time of meditation, quiet reflection and family and friends that bring the richest experience behind all the glitter, parties, and togetherness.
For caregivers in Buffalo, New York and the surrounding area here is a reminder that meltdowns are not only okay, sometimes they are exactly what is needed in order to carry on.
Any change in routine can wreak havoc for our loved ones. I can only imagine what seeing snow piling up for hours on end and having it cover windows and doors, creating a feeling of being trapped. is having on loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. I pray that you have all the medications and all the supplies for everyday living that you need, that there will be no medical emergencies that require you to leave your homes, and that your loved ones remain as calm as possible.
And one more thing; if things become too stressful let it out. As singer, Leslie Gore, once said,
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsYJyVEUaC4
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This is a must for anyone so busy and with huge obligations. I try to follow these practices but need the reminders in this article.
A recent Yahoo News article highlights the bedtime routines of influential leaders. From President Obama’s late-night security briefings to Stephen King’s obsessive habit of turning the pillows a certain way, it seems that everyone “in the know” has a routine that nurtures success.
What about caregivers? We are so busy during the day, so what routines help us prepare for God’s new day ahead when things finally settle down at the end of an evening? Here are a few recommendations:
1. Prayer. Although many people pray at the end of the day because they forget to pray during the day, prayer is still a worthy endeavor in thanking God for the blessings along the way.
The solitude and quiet of bedtime prayers also gives the Holy Spirit room to work, and it is not uncommon for a rush of insights to come when we’ve finally given our brain permission to rest.
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