Christmas Cards in the Mail yet?

Saint Nicholas, Alzheimer's Disease, holiday tradition

Frances and Brad with Saint Nicholas at Endview Plantation. We took them for years. Dec. 2008.

Tis the season for cheer. And lots of friends gathering round. This is the time to sing songs you have been singing all of your life. Now is the occasion to send out cards to everyone you now know and everyone you once knew. Yep, it is time for the Christmas card drudgery.

Ever since I moved out into this great big world on my own, I have sent out cards every year in December. Except for last year. And the year before. And the two years before that. Each year I would promise myself I was going to find the time and the energy and the wherewithal to write the accompanying letter and get a nice family photo copied 100 times and we would sit down and make our cards. Yes, you read that right. Make our cards. I am NOT a crafty person. I have talents but crafts is not one of them. But, when the kids were little we started a family tradition of sitting down together and making our cards. In my mind, that was going to help us bond and we would create a magical card each year, topping the previous years’ masterpiece and eventually we would have a collection to put on display each year.

Well, about the time we really began settling into this tradition, Jim started having some symptoms that something was wrong. Which is a delicate way of stating that we were having trouble with our marriage and I wasn’t feeling jolly, delightful or ready to spread cheer to all of our friends on the mailing list.

Dec. 2009

Dec. 2009

So the first year we missed our cards, I told myself we would make New Year’s cards. We had the paper, the stickers, the markers, and the whole shebang of supplies. And then the second and third year, I fooled myself again into believing we could still do this. We didn’t. I didn’t. There was no way I could wrap my head around doing it. I briefly thought of doing the simple photo card and being done with it, but that would break our tradition, admitting I was a failure as a Mom and as a future Martha Stewart, and I am a little hard headed. So, no cards were done for 4 years.

Now it is that time again. I haven’t made a card, but my very artsy daughter, Frances, has. She has made 3 cards and is determined to make it to 10. I ordered the photos. We have 3 cards addressed, stamped and ready to be mailed. I might even use some of her supplies and make a few when I find a spare moment or two. The letter? Not going to happen. What would I put in there? Oh, life is great. We are watching Jim progress with Alzheimer’s Disease and have no idea what our life will be like next year at this time. Merry Christmas.

Alzheimer's Disease, tradition, Saint Nicholas

Dec 2010

I must remind myself many times a day of how we never know what life holds for us. I must remind myself how down I get each year now at this time and how each year we end up having a magical, memory making holiday.

This year, I am struggling, but I do feel stronger and better than I did last year. I fight off my negative thoughts and my bitterness and my anger each moment I am awake. Sometimes I do a great job and other times I should be fired.

I miss Jim so much during Christmas time. I miss our discussions of what to get the kids and our families. One year we hired a babysitter, took all the toy catalogs we had gotten in the mail and sat at a restaurant pouring through them together coming up with ideas. I miss sitting next to our lit tree after the kids are in bed, just looking at the lights and sharing quiet time together. I miss feeling excited, wondering what neat idea he had thought of for me under the tree. I miss his help decorating, doing the cards, singing songs, watching movies and so much more. He still watches the movies and he still throws out a hum (actually lots of hums) during Christmas songs, but it isn’t the same. He is here, but he isn’t here.

We will carry on our traditions for as long as we can. We may start new ones. We may lose a few along the way. I am grateful we have each other. I love my family. I am so very, very grateful we are together as a family. I am grateful we have so much, when so many are in need. I am grateful it has been such a great year. I am grateful for all I have; yet I still feel so sad and so alone.

I miss Jim.

Saint Nicholas, Endview Plantation, Traditions, Alzheimer's Disease

Our final visit. Sad that this tradition has ended. Dec. 2011.


posted by Karen in Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (7)

7 Responses to “Christmas Cards in the Mail yet?”

  1. Lisa says:

    And I miss Ray.

