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Thanksgiving is a time for resident gratitude

November 21, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
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After living so many years in nursing homes I am normally prepared for when staff ask me about my Thanksgiving plans. Most years you’ll find me at the facility eating Thanksgiving dinner with the other residents. Though like anyone who wants to be with family or friends, I will feel a lonely pang.

The first nursing home where I lived had a family Thanksgiving dinner one week before the holiday. It took some adjustment for me to invite my relatives and feel comfortable eating dinner with other residents and their families. But it was certainly nice to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner—an event that the staff did their utmost to make festive for us.

My Thanksgiving celebrations have evolved since then. At one point, when my niece became an older teenager, the whole family went to a lodge. We adults would then enjoy a glass of wine and the scenery for as long as we wanted.

Last year, my sister and her daughter visited the day after Thanksgiving, bringing with them a selection of treats prepared for their own dinner. Those were great, but I most enjoyed our holiday storytelling and laughter.

This year I have been invited to visit my sister’s home the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Even though I am to celebrate with my family, I will still observe Thanksgiving Day as I have for years: in the nursing home, on my own. This facility is my home and I am grateful to the staff that takes such great care of me. These special people shy away from praise and just go about doing their jobs.

Some of us struggle at holiday time because we are not on top of the world. But many of us can feel better by putting our best foot forward. Remembering to take the time to be grateful for my blessings makes Thanksgiving, and any other holiday, better.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...