Tiny Apartment with Father in Wheelchair- Do we cancel the holidays?

Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2020 02:25 am
I know it's November and it's way too early to discuss this, but the holiday commercials are airing on TV all the time and it's making me sick.
My dad is an amputee. He lives with only one leg, prosthesis, and a wheelchair to walk and move. We live in a tiny apartment. This is the very last Christmas I'm going to be spending with my parents until I fly the nest after living with mom and dad for 30+ years and never lived on my own. I have failure to launch syndrome because I'm 32 years old and I've never left the family home. We sold our house because of COVID19 and my dad having cancer, we couldn't afford it anymore and our house is not wheelchair accessible. I was homeless for almost a month. The apartment is GREAT for dad, but it sucks for me because my tiny bedroom sucks, I'm basically living out of a box because there's no room for a new desk or bookshelf, my dresser is still broken and there's not even enough room to replace it with a functional armoire.
Christmas and the holidays are coming, though. Taking up the entire living room area is the couch, dad's hospital bed he needs to sleep on for his diabetes and his amputated leg from diabetes. There's also a desk by the only sliding glass door in the back, our only window, and dad is using all the plugs for lights, the hospital bed, the computer on the desk, and the TV. There is NO room for any tree- even if my mom and I were 6 feet tall and not short tiny women of 5 feet tall so we could nail a tiny tree or stars on the wall, there would be no room for any presents anywhere, because our dog would find them. Cinderella is a very cute 12 year old senior dachshund, but she is very much like a puppy and has too much energy to comprehend. She will find presents in a heartbeat if we stash them under the couch.
The kitchen is galley-sized, with a very tiny island-breakfast-bar for our dining table. My mom thought it was a terrific idea to throw our old dining table in the landfill dump and just live with no dining table. The breakfast bar is too tiny to have a full holiday meal for Thanksgiving, with what my dad wants to do, my dad is the cook in the house, he can still cook in his wheelchair, it's astounding what he can do. But there isn't even enough room for my dad to carve a 15 pound turkey and also cook all the side dishes and then serve them. There's also no place to put any tables out for any guests like my grandmother or my new boyfriend, and even with COVID19 to consider, my dad thinks we should have no guests allowed at our holiday dinner.
Dad's wheelchair-access bathroom is not big enough either because that's also where we put our laundry- there are laundry machines in the bathroom. My mom's master bedroom is also a problem because she has a chronic migraine condition just like me, and she has a gluten-almost-IBS digestive disease where she's on a strict diet to avoid getting sick to her stomach, hence why she will not put up any Christmas lights in her bedroom either. But my mom's bedroom is the only room my dad can access with his wheelchair because my bedroom is borderline claustrophobic, smaller than a college dorm (picture that), and my bedroom door is irreversibly broken and maintenance does not want to fix it, and we've tried.
There's no way we can put lights or garland anywhere, not even the bannister dad uses to go down the hall to get to his bathroom, my dad has no left knee and he's the highest risk for falls. Mom does her best in taking care of my dad and making this apartment livable, but I feel like I'm not welcome in my family's home anymore, so I should rent a hotel and live there, which is why I'm moving out in late 2021, but I promised my mom and dad we'd have one more holiday together, especially since I can't move in with my boyfriend until the Corona Virus disease is dead and nobody is getting sick with COVID anymore. My dad is high risk for death and lowest immunity from Corona Virus because of asthma, heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, and most recently, battling cancer, and he's not 60 years old yet. I've helped a lot, but it never seems like it's ever enough.
So, if we have no room for a tree, no room for presents, or turkey, not even stockings, nothing festive for either Thanksgiving or Christmas... What can you suggest we do to have a Christmas or a holiday after all, within making room for social distancing and going along with COVID19 guidelines, because I already know none of us want to be infected?
Or do we permanently cancel Christmas and all the holidays forever? Is Christmas just another boring day like any other, just like my birthday was in 2019?
Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2020 07:34 am
Don't cancel the holidays. Change them.
  • Covid means no guests in person, so use Zoom to see everyone (yes, even your boyfriend; there is no room and both your parents are high risk)
  • Start shopping now for the smallest turkey you can find, or just buy a breast with wings. It'll cook faster and there will be fewer leftovers
  • Buy a few plain wreaths instead of a tree, decorate those, and hang them up to keep them out of the way
  • Give gift certificates or money
  • Have your father teach you how to cook. You need to learn this anyway for moving out. He'll enjoy imparting his wisdom to you, and the two of you can decide which dishes to make, and which to do without. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up, so why not do half of the special side dishes for one, and the other half for the other?
  • Quit watching holiday commercials. Life's not like that
Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2020 10:59 am
Even better, you can buy an already cooked piece of breast and/or dark meat any time of year. When I say piece, I mean it’s big enough for a meal for 3. Also stores sell already made side dishes and breads of many varieties. No cooking, little clean up.

