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Monday, December 17, 2007

A Caregiver's Christmas Experiences - Times of Friendship

Being a 24 hour, stand-by-assist caregiver at Christmas time often means trying to bring a little of the spirit of Christmas peace to someone who is battling illnesses and disabilities. The memories of Christmas's that took place in healthier, happier times contrasted with the current situation can lead to people feeling more melancholy. But, as a caregiver I'll always remember the special Christmas's I've spent with people when we created a sense of peace and friendship to cheer up the day.

One such Christmas happened when I arrived to assist an elderly lady who was disabled after a series of strokes. She received much pleasure and comfort from one of the most enormous cats I've ever seen, who was also a fluffy ball of love. I knew the financial situation was not good, and obtaining food was a challenge for this lady.

When she saw me come in on Christmas with several extra bags she tried to give me a disapproving look, "What do you think you have there?" she said. Her style was to appear gruff but there was a heart of gold under the crusty outside.

"I have a surprise!" I said, knowing she probably had not had any nice surprises for a long time.

Many elderly people on fixed incomes that I have assisted have lived on economical frozen dinners, of the least expensive sort, and I knew from past experience that she did too.

I gave her a hug and said, "Merry Christmas." Then I took my surprise into the kitchen. As we watched ice skating and Christmas movies we had a good time joking back and forth about what the surprise was going to be. I sat in a chair with her cat on my lap, and she said he was always especially glad to see me.

I spent quite awhile working in the kitchen, and the house began to smell wonderful after I put the "surprises" into the over.

When it was time to eat I went in and prepared a regular Christmas dinner with all the goodies. Turkey, cranberries,dressing, mashed potatoes, carrots and dessert. We sat with our TV tables and oohed and aahed while we watched the figure skating. The fluffy cat got a nice dinner of turkey too.

The togetherness we shared made it a happy Christmas, despite the situation. The time we spent together was precious. Although this was not like a television ideal of the Christmas festivities, we shared a beautiful day.

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