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The Christmas I learnt everything

The Christmas I learnt everything.

I will always remember my worst Christmas, but know that it taught me the most.


When I was 23 years old my father who was in his 50’s, was diagnosed with early on set Alzheimer’s.  A journey, that over the years would challenge all of us, but my mother would be  challenged the most.   Slowly  my mothers health began to fail, and it was time for some form of rest bit for my dad.

I was 26 years old, when the fateful call came that would change us forever.   The problem with “that” call is there is large waiting list, so if you don’t go when they call,  you loose your spot and are moved to the bottom of the list.  A space opened up for my father at the Toronto Rehab Hospital.  We received the call on December 23rd, and he needed to be brought by the next day.  We asked if we could bring him on December 26th the hospital’s answer was “no”,  if we did not bring him that day, they would go to the next person on the list.

We awoke on December 24th and all gathered in my mom’s living room for a picture and some time with my dad, which would be his last time at home.   Later that day he was brought down to the hospital.  He was nervous and anxious when we dropped him off but we promised we would be by the next day, Christmas day to spend the afternoon with him. Christmas morning, my son who was 6, my husband, mother and brother and I opened gifts and had breakfast.   My son and my husband were ready to play with their toys.   So my mother and I got ready and went down to spend that afternoon with my dad.  We walked into the hospital and spotted my father,  we were taken aback .   The man standing before us was no longer my father.   A man stood there who was drugged,  and was wearing a diaper.  He had no clue we were there.   My mother and I, were heart broken.   I still have no clue how we held it together.  I don’t think we ever mend our broken hearts, we just learn to live with the pieces that are missing.   We spent the rest of the afternoon with my father .  Our family dinner was moved to Boxing day, which 20 years later is still a tradition of ours.   My father was eventually moved to Maple health centre, a beautiful nursing  home.

That Christmas taught me how important family is,  to cherish them, to enjoy them, to LOVE them.  I am so grateful that I still have my mother with us and my father in law.  That I have a brother I adore and he has 2 beautiful children and a gorgeous  wife, and that I have a handsome husband who cherishes me and two beautiful children, who are my life.  Every Christmas I enjoy playing family board games or cards, sitting around a fireplace telling stories while sipping on a glass of wine.  Laughing so hard my stomach hurts.  I enjoy Christmas because I have a reason to stop and just be.  No running around or cleaning, or grocery shopping, just me and my family sitting around the tree, with only conversation to entertain us.

That fateful Christmas taught me,  with loved ones around us everything is okay. It also taught me, that call can come anytime so love, live and  laugh.  Christmas is still one of my favorite holidays, with everything we went through, this experience just made me realize how important family is and the true meaning of Christmas is love.


Merry Christmas from our family to yours.


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