This updated post originally ran in 2010.
With your aging parent, simplicity is the key to the holidays. Even if your parent is homebound, he or she may enjoy decorations, holiday music, movies and family recipes. To capture the "good old times" your parent may remember, try one or more of these simplified traditions.
1. If your parent enjoyed attending the Nutcracker, the Messiah or other live musical performances long ago, listen to CDs or DVD's of these favorites together.
2. If your parent hosted family and friends during the holidays in times past, give him or her a guest book and a tin of cookies or other treats for people who drop by.
3. If she sang in a choir, or just enjoyed holiday music, hold a sing-along, even if there are only a few of you. Use recorded music to help you, if needed.
4. If he or she faithfully chopped down and/or decorated the family Christmas tree, take a drive through a lighted neighborhood, stopping for cocoa afterwards.
5. If she filled your Christmas stockings to the max in days gone by, provide some wrapped candies she can give to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My daughter, now a mother of three, has fond memories of her Great Grandpa Bill, who stashed peppermints in his shirt pocket. When kids sat on his lap, they knew where to look.
6. If she baked traditional breads or holiday cookies, hold a family baking session, using her recipes and encouraging her to help, if possible. Be sure to tell the little ones that, “These are Great-Grandma’s cookies that she baked for your Grandma when she was a little girl.”
7. If he or she loved watching football during the holidays, you don’t have to simplify this tradition at all. It’s already simple: Gather the family and friends, provide food and turn on the TV. One football tradition in our family involved the “Pancake bet.” For years the three men in our family (my husband and our two sons) placed bets on the score of the upcoming Husky game. After the game, they revealed the bets. The person whose bet was farthest off the actual score had to make pancakes for breakfast the next Saturday.
So the key to holidays with your aging parent isn’t expense in time, money or stress. It’s connection. And simple is often better. The words of Henry David Thoreau ring true: Simplify, Simplify.
Can you think of other ways to simplifiy the holidays for your aging parent?