Doug loves Christmas. I think he has always loved Christmas; we have a few of his childhood Christmas photos which he treasures. The years we celebrated together when he was well he started making presents in the summer (jams, chutneys, relishes, and pickles for his famous gift baskets). He loves the lights, and decorated trees, and snowy days, and baking, and music, and stories, and above all, time with family and friends. We each brought traditions into our marriage, and we had just enough time to create a few new-to-us traditions as well.
“You have to plan ahead to help someone with Dementia get the most out of the holidays. No one else is going to do it for you or for them.” -Sharon Roszel, caregiver for her mother. (2013)
In 2017 I had a wobble at the beginning of December, when I realised how significantly Dementia was going to shape the season, and that we wouldn’t be able to celebrate as we had in the past. That’s when I found Sharon Roszel’s quote, above. Bless you Ms Roszel, whoever you are. I adjusted my attitude, reminded myself how much Doug loves Christmas, and was able to focus on the things that mattered most.
That same year I adopted this ‘Christmas Manifesto’ from a scrapbooker. (Apologies that I'm unable to credit the original author.)
My December Wishes - More or Less
More hugs, more laughter, more contentment, more peace, more magic, more gratitude, more joy, more love.
Less shopping, less spending, less clutter, less frenzy, less frustration, less sorrow, less stress, less disappointment.
In the years since, we continued to adapt as necessary (limiting ourselves to a one event a day, gathering in small groups, asking everyone to wear name tags, ending the day’s activity by mid-afternoon, keeping fragile items tucked away 'because of the cat').
This year Covid has changed our holiday once again.
I am lucky & grateful that Doug set up a number of clues to help me navigate the season. Fundraising requests addressed to him have arrived in the post, so I’m able to continue to donate in his name. There will be presents under the tree for our nephew and nieces from Uncle Doug. My Mum, sister, and I have baked his favourite treats. And on Christmas Eve, I’ll play the following CBC recoding:
“As we have nearly every Christmas Eve since 1979, “As it Happens” presents Fireside Al Maitland's classic reading of ‘The Shepherd”, by Frederick Forsyth. The year is 1957. An RAF pilot is heading home from Germany for Christmas. Fog sets in, and all radio communication is lost. Here now is former “As it Happens” host Alan Maitland with ‘The Shepherd’.”