Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holidays, Decorating and Caregiving

Readers know how much I love to decorate at Christmas time! This passion for lights, snowmen and holiday cheer could be called over the top or slightly very excessive (Exhibits A, B and C) but I like to call it “normal,” “spreading Christmas joy” and “oh so much fun!”

Santa visited our neighborhood early
Since caregiving started I have found decorating just as much fun but adding just a smidge of extra stress to an already busy time.  Last year I was very stressed out with the ever-increasing personal care needs of Robert, work was extremely busy and we were in the middle of trying to sell our house and find a new, more disabled-friendly house.  The mere thought of downsizing the decorations was depressing and a near impossible task for me.

It is not uncommon to have to downsize when caregiving or when someone is ill.  While getting our trees this year (yes, trees – more on that later), I overheard a woman tell her husband and adult daughter they used to get the biggest tree in the lot. She was saying this as her husband tossed a mid-sized tree in the back of their pick-up but she seemed to accept this was the year they were downsizing.

Richard’s mom has boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations at her house but hasn’t had the energy or desire to unpack them the last few years. Last year, Richard snuck over on Christmas morning and set up a tabletop tree and strung a few lights so she would wake to a magical Christmas morning.

I still get a little teary-eyed just thinking about that generous gesture.
Carol's finished product

This year, Carol was again not interested in decorating. It could be her depression. It could be hauling boxes out and decorating seems too overwhelming. Whatever the reason, we wanted to bring her some Christmas cheer so surprised her with a decorating party.  Richard, Robert, Rachel and I set out with another tabletop tree, decorations and our Christmas spirit. We surprised Carol who was grateful and ready to decorate with us. She jumped in and went through her own boxes of holiday decorations and pulled out what she wanted to set around and found ornament hooks since we forgot to bring them. 

She let us know when she was satisfied there were enough decorations – we wanted to follow her lead and not overwhelm her. After all, this was her house and we didn’t want to overstep our boundaries but wanted to bring some Christmas cheer.  When we were finished, she left for church and called once she returned home.  She expressed her gratitude and joy at coming home to a tree and a living room full of Christmas lights.

Choosing the best tree
It was a fun afternoon for all of us and Carol was pleased with the decorations. Success!

For our own house, Richard and I have been decorating a little at a time. Instead of taking a full day (or two or three) to decorate, we have slowly put out a few items each day. We even did our own version of downsizing: instead of a very tall tree which is difficult for the two of us to haul in and decorate, we opted for two smaller trees. We have done this for a couple of years now and it works out much better for us. Richard is not in as much pain while stringing the lights or trying to get a 10 foot tree straight in the stand.

The bonus of having two trees is we can use most of the ornaments we have collected through the years! Last night, Robert ate his Rocky Road ice cream and watched us string the lights on one tree and tonight we will tackle the other one. Robert enjoyed helping pick out the trees and will help put on a few ornaments as well. 

We don’t have him help with the lights as that is a very delicate operation that Richard and I have tried perfecting over the years. By perfecting, I mean we try to hang the lights and continue to speak to one another for the rest of the night.  (There’s something about stringing those lights . . . as a friend said, “hanging lights can make or break a family!)

Stringing lights on Tree #1
Again, success! J

Caregiving brings challenges and change and sometimes even downsizing but it can also remind us how precious time with family is and that change can be embraced.

Here’s hoping you enjoy your holidays and decorating too!  Just watch out for those Christmas tree lights . . . 


Tim Fountain said...

So impressed by Richard's decorating sneak attack at his mom's.

Just found you via the blog party... glad to meet up with you guys!

Kaye Swain said...

That's such a sweet idea - and especially since you were very sensitive to how much (or little) she wanted to decorate.

I usually do a lot but there is so much going on, I've only done the Nativity on the mantel and a couple of stuffed animals. That makes my mom happy to have a bit less, and I got plenty of Christmas decor fun at grandkids houses this year so that worked well and less to put away after Christmas - which for this year, is a very good thing :)

Sounds like you are enjoying your new home. So excited for you.

Merry Christmas y'all! :)


Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Hi, Timothy!

Thanks so much for joining the blog party and stopping by. I was very impressed with Richard's "sneak attack" too and love to see such a great relationships between him and his mom.

You win the prize for Wednesday! Please email me your address and I will get my book in the mail to you. My email is

Thanks again!


Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Hi, Kaye!

I visited your site as well during the blog party but didn't have a chance to leave a comment. I love the holiday feel of your blog - so festive!

You win a copy of my book too! (I am giving away one a day!) I don't recall if you won last year so let me know if you do not want a second copy. :-) Otherwise, please email me your address (my email is

Talk to you soon and "see" you on Facebook. :-)