I met someone in the village the other day who asked, ‘did you enjoy Christmas- pity it goes so quickly isn’t it?’ It wasn’t the time for a meaningful conversation, so I smiled weakly and said yes: But for me and for many people with Dementia, Christmas is not a good time. Everything looks different, sounds different, smells different. I have an irrational fear that Christmas parcels might contain rats (long story for another time) and although my family know this and either don’t wrap things or wrap them in transparent bags I am still afraid. I write a Christmas list of things I would like, could use (I hate ‘stuff ) and know I wouldn’t be confused by I still look at every thing and think ‘ what is this for? Yes even a book or a CD. takes a moment to register. I have a big loving generous family and have so many things, wonderful things from them, but it was only this week that I finished opening parcels and there are things waiting for a home.
Family gatherings are wonderful but the person I want most to see is absent and it grieves me that the time will come when I won’t recognise him and I want to yell out ‘ I know you are are angry with him BUT WHAT ABOUT ME’
I suppose I am yelling out now – but I am not trying to manipulate I am just telling it like it is.
I’m a carer as well as someone living with Dementia and this Christmas Paul was so frail and so ill so it was a worrying frightened time because of that. This is age as well as Dementia and has to be accepted – but it isn’t easy.
Comparisons are odious they say, but I remember Christmas past, the visitors, the cooking – me cooking and loving it – Midnight mass and the hugs outside St Wulstan’s church. I’m a happy Quaker but those early Christians knew what they were doing when they put a wonderful light filled festival in the middle of the darkness of winter. I remember Holy Trinity and the beautiful voice of my beloved Mary Frances, her clear solo voice filling the large church as she invited us to ‘Come come come to the Manger’
I was worried about the many neighbours who had difficulty feeding themselves because our cafe was closed from Dec 23rd until Jan 4th and how many pre-plated and scampi and chips were stored in freezers. The food bank where I help out occasionally was very low on treats and there was the constant awareness of how different the reality of Christmas for so many people is from the commercial picture presented in shops and the media.
I feel like Scrooge writing this and there were moments of sheer joy- a facebook picture of my grand daughter and her housemate carrying their Christmas tree through a Cambridgeshire village that could have illustrated ‘A Christmas Carol’ The opportunity for our annual Christmas ‘on the stairs at Beth’s house picture with my ten grandchildren’ Half an hours quiet time on Christmas night reading the Christmas story in my bible again after Paul was asleep.
It’s not quite over. There is a huge box of Christmas ‘stuff’ decorations, wrapping paper etc in the hall and I just don’t know where it should be but once I have decided and sorted it then it will be over.
And then, back to Dementia work (good) and Brexit and Trump —aaarrrggghh. Let’s go back to Christmas