I'm not a follower of organised religion as those who know me will already know, but it saddens me to see the amount of consumerism and materialism that is associated with this time of the year. It is the time and love that you give to those round you, that counts for more than the size or price of the gifts you give. Time is precious and if given freely and with love, is worth more than anything. Yet so many will give gifts rather than time, attention and love.
I think about those who have spent the festive season alone, the elderly, those without families, those who are homeless. The advertisers show images of close and happy families all celebrating together. but in reality, how many people actually experience it like that? How many people find themselves spending time with people they don't get on with for the rest of the year? How many people spend it alone, wishing for a different experience? How many people long for it all to be over, so they can 'get back to normal'? It is a challenging time for so many people, our expectations of how things should be versus how things really are.
I spent the day with my 80 year old mother, who has dementia. She is borderline advanced dementia and has no short term memory at all. Her ability to understand the simplest things has departed, her level of confusion is high; it is sad but at least she is blissfully unaware of the reality; it is those around her experience that the pain associated with this cruel disease.
I brought her over to mine and cooked her Christmas lunch, but as she was out of her comfort zone, her confusion was even more marked than usual, and she kept wandering around; it was like herding cats! I think she enjoyed it but I was exhausted and emotionally drained that night.
My dear, departed grandmother has told me that this was the last Christmas that I'll need to take responsibility for her, what ever that means. Only time will tell. At least when the time comes for the next stage of her journey, I will know that I did everything I could and more besides. I have given the gift of time and love and I can do no more than that.
Coping with and caring for someone with dementia is the hardest thing I have ever done, and there are so many others out there in the same position. It is frustrating, exhausting, worrying, frightening as we don't know what will happen next nor how we will keep coping. It can feel like a life sentence.
Yet there is help and support out there for carers, yet so many haven't been told about it. If you or someone you know is caring for someone with dementia, tell them to talk to the Alzheimer's Society and to Age UK, both charities have all sorts of support and help available which differs from area to area; but both are a good starting point.
I extend my love and thoughts to all of you out there who's Christmas has not been like in the adverts nor how they would like it to have been. It can be such a hard time.
Next year, I plan to help the local homeless as my gift to humanity; and would encourage you all to do a small act of kindness towards those less fortunate. Time is the greatest gift of all.
May 2016 be a wonderful year for all.