I am primary caregiver for 97-year-old Mom with non-Alzheimer's dementia - fairly late stage. She lives with us in the Dallas area. I am also proud grandma to a cute little girl who will be 10 months old at Christmas. She lives in LA and her other set of grandparents in San Diego. I want to be there (and am invited) for her first Christmas! I can get coverage for Mom's care. And this would seem to be a no-brainer except for one thing - Mom's 98th birthday is Christmas Day. I have decided I will be going for my granddaughter's first Christmas. Missing that is a sacrifice I'm not willing to make, and having them come to us has been explored and cannot happen for a variety of reasons. So I'm asking for ideas on how I can make Mom's experience of the season the best possible so when I'm gone for a few days, she doesn't feel like we're ignoring her and her birthday. This is probably not as emotional a thing for her as it is for me. We considered taking her to my sister's, but the long trip is really stressful for her and whomever accompanies her. Probably no longer a good idea. She resists adult day care because of all the "old people" -- this week I took her to a concert at one of the nursing homes and watched her visibly withdraw as she looked at the vacant stares and wheelchair-bound folks and didn't even register the equal number of alert and healthy-seeming people. I'm not sure she even heard the music, and a concert is usually a real treat for her. So...I'm rambling. But creative ideas about Christmas would be so very much appreciated! Thanks to all of you (which is what "y'all" means here in Texas, btw).

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Thanks to all of you for your responses. You've helped me consider some new win/win options, which is exactly what I was hoping for.
Helpful Answer (2)

Yes -- try GA's version -- have a Twelfth Night Christmas on Jan 6th. Celebrate just as you would on the actual day, plus your mum's b'day. I know I'd be happy with that as long as I knew there would be a proper celebration. Best of luck!
Helpful Answer (1)

You say mom has advanced dementia so I am in doubt she really has any clue what day it is. Sure she understands Christmas and her birthday, but unless you tell her she probably won't know the difference if you celebrate a week early or late, my mom certainly has no sense of time.
Helpful Answer (1)

I agree with both CM and Veronica. The baby will be tired, perhaps cranky, likely won't remember what gifts she gets or understand what's going on, and it won't be as important a celebration to her as to you and her parents, or when she's older and can't understand why she's suddenly surrounded by people with whom she's unfamiliar.

You can always skype with her parents and the baby can be put in front of the camera and wave; she probably won't even understand that, but it will give you a glimpse of her on Christmas Day. Or her parents can take a video of the event and send you a copy, which you'll be able to keep and replay.

Your mother on the other hand, is living the last years of her life. For me, birthdays lost meaning a long time ago; they're just another day. But for someone much older, and who's used to having her daughter around, your absence would be far more traumatic.

We never know when the end will come; if it does turn out to be her last birthday, I think this might be a birthday and holiday that you might regret.

The other issue is that you still can "have it both ways." Although Christmas is traditionally celebrated on the 25th, from what I've read that's not the date on which Jesus was born. Armenians in fact celebrate it on Jan. 6th. Some brief research provides insight: the date was changed to 12-25 b/c a so-called pagan feast had been celebrated on the 25th, and the Roman Catholic Church
wanted to "override" that festival.

I think a good way to handle the situation is celebrate your mother's birthday and Christmas with her on the 25th, then celebrate with your grandaughter's birthday during the interim between the 25th and New Year's.

For my acquaintances and family, that interim week is typically a week of relaxation and recovery from the preparation for Christmas. You'll probably all have a much nicer visit then, and the baby won't be overwhelmed by activities.
Helpful Answer (1)

Will Mom actually realize it is her birthday on Christmas Day? Will she notice if you celebrate before you go?
On the other side of the scale you really really want to help celebrate baby's first Christmas. Realistically at 10 months old she won't know the difference from any other day this year. She will probably become tired and cranky because of all the excitement and strange (to her) people.
Another alternative would be to celebrate with Mom on Christmas Eve see her on Christmas Day and actually fly that day. Actually flying on Christmas day is usually pretty easy because there are no crowds.
A first and possibly a last at both ends of life only you can decide. You could also make the journey by road easy for Mom by renting an RV and taking your time so Mom can rest along the way and you can prepare meals she will enjoy away from crowded restaurants.
Helpful Answer (4)

You can:

Have Christmas come early, as long as you're not going away too many days beforehand


Hand over the whole project to her caregivers, and give them extra budget to make an extra big deal of it. It'll certainly be more fun for them than the standard job!

Either way it will be fine. I have to say, though, that it was my gorgeous grand baby girl's first Christmas last year - and frankly for all the notice she took of it I'm not sure it was worth the trouble of being there. This year should be a lot more interesting!

So that does just make me wonder. If this year, God forbid, were with hindsight to be mother's last Christmas, and given that 10 month olds can't really be expected to understand what the big deal is, would you feel any differently? I don't mean to be undermining, ignore me if the thought is just annoying.
Helpful Answer (5)

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