Simplifying holidays to reduce stress is something I’ve been embracing as I’ve gotten older, and life has become busier and less predictable. Several years ago, when I was recovering from knee surgery and couldn’t climb ladders, we downsized our decorating. I skipped the garland wrapped around the bannisters (something you should avoid anyway when you’re hosting anyone with mobility issues), cut the menu in half (do we really need mashed potatoes AND whipped sweet potatoes?), and downsized my tree from an eight-foot behemoth (which STILL didn’t have enough room for my vast collection of ornaments) to a five-and-a-half-foot tree with all the light connections inside the center pole. I’ve also culled my ornament collection, giving some away to younger friends with growing families, and discarding anything that was worn, damaged, or just didn’t speak to me any longer.
On this Mother’s Day, in addition to honoring your mothers and mother-figures, I encourage you to celebrate the mother within. You are at the center of not only others that you care for but yourself, too. You are doing the best that you can, and yes, you may falter at times. Don’t keep going in those moments and at times of exhaustion. Instead, find ways to replenish yourself.
Hanukkah. Solstice. Yule. Christmas. All these powerful celebrations coincide this week, and while all have different themes and belong to different faiths, they all share one commonality: they celebrate the return of light and hope into a dark world. For caregivers, the holidays can be extremely stressful as we try to balance the needs of others with the needs of ourselves. It can be especially difficult when the people in our care are no longer able to enjoy the holidays they once loved.