Adapting anticipation for the holidays
As a child, I remember Christmas anticipation heightened when I first bought and wrapped gifts for my mom, dad and sister. I wondered how each of my family members would react to what I had so carefully picked out for them. One Christmas morning, I woke at 3 a.m. and begged my parents to begin our gift exchange. After that, gift giving was relegated to a more reasonable hour.
Growing up, I enjoyed the anticipation of planning for Christmas. Doing the cleaning was the precursor to decorating. When I helped make the shopping list of ingredients to make cookies and fudge, I knew it would not be long until we were in the thick of putting them together. I put a lot of love into decorations, food and gifts.
Since I moved to a nursing home, my anticipation has changed. I no longer cook or bake, so my planning is different. My best friend, Beth, visited me in December for years can no longer come, but I keep in touch with her through e-mail and phone calls while she prepares for her children and grandchildren.
My sister Janice usually flies from Florida for a visit a couple of weeks before Christmas. If it is cold or windy, she gets chilled to the bone quickly. So do I. Some years we luck out and the weather is fit enough for us to go out. If the weather is menacing, I am prepared to stay in to ensure a comfortable visit.
Since I have lived and adapted in nursing homes for so long, I have learned to anticipate holiday events any way they might occur. I know spur-of-the-moment events and abrupt plan changes can be fun. At this stage of my life, I realize not everything has to be carefully planned.
Last year, my sister wanted to Skype on Christmas Day. I was nervous about it but agreed. Unfortunately, she called when a nurse and aide were in my room. Feeling intruded upon, I became flustered and did not take the call. Janice and I ended up talking on the phone, and I apologized for not being adept with Skype. I realized I may be the only resident here who has the capability to use it.
Last January, Janice and her husband visited Australia and New Zealand. That time, we did Skype. With her iPhone, Janice was able to show me the storm approaching the lagoon outside their window and the interior of their apartment. Unfortunately, because I cannot easily adjust my laptop camera's direction, Janice and I laughed because she could only see my face from my nose up.
I am trying to be more open to different ways of visiting with family on holidays. Skype does afford me the opportunity to see family I would otherwise not see.
Maybe someday there will be laptop software that will allow me to adjust the camera's direction without touching it. Then my sister might be able to see me maybe from the neck up.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.