For caregivers who are exhausted and lonely, the idea of creating a home celebration can be outlandish. Often, we think, “what is there to celebrate? I’m too tired to take on a project that isn’t absolutely necessary!”
But celebrations can heal. And they don’t have to be big or fancy affairs. They can be as simple as a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly afternoon (mini-marshmallows are an extra treat). A celebration can be putting on some music that gets you tapping your feet and even dancing. If it’s cloudy, a celebration can be lighting candles and pretending they’re a log fire. If the sun is out, a little party can be putting on sun glasses and having juice in fancy glasses – voila, beach party!
When my children were little, I was nursing Nicholas intensively while taking care of my baby daughter and doing the housework. One day, I decided that something had to change. We needed a jolt of happiness – I needed a celebration! Nevermind that we had nothing in particular to celebrate – I baked a cake, iced it and threw some edible sparkles on top. I found some birthday candles and I added them as well.
I announced to the children that it was a special day…. it was our ‘Unbirthday’. I got out some streamers and put them around the table, served the cake and we all sang ‘Happy Unbirthday to You.” I felt better after our little celebration. We all did.
Today Nicholas came over and we decorated our outdoor flower containers for the Christmas season. Nick kept us company as Jim and I placed pine boughs and berries in our pots. We talked about our holiday plans and everyone felt the special excitement of planning for the celebration of Christmas.
Years ago, I was part of an Easter Seal parent group. Even though I was thoroughly exhausted from looking after Nick night and day, I went to a day conference which was followed by a dance. “I can’t go to the dance. I feel sick, I’m so tired”, I confessed to my friends. But then, the music started and I thought, “Oh, I’ll just dance to this one song.” As I danced, I began to smile and then laugh. “Maybe a party is better than a sleep!” I thought. Of course, sometimes we really do need to rest, but sometimes we really do need a celebration, too. And celebrations can be very small, but still meaningful.
Putting on jewellery, decorating a cake or muffin, inviting a friend over, looking at old photos… all these everyday activities can be made into celebrations.
Here are some photos of celebrations we have had in our family over the last couple of years.
Nick missed hockey when we lived in London, England, so we organised a tournament in our local park. This one took some planning – note the inflatable Stanley Cup which had to be pre-ordered!
Tasting scotch whiskey with Uncle Frank.
Sharing an interest and a laugh always feels like a celebration.
Skyping or telephoning someone you love is like having a private party. Mom always puts on her ‘rouge’ and mascara to skype her ‘Treasure’.
But nothing beats arranging a visit with that special loved one – especially at their favorite sports bar!
Today, go ahead and celebrate. It’s tonic for the caregiver soul.