Your father is a grown man. He understands his health status is much different than what it was maybe even a year before. On one hand you say he sleeps in a hospital bed, is in a wheelchair and needs rails to get to the bathroom. He’s got multiple serious health conditions. Yet in the same breath you indicate he’s able to be the lead in cooking some too large bird and all the other trappings. Really, who’s going to end up doing much/most of the work (and dreaded clean up)?

This idea of inviting guests. Not to mention the fact they may very well not be too keen on gathering during this time, why is it your family that has to host? Why not spread the joy and allow someone else experience the thrill of cooking, decorating, cleaning, and coordinating all the other things a holiday gathering involves?

I’m not being a grinch. Gone are the days of over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house we go.
Simpler is better. Don’t assume potential guests will be devastated. The fact is they will more than likely be relieved.
In this day there are obviously so many great alternatives to all the travel, gift buying, prepping, stress and let’s face it, the yearly resentments, guilt, debt and dread.
I’ve seen this time as a way to get back to basics and what truly brings joy. You’ve put so much thought into all the problems and stressors, you’ve forgotten that it’s fine to just let things unfold as they will.

It’s not a choice of “calling off the holidays” and going full Norman Rockwell.
You 3 adults decide together what aspects brings the most joy, and do that within the parameters of the environment you live in. Believe me, other family and friends will be just fine doing what they want to do.
Honestly? Has anyone ever said “I can’t believe we didn’t get invited to so and so’s house. What in the world/how are we going to make it through the day?”
Just maybe the people you would normally invite will be relieved on a deep level they don’t dare talk about they don’t have to participate in the yearly performance of “family get together “

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Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2020 04:12 pm
That's all good, but my dad is very much against gift cards and giving out cash as gifts. We just lost our house, my dad just found a new job and he's living on disability income now. Mom is working part time too at the same job because she's my dad's caregiver. My dad wants to believe he's Santa Claus. But I look around the apartment trying to figure out where to put a tree, and there's no place to do that because of my dad's wheelchair or the dog. There isn't even enough room for a poinsettia or any Christmas decorations- Our back door window, the only window in the entire apartment we can hang lights, has blinds on it and it gives me and my mom headaches to deal with it. We have to move heavy pieces of furniture and throw them in a storage unit if we want to use a tree, and there is no place to put a wreath either. My mom hates decorating wreaths and putting them on the doors. All of our bedroom and bathroom doors are broken, especially mine. And my grandma is a crazy person and she'd do anything to try to visit us and I feel like there's no stopping the psycho woman from going out of her way or forcing us to drive out to Hampstead to see her, because she lives alone, she was widowed again on Christmas Day- she's been married 6 times as well and she has no choice but to spend the holidays completely alone.
My boyfriend also has no father and his brother is moving, his mom too, and he has no one to celebrate the holidays with except his mom and his mom can't cook. They spend every Christmas going to a Chinese restaurant because they don't cook. And because they're selling their house right now, he's not going to have any Christmas decorations, he probably won't have a holiday at all this year, which makes me even sadder. I want to give him a real holiday.
I feel like there's no way out, is there?
Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2020 06:00 pm
Like chai said, your father is abundantly aware of his physical limitations.

If he wants to give a bunch of stuff that he can't afford and has no room for, then that's on him.

It doesn't mean you have to give anything but a gift card.

You can buy most stuff premade or, like I said, make only some of the special stuff.

As for disliking wreaths or whatever, fine, think of something else that's small but festive.

It doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition.

PS your boyfriend is a grown man and if his family has spent the holidays at a Chinese restaurant, he's actually used to that.

The only person who seems to be sad about that is you.
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Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2020 07:29 pm
anonymouse32 wrote:

My dad wants to believe he's Santa Claus.

New flash dear. Santa Claus isn't real.

Let's not continue talking about all this logistical nonsense.

What is the reason you believe you are responsible and accountable for any of this?

Frankly, your father has some really awful ideas about the coming holidays.

Also, you're not responsible for anyone else and how they spend their Christmas.

But, I'm sure I'm just whistling in the wind because you're not hearing a word of it, are you?
Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2020 07:44 pm
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Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2020 04:36 pm
You should make the holidays work your way.

It is important not to let your demons win (esp depression), but you do not need to compare things to what you see on TV. Check out the film Christmas Perfection. It is about a girl who wants a perfect Christmas village Christmas. But the reality is spending time with her loved ones with all the messy flaws.
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