For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6

Simply Stylish and Fun

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Not-So Crazy, Zany, Whimsical Christmas List Post

Have we lost a little bit of that Christmas Spirit? Have we made it about the presents? Stop a while, take note, get back to basics and let’s bring our gifts to the One we’re supposed to be celebrating. The reason for the season, after all’s been said and done, so to speak, is still about Jesus. And the one gift he’s ever asked for was you/me. Yes, he came for us.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~Luke 2:10 –14 (KJV)

Warning: Something sinister takes over my soul at Christmas time and I’m stuck on the Hallmark Channel. It’s horrifying. My writing also is affected and morphs into the whimsical realm. 

A Christmas Poem

Midnight stars illuminate
The dark he came to decimate
For sin did not discriminate
Love incarnate alleviate

To shepherds sing
The hosts on high
Peace on the earth
And to mankind

The Magi’s gifts
Of myrrh and gold
And frankincense
The cross unfolds

12 Ways For A Caregiver’s Merry Christmas

1. Breathe. I tell my Dad this all the time, “Breathe, get some oxygen to those brain cells.” It works.
2. Enjoy the season. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Try not to OD on the Hallmark Channel. If you can write a HC movie you’ve probably been watching too much. But you should submit it anyway.
3. Sing … or hum
4. Write a list of your favorite carols to sing … or hum

  •  Oh Holy Night
  • Angels We Have Heard On High
  • Carol of the Bells
  • Do You Hear What I Hear
  • The First Noel

5. Drink hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows
6. Drink eggnog, sprinkle with cinnamon. I think that makes it healthy
7. Ask for help or receive help when offered
8. Laugh, play, read a book. Sit in front of the fireplace
9. Get some exercise. This can be a quick walk in the morning when you can see your misty breath. Oh so brrrr, but refreshing.
10. Accept interruptions to the season. It’s bound to happen for caregivers.
11. Understand that trips to the ER may disrupt holiday plans so be ER ready: pack a pretty backpack with essentials like your favorite snacks, a book perhaps, or your Kindle, a phone charger, tissues, lip balm, throw in a bottle of water, too. I find that if I have this go-bag ready, a visit to the ER is not so troublesome. It feels like you have a little control of the situation. Keep a pillow, blanket, and jacket in the car.
12. Let family be the caregivers, or at least help. You’ll be surprised how much they would like to be involved, and they’re probably good at it. My cousin and his son, who were vacationing here in SoCal, from Holland spent a day with Mom and Dad and assisted Dad with his puzzles.
I Had A Christmas Dream: I woke up one morning and remembered the dream. I embellished it a little but this is what happened. Maybe it will make you smile.

The Christmas Fairy

A dream she weaves for weary souls
When life is broken full of holes

“Imagine this, imagine far,”
She whispers to a passing star,
“Walking through a snowy forest
Where snowflakes
Never taste like porridge
But more like soft marshmallow peeps
In every bowl of cereal treats
Imagine this, it’s oh so funny
As winter trees poop drops of honey.”

A few frosty-breathed giggles escapes Kyleigh’s sparkling-pink fairy lips.

The star whispers back, “Sweet honey drops are never sticky.”

Purple flowers struggle through the frozen cracks of a cold wintry ground and finally show off their heart-shaped berries and chocolate leaves in sweet victory.

The star shudders. “Got to go, sweet Kyleigh, it’s morning time.”

Kyleigh rubs the sleep out of her big brown eyes as she waves goodbye. She thanks the trees who had lulled her to sleep with their stories. Every tree in the forest has a story and if you should have a difficult time falling asleep, for one reason or another, they would whisper their stories till you drift into a dream.

This was the last night Kyleigh would sleep till the New Year. It was her favorite time of year—Christmas.

She blows the playful snowflakes off her nose and loses herself further into her cozy blanket. “Time to rise,” she whispers. 

Through the sheer curtains, drops of honey sunshine, sweet but never sticky, fall gently into her sandy-brown hair creating ripples of golden lights. Each drop whispers her name. “Kyleigh, it’s almost Christmas.”

She shakes the layer of snow from her blanket that she flings twice around herself. Twirling ever so graceful till the blanket embraces her and fully clothes her in a royal wintry robe.

“Okay,” she mutters—eyes wide open. “I’m ready to go.” Shaking the light out of her hair and dusting off another layer of snow, which leaves a radiant blue shine all over her robe, Kyleigh catapults through the rustic arched door of the Spruce she calls home into a bright new morning.

