There’s a time for holiday traditions and for residents of Beverly Hills and elsewhere to pull out all the stops and follow past holiday rituals to a T. Then there’s 2020, where everyone receives a figurative pass for not being able to do things the right way or even being able to do them at all.
It’s been that kind of crazy year, so many caregivers will suggest having less emphasis on rigid traditions of the past and maybe having some creative vision for what could be ahead that may be fun for everyone.
The team at Accredited Home Care is happy to encourage our clients and their families to keep gatherings as safe as possible this year, even if it means doing things differently than they have been before. At the holiday meal level, it could mean you no longer have to include every element and perfect side dish that used to be required to supposedly make ‘the magic” of whatever holiday is being celebrated. Same with the décor and other trappings.
For instance, some families have a detailed plan for Thanksgiving handed down for generations. They like to pull out every stop every year, and their ritual includes minute-by-minute steps to prepare each ingredient and meal element, starting out with rising early to put the turkey in the oven and ending with a mound of dishes and many satisfied diners. To some, the more guests the merrier means everyone’s happy.
Depending on what state you live in, these big events may be discouraged or even illegal this year due to crowd control regulations or at least local recommendations. This means some plans have to be reduced in scale or complexity. Maybe you can have a smaller bird or ham for Thanksgiving or Christmas. A smaller guest list may even have the upside of having the host not have to stay in the kitchen as much.
The changing ‘rules’ for celebrations also could create some opportunities to think creatively and do things differently. They could also be a chance to plan things out more and reduce some of the stress that might come from putting a gathering together, no matter how big or small.
If you’re with someone who may be beginning to suffer from dementia, or it’s happening to you, there might be challenges keeping track of some event details or the feeling of being overwhelmed at too many factors to plan.
Consider some strategies to minimize the stress and disruption and maybe even have fun with the organization part.
- Start your planning early. Many people don’t do well at performing under deadline conditions, especially the older you get. A few little last-minute touches aren’t hard to deal with in a hurry, but too many can quickly lead to panic or at least an opportunity for you or others to feel rushed and frustrated. Instead of starting with a scramble, consider outlining your event plan weeks early, even if really won’t take a lot of details. At least you’ll know what’s needed ahead of time so there won’t be too many unexpected hiccups. This also could let people see how things are progressing and what still needs to be done.
- Get others involved. ‘The more the merrier’ isn’t just for a big guest list – it can include your unofficial event planning team. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, but just people who want to help even if they’re not quite sure with what or how. Some may have been involved in past big or small dinners. Others are enthusiastic but may need some guidance.
- Think beyond your own boundaries. Because this has been such an unusual year, you may even consider seeking the expertise of people who aren’t physically present. Maybe a relative in another state is happy to add their advice to the planning group but isn’t going to be able to attend in person. They may still be able to suggest ways to bring the extended family together, such as a “Zoom” session during the event where everyone is present virtually, or scheduling different times when different sets of the family can call in.
- Make it fun. Organizing a nice get-together of family and close friends shouldn’t feel like work or a professionally-staged event. If the details become too crazy and people aren’t enjoying the planning process, it’s a good idea to pull back and look for easier options. It can be as simple as buying pies instead of taking the effort to make them.
- Break the rules. Since 2020 has already been so disruptive, consider ‘embracing the crazy’ and using the opportunity to change everything around rather than forcing yourself to stick with rigid traditions. This change in attitude might be fun for the whole family to do things like eating dessert first, having chicken or hamburgers instead of turkey, or everyone wearing tropical shirts. Planning for this could be enjoyable too since it can give everyone something new and exciting to look forward to rather than feeling disappointed that things won’t be the same as in past years.