Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

Let’s lighten up December and give ourselves a little breathing room to be silly and have fun. December is a time for joy, and we need to “dial up” the happiness! Chanukah, known as the Festival of Lights, begins on Thursday evening, December 10th. This holiday is especially known for its joyful celebration. So, get ready to lighten up your home with the warmth and the miracle of Chanukah!

By now, we have discovered the way to create an enjoyable, safe (pandemic-friendly) holiday is through a little ingenuity and creativity. By embracing our traditions while combining new and imaginative ideas, we can deepen the holiday’s meaning and increase the fun-factor! Personally, during the pandemic, our family has incorporated new recipes that add novelty and excitement into our lives. (Yes, the Winkelman family really knows how to live on the wild side!) So, in addition to sharing amusing activity ideas and virtual events/links to brighten your holiday, I will sprinkle in a bissel (that is Yiddish for a little bit) of Hebrew and Yiddish, while I share delicious recipes. With a bit of planning, our holidays will be warm, wonderful, and full of love. Let’s get started!

Since much of this Touch Points incorporates food, in my own cheeky way,

I’d like to wish everyone a very….

“Happy challah days!” (-by RedwoodAndVine)

Ways to Bring More Joy Into Our Holiday:

Many (or all) of the ideas below are easily adapted for loved ones that have memory loss. My heart is with all the caregivers, as you lovingly and unconditionally care for your loved one during this extraordinary time. Thank you for finding the courage and the koach (Hebrew for strength).

The list below contains fun ideas for anyone to try, but it is produced specifically with you in mind to add humor, joy and hope.  I encourage caregivers to focus on creating positive feelings and meaningful moments. Don’t worry so much about the outcome.  Paying attention to the task and adapting the activity for your loved one, will create a positive energy. Enjoy this time together. 

  1. Celebrate with a Clever Meal Idea: One of my favorite things to do is going out for breakfast. I love everything about it:  the morning coffee aroma, the hot cup between my hands, the delicious wafts of eggs and toast spiraling in the air, and the “kibitzing” (Yiddish for chatting) with someone I love. So why not create this special environment with a breakfast café at home?! Start with an adorable Chanukah breakfast- complete with menorah waffles. (A menorah is the multibranched candelabra used during Chanukah.) The waffles are fun, easy and super adorable. Then add a hot cup of coffee, sticky maple syrup, and fruit. Voila!- a perfect Chanukah café breakfast!  Click here for the recipe and link: https://family-friends-food.com/menorah-waffles-super-easy-chanukah-breakfast/
  2. Watch a Favorite Movie and Have “Frozen” White Chocolate Popcorn: Choose a your favorite holiday movie, cuddle up on the sofa and watch together. This special “frozen” popcorn treat is sure to be a hit! Take the “frozen” theme to the next level (you over-achiever!) by eating the “frozen” popcorn while you watch the delightful movie, Frozen.  I highly recommend this wonderful, feel-good flick. Frozen popcorn is a great “nosh” (Yiddish for a snack or a nibble) for Chanukah or any other December holiday. Click here:  https://hungryhappenings.com/winter-wonderland-white-chocolate-popcorn/
  3. Hot Chocolate- Need I Say More?:  Hot chocolate is one of those perfect, winter, make-you-happy beverages- and a great ‘go-to’ for any winter holiday. However, this recipe is not your everyday hot chocolate drink. This is ‘Hanukah Gelt-Hot Chocolate!’ Yum! During Chanukah, there is a tradition to give gelt (Yiddish for money) or chocolate gelt to children. Enjoy this indulgent hot beverage with chocolate gelt or even with chocolate chips. Click here for the lip-smacking recipe: http://family-friends-food.com/chanukah-gelt-hot-chocolate-vegan-option/
  4. Fry it Up- Eat Latkes!  Rachel Sanders writes, “Before we get started, let’s be clear: There is NOTHING wrong with classic potato latkes (Yiddish/Hebrew for potato pancakes). They are perfect.” Being a latke connoisseur myself, I must enthusiastically agree! Traditional latkes are, in fact, dangerously good. If no one is watching, I can happily “snarf down” more than a dozen. However, if you are looking to get a little nutty this Chanukah and mix it up (after all, there are eight crazy nights!) then click here to check out “21 Next Level Latkes You Need to Try.” For example, some of these oil-centric recipes are:  cheesy latkes, curry vegetable latkes, rainbow latkes, and even hatch chile latkes with hatch guacamole. Holy cow! Give it a try and let me know which is your favorite.

Click here for the entire list:    https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/altkes?s=mobile

  1. Skip the Housework, Make Cookies: (That would be a great t-shirt logo!) Cookies make everything better! Enjoy your holiday baking traditions and make delicious sweets. Gobble them up or drop a special delivery at someone’s front door. You could also organize a group cookie making session with family through facetime/zoom/skype and bake a family favorite. Adapt the activity if needed. For example, have your loved one mix the batter, or place the cookies in a container. Click here:  https://www.brit.co/hanukkah-cookies-recipes/
  2. Get Bundled up and Take a Stroll Outside:  If the weather cooperates, enjoy the lights and decorations. Spending time outside (while practicing social distancing and safety, of course!) can improve your sleep and mood, and reduce stress. It’s important to enjoy a daily dose.
  3. Play a New Game:  Learning something new is fun and good for your brain. Novel activities help brain cell growth. What game have you always wanted to learn?
  4. Enjoy an Amusing Gift Exchange/Have a Zoom Party! This year, since we can’t be together in person, my family is sharing a virtual Chanukah party.  We are exchanging crazy socks and writing an associated poem. The wacky socks will be shipped/dropped off at the receiver’s home, and the gift giver will write a silly poem to go with each sock. Then, during Chanukah, all four households will gather virtually on Zoom for a Chanukah party/sock exchange. I can’t wait!

Try hosting a virtual holiday party with your loved ones. Raise a glass together on the screen, play a festive song, or enjoy a one-on-one call.  This is a difficult time; it is important for your health and well-being to connect with others. Please make it a priority.

Sometimes, the noise and flurry of activity may be overstimulating for someone with dementia. If this is the case, then I encourage you to adjust expectations and simplify celebrations. Making changes can minimize the stress for both you and for your loved one. This will help make the holiday environment pleasant.

  1. Watch the Hoan Bridge Light up in Celebration of Hanukkah 2020!  Starting Thursday, December 10 through Thursday, December 17, the Hoan Bridge support beams will be lit — a new beam each night of Hanukkah — with flickering red, orange and yellow lights to represent the light of a candle’s flame.  Watch this event online.
  1. Listen to Joyful Music:  If possible, let your loved one choose the music. Please be thoughtful about the volume and tempo.  (A slower beat may be comforting.) While you listen, prompt your loved one to reminisce about the memories. Ask things like: “Where were you when you heard this music?” “What were you doing?” Create a beautiful holiday moment by cuddling on the couch and singing together. Music is therapeutic for you as the caregiver, too!  Lift your mood and enjoy! Or, click on the unbelievably artistic tunes below:

This is going to be a spectacular Chanukah! …SOOO much to do! Wishing you a wonderful, healthy joyous December. With a little preparation and creativity, we will all get caught up in the December spirit. Please give yourself permission to laugh and unwind. Whatever you do, make it special.

As always, I am here for you, and would love to assist or answer questions with issues related to aging, memory loss or to offer caregiver support.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana