Carol Howell Talks Dementia: Memories of Christmas

In my work as a Dementia Specialist, I am very conscious of the importance of “memories.” My favorite people are losing their memories, and this experience is changing their lives. However, the beauty and memory of Christmas past often remains. It is my joy to ask them to share those stories with me. Reliving the joy of Christmas is a pleasant and even healing experience.

For me, I am sure the most vivid Christmas memory revolved around stockings. My mother was busy every year making clothing items for her three daughters for Christmas. Momma also purchased a few store bought toy items for us, and Christmas was a lot of fun. The fun, however, was due to the efforts of Momma. Daddy had little to do with bringing holiday cheer. Except for once.

One particular year, about a week or two before Christmas Day, Daddy came home from work, scooped up Momma, and off they went on a secret errand. We three girls had no clue what was happening. It appeared Daddy had received a healthy dose of holiday cheer (most unusual for him), and he had decided that his girls all needed stockings packed with “good” candy. In Daddy’s world, “good” candy meant name brand chocolates. So he and Momma purchased more chocolate than three stockings could possible hold—but they had a great time together!

stocking-2When Christmas morning arrived, the stockings were displayed. Daddy was so proud to share these stockings (of course, Momma handmade these stockings), and he was pleased to see his girls show enthusiasm over his choice of chocolate. This memory is one that has stayed with me for over forty years. There weren’t many times Daddy showed enthusiasm over anything, but Christmas stockings with candy became a symbol of happiness for him.

Would you care to guess what I put in my stockings today?

Yep—GOOD chocolate!

Ask your loved ones with dementia what Christmas memories that have. Write them down for the future. You’ll be glad you did.

Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Photo 1 by slgckgc via Flickr

Photo 2 by Caren Pilgrim via Flickr