I have spent 15 of the past 16 Thanksgiving dinners in a nursing home. They are not the fond memories of helping my mother get things prepared and, after enjoying her delicious dinner, cleaning up. Nor are they like the Thanksgiving dinners in my own home, where I set the menu and even, at times, taught my caregivers to stuff a turkey and make proper gravy.
Over the years, I have memories of dining at my facility's Family Thanksgiving Dinner, which was held a week before the holiday. Although they were not the same as the Thanksgivings of my childhood, the facility did its utmost to make it festive. My sister and her family attended these dinners for many years. When they could not come, I invited a friend or friends and enjoyed those dinners with my adopted family.
Most often, my sister and her family have dinner with me before or after Thanksgiving. It is something I can count on and it gives me a comforting feeling. This year, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we are planning to lunch at a small restaurant, which is 25 miles from the facility.
This will allow my sister, her husband and my 20-something niece, who lives in Florida, to enjoy a meal and a visit before she flies home that afternoon. I even asked my sister if we could dine at a restaurant that served turkey. Even though I’d like more time to visit, I am thankful for the time we have.
The residents at this facility have been quite restless since November started. I think it might have something to do with the approaching holidays. Some miss family and are not where they want to be this Thanksgiving. Some will see their families. But others have no family and depend on facility staff and residents to bring holiday cheer.
I learned many years ago that the way I feel on holidays has a lot to do with having a positive attitude and doing something for others. At times I feel sad and miss my parents, but I also know that they would want me to look for joy in my own surroundings.
As I roll my wheelchair throughout this facility, which has many "already made" Christmas decorations up, I long for the days when we waited until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas.