So, three days before the blessed chaos of a family Christmas comes to our home. Chaos with 10 adults and 8 children. A blended family Christmas with my daughter, my son-in-law and their three girls, and her mother and father-in-law, sister and brother-in-law and their two children. My son and my daughter-in-law are also coming down from the North Island for a few days with their three young sons. As I said, ‘blessed chaos’.
As I sit here writing this, I think about how important it is for me to spend time with my children and grandchildren. To see my grandchildren playing together and enjoying being together is something that fills me with happiness. This is particularly so since my oldest son passed away in 2020. He loved his family dearly and I am sure he would be happy to know we will all be together on Christmas Day. Adam will always be with us on Christmas Day in our hearts, in our minds and in our memories. There is a special star on the Christmas tree with his name on and it makes me smile when I put it in place at the top of the tree. I know my son-in-law’s family have lost a much-loved family member too this year, so I am sure there will be sadness amongst the joy of Christmas of remembering him and also for all of us remembering those who can only be with us in spirit.
We all hope, don’t we that Christmas will be a joyful time. But for many it is not. It can bring with it grief as we remember family members who are no longer with us. It is important to acknowledge that, as assuming people are happy at Christmas is not always the case. For those facing health challenges such as Parkinson’s, it can be a struggle keeping up with all the activities relating to Christmas. Perhaps keeping up with conversations – often several happening at once – can be difficult with a brain that maybe processes information more slowly these days. Or perhaps the person with Parkinson’s used to have the job of carving the turkey or other roast and can no longer do so because of tremors or weakness. This can cause grief and loss. If you can’t manage to do some of the things you might have done previously, maybe make a new tradition that you can work around your physical challenges. Singing Carols may be challenging with a voice that doesn’t quite behave like it used to. Maybe swallowing issues mean that the favourite ham, or crispy roast potatoes are tantalizingly out of reach because they can no longer swallow them safely.
I am blessed though, that for me I seem to be managing quite well with my Parkinson’s. Although I have to be careful with eating – water on hand is always a good idea – my swallowing hasn’t worsened, but I do need to be conscious of not eating things that are too dry without water (wine?). I can still cook a pretty good meal and I know my family will be there to help too on Christmas Day. I would love to spend a week with all of them, but I know they have busy lives and that is not possible. I know the littlest grandies, the three boys will be so excited to see their cousins and spend time with them. Lachy of course will zero in on Grampy as soon as he sees him too! I might get a cuddle eventually…
Every Christmas I spend with my family is precious as I watch the young ones grow. This year has been a good one as we have settled into our new home and really made it our own. I am looking forward to showing the Wellington family around it and around the new town we live in. My son and his wife usually take turns having Christmas with her family or with us, so having us all together is extra special. COVID messed with the pattern previously, but hopefully in 2024 we will all be together again.
For those of you who read this Blog. Thank you for continuing to follow this journey of mine. I appreciate that you continue to follow me. Hopefully you get something out of reading my posts and it might help you, my fellow Parkies folk to know that you are not alone. I encourage you to put your thoughts and feelings down in writing. It really is very therapeutic. You don’t have to share it with anyone else, but just sending it somewhere helps to process what is going on for you. I know it absolutely does for me.
So, to all ‘Meri Kirihimete’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ to you all. May 2023 bring you happiness and joy and time spent with loved ones and may Parkies stay in the back seat where they belong!