I read an article recently that calculated how much it would cost to give the twelve gifts mentioned in the classic holiday song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The grand total came to about $15,000. Now we all know that Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree. These gifts are meant to be symbols about the spirit of LOVE. For Christians it is also meant to be a religious celebration of the birth of Christ.
According to official figures from the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. More than fifteen million Americans provided unpaid care that was valued at over $230 billion in 2016. I can only imagine that at the end of 2017 when the figures are calculated, the value of unpaid care will amount to even more.
This gave me an idea to create my own version of twelve gifts of Christmas that your “true” loved one would wish for you, if they could. Please read the letter below as if it came from your loved one.
My Dear Care Partner,
This holiday season I wish I could tell you all the things for which I am so grateful. I decided to write this letter to give as my gift to you — a description of a special spiritual Christmas tree. The decorations are all the qualities and strengths that I love about you. May these symbols be an expression of my deepest gratitude for the sacrifices you have made day in and day out this past year.
The Star of Enlightenment: You somehow find the actions and words to soothe and calm me when I am afraid and in the grips of anxiety, confusion, or panic.
The Tinsel of Tenderness: Your hugs, kisses, and embraces comfort my body, mind, and spirit, especially when I feel lonely or discouraged.
The Bell of Knowledge: You try to learn as much as you can about the disease and its stages of progression. You are not afraid to advocate on my behalf, and to question professionals who provide my health care.
The Bow of Understanding: You give me the space I need when my mood changes or when I have outbursts of aggression. You understand that I am not acting on purpose to aggravate you.
Jewels of Joyfulness: We can laugh together when unexpected and humorous things happen during the course of our daily life.
The Wreath of Wisdom: You seem to know just when to intervene, when to agree, and when not to argue with me. You also realize that your needs are important, and that you need to take care of yourself.
The Lamb of Patient Endurance: You encourage me to use my skills to the best of my ability or strength, even if it takes a little longer to do things now. You focus on what abilities I have left, instead of what I’ve lost.
Pearls of Perseverance: Your spirit doesn’t wane when things get rough or you get weary. I know I can always count on you to be there for me.
The Dove of Peace of Mind and Heart: I know that you have done your very best in the decisions and the actions you take on my behalf.
The Rose of Compassion: You try to put yourself in my situation and imagine what it is like for me to live with this disease.
The Heart of Abundant Love: This flows from your decision each day to care for me. Even if I may not live with you, I know that you love me.
I could go on and on. If I had to calculate the value of your caring, the cost would be PRICELESS! I hope my gift tree will symbolize my deep gratitude this Christmas. Thank you! Merry Christmas!
Your Loved One
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One of my favorite musical groups, The Piano Guys, have teamed up with 15-year old singer, Lexi Walker, for a new version of two classic holiday hymns, joining lyrics of “O Holy Night” to the melody of “Ave Maria.” May it bring peace to your heart! (https://thepianoguys.com/portfolio/o-holy-night-ave-maria-ft-lexi-walker/)
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Here is a charming version of “O Tannenbaum, O Christmas Tree,” sung in three languages by Andrea Bocelli: https://youtu.be/Xww_oaafCBA.