Make Thanksgiving Special for Your Loved One

Holidays can be the most memorable times for families, and the most precious generations among us are those who remember holidays past. Our elder relatives hold the secrets to our history – what made us who we are. They remind us of how far we’ve come and, dare we say, where we don’t want to return. 

It’s time to start preparing for the most valued generations to join the holiday celebrations, and we’ve got work to do. A little thought and preparation will ensure loved ones not only arrive to tell their stories but also endear them to do so. 

First, don’t forget to make travel arrangements. If grandma is still driving, make sure you know her limitations. Does she still drive at night? Allow her to keep her independence by having lunch right at noon so she can experience every bit of the after-dinner conversation. And your children will experience every fantastic story you’ve heard over and over again – but they’re hearing for the first time. 

If Grandpa doesn’t drive at all, he might want to sleep over. Make plans for the overnight stay. Is the shower ready for your octogenarian? Is there a mat, a shower handle, a rug? Quick and inexpensive fixes can keep your holidays at home rather than on the road to urgent care. 

Make sure there’s something to eat. Uncle Dave may have a special diet, and Aunt Stella may have become a picky eater. On these special days, make sure you not only cook what’s good to eat, but what’s good for them. 

Understand memories may not be so easy for them. Don’t try to force your elder family members to revisit the past – they may not be able to do so. Short-term memory may be especially difficult. If your loved one battles recall, ask them general questions and let them tell the stories they can. 

Maybe most surprisingly, know their threshold. When is it time to say when? Don’t try to force your elders to stay longer than they want. Sometimes, they do just want to go home. It doesn’t have anything to do with family time; it has to do with comfort. Often, talking to them prior to their stay will give you plenty of information for the visit. Make a plan and don’t try to talk them into something different. Allowing elder generations control over their decisions is part of loving them. 

Start thinking about your options now. Our eldest family members may be the most lonely during the holiday season. Think back to the time they were in charge – providing the time, the place, the buffet style celebrations. While that time may have come and gone, their stories may house some of the most important family memories. They need you now like you needed them before.

Pick them up for the holidays. Take pictures ... and take time with them.