BY DR. BENJAMIN PRATT
We’ve touched a nerve! We’ve tickled a funny bone!
We’ve got readers marching up to their calendars and bravely declaring new holidays!
Just joining us? Here’s the original column last week that touched off this year-long effort to redraw the calendar. Why? Because caregivers often regard a new calendar as a dread reminder of looming stress.
Not these readers!
THE WEEKLY E-UPDATE
Kristin Coron, a mother of two from Virginia, has lots of friends involved in caregiving. Taming the calendar is crucial, Kristin says, sharing an idea from a friend who works full time, has three teen-aged children and balances the effects of a chronic disorder. “Each Sunday she composes an email that lists the week’s events, after-school commitments, celebrations and appointments. She sends it to her family. What a great way for everyone to know when they are needed—and when an extra-busy week means they should step up with extra help!”
Kristin shared a second calendar-taming tip: “Every head cook and bottle washer should implement this one—Monday night is Pizza delivery night!” Or, pick your own most-stressed evening. Kristin says her friend hit on this idea when Mondays became a traffic jam in the family calendar. This weekly holiday from the kitchen tamed the stress. Don’t like pizza? Make it Chinese night. Or, pick your own cuisine!
Winter weather tends to lock up our families and our spirits—so get outside as soon as possible! Try celebrating Snake Day, says the Rev. Judy Hall, who describes herself as “a deacon in the United Methodist Church, a pastoral counselor and presently the caregiver of my wonderful husband of 40 years.” Judy also lives in Virginia and says her own love of early spring walks converged years ago with a practice she heard about from a biologist in rural Virginia: Snake Day. He described it to Judy as the point, in early spring, when snakes feel it is warm enough to emerge and sun themselves. Judy says she has been enjoying such spiritually uplifting walks since her teen-age years. She says: “Part of that practice is beginning to see and grasp the signs of hope so extravagantly announced in the natural world by the coming of spring. It makes me think of Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay.” The poem opens:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Cookies aren’t just for Christmas! Nor are family gatherings in the kitchen. Phyllis Smith, a retired teacher and now a caregiver from Texas, shared this idea for a new family holiday. She writes: “This has been one of the best ways that I have found to get myself out of the slump that sometimes comes with daily caregiving. I had not thought of it as a celebration but it really does take on a feeling of joy—especially as I see the joy that it brings to others. So, why not declare an occasional holiday for your family and friends. I do this about every six weeks. Many times I do it alone and it still reliably lifts my spirits. Of course, the best times are when my grand-children are with me. They love to help and then to take what we have made to the nursing home. We vary what we bake. Around holidays, I bake and decorate sugar cookies or a Texas sheet cake—because I know the nurses and their assistants love that! When my grandchildren are here, we usually do snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, or brownies because that is what they like. Sometimes, I bake for the residents at the home and they like banana nut bread or other breads. Mix it up! Have fun. Declare it a Cookie-Baking Holiday!”
NOW: IT’S YOUR TURN
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]. Just joining us? Once again: Here’s the original column last week that touched off this year-long effort to redraw the calendar.