The fact that holidays are at the end of our calendar year is very apropos. It marks a time to review the year, gather with those close to us and be thankful. And as traditional and predictable as it can be, it is different for everyone.
Much of what we do to celebrate the holidays depends on our stage of life. Holidays with young children are very different than holidays with older, chronically ill family members. The holidays with young children often become a time for the adults to become consumed with surprises, lights, music, bells and whistles! Many of the plans, starting months before, involve lists of gifts, class parties, visiting relatives and decorating. Each event has a special ritual. Young children are difficult to attend to, when trying to give them every holiday experience while not rocking their usual nap schedule. Years ago I started “The Christmas Binder.” This is the holiday essential to every OCD planner. A dear friend, invited me over when our kids were about three to take a small binder, cover it in Christmas fabric (mine is red Santas!) and use perfect paper dividers to create files for gifts, Christmas meal, Christmas cards and Christmas parties. And because our only daughter decided to be born early on December 27th, there were files for her special occasion. (Oh, the joys of being an only child!). To this day, the holidays aren’t official till the binder comes out, my binder is 19 years old this year!
Homes with teenagers and older children are often less hectic, but still complex. Teenagers seem to have less respect or understanding of the traditional rituals of their parents and grandparents. High schoolers get the first taste of trying to please their boyfriend or girlfriend, by attending the other’s family church service or main celebratory meal and also balancing their own mother’s wishes. College age children are often so busy that the Christmas season doesn’t even exist till after finals or that last paper is submitted. Many families don’t start the “real” celebrations till every flight has arrived and every guest bed is filled!
The Holidays with older adults has a different flavor totally. Many families travel to be with elders. This often poses a conflict, when all need to agree upon, who will travel to whom, where the main meal will be held and what grudges are held after all is said and done. In our crazy family, we celebrated “Mississippi Christmas” when our daughter was young. We celebrated every bit of Christmas on the weekend before we left for family in New York. (You can lie easily to little children!) In general, most families try to accommodate the older adults. Older family members want to still be useful, they appreciate when their recipes are being used, or their china is the focal point of the table. And most importantly, that their medical needs be viewed as a privilege not a burden.
When all is said and done, and January arrives, we will not remember the delayed flight, the lost sleep, the forgotten gifts or waiting on late relatives. But we will remember the laughs, the smiles, the lights and music. We’ll be glad we reflected on loss and take time for a tear. We will remember the memories shared and no matter how big or small a celebration, we will remember all the blessings we have this Holiday 2017.
Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.
Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.