"I'll smack the Christmas right in 'ya!"
~ Mom, Christmas 2018: Interpreted by Girl who heard her utter some wonky words that kinda sounded like that while enduring a playful slap.
The holiday season has not stopped dementia's merry march down the road of cognitive ruin, but in turn dementia has not deterred us from tumbling and stumbling our way into a horrific amount of Christmas cheer! Seriously, we've been Christmas'ing the crap out of this month. I always enjoy Christmas, but this year I've been ho-ho-hopelessly loving it, and hauling Mom to every sort of very merry nightmare I come across.
At the beginning of the month, in an effort to beat (or at least match) the neighbor's yard display I dragged Mom's ridiculously tall grandsons over to help me set the heavens ablaze with electric merriment. While we didn't quite achieve red skies at night, nor trounce our show-off neighbor's starlight starbright, we did make quite a production of it.
My favorite we-got-this-and-you-don't item? Two gianormous, all aglow, candy canes! Even the luminous baby Jesus, lounging away in a manger across the street is like "Hellz yeah on the candy canes, sistah!" And I'm all like, "I know, right?"
And in keeping with my twinkle, twinkle, TWINKLE! obsession this season, we grabbed our friend Lois and battled I-5 rush hour traffic one evening to take a turn through Portland International Raceway's Winter Wonderland! According to them it's "the largest drive-through light show in the Northwest." I can't attest to the veracity of that statement, but I can say this: there's a lot of blinking bling for your $20 bucks. Mom was "meh" about the whole thing, choosing to tear a tissue into tiny bits over looking out the window at the sparkling spectacle, but Lois and I ooh'd and ahh'd over each and every display.
While the drive-through light show wasn't very Mom-successful, the Portland Opera To Go production of The Barber of Seville was a huge victory! The To Go program is Portland Opera's outreach effort to expose school kids around the state to the operatic arts, so the performances are affordable ($10 ticket), and shorter (condensed versions of their full-opera counterparts), which is PERFECT for a dementia person who's patience for sitting in one place for two plus hours has long since left the building. This 50-minute production engaged Mom, Grandma Sandy, and I fully! Mom smiled, laughed, clapped, and giggled - it was fantastic to see her respond with such energy! If I was a millionaire I'd underwrite this program to add memory care facility gigs to their touring schedule - it was pure joy for me to see her glisten with glee.
Of course, we've been participating in holiday sports in the home as well: Chocolate Crinkle cookie makings! A must-have for the ridiculously tall grandsons. There is not much Mom can do in the kitchen anymore, except throw every ingredient you've gathered up out the backdoor when you aren't looking, but she can still roll chocolate balls of dough around in a dish of powdered sugar, and was dusted head-to-toe in sugary goodness by the time we were through. She got a little off track at one point...
...preferring to sprinkle Barnaby Bones instead of the cookie dough, but this mishap will hardly deter me in my cookie making quest, next up: ginger bread men! I can't wait to see how Barnaby gets decorated for that.
Earlier this week we made our annual pilgrimage to cut down a Christmas tree. This is an age-old tradition we enjoy torturing Mom with as she hates the cold and mud, but we make her tromp around with us anyway as we assess, reject, compare, and judge each and every tree in the fields before finally returning to the very first one we saw and loudly proclaiming, "This one! This one right here!"
But this year Mom out stubborned us; we marched around the fields, thrilled to show our new canine family members the art of hunting Christmas trees, arguing the merits of our preferred pines over the other's choices, finally (once again) agreeing on the tree closest to our vehicle, all while Mom steadfastly refused to get out of the van. Score one in the win column for Mom.
A family affair except for...
Upon returning home Ridiculously Tall Grandson #1 and The Boyfriend in the Basement decorated our newly acquired piney friend, furthering our mission to score a record-high electric bill in December.
So while dementia moves ever on, we've managed some great times so far this holiday season. I mean, we're still on poop patrol ("I can smell it, but I can not find it!"), still attempting to solve new problems (spitting out medication - The Other Girl has twice been violently sprayed with water after Mom spewed on her with Exorcist-like force), still battling anxiety and increased confusion (she no longer knows how to lay down on the bed, sit on the toilet, get in the van...), but in between the horribles, there has been a lot of love and laughter.
So, from our dementia house to yours, we wish you a very merry (holiday of your choosing)! And if it steadfastly refuses to be merry, well, we wish you the peace found in the bottom of a liquor bottle after the relatives you loathe have left and the dementia person you love, but currently want to strangle, has gone to bed.
And if that still doesn't work, let me know, I'll send Mom over to smack the Christmas right in 'ya.