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Posted: December 22, 2004

Spousal Caregiving

A Christmas Gift of Giving

Bill Andrew

Christmas is that time of the year when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Other religious denominations and cultures have special occasions that are also celebrated during this season of joy, but they tend to celebrate the Christmas holiday season with Christians. During this time of the year, regardless of religious belief, we all seem to have something in common.

Traditionally, we all celebrate this Christmas holiday season as a season of giving -- giving presents to our families and friends, giving support for the poor and the needy, giving financial aid to the many agencies seeking our support, and just giving of ourselves for the benefit of others. Many of us make sure that we go to the church of our choice to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the establishment of Christianity. We share our Christmas greetings and sentiments with our family and friends. These are all ?gifts of giving? that we share with each other without a second thought.

As spousal caregivers, we are also ?giving? at this time of the year, however, for us this ?giving? is not a seasonal thing. Our gift of giving is a year-round event, day in and day out. And that?s what ?care-giving? is all about, giving of ourselves for the benefit of our loved ones, in my case my spouse. This is really the ultimate gift of giving, giving of ourselves! And isn?t that what true love is all about?

Our Christmas gifts are typically wrapped in fancy paper, ribbons, and bows to make them look attractive to the intended recipients. The fancier the wrapping, the more conscious we are of the intent of the giver and the contents of the gift.

We Christians believe that God has given us the ultimate gift in Jesus Christ. He also comes wrapped in exquisite gift paper, ribbons, and bows. As spousal caregivers, let us open that special ?Gift of God? very tenderly and lovingly and share it with our spouses during this Christmas season. The gift I speak of is prayer, an essential element in our kit bag of caregiver resources as we provide the ?gift of giving? for our loved one. Obviously, prayer is not unique to the Christian religion; it is a key underpinning for all religion albeit in various forms and methods of presentation.

Regardless of the illness or condition afflicting our spouses, they may still have memories of a ?Christmas Past,? to paraphrase Charles Dickens. ?Christmas Present? is here and now. We should live for the present because ?Christmas Future? may not come for our loved one. Perhaps prayer will evoke past Christmas memories if your loved one is memory-impaired, such as my wife Carol. I try to keep our religious and Christmas memories alive since they were, and are, such an important foundation for our love. I do this by attending church services, singing Christmas carols, listening to Christmas music, and other Christmas-related activities. And often I do get her attention, and that gives us ?Christmas Present.? God is good, and perhaps we can look forward to ?Christmas Future.?

If you are a spousal caregiver, I am sure you have found yourselves praying more and more for guidance and assistance as you learn the lessons of caregiving. I know that prayer sustains both Carol and I on a daily basis. This ?Gift of God? is especially highlighted during this Christmas season when everything around us is focused on the ?reason for the season? -- the birth of Jesus Christ. Let?s thank God for granting us the graces and blessings that we need to continue to provide our respective ?gifts of giving? for our loved ones.

May God be with you, your spouses, and your families during this Christmas season. Carol and I wish you a blessed and merry Christmas!


?This day?a Savior has been born to you??

(Luke 2:10)

Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at

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