I’m getting accustomed to strange Christmases. This year is no exception. With my mother now in a nursing home, where they will be fed a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, given crackers and paper hats, presents from Santa’s own hand followed by the Queen’s speech on TV and a snooze, I am leaving her to it and sneaking off for celebrations with my Swiss family. This will be the first Christmas I have spent with my own children/grandchildren in Switzerland for about 10 years, and it’s sweetened this year by the fact that we have a new baby to cuddle, my fourth great-grandchild. How could I miss that opportunity? Christmas is so much more fun when there are children around, and on Christmas Day they will be aged eight, five, twenty-one months, and three weeks.
Of course I’m feeling selfish and guilty about abandoning my mother. It is probably her last Christmas, as she is now aged a hundred and a half. But I know she’s in good hands, and I have been here in England for two weeks beforehand, visiting her frequently, and that has cheered her up. We’ve had some chuckles and reminisced, I’ve passed on all the news and have been pleasantly surprised to find that she has taken it all in and remembered what I’ve told her. We have even been able to FaceTime my daughter and granddaughter, so that Great-Granny could see and speak to her great-great-grandchildren and admire the newest little girl.
My mother is a shadow of the person she was, but sadly that was to be expected. She is in no pain, is lucid and alert much of the time, and frustrated at the loss of her independence though she has resigned herself to the situation, and appreciates the patience and kindness of the staff who look after her. They will do their best to give their residents a merry Christmas, and I know my mother will be happy to join in any carol singing. She still knows all the 12 Days of Christmas, much to everyone’s amazement.
See how I’m justifying my decision? I really and truly hope and trust that she will spend a happy Christmas in the beautifully decorated Home among a cheerful bunch of her contemporaries and their dedicated carers.
And I shall swallow my pangs of conscience with my turkey and Christmas pudding (home-made and kindly donated by a good friend here).