“Brrrr,” she shouts. “I forgot my woolly booties.” With a skip and a hop she scoots back into the tree where her warm fuzzy booties slithers up to her dainty feet. Her dainty feet, however, has grown accustomed to the frigid winter days as she loves to caress the snow with her toes as if playing with warm sand on summer beaches. Nonetheless, she pulls on her woolly boots because she likes the feel of them and they help her move faster through the forest.

“Off we go then!”

More Lists ...

12 Simple Steps to Decorating the House

1. Take it slow
2. Keep it simple
3. Use Pinterest for quick and easy decorating ideas
4. Decorate for them, the one/s you are taking care of
5. Decorate an area just for you
6. Ask family and friends to send Christmas cards so you can display them
7. Christmas tablecloths are cheap
8. Use silk flowers, but real poinsettias are nice
9. Get a small Charlie Brown Christmas tree
10. Or create a Christmas Book Tree (See Pinterest)
11. String popcorn (Dad loves this)
12. Make paper chains

Furthermore, are there any family traditions you’ll be able to keep this year? I hadn’t really thought about traditions and I quite ignored the fact that we actually had some. We used to go to my parents’ church for Christmas service. This brought them much joy especially if our kids were part of the Christmas play.

We also used to receive a chocolate letter, the first letter of our names. This was a special chocolate by Verkaade, a Dutch chocolate brand. Hard to find nowadays but I’m going to do a little online research.

I’ve also convinced Mom and Dad to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life,” even though they’ve never watched a movie from beginning to end … ever. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe A Charlie Brown Christmas will be a better choice.

Try to keep a family tradition. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. And in case you get overwhelmed, go back to the basics—it’s still about Jesus. He will get you through this busy season. Let him be your peace, your joy, your provider. Emmanuel, God with us.

The Big Event: Christmas Dinner
12 Ways to Make Christmas Day Dinner Easy

For us, Christmas day is spent with my brother’s family at our house—11 adults plus one newborn and a toddler. This is my list of 12 things for a successful dinner and a Merry Christmas Day.

1. Cook what is easy. If you have to have a spaghetti dinner then by all means do so. For me, strange to say perhaps, what’s easiest is a full on Thanksgiving-kind of meal—the turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes etc. It somehow became a simple dinner hack for me. But do keep it simple.
2. My family is awesome and usually come with extra dinners, main dishes, salads, and desserts.
3. Use paper plates, paper cups, and cutlery.
4. Don’t make desserts from scratch, visit your local bakery or Walmart will do, right?
5. Do a potluck if you’re hosting the dinner
6. Ask your guests to bring the drinks.
7. You can provide drinks like simple cucumber water, lemon water, or use mint, oranges; who knew water can have so many flavors?
8. Have a place for coffee and hot chocolate with candy canes to stir. Let them serve themselves.
9. Don’t think you have to entertain everyone; keep Christmas DVDs available, or perhaps your guests love basketball. The NBA plays on Christmas Day.
10. We keep puzzles on the table. The grandkids have learned to bring card games.
11. Play worship music softly in the background
12. Leave the cleaning for the day after; or, better yet, accept any offer to help clean.

The Big Gift Exchange

Wouldn't it be a sweet thing if we had enough money to buy presents for the whole family and to be able to spend over $100 for each. Maybe you do, but it’s not in my budget. How about you? A few gift exchange ideas are as follows:

1. Draw names so that everyone has only one gift to buy. this works for our family.
2. Decide on a budget for presents
3. Ask for Christmas lists
4. Stocking stuffers will do
5. See’s candy for everyone? Maybe fruit baskets?
6. Homemade items: this list is endless. Check Pinterest for ideas
7. Gift cards. They really do love them.

