With three senior parents I am thinking a lot about holidays — past and future — how wonderful they can be and how to celebrate without a lot of brouhaha. I am concentrating on making each holiday, in this case Thanksgiving, special but also as simple as possible. This year we’ve navigated lots of health challenges together, and now we can celebrate family, long life, traditions, wisdom, and faith. … and also their continuing legacies.
This link at About.com has some good suggestions about gatherings that include senior family members.
This year for Thanksgiving we are hosting all three senior parents, one senior aunt, and one caretaker, plus some cousins. Four people in their mid-80’s or older. My cousin and I joke that it will take a lot of us to bring down the average age even though we are in our 50’s. Our daughter, who is a medical resident, has just enough time to fly down and head back, but she will see all of her grandparents, and I am so grateful that she can do this, though she cannot stay for the Thanksgiving dinner.
The cousins are professional musicians, so I am hoping for some music and maybe a hymn-sing around the piano working through all of the Thanksgiving hymns. We will have a jigsaw puzzle going and the cousins are helping with the food so that takes some of the pressure off of me.
Our parent with dementia will be included in every activity. In late afternoon the caretaker will leave to go to her family for Thanksgiving, and we will assist mother until bedtime. We have also found some old family photograph albums for her to look at.
We have much to be thankful for and are unusually fortunate, despite the ups and downs of health, to have so much wisdom in our midst. And if everything is not perfect and something goes awry here and there — and something probably will — who cares! We’ll handle it. As I so often told my daughter when she was little, “We’ll cope.”