There have been times when we didn’t do a lot for Christmas. Major events…some good and some bad…made getting a tree and doing holiday cooking impossible. This won’t be one of those years. We are in the midst of a difficult time, but it means that we need to follow our traditions not skip them. Our elder needs it.
Sights: There won’t be space in her room for a tree, but that doesn’t mean we should skip decorating. Our elder will need the sight of familiar things, including any Christmas cards she gets. We’ll spend some time doing this so she can feel more a part of it.
Smells: Do you remember the smells of Christmas? My grandmother made candy. My mother baked cookies. There was the smell of the Christmas tree and bayberry candles. On Christmas morning we could smell all of the fresh citrus fruit “Santa” brought.
These scents will be important for our elder. She may not be able to help bake cookies (though I don’t think she ever did at any rate), but she can help decorate those I make and bring if she wishes. She will be at our home Christmas Day and will smell the food, citrus, tree and (if I can find any) bayberry candles.
Sounds: What’s Christmas without carols? For many of us it wouldn’t be the season without the music. We’ll handle this two ways. we’ve already volunteered to sing for the unit. There are fifteen people and they will probably want to sing with us, reminiscent of going caroling. The other is to have it playing softly in the background. We usually put the music on as soon as we wake up Christmas morning.
Touch: It may not seem like much to younger people but touch is important, especially if the elder doesn’t have someone with them a lot. This is a time for hugs and hand holding. Don’t be afraid to do so. You may be surprised how a gentle, loving touch can create joy and peace on an elder’s face.
Taste: We have many cultures around us and the traditional foods of Christmas differ. What doesn’t differ is the desire to have these foods at this time. For us it will include breads, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. This Christmas will be about traditional foods that our elder would choose to serve at home.
It may not be possible for everyone to do everything on this list. What’s more important is for us to think about what our elders actually need to make this holiday happy. I hope these suggestions help you come up with your own plan to accomplish that task.