Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Holidays Decisions for Gen Sandwichers

Well, it’s time to make our holiday plans for the year. I always dread this time of year. What was always assumed—we’ll go to Mom’s—is no longer as easy as it used to be. It used to be that my sister and I would pitch in and the three of us managed to get a festive meal on the table. In our family, kitchen work is women’s work, so we’d often end of cleaning up as well—sometimes with a little help from my husband (whom I trained well from the beginning).

Every year it becomes harder for Mom to host the holiday celebrations, yet she’s unwilling to give them up. She still wants the family to come “home” even though none of us has ever lived in their current home or even in their town. But home is where Mom is, and no on is willing to challenge that. I’ve offered, but since I live the farthest away, no one wants to drive that far. So each year, we gather at Mom’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas with the family.

Years ago Mom found a way to be sure that her whole family would be at the celebration. She gave up having the holiday on the Holiday. I guess it started when some had to work the Friday after Thanksgiving, so we moved our celebration to the Saturday after, and then eventually to the Saturday before. Makes travel easier and reduces the excuses. We also celebrate Christmas on the Saturday before December 25th, facilitating travel for all of us. However, for the past four years, that has meant that our son has missed out since he was away at school, and even now, lives too far to make the drive on a weekend

So as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving on the 18th, we now have other decisions to make. My sister has a serious back injury and can’t stand long enough to do much in the kitchen. Mom is growing more frail and is easily overwhelmed. My step dad is in a care home and may or may not be able to climb the steps into their home. And I have a hip in need of replacing. So what do we do? Mom still wants the family dinner with the big table and the smell of turkey roasting in the oven. But none of us can manage it anymore.

In the past, we’ve gone to restaurants but that really loses something in the translation. We’ve tried the dinners from Safeway, but there is still more prep than we have energy for this year. We’ve tried changing the menu to something easier, but then Mom and Dad feel they haven’t had a holiday. While the rest of us celebrate again on the actual day, they often are home alone or perhaps go to a community meal.

So the discussion is on again. Who has the energy and stamina to do what? Should we try a restaurant? Does anyone have a new idea? We need to decide pretty soon! But most important, we’ll all be together in one place and spend a day renewing our relationships, playing with the grandkids, and being “at home.”

As you think about your holidays, remember that being together is more important than what or where you eat or how fancy the table is or even what day you gather on. And remember that as our parents age, these times together become more precious to them as well as to us. We never know which holiday will be our last with them. So knowing that, how do we want to spend this Thanksgiving and this Christmas with them? What can we do to make the day special, whenever we celebrate?

Grhomeboy offers some additional thoughts about managing the holidays with our aging parents.

Labels: , ,

0 comment(s):

Post a comment

<< Home