How to Bring Joy into Your Caregiving This Holiday Season
by: Kathi Koll on
I was asked by Brenda Avadian of The Caregiver's Voice to write an article that would put a smile on caregivers' faces because she knows how important it is to find humor and joy in life when one is juggling so much caring for a loved one, especially around the holidays. The following is the piece I wrote for The Caregiver's Voice community that I would like to share with you too.
Our holiday tradition always included making gingerbread houses.
Because we had 9 grandkids, we didn’t just build gingerbread houses once over the holidays. We did it three or four times every year with maybe one or two kids each time. One year, one grandchild ate the chimney before we could put it on, and Don rolled his eyes at the silliness. Meanwhile, I kept nabbing candies, which didn’t escape Don’s notice. I asked, “Do you think I’ve gained weight this holiday season?”
“No, fifteen,” he answered.
He actually was right on the mark. I couldn’t believe it.
I teased him, “I could unplug you at any minute.” He just laughed.
It might seem a little dark to tease him about unplugging his respirator, but we both had no doubt that it was a joke. It was also an important continuation of our pre-stroke life when we relished teasing each other. Learning how to keep aspects of that old life going was vital in our post-stroke life.It’s easy to let illness overtake things, but what kind of life is that? We wanted the normal joys of life to take precedence over Don’s health issues when at all possible. Teasing was one way to do that; keeping our traditions alive was another.
As caregivers, sometimes an outing can be daunting. With my husband, we often had to bring a nurse with us to monitor his respirator, and getting him in and out of his wheelchair for the drive was a project in and of itself. However, if we set aside enough time, trips into the world were a true joy. We would drive around and view the holiday lights or go to the mall to shop and see the festive decor. Once we even spent hours in a huge American Girl store with our granddaughter. We visited the tea room and explored the entire multi-level store. I pushed Don in his wheelchair, while our granddaughter pushed her doll in the stroller. It was a kick.
You can now listen in to my regular podcast Care for Caregivers airing on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and iHeart Radio. Click here to choose your preferred listening app for podcasts.
Kathi Koll is the founder of The Kathi Koll Foundation and author of the award-winning Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Caregiving. Please visit KathiKoll.com to learn more about the book and read an excerpt. Sign up for the blog here.