Are you feeling the pinch, is it all too much for you? Find your quiet place, sneak a few moments to yourself and ask the Lord to refresh you, get your balance back. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:4 –7 (NLT)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Grace In Nightmares, Poetry Is Therapy

The Grace in Nightmares

When darkness grows
A night without stars
When billows of fear
Utter notes of despair
When the fright of the night
Does not offer a care
To suffer a dream to a nightmare

Till a mind of grief
Remembers the Light
Even flickers of hope
Shine the stars back in night
He delights once again
In the moon’s stubborn fight
To reflect the sun’s enduring might

Breathe in the mists of lavender
Rest by the waters so still
Sleep in meadows of pastures green
Away from the vulture’s kill
Where the Light at last
Snuffs out the fright
And restores the soul
In mercy’s sight

(Copyright, 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)

Dad endured yet another seizure last night. As I nursed him back to "normal" I was reminded how fragile life is. How the years can betray us, stealing a youth we might not even remember.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.  ~1 Corinthians 3:7-9

I sat with him for a while, asking him questions till his words made sense. He didn’t want to go to the ER. I don’t blame him. We just wind up with more drugs that give him nightmares.

We were told to double up on a certain drug after four weeks. It triggered that nightmare, so in my finite wisdom I made the decision to trim down the amount of meds. Not down to nothing, just down to where we were a few days ago. In other words, we’re not doubling up on anything.

As the evening wore on he tried to describe his nightmare. I told him not to worry and stop trying to remember the horrible details, but instead, remember to pray. He nodded that he understood. I said a short prayer and he managed a smile.

Knowledge is power, and with wisdom comes peace. A little bit of Frankincense on his temple, behind the ears, and a drop in his palms so he could breathe it in, made him feel a ton better. Then drops of mellow lavender in the diffuser and he laid down his head on the pillow and closed his eyes. He attempted one more time to tell me his awful dream and I reminded him it wasn’t real and to call on the name that he's preached for 40 years: Jesus. The One who would never leave him, especially in the dark. And I assured him we were here for him, too. 

“Yes,” he said, "I know," and this time closed his eyes for the rest of the night.

This morning he said he thought he might die in the night. I redirected the conversation to how wonderful heaven must be. It brought him comfort. We figured he would be 20 years old again, or thereabouts. That made him smile with raised eyebrows. He opened his mail (all ads, which he enjoys now) before eating his oatmeal. It seemed he had weathered the nightmare.

 Oh to shed our earthly bodies and fly!

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Oh Lord, that you might give me peace to receive wisdom, your wisdom, so that I might give them the right care—to make the right decisions in the chaos of the moment. Give me rest and health, knowledge and empathy, and a sound mind to not only give care but receive self-care.

Beloved Caregiver

When the river wild
Runs a course you don’t know
When the streams rush over your soul
When the shore seems too far
Too far away
Come hide in the shadows
On wings of prayer
Fly away to a land unknown

(Copyright, 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)

Don't Forget to do Black Friday with Us
And Cyber Monday, too
The Christmas Shop Is Here As Well

Video Poetry for Mom and Dad

Dear God

Though the season is dark
You are the Maker of the Sunrise

Though my path is long and dry
You lead me to green pastures

Though sin wars against me
You whisper through dreams

Though peace is elusive
You bring it to me

And though I feel like dying
You give eternal life

(Copyright, 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Holes In His Mind, A Story For National Family Caregiver's Month and NaNoWriMo

Happy November everyone. It's National Family Caregiver's Month. It's true. The Caregiver Action Network, aka CAN, has a lot of encouragements for caregivers as well as resources and information on RAISE (The Family Caregivers Act). 

You may also submit your own videos and stories. Everyone has a story and yours is needed to encourage others.

In the USA, according to the Caregiver Action Network there are almost 90 million caregivers. When I say, "You are not alone," I really mean that. The president (Yes, President Donald J. Trump) says that "Family caregivers are the foundation of our country's long term support system. In performing these challenging duties with patience and compassion, family caregivers embody selfless service and sacrifice."

Keep praying that in the near future caregivers will get the much needed financial aid. We get it, care-giving is our labor of love, but we can't do this without finances.

Besides National Family Caregiver's Month, November is also NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It so happens that both fit my life perfectly. Below is a flash fiction story for FlashWriMo, based on my experiences with Dadmy observations, and verbal input from him. I pray we can keep our loved ones comfortable, safe, happy, and fearless. And may we as caregivers find strength, patience, love, and rest. Stay strong. I hope you enjoy, "Holes."


Who did this to me? Every part of my body feels beat up; I’m trapped inside a roll of barbed wire. The inside of me fell apart somehow and I must have bounced back the wrong way. There are holes everywhere—in my bones, my muscles, my stomach, and most annoyingly, my brain.

I can feel them—the holes in my brain. Something is eating me from the inside. Nobody seems to know what to do. “Say your goodbyes,” the white-coats say. Their glossy eyes stare at me. They can’t see the holes. If they did would they know how to fill them again?

