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Indian corn in crate near corn field in autumn

Preserving Traditions

Holidays bring joy and excitement but also come with challenges when one is unable to pursue holiday festivities in their traditional way. In my family, “the hustle and bustle of the season” means I am busy shopping, cooking, decorating and preparing my home for guests. I am creating endless lists and making multiple trips to the store for the items I forget. I am bending or climbing to get into cabinets and closets for tucked away treasures such as holiday decorations, holiday china or party wares. My mother and my grandmother taught me that multi-tasking is the key to efficiency. I can do laundry, bake breads and casseroles, and scrub floors while talking on the phone. There is no time to waste!

As we age into our senior years, the traditional hustle and bustle becomes a lot more challenging. Driving, bending, climbing, cleaning and even thinking can become more difficult and tedious. This can be frustrating and sad for the senior AND the adult child, both coming from different perspectives. The senior wants to do the things they have always done. The child wants their parent thriving. It’s all about maintaining one’s identity.

While the severity of abilities varies depending on each person’s condition, changes are inevitable with age. We have a choice on how to manage these challenges. We can create an experience that is as close to traditional as possible.

I recently went through this with my own mother. My mother’s home has long been the hub of activity. We have an open door policy, always welcoming strangers and no number of guests are too large for a sit down dinner. Menu items are prepared in our kitchen and there is no curfew.

This Thanksgiving, my mother was in a short term rehab, too fragile to take out. She has a complicated medical history with dozens of surgeries under her belt but has always managed to be home for the holidays. She was devastated that she would not be home for Thanksgiving. My mother taught us to persevere in challenging times and to always think of a solution to a problem. We rented a room at the Rehab and brought Thanksgiving to her. She reviewed recipes and menu items beforehand. On Thanksgiving Day we came by carloads with food and friends, almost 30 of us.

Transplanting Thanksgiving became an exciting challenge and everyone took part. Each of her children remembered something special. We brought her favorite foods, her traditional turkey serving platter, tablecloths, a set of her fine china for her place setting, fresh flowers, wine and Bailey’s (we are Irish) and we even remembered her Thanksgiving Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers. My mother was delighted!

We even ended up with several extra guests which, though it is never planned, has become a customary thing at our Thanksgiving dinner. My mother invited a friend she met at the rehab who was humbled and indescribably grateful for the opportunity for a family dinner. It was even more meaningful for us because my mom was able to be her true self, inviting someone special without worrying about permission and having the satisfaction of touching another person’s heart. To be honest, we were ALL dreading not having mom home for Thanksgiving but once we changed our perspective, we had one of the best Thanksgivings ever!

Each holiday at The Kensington, we receive heartfelt thanks from our families who experienced our festivities. The Kensington welcomes family members for meals and activities at any time. We provide all day dining and delicious buffets for events with large attendance. This Thanksgiving, The Kensington hosted well over one hundred guests. I know how meaningful it is to share the holiday together and I am so grateful to be part of this resident focused, family friendly community.