I have happy childhood memories of spending “The Holidays” with family. The circle included my mom and dad, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles and gaggles of shrieking cousins. This was in arctic Canada, and the icy cold outside made the warmth of loved ones seem even more enveloping.
With the wisdom of decades, however, I’ve decided that what made “The Holidays” such a bonding time is what we all survived just to be together: Ghastly weather. Treacherous highways. Chaotic airports. We were Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock at the end of the movie Speed—so surprised to still be alive that we couldn’t stop hugging and crying.
Regardless, whenever late December rolls around, a lot of people, myself included, feel robotically driven to try to recapture that magic. But whether because of distance or finances or having the simple good sense not to travel, it’s often impossible—and that can be a melancholy feeling requiring repeated trips to the holiday punchbowl.
Thankfully, a nursing home administrator I was talking to this week came to the rescue and brought it all into perspective. For many of her patients, caregivers are all the family they have or see at this time of year. “It’s natural for all of us to want to be home,” she said. “But we also have the opportunity to be here with residents who have so little.”
And the benefits go both ways. “For me and my staff, it means a lot to be treasured as family by those we care for,” she said. So even while at work, they feel like they’re home for the holidays.