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Old 02-20-2011, 12:49 PM   #1
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Default Thoughts about gatherings and food

This post may at first sound depressing, and I hope to not make it so. I was just watching "I used to Be Fat" and they were talking about the Italian culture and how everything is so culturally food based. We've had that discussion many times here and we all know that family gatherings really ought to be about more than just food. I know many of us have strived for that and struggle with it.

My mom just had a birthday and I haven't been able to celebrate it with her yet. To be honest, I've been avoiding it, which isn't good. My mom can not eat, period. She has gastro paresis which means that her stomach and esophagus are paralyzed. She can only have portions of Ensure, and even that doesn't sit well. She is also bed-bound, for the most part.

We've made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas with her without any food. We went first to her house and had a little celebration before going to my brother's house without her for the food related portion of the holiday.

Experiencing this with my mom has made me realize how very much family celebrations really are completely centered around food, even when we say they aren't. At least with most of us we use these gatherings to center around healthier foods and we try to focus on the conversations. But I can tell you, it is still about the food.

So I thought I'd ask all of you, one what are you thoughts on that? How would you feel about a celebration that didn't involve food even a little bit? It's hard! You have to eat and often when you're talking about a family gathering a meal is going to come around. It's hard to visit my mom because I have to take my own food with me and eat it out of her presence. She lives an hour away, so my body is going to need food.

And second, do you have any birthday suggestions? Not gifts. She doesn't want anything from me. She's knows I'm struggling with finances because of the divorce. So no food...no presents...happy birthday, Mom!! What else can I do? For Thanksgiving we made a little book about what we're thankful for with regard to her. I don't know that I want to do that again.
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Old 02-20-2011, 01:17 PM   #2
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We tend to play a lot of games at our family gatherings. We definitely still have food, but games take the center stage. Someone who is bedbound can play cards (SkipBo is a fun one that could also be a small [under $10] gift). Playing games together fosters a lot of conversation and, invariably, a lot of laughter.

Does it bother your mom when people eat in front of her, or is that something you all have adopted because you think it does? It might not bother her, she might rather have you around and eating than not have you around, kwim?

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly..."

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Old 02-20-2011, 01:30 PM   #3
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Games are a good idea, I second that. Or pick up a movie that you know is one of her favorites - or a new one that you think she may like. You could take a bunch of old family photos and make your own video slide show that you can watch together. Does she enjoy crafts? You could pick up something that you two could make together.
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:35 PM   #4
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We love to play Scatterogories when our family gets together. A special movie would be fun too.

Perhaps you could offer to do some 'kindness' things for your mom. Maybe you could help her go through drawers, etc and take things to Goodwill. Perhaps you could write some letters to some of our folks in the military service together. Maybe you could do some things for others in her honor..... checking on an elderly person, taking a dinner to someone of need (not bringing it to your mom of course), offer to clean the house (hers or someone else), or clean out her kitchen cupboards.

It's hard to do something.... but, I know you'll think of something. Glad you asked here. I am sure folks will have many ideas.

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"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." - Margaret Thatcher

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Last edited by Beverlyjoy; 02-20-2011 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:49 PM   #5
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It's totally a culture thing, I get it. As much as I try to avoid celebrating and involving food, it's going to happen. Being proactive is my responsibility. All of our own individual responsibility. I still eat when I go places but I don't always have to label or it nor feel badly about it. Make wise and healthy choices, if you fear there will be none, eat before you go or bring a healthy alternative as your contribution.

Eliana, sorry to hear that your Mom has to suffer like that. Sounds incredibly difficult to live like that. I can think of lots of ways to just spend time with her, bring over a puzzle, give her a massage, do her hair in a style, paint nails together, I know lots of randomness to those suggestions but maybe just whatever she likes :-) I think plus maybe I'd still bring flowers, they are pretty, smell nicely and in-expensive enough where she wont feel badly you spent alot of money on something!
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Old 02-20-2011, 05:15 PM   #6
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Lots of good suggestions so far! Playing games is great fun, if she is able to set up.

For Valentines Day I did a little "spa day" at my In-laws last weekend. They are both very elderly and have a hard time getting around. I gave Father-in-law a hair cut, and gave Mother-in-law a pedicure, with nail trim and all. They have plenty of money and plenty of "stuff" and they eat like birds...so food and gifts are out too...but they do need us. Just to be there for them.

For Christmas I made them address labels for all their Christmas card list, and typed up a Christmas letter for them to send to make things eaiser on them. They LOVED it. Cost was almost nothing, but the time put into it was well received.

Mother-in-laws Birthday is this week, so next weekend when we go up, I am going to scrub and wax her kitchen floor. She'll be in heaven...she's been wanting to try and do it herself but she just can't.

It's the little things that thrill parents. Just think of things your own kids do for you that make you beam with pride... No money or food needed!

Last edited by Lori Bell; 02-20-2011 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 02-20-2011, 05:32 PM   #7
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I just thought of something. My mom doesn't want or need anything for holidays, either. So last Christmas I gave her a book of stamps, a box of all occasion cards, some quarters for the washer/dryer at her apartment. I am going to renew her Sunday subscription to the newspaper for her birthday.

Lori Bell's spa day sounds so fun.

Don't forget to check out the dollar store. There might be something she 'needs'... lotion or nail polish... at a good price.

Move ticker, move!
Next Mini Goal - 214

"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." - Margaret Thatcher

I can't lose 100 pounds....but, just maybe I can lose five pounds twenty times.

Last edited by Beverlyjoy; 02-20-2011 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 02-20-2011, 07:59 PM   #8
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I'm starting to see potted bulbs in stores for like $5-10 - tulips, daffodils, and (my favorite because they smell so good) hyacinths. Maybe she would like having them in her room, watch them grow and spring up and bloom and enjoy the lovely fragrance. Its a nice reminder that spring is coming! Its like a month long gift and conversation starter.

Otherwise, personal services as stated, mani/pedi, hair styling, massage. Most bed-ridden patients miss the tactile connection with other people.

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Old 02-20-2011, 08:55 PM   #9
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I think playing a game or cards would be fun if your mom likes those things. If not, maybe just pull out some old photo albums and look through them together, or rent a movie she would enjoy? If she is the crafty type you can likely pick up some stuff at the dollar store and pass some time making something.

For a gift idea you could give her a coupon or book of coupons good for some kind of cleaning service, like washing floors as another poster mentioned, or giving her car a spring cleaning...you know what she'll like and appreciate. I'm not sure how physically active your mom is, but even going for a walk or checking out some local (free) sights could be an option.

You're so right, while I was thinking of ideas to share with you I can't tell you how many times my mind went right to the food that goes along with the activity. Crazy.

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Old 02-20-2011, 09:54 PM   #10
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First of all, I'm sorry to hear about your mother's digestive condition. I can't even imagine how difficult that must be for her and for you to work around/deal with.

I'd say the best birthday present for her would just be spending quality time with you, her daughter. I like the suggestions of doing things around the house for her that may need doing, and maybe just looking through old photos/home videos and reminiscing about silly memories. Will it just be the two of you? Sometimes card/board games are tough/weird with just two, but if there are more people around that could easily provide the evening's entertainment.
Push on some more!

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