Facing Our Biggest Fear: Come Rewrite the Calendar with Me?


Benjamin Pratt

Benjamin Pratt

Is the calendar your enemy? Many people see hope in a new calendar. But caregivers? We see looming medical tests and family traditions we can no longer follow. One woman told me that, year after year, she dreads March—because she lost six loved ones all in March! The winter months can be especially dark. (Earlier, I shared a prayer for light.)

As 2013 opens, I’m ready to tackle the Big One: Time itself! At least, I’m tackling the way we let time shape our hopes and fears. I’m marching up to the calendar, pen in hand, and I’m rewriting the holidays! Not only that, I’m declaring new holidays with twists guaranteed to boost my spirits.

Come on! Try this with me through 2013. Email us with your new holiday ideas at [email protected]. As I spot great reader contributions, I will weave them into our new Caregiver’s Calendar in occasional updates. Together, dear readers, we might get a creative, hopeful movement going. Is your mind rolling, already? I refuse to complicate this brave new idea with a lot of rules, but let me strongly recommend one practice: As you dream up a new holiday with me—plan for someone to cover your caregiver duties on that day. It’s a very valuable idea. We all know that physically and spiritually healthy caregivers pace themselves. So, plan ahead for days “off.”

Here we go! We’re starting with some “real” holidays, anniversaries and milestones. Then, we’re adding some twists.


JAN 21—Today, let’s stop and solemnly take an oath as volunteer caregivers. When we assume we have no choice about our work, we are walking a dangerous path. Research shows that caregivers who see their work as a personal choice feel more purpose, vitality and joy. Today, take a break and recite this inaugural oath: “I give myself freely, with love and devotion, to choose each day to be a volunteer caregiver of my beloved. I shall do so by calling upon the support of my community and my God. I shall seek to care for myself so I may do my task with purpose and devotion, so help me God.”


FEB 2—The groundhog teaches us that we all have a choice. Even if it feels as though the whole world is watching, we can say: “Yes” or “No.” As caregivers, we like to please. Most of us say “Yes” until we are exhausted. So, as the world watches Punxsutawney Phil, we’ll each pick a moment to say: “No.” Need support for that idea? Read Cindy LaFerle’s column: Disappoint someone today? Good. That’s a start.


PICK A DATE—This works! My wife and I experienced it last year and I urge you to join me in making it an annual celebration. Here’s what happened: My wife was recovering from surgery. One day, three of our friends conspired to send us a flurry of texts and emails to make us laugh. What a boost! Ask friends to give you this gift on February 3—Super Bowl Sunday—or ask them to surprise you one day. Imagine wondering when this might descend on you? Better yet, conspire with your friends to give a Super Bowl of Laughter to someone else!


FEBRUARY 14—Who needs flowers? You do. A bouquet works, but consider planning ahead for a blooming pot of Narcissus on Valentine’s Day. These blossoms are bright, white stars reminding you of love and hope.


PICK A DATE—How long has it been since you talked to your dearest friend? Yesterday or years ago—it is time to call again. Use a telephone or Skype—but make the call. Remember: We express our love more by listening than by talking. So, the real focus on this holiday is the listening part of these calls. Set aside enough time; encourage your dear friend to listen to your stories, as well.


MARCH 4—That’s the day our 13th president left office. We don’t recall much about him except his installation of the first bathtub with plumbing in the White House. So, let’s celebrate the end of his hard work with warm water, bath salts, bubbles, rubber ducky, candles and music. Sink in. Thank Millard!


PICK A DATE—Plan ahead for this special occasion on which you will share your personal story honestly with a trusted friend. Too often, we are like Shakespeare’s Cordelia in King Lear. She is a noble figure caught up in the tragedy of Lear, partly because she has difficulty expressing herself to her father: “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth,” she says. As caregivers, our feelings often are suppressed until they lead to confusion. Sometimes they spill out in sighs, tears or laughter—the languages our body uses when we don’t have words. On Cordelia Day, honesty rules. Think of this as an in-person National Talk to Your Dearest Friend Day.


APRIL 1—Perfectionists are on a steep slope as caregivers. We need the spiritual wisdom of imperfection. Instead of playing practical jokes on April 1, give yourself permission to say: “So what!” Today, it honestly doesn’t matter if the floor isn’t vacuumed, some dishes aren’t washed, our loved ones sleep in their pants and not their PJs. Obsession with perfection eventually drives everyone nuts. Today, reset your priorities: Let go! So what!


There’s the first quarter of 2013. I’ll be back with more—but only if you chime in with your ideas to encourage more of this wise-and-wacky redrawing of the calendar. Add a comment via the link above—or email us at [email protected].


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  1. Judy Hall says

    Hey Ben,
    I like your idea. How about “snake day”? It is what country people call that day in the spring that is my favorite day of the year…when the “early leaf is a flower (but only so an hour)” and everything is some shade of that brand new green. Flowers are in bud and there is a scent of spring in the air. Every spring I try to make room to celebrate that day out doors…to soak in the newness of it and the promise that life goes on.

    • Benjamin Pratt says

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. This is a great idea which we will pursue soon. We hope to keep ideas coming from others. Blessings of Hope,

  2. Kristin Coron says

    Nice article Uncle Benjamin!

    A friend of mine shared something she does as a busy mother, who is also facing medical issues and depends on others in her family to help her out. To make life easier for everyone, each Sunday she composes an email that lists the upcoming week’s events, after school commitments, celebrations, and appointments. She shares the email with her immediate family and her parents. What a great way for people to know when they are needed, or even to be able to know when she has an extra busy week when they can step up to offer extra help!

    She also out of necessity because of her son’s boy scout troop meeting on Monday evenings made pizza it a regular Monday night meal. Boys scouts are long over for her son, but Monday night Pizza delivery continues! At the beginning of each month she logs onto her favorite pizza delivery service and enters a month full of Mondays! She doesn’t have to thing about Monday night meals – ever!
    Not necessarily holiday related, but definitely something busy people might work into their calendars! Just thought I’d share.

    Also thought I’d tell you how much it warms my heart to read your articles. What an uplifting person you are! Love you, Uncle Ben!

    • Benjamin Pratt says

      How wonderful of you to write this good idea to your Uncle Ben. We shall use this idea very soon and hope that others will also chip in to the calendar.
      Blessings of Gratitude and Hope,
      Uncle Ben