Who is responsible for this? Who wanted me dead? Why do I feel so alone? Why do I feel so cold? The people around me are strangers. No wait … I know her, the child next to me is mine. But she looks so old.

The sun is going down. Will they help or just talk. I don’t understand what they’re saying, if they’re saying anything at all. Their words are gibberish, falling through the holes.

My mind won’t sleep and if I could twist and turn I would. I need to get up but the holes in my bones won’t let me stand. Without the sun I can’t see. If they only knew, they would bring the light to me. Maybe they have holes in their brains.

I’m walking. I don’t know how I’m walking. Someone tied a rope around me but I can’t see who or what I’m tied to. But I can see the portal now. Every time I walk toward the light they pull me back. What are they doing? Maybe they know better. There’s a darkness coming through the portal, and shadows—shifting shadows that don’t need a light to cast. They slither, growing larger till they fill up a hole.

Pray. I remember how to pray. From somewhere around the holes in my brain is a prayer. “Lord, what do I do?”

I see trees, or maybe they’re people holding willowy branches. Everything is moving so fast I can’t tell between the trees and the people or the shadows they cast. It’s hard to breathe here in the forest. The mist clutches my throat. I take a step and tumble into a river. It’s cold. I’m always cold. I hear the gurgling of the water. No, it’s my own lungs. Am I drowning?

Someone is pulling the rope. I’m back on a bed—prison. Her white coat is stained with blood. Did she go through the portal to get me?

“Take a deep breath,” someone says. “You’ll feel better.”

My arms are stiff. Fluids are pumped into the holes of my veins. The mist, the water, the shadows, the trees, the people fall through the holes of my brain till darkness swallows us into the void.

Breathe, breathe slowly. The sun rises bursting free into another day. Courage, I need courage. If only my words would stop falling through holes.

(Holes, copyright 2018, by Deborah L. Alten)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How to Overcome Effects of Sundowning

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. ~Psalm 103:2–5

What comes to mind when you hear the term sundowning? Ever heard of it? It’s horrifying actually—something Steven King would conjure up for one of his cursed characters in his latest horror novel.

When the sun sets at dusk most of us see beauty, but for dementia patients shadows can cause hallucinations. Fear and confusion come uninvited and settle in for the night. It’s petrifying for both the patient and their caregivers—it’s sundowning.

The Free Dictionary defines sundowning as the appearance of confusion, agitation, and other severely disruptive behavior coupled with inability to remain asleep, occurring solely or markedly worsening at night; sometimes seen in older patients with dementia or other mental disorders.       

Two weeks after Dad’s stroke he was transferred from the hospital to Manor Care, a rehab facility. We had to have someone there with him 24/7, which was quite the experience especially when the sun went down.

When darkness swept throughout the empty hallways of Manor Care, Dad began to speak in numbers. Attempts to crack this code failed miserably. But he was building something or trying to tell us that the world existed on four pillars. 

He existed in a world that hovered between his dreams and reality, meaning he couldn’t quite tell if he was dreaming or not. There was no way for him to know the difference. So the numbers kept coming and he became more frustrated because we didn’t understand.

Sundowning was not a term explained to us, though it was playing out right in front of us. Dad became fixated on the tubes attached to his body. To him his catheter was a weapon of four parts. In the end we realized that he was just trying to let us know it hurt and he was hungry (he had a feeding tube that hummed day and night), his throat hurt, his head hurt, his back was aching and he blamed it all on the four or five parts of these contraptions that weren’t doing their jobs correctly.

The scariest of all his behavior, however, was the hallucinations. These came every night and they seemed to materialize from the painting that hung on the wall in front of him. It was a standard painting you might find in all of the rooms at the facility—pink flowers, weeping willows, and a white Greek building in the background with sculpted  pillars.

In the beginning he was trying to decipher the painting with his number code but that changed one night when he started seeing shadows inside the painting—moving shadows. We began to pray. My niece read scriptures to him and we played worship music softly in the background.

Was this going to be our new norm? How would we deal with this? For months after Dad came home, sundowning indeed became the norm. And like I said, we had no clue. Our nurses and doctors never mentioned it. Some Christians told us that Dad’s brain had no boundaries, therefore, the old fleshly character had returned. That seemed a bit too harsh and I kept praying for a better answer than, it’s his own fault.

