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What If This Is Dad's Last Christmas?



"My father is 90 years old and not in great health. Each year, I wonder if it will be our last Christmas together. It makes me sad to think about it, and I’m afraid I’m not doing enough to make each celebration special. I don’t want to live with regret in the future, though there is only so much I can put into a holiday. I work and have teenagers; therefore, my plate is very full.

How do I make each holiday special so that I can feel satisfied by what I did for him? I don’t want to feel like I should have done more, or something better."



At this time of year, we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make Christmas good for others, particularly family members. It’s understandable that we do this. Advertising has commercialized this holiday and ascribed quite a bit of emotion to the day. What was once a minor holiday seems to get bigger each year.

What makes any holiday good is being with family. Everything else is quite secondary. The best gifts and the flashiest decorations are nice, but not necessary. What we all want is time together and some fun. 

It need not be difficult for you to make this Christmas memorable and guilt-free. It does, though, take a little bit of effort. Including your father in the holiday is what you need to do. Based on your father’s mobility, dial him into your plans, or adapt some of your plans to him. The best way for me to explain is to give you a few examples. Some may work, and others may not be suitable in your situation.

  • Assign a cherished grandchild to be Dad’s chauffer, and have them take Dad to all holiday gatherings.
  • Bundle Dad up, give him a thermos of hot cocoa, and drive him around the neighborhoods to view the lights and decorations.
  • At one of your gatherings, have each person tell about a past Christmas that stands out in their memory, starting with the oldest person in the room.
  • Play a game that caters to your father’s skill. It may be a card game that he likes, or singing, or possibly a sports trivia game.
  • Give Dad a special role. It might be purchasing the turkey, providing a favorite round of shots, or singing his favorite carol. All that matters is that it singles him out.
  • Set Dad at the head of the table. Have him say grace if your family does that. Serve him first.

The secret to happy memories is thinking of Dad first, and simply arranging just a bit of your celebration with him in mind. It will create a wonderful Christmas for your father, and a cherished memory for you in the years that follow.


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