  2. Judy says:

    I know exactly how you feel! For the seven years I was struggling with my husband and watching leave me day by day, I couldn’t send cards either. He passed two years ago on Dec 26. I’m trying to make a life without him. Stay strong, God picked us to be the caregiver for a reason. Merry Christmas.

  3. Lee Ann says:

    There’s a family on facebook, whose little boy, Tripp was at daycare, and a big tree limb broke off and landed on his head. he was about 3. After months in the hospital, he has a traumatic brain injury and gets a lot of therapy, hoping he will improve. His Mother is pretty optimistic and glad he’s alive. She is pretty positive and hopeful that he will improve as he gets older. Its a very sad story. And its true, all of us at first are just happy they are alive, as your hubby is with you, even tho he isn’t really with you. This woman is bright and happy and loves her little boy. And went to Church yesterday, and saw one of his little friends dancing and laughing and running around. She grabbed her best friend and dragged her to the bathroom and bawled and screamed and cried and had a major breakdown. Because in reality she has her son there physically, but she knows he will never be the same as before. his name is Tripp Halstead if you ever want to find it.

    If you could choose a major catastrophe and your hubby would be gone, you would be so relieved when he was alive. That’s all we want is for them to be alive. Until you begin to realize what happens in the future. You’re getting through it. you are stronger than you know. Don’t worry about Christmas cards. Has anyone contacted you because they didn’t get one?

  4. Michelle Fox says:

    Lee Ann, while I appreciate your story and I am aware of Tripp’s journey, you are comparing apples to oranges.

    Karen, just hang on, I am counting the days for the holidays to be over. Today, I have the flu and just laying in bed and thinking..not good. Like you said, maybe create some new traditions and let the old ones sit in the archives until you want to retrieve cards for me either…pray that the season will bring you some joy through the eyes of your children.

    • Lee Ann says:

      No, what I was hoping to convey is the fact that at first, our only thought and hope is that they are alive. We will take them in any condition and any state as long as we have them physically with us. Then as time goes by, we begin to see the problems and the sadness of losing someone’s personality, and the sadness of physically they are beside us, but it will never again be what it should be. That’s what I was trying to explain . Maybe I explained it incorrectly. But whether its someone with a cognitive disorder or a small child with a brain injury, its all the same thing. The first order is to please keep them alive and beside me. The second thought is, “Wait a minute. I miss other things.”

  5. Elizabeth Gallagher says:

    Enjoy each day for the little things. There is no easy solution to the disease or your feelings and there are a thousand emotions attached to each one of them. Don’t be hard on yourself. All that you can do is the best you can do at the time and it changes constantly. I miss attending Mass with Paul, I miss the fireside chats we had, I miss just having him “get me thru the day”. I know he would be here if he could so I it helps to know he is with me in spirit. Do not be hard on yourself or the kids. You all have your own personal journey. Just remember, he may not know who you are anymore but you know who he is so he must be respected in the same way he was before this disease took hold. My favorite saying is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s learning to dance in the rain”. God Bless and take care. Have a Merry Christmas filled with new memories and traditions. Let me know if I can be of any help to you. Follow your heart!

  6. Elaine Ohm says:

    I stopped doing Christmas cards years ago. Saves time and money and one less stressful thing to worry about.

    As for the holidays, with my brother having the Alzheimer’s, its trying to incorporate him into our family traditions, when normal conversation is hard for him. He struggles to say what he wants. He ends up sitting and staring into space a lot. I think he gets more out of being with us than his demeanor indicates. So we are treading a thin line, of whose family “gets” Russ Christmas Eve, Christmas Day.

    My grandson turns 2 December 28. Do I bring Russ to the birthday party at my daughter’s house? Russ enjoys Wyatt, reminds him of his own son he’s not allowed to hold and hug. That means driving out to the nursing home, getting Russ ready, and strapping the seatbelt on him. (Not an easy task, since the meds he’s on have caused Russ to gain about 60 pounds.) Reverse to bring him back. Not sure what I’m going to do yet…

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