Letting go of being in charge at Christmas

"I have never thought about that before. Every year I host; it's just what I do. I didn't necessarily think about doing it differently."

I was in a little gift shop on Fifth Street this weekend and as I am often noted for, was speaking out loud to no one in particular and said, “Wow, this holiday season has really snuck up on me this year.”

In a shocking turn of events, someone actually answered, “I wish I could get into a time machine and travel right into 2014 bypassing the holiday season altogether!”

Never one to turn down an interesting conversation (much to the chagrin of my family), I discovered a gentleman who was now in charge of Christmas this year.

His Dad and Mom (95 years and 90 years, respectively) had minor strokes in the past six months and his three children and six grandchildren were planning to spend their holidays in Comox.

He said, “I don’t mean to be the Grinch, but I finally got Mom and Dad the help they need and now I’m faced with the extra long to-do list, concerts and parties up the ying-yang and cooking for at least 12 of us!”

I pondered for a second and said, “Have you thought about asking one of your children to host Christmas this year? Maybe you could have everyone over for a coffee and a light brunch mid-morning rather than having to be responsible for supper?”

I could see the light go on.

He said, “I have never thought about that before. Every year I host; it’s just what I do. I didn’t necessarily think about doing it differently.”

I threw out a thought, “There’s nothing wrong with creating new traditions if it means everyone can still be together and you don’t run yourself into the ground. Why don’t you toss it around with your family?

“As for those concerts and parties, take into consideration your Mom’s and Dad’s physical stamina and cognitive abilities. You might want to limit the number of activities and the length of time they are included. The noise and confusion of a large family gathering or concerts can lead to irritability, undesired behaviour or exhaustion.”

By this time, we had left the store and were walking up the street.  My new friend, Michael, gave a guilty sigh of pleasure.

He said, “I feel bad but I’m just so glad to have a few minutes to myself not worrying about everyone else. Sometimes I stay at work longer so I can have a little solitude.”

I gave a little nod and said, “Isn’t it amazing how a little R&R goes a long way, even if you are working!  It must be hard to ask for help.

“I hope you make time for yourself in the coming month. The balance scale is always going to fluctuate between caring for your parents and looking after yourself, too.”

As we were going our separate ways, he smiled and said, “You sure seem to know a lot about of seniors’ issues and family caregivers.  Have you ever thought about writing a column?”

I smiled and laughed, “You never know, I just might!”

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
Comox Valley RCMP asking public to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Tom Lennox finds peace when he runs in the Cumberland Forest. He hasn’t missed a day in nearly a year. Photo supplied
Cumberland runner nears 366 consecutive days on the trails

Cumberland resident Tom Lennox has been running a minimum of five kilometres… Continue reading

Courtenay’s Ace Brewing Company’s Jet Fuel IPA was chosen for second place in the annual Canadian Brewing Awards. Photo submitted
Courtenay brewery takes silver medal at Canadian Brewing Awards

“It’s huge - they are the biggest awards in Canada that you can get (in the brewing industry).”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

The Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board is concerned about having to fund more than just hospitals like the one in the Comox Valley. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona board worried over funding more than hospitals

Island Health points to seniors care to reduce demand at acute care sites

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

40 Knots Winery recently completed a major project on their vineyard terrace by installing 360-degree glass panels for year-round use.
Comox winery aims for year-round experience with glass-surrounded terrace

40 Knots Winery recently completed a major project on their vineyard terrace

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Most Read