The Alzheimer Association lists a few contributing factors of sundowning which includes the following:

  1. Mental and physical exhaustion 
  2. An upset in the “internal body clock” causing a biological mix-up between day and night
  3. To misinterpret shadows causing confusion and fear
  4. Disorientation due to the inability to separate dreams from reality
  5. Nonverbal reactions from frustrated and exhausted caregivers (It happens)
  6. Less need for sleep

Needless to say I wish someone had directed me to this information a year ago. I prayed for God’s wisdom, and as you might suspect knowledge truly is power and learning comes from experience.

These sayings are true.
1.       Experience is the mother of wisdom. ~author unknown
2.      All experience is education for the soul. ~author unknown
3.      Learn from your mistakes. ~author unknown
4.      Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. ~Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
5.      Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes. ~James Anthony Froude (1818-1894)

Experience 1: Look for the obvious. In the rehab facility, when the sun went down, I simply covered the painting that seemed to be the center of his hallucinations. Closing the privacy curtain helped also. Don’t argue or try to convince that what he’s seeing is not real. Redirect and get rid of the culprit that is causing the chaos. In our case, it was the painting.

Experience 2: If the darkness is the cause of confusion, bring the light. I kept the door ajar—enough to let him see the dimmed and soothing light of the hallway. Bring in the Light of the World; Read scripture to calm fears and return a measure of peace and joy.

Jesus said “I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” ~John 8:12

Dad recognized scripture and still knew some passages by heart and recited them which helped him fall asleep. I guess it was fitting that Psalm 23 was his go-to passage.

Experience 3: I’m right sometimes … maybe more than sometimes. I don’t have scientific research to back up my findings, nor do I have a medical degree, but I do have on-the-job experiences.

Experience 4: God is for us, not against us. God is our refuge and strength, a very present  help in trouble.  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. ~Psalm 46:1–3

God whispers. I love his whispers. In my experience, he never hits you over the head with information and then says, “Duh!” Instead, he gently gives you drops of wisdom when you need it and says, “Well done.”

“Keep the house subtly lit. A night light can subside fears and lessen those horrid night hallucinations. You’re creative, my child, string some Christmas lights to the banister.” Then I really got creative and added solar lights to the garden. Mom likes it, too.

Experience 5: Most doctors don’t like essential oils. But using essential oils like lavender in a diffuser are lifesavers. It’s calming and soothing. Melatonin can help with staying asleep, and scented candles are candy for the brain. Oh, how we love our pumpkin spice candles.

For the caregiver there is much to learn. And learn we must in order to keep our sanity, and obtain a better understanding of what dementia patients are going through.

Things have turned around a little. Dad’s not afraid of the night anymore. He even gets up by himself to visit the bathroom. Keeping the light on is a sweet comfort, a welcome sight.

Experience 6: Sundowning hallucinations have not all been bad. That might have something to do with prayer, and Dad’s anchor in Jesus. Turns out he also had visions of heaven. He just didn’t know how to explain what he saw. From what I remember he said that the earth was filled with light and angels (or the disciples) roaming the four corners of our planet. He didn’t feel worthy but they were calling out, saying not to worry because they were with him. And Jesus has walked with him a few times.

There have also been moments where the fog lifts and he receives those moments when  life makes sense again. What’s the first thing he does? He praises the Lord for giving him life; he thanks Jesus for dying on the cross in his place; and he cries because God his Father never leaves or forsakes. God will turn their sundowning into dancing and praise.

Remember there is help for the caregiver. Information is out there—free classes, online articles, support groups, and your first resort … look up; God’s got your back and whether you believe it or not, He’s the one with all the answers. 

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. ~Jeremiah 33:3

A Caregiver's Prayer

Lord, thank you for wisdom, your wisdom. Give me sympathy, patience, and unconditional love. When I am overwhelmed lead me to your rest. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking me. 

Beloved Caregiver

Stay strong
Be fearless
He’ll find his way
Find courage
Seek wisdom
And always pray

You are guardian
And nurse
You are mine
A blessing, never a curse

Stay joyful
Be kind
She knows the way
Find peace
Seek mercy
And always pray

(Copyright by Deborah L. Alten, 2018)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Halloween/Harvest Festival/Camp Jubilee

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ~Ephesians 12:6

Our neighbors love Halloween. The decorations are a dead giveaway—bloody handprints, skeletons, and scary pumpkins light up the driveways. Of course, we’re the house in the middle that remains dark on All Hallows Eve.

