Christmas is often a time of sorrow for families of those with any of the many forms of dementia. Often family and friends have stopped calling or visiting. Family relationships break down as one person provides daily care.
You may decide it’s just not worth it and spend the day trying to block out memories of happier times. I get it. But consider what may happen if you embrace the past for a few moments. You may be surprised by what your loved one remembers.
Welcome the Ghost of Christmas Past. Forget about putting up a tree if you don’t feel up to it. Don’t bother with a special meal unless someone delivers it to your door hot and ready to serve. Instead open the old albums and put out the oldest, most treasured ornaments. Play all the old Christmas carols. Cry for what is lost. Cry until the tears no longer come. Then, if you can, welcome the ghost of Christmas Past. Allow him to illuminate the memories you most treasure and share them with those in your care.
The image below is from Disney’s, A Christmas Carol, where the Ghost of Christmas Past appears as a candle illuminating events that formed the person Scrooge became.
Push aside the present and feel the love you shared on all the happy times you shared if not for the entire day, at least for a moment. The love and laughter you shared may be the most precious gift you receive this season.
One of my favorite treasured Christmas decorations from childhood is also a candle.
This little guy, once part of a set of five, appeared in our home a few days before Christmas when I was eight years old. Upon our mothers passing in 2002 my sister, three brothers, and I each took one. Mine is now lopsided. His face is grimy from years of being packed away in newspaper, and his robe has a chip in it from being dropped a time or two. Despite the abuse he has endured over the years, he is far more precious than the thirty-five cents stamped on the sticker that still clings precariously to his underside tells us Mother paid for him.
If you have a favorite memory of Christmas past shared with the one in your care, feel free to post it in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.