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This is not so much a care question. Looking for help from those who may have navigated a similar time in life. I'm an only child. My parents and I were always really close and in my adult years we became best friends. My dad recently passed and now mom, 91, is living alone at home....her choice...and my husband and who have no kids are her sole caregivers. My question is about navigating the holidays for the first time without someone when family is already tiny. I was tempted to just skip it all this year, but I know dad would not want me to do that and my husband has an elderly aunt that always comes. Looking for ideas that might make it easier, like changing something. I so dread sitting down to a dinner at the dining room table and dad not being there. Not sure I could get through without losing it. I know this may sound trivial. Just looking for other experience. Thanks.

Tray tables and corny old Christmas movies in the living room. My idea of a Heavenly holiday.

Holiday BRUNCH for the big meal of the day.

Jig saw puzzle teams, then soup and sandwiches and dessert.

Morning Cookie Bake for the ladies, prepared casserole, cookies, fruit and beverages for dessert at mid afternoon.

Invite a pleasant single person or couple to share the day with you all. It won’t feel as diminished if someone new and fun is there.

The dining room was the happiest place in my house and I my heart, until Aunt Kay died. Put your Christmas Tree there, and eat in some other part of the house.

Break the mold! Some time in the future, your loss won’t seem quite as fresh, and you can reintroduce some of the special old traditions.
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Reply to AnnReid
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DILKimba Sep 26, 2020
What wonderful ideas!!!
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It is okay to lose it and miss your dad.

I recommend doing something that is fun for everyone and honors your dads memory. Funny stories that involve him, extreme stunts you pulled as a child and how he dealt with it and such things.

The 1st everything is so very hard. Accept that and you will be better prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions.

I am sorry for your loss and I pray that you find a way to celebrate that helps everyone heal a little bit.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I say...what's so awful about "losing it"? I lost it several times at family get-togethers for a year after my soul mate of 60 years died. It's part of the grieving process and, if you're ever going to get back a sense of normalcy during family gatherings, you need to let yourself grieve...whether alone or among loved ones. If they don't understand that, too bad.
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Reply to ShirleyB
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I see no problem in going to a nice restaurant and let them do the cooking. We have places that cater meals. Bob Evans for one does a great job. Cracker Barrel is another place.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Don't skip it. Maintain the tradition. Your dad would want that. Set up the tree or get a smaller or miniature tree. Minimize the work you have to do. You don't say where you live but if there's a Bob Evans around ( as already suggested) they do a great packaged meal you can pre-order. We've done that for the last several years and it's great.
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Reply to sjplegacy
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Break tradition. Make it simple. Order dinner. Invite friends or family as necessary. Let it be a day of rest. No baking, arranged activities, etc. Last year my Mom declared it a holiday. We did nothing and it was the best Christmas ever. We had friends who thanked us for the quiet and not trying to stuff them full of sweets. May do it again this year.
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Reply to Bridger46164
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I have no family and my husband died two days before Thanksgiving. Have your holiday time and if you lose it, so what? You are human and it shows you loved and miss him. Share that grief. Time heals a lot.
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Reply to Riley2166
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I wonder where you all live? I wouldn't join relatives for an indoor meal unless I lived with them, and I don't. I guess the recommendations for gatherings during Covid19 really vary by location, but my mom knows she is not to go anywhere for the holidays- no Thanksgiving, no Christmas/ Hannukah, no putting herself at risk of serious illness, hospitalization, or death. Health is taking priority over tradition this year, but maybe that's just us in the Northeast. (Oh, and I am still not permitted in my mom's senior building, beyond a 45 minute lobby or patio visit.)
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LittleOrchid Sep 26, 2020
True. In recent years we have quit trying to have an extended family Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Instead we have had a Thanksgiving/Christmas pizza party on the first weekend of December in a pizza place that lets us have a private room. We bring pumpkin pies and Christmas cakes. On the actual holidays we have had much smaller gatherings based on the smaller nuclear families. This year I am thinking of having a family Zoom caroling session on that Saturday in which we will sing a few carols and family members are invited to tell Christmas stories or sing, play a song or whatever. I am arranging this by phone and email. It won't be the same as seeing each other all at once, but we will get to touch base with each other at least. Last year we had over 30 at the pizza party, I am hoping even more will Zoom into the party. I will include my Mom, who has no internet connection, by calling her and putting her on speaker phone. Other family members will be doing something similar for other elders who cannot Zoom.
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It will be hard this Thanksgiving and Christmas for you and your mom but celebrate anyway. If you want to cry then cry. When my father-in-law died my little family (3 of us) grieved deeply, especially my child. So for Christmas Eve dinner I still set a plate for him and each us of said one fond remembrance. It helped my husband and son a lot and it lightened our hearts. ddnyc47 is right
celebrate safely in this pandemic. Don't forget your husbands elderly Aunt even if all you can do is leave a package at her door.
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Reply to velbowpat
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I felt that way when my dad passed, but my mother made a comment to me that day I was feeling pretty sad. She said "you still have me". I am very traditional as well as most of the family members. The first year after my dad passed I made the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. At the dinner table Christmas day we all sat down and said grace, we all included a special prayer, memory about my dear dad, it gave us comfort. We visited the cemetery where he was buried, lit a candle and sang a special song. This has become a tradition that I will always cherish. I did cut down some of the cooking and baking. Less pies to cook, prepped the night before, made it easier and less stressful for me. On my dads anniversary of his death I make a special dinner, place his photo on the table as the centerpiece. Looking at the empty seat is sad and no one will ever replace your dear father, but maybe have someone special sit in his seat might ease some of the pain. I moved the table around to a different location which helped somewhat and I now sit where my dad used to sit and have his meals. Family traditions are important to our family and I do special things to keep my fathers memory alive. Keep those dear memories of your dear father close to your heart.
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