But this is not the anti-Halloween post, nor is the pro-Halloween post. This is the “how not to scare Dad so he can sleep peacefully through the night” post. 

This year we’re decorating our front porch for autumn. A broken-down wheelbarrow with a flat tire; a dead tree branch with not-so-scary cutout bats (Dad used to hunt bats in Indonesia); a few black crows hanging, perhaps; bales of hay; and fall-colored leaves are all acceptable decor for the season.

Our neighbor, we love her so, brought over a very artsy autumn centerpiece and now Mom is ready for the season that has always been such a dread to her. Our husky has donned a shark costume, which is way too small for her, and Mom and Dad both think it’s hilarious. It’s good to laugh with them. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

Has Halloween lost a little bit of its wicked sting? Oh, probably not. We’re aware of its beginnings. But I like how churches everywhere have decided to battle the scary haunts with Harvest Festivals or Camp Jubilee—love it! I’ve collected the cutest Halloween costumes for kids on Pinterest. Please do check them out.

Some Christians of course might have a problem with Harvest Festivals or Camp Jubilee and to that I say, chill out a bit. Yes, perhaps you should be praying on October 31st, but if doing so I hope you pray every day. This world is a scary place … all the time. Okay, getting off my soap box now.

As for our home, there still won’t be any skeletons, creepy shadows, or cauldrons. Those things make for restless nights for Dad and a few bad dreams to boot. So decorations and storytelling are mild, and fun. We don’t mind dishing out a few bags of candy either. We’ll greet those little monsters at the door with our husky shark.

Children dressed like scary tales
This Halloween we’ll keep them safe
Keep them sweet
A sugar high
Keep them close
A treat or die
The night has come
The night is here
All Hallows Eve
Nothing to fear

The holiday season seems to come faster each year. I still remember Halloween 2017. Caregivers can be doubly overwhelmed at this time so make sure to enjoy the season. How do we keep sane, not so busy, and on budget? Here’s a few ways to keep the stress level down, or get rid of it entirely. We’ll keep it simple for now and just cover Halloween de-stressing tips.

 Ten Tips For a Less Stressful Holiday Season
(Halloween/Harvest/Autumn/Camp Jubilee)

1.       Take a few deep breaths … relax.
2.      Start decorating early. Take it slow like a turtle on melatonin.
3.      Use what you have; last year’s decorations are acceptable.
4.      Get to know your neighbors. The holidays are the best time to build relationships.
5.      Forgive yourself if you don’t find the time or energy to decorate. A few pumpkin- spice candles might help set the mood. It’s all you need.
6.      Visit a pumpkin patch but don’t get upset if your elderly parents don’t want to get out of the car. Go get some hot chocolate and bring it to them. Take pictures on your phone to share.
7.      Roll the windows down, get some fresh air.
8.     What to do when kids come a calling on Halloween night and you don’t want to open the door.
a)     Fill up small sandwich bags with candy and hang them up on a tree, one that’s away from the house perhaps?
b)     Hollow out a pumpkin, fill with Jello and gummy worms and put inside pumpkin. Place candy in the gooey mixture with a sign that says, “Go ahead, and take candy if you dare!” It’s a thought.
c)      Tape individually wrapped candy to the door. Maybe you could spell Happy Halloween.
d)     Ask a family member or a neighbor to help with the little tricksters.
e)     You could always turn the lights off.

9.      Watch “It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” 
10.  Don’t start thinking about Thanksgiving just yet. That’s a whole other list.

The tricksters are out tonight
It’s a treat or a Halloween fright
I think I might, I think I will
Turn off the lights and choose to chill

Enjoy the beginnings of the holiday season. As you keep the ones you are taking care of in mind, make sure you take care of your own spirit. Nothing wrong with curling up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate, listen to the crackling of the fireplace, read a good book, and to all those Trick or Treat ninja turtles say, “Maybe next year.”

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for this season. Help me to relax. Give me a season of laughter, and to enjoy those moments of true happiness. When my eyes are on you, my spirit rejoices.

 Beloved Caregiver

On a night when stars burn long and bright
When the moon is full throughout the night
I know your thoughts
I feel your pain
Your spirit groans but not in vain

When children laugh for trick or treat
Remember innocence so sweet
You are my child forevermore
A gift of joy that I adore

(Copyright, 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)