Many of our holiday song lyrics make reference to activities no one has participated in for generations. For instance: “Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh…”. Of course, Jingle Bells was written 162 years ago, and the way we live has changed a bit since then. Now we prefer our horses under the hood, with good snow tires. But the song’s sentiment calls up something innocent and ineffable: a slower, sweeter time, perhaps, that we long for in our hectic lives.
Of course, this is the beauty of coming to live at Kensington Park: it’s an opportunity to slow down, let others tend to the chores of daily life such as cooking and home maintenance, and spend your days enjoying all that life has to offer in beautiful Montgomery County, which becomes a winter wonderland when it snows.
That’s another song about sleighs: “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.”
Clearly, it’s time to catch up with some time-honored holiday traditions. Here are 10 ways to create a more old-fashioned holiday:
- Sleigh Rides. You might have to travel a bit to find a true sleigh ride in the third millennium. But as this Maryland resident wrote about sleigh riding in Vermont, “it’s really fun to live out a line from a Christmas carol!” If you do decide to re-enact winter transportation from the 19thcentury, remember to bundle up… it’ll be chilly out there.
- Dressing to the Nines. Many seniors probably recall when people used to dress up for air travel. It was considered an occasion. Now, with every day the equivalent of “casual Friday,” we’re lucky people remain clothed. The holidays are that special time of year, worthy of bringing out your finery. And if you’re going to post photos to social media, all the more reason to dress the part. Spit-shined and dapper, you might even inspire some young people to dress their best, too.
- Handmade Gifts. In the age of Amazon, when you don’t even have to fight traffic to visit the mall and try to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, it might sound absurd to suggest making holiday gifts by hand. Yet nothing is more precious.
Whether it’s a hand-knit cap from grandma or those cinnamon spice cookies as only Aunt Julie can bake them, a birdhouse from popsicle sticks your 6-year-old grandson constructed, or a crayoned poster from your niece, these gifts from the heart will be remembered long after the latest store-bought toy is broken or forgotten.
- Storytelling. In the days before electricity lit up the night, people would gather by candlelight and share holiday stories. Whether it was grandpa reading one of the timeless classics such as “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” these stories have enthralled children for generations. Later, families would gather ’round the TV to watch beloved holiday movies such as “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and “A Christmas Carol.” You can also start a family tradition of sharing your own holiday stories with loved ones.
- Caroling. There’s nothing so uplifting to the spirit as voices raised in song. Caroling helps set the mood for the season, and everyone seems to know the words by osmosis. It’s also OK to use song sheets. Caroling is also a lovely way to connect the generations, and for children to embrace the holiday classics.
- Family Tree. This isn’t the kind of family tree that traces your ancestors, though it can become a tradition to pass down: go out as a family and select the holiday tree. If your senior loved one isn’t able to participate in tree selection, be sure to include them in decorating it, especially if they enjoy making holiday decorations.
- Board Games. The holidays used to be a time when everyone played games, whether that meant Monopoly, Scrabble, or Trivial Pursuit. Besides being a fun, inclusive way to spend time together, board games boost senior cognition and can be adapted for children of any age. Card games are also fun.
- Charades. Remember making animal shadows on the wall, or pantomiming clues? This can be a fun game to pry the younger visitors away from their devices!
- Secret Santa. Some seniors may recall this form of gift exchange from their school days, when each child was asked to bring an inexpensive gift for one other student. During the exchange of presents, nobody knew the identity of their Secret Santa. It was an egalitarian way to ensure everybody received something — and the element of secrecy made it a lot of fun besides. Secret Santa is also popular in the workplace, and in recent times, has served as a way for people to help those less fortunate in their community.
- Cookie decorating party. This is a wonderful way to include seniors with memory loss in the holiday festivities. Hold a cookie decorating party for family members, serve homemade eggnog or mulled cider, and see who can make the most creative cookie. You might be surprised by the fanciful talent your senior loved one displays.
You can also create homemade garlands with popcorn or cranberries, which make a lovely, old-fashioned tree decoration — and if there are small children about, be sure to string these edibles high enough that they’re out of reach of little hands!
Traditions Old and New at Kensington Park
Here at Kensington Park, we’re eager to help your loved one enjoy time-honored traditions — and embrace new ones with their Kensington family. We recognize how important it is to maintain the traditions dear to your loved one’s heart, especially if they reside in one of our memory care neighborhoods.
And we know nothing says “tradition” like family. We encourage family and friends to visit as often as possible. We know that by sharing caregiving responsibility, families are able to enjoy the pleasure of time spent together.
Please get in touch soon, and let us show you why living at Kensington Park is an ideal next step for your loved one.
Additional Recommended Reading:
- What Signs of Alzheimer’s Did You Notice First?
- The Importance of Group Outings
- Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine: How to Strengthen Your “Amuse” System
- Brain Training Apps – Do They Work?