I love Christmas time – the colder weather, the food, the parties, and most of all, the time spent with family. I have been fortunate enough to grow up with both sets of grandparents, as well as my great grandma, and I have many fond memories of celebrating the holidays with them.
Many of my holiday traditions stem from things my grandparents did for me and my siblings growing up to make winter a magical time of year. My maternal grandmother lived in Phoenix, Arizona. For decades, she organized a large live nativity complete with hand-sewn costumes, music, and a large star, constructed out of Christmas lights, which her kids would hike up the mountain and put on display every year. The grandkids would all participate and act out different parts in the nativity – I usually got to be one of the angels.
My paternal grandparents always organized a gingerbread house decorating-party for the grandkids. We never used actual gingerbread, as that would’ve stifled our creativity – we would each get a package of graham crackers, and typically most of the construction was done with a hot glue gun, for stability. We would construct little (somewhat) edible architectural masterpieces and then cover them in royal icing, candy, and lots of sprinkles. We would then set them up next to each other like a little gingerbread house neighborhood and admire our work.
Great-grandma loves knitting, and she would always work months in advance on various knitted gifts for all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, which she would give us at her annual Christmas party. I still have most of these gifts, and I love seeing the care and attention to detail she put into these carefully made presents, personalized in our favorite colors.
These are just some of my memories of time spent with grandparents during this special time of year. Continuing these traditions with our aging loved ones can be a challenge as the years go by, but the effort is worth the quality time shared together. We hope that in this issue of Utah Valley Health and Wellness, members of the aging community and loved ones alike will be able to learn more about how to take care of themselves as they age, as well as find ways to encourage and include our family members in our holiday celebrations.
Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!