Ever since my father died five days before Christmas in 2011, the holiday season has been bittersweet for me. He also spent Thanksgiving of that year in the hospital, so both holidays are associated with sickness and death.
But each year, there are stories that reinforce the wonder of the holiday season and lift my spirits.
The story about a lovely woman named Karen, who has dementia but has maintained her lifelong love of Santa Claus, is one of those uplifting stories.
As Karen has moved into the latter stages of dementia and was recently placed in hospice care, her family made the wise decision to capture a beautiful holiday moment that her family will treasure for generations to come.
If you click through on the Facebook post above, you can read the entire story behind the photo shoot. I love the fact that Karen has a Santa doll and speaks Japanese to it!
Of course, not everyone with dementia reacts to holidays in a positive fashion, so it’s best to follow their lead. But don’t be afraid to indulge in some good old-fashioned fun this holiday season. We can all learn a lesson from Karen and her family.
When I was four, my parents bought me a Powder Puff big wheel cycle for Christmas. This replaced my Fonzie cycle, which I guess I outgrew or it broke down. Of course, it had to be assembled before Christmas Day, and my mom worked in secret after I went to bed while Dad was at work to get the darn cycle put together.
In many households, assembling toys is the Dad’s job, but my father was never handy with tools, even though he worked for a trucking company for years.
Once Mom finally had the monstrosity assembled, a new problem arose. Where would they hide the conspicuous gift in our tiny apartment?
Mom did her best to hide it in the closet, but one day, as she was hanging up Dad’s freshly laundered clothes on his side of the closet, I snatched a peek at the big plastic wheel and the pastel streamers hanging off the handlebars.
And that’s the moment I realized Santa didn’t really exist. I don’t remember being particularly upset by discovering the truth. I played along for a couple of more years with my mom’s insistence that Santa was real before finally revealing I saw the cycle in the closet when I was four.
While most kids graduate to an actual bicycle after riding these contraptions as little kids, I never did. And while I never asked, I don’t think Dad ever learned how to ride a bike either. I just can’t imagine Dad atop a bike, wearing a helmet!