November. How did we get here already? As we pick through our trick-or-treat bags, watch the jack-o-lantern deflate, and see the leaves tumble off of the trees, our thoughts turn to the holidays.

In my family we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are also still feeling the sting of a recent, and unexpected, death. With the holidays thunderously approaching, we decided to do things in a different way this year. Spaghetti for Thanksgiving sounds like a solid plan; anything to keep from reminding us what the holidays “used” to be like. The wound is still too open, too raw.

The holidays elicit images of family, togetherness, and comfort. But I wonder…when I am in my late seventies, will I still feel the same way? If my only child has moved away and it is just me and my partner, will I still want to have a grand celebration? If I am sick or don’t feel well, will I want get out and pretend I feel fine to make the holidays merry? Or, will I choose to get through the holidays in a different way?

All this has caused me to rethink this notion I’ve always had that no senior should be alone at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Now, I’m not saying if someone wants company and to be surrounded by family, that you should demand they sit at home. That is not the point. If you want to take them a lovely hot meal, please do it (spoiler: stay tuned for the next blog post about that topic)

What I am proposing is we give seniors some space. The holidays may be a time for enchantment and wonderment for you, but for them it may have taken on a different meaning and that is ok.  And it is worth noting if a senior has dementia, or other types of chronic illness, the chaos and noise of a full house on any Christmas morning may be unsettling. Sure, you want to have them there, but is it what they want?

I don’t profess to have all the answers at all. Just some food for thought.

So, let Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Myrtle chill at home if they want to. Let them have some peace. Don’t force the holidays on them. Let’s learn to embrace doing things in a different way.

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