Monday, November 25, 2013

Change is Coming

Dear Friends,
This week marks the beginning of the non-stop excitement of the holiday season. A season defined by family and tradition. I have an extraordinarily strong bond with my immediate family. Moving around created our tight knit clan, intensely protective of our family and our traditions. The one constant in my life growing up was our family, and our holiday traditions.

My younger brother was the first to break ranks, as a young chef he wasn't able to make the cross-country trek home for Thanksgiving a few years ago. I felt hurt and betrayed, as if Thanksgiving was the last thing that held our family together. When ESPN moved the Egg Bowl from Thanksgiving to the Saturday after Thanksgiving I was irate - that isn't their tradition to mess with! The first year I went to W's parent's home for Christmas Day, I cried the whole way to Williams Mountain, even though I spent the morning with my mom and dad and would be back in time for Christmas dinner. A few weeks ago I was asked how W and I split Thanksgiving with our families, why would we do that I asked back? Thanksgiving without my parents? As if! 

This weekend the reality finally set in that my sister Emily would be on the other side of the country for Thanksgiving. I moped around all Sunday, heartbroken. Not even the promise of Turducken could cheer me up. 

It is often our family traditions that make the chaos in our lives make sense, make us feel normal and right, even when everything is going wrong, renews our sense of self. All of these things make changing our holiday traditions hard, even when life demands change. This is one of the reasons the holidays are so challenging for caregivers - the stress of trying to maintain old traditions or coping with the grief of losing favorite family traditions, or other family members' inability to accept changing traditions. 

The tradition does not define the family. As our lives change we have to continually remind ourselves it isn't tradition above all else - it is family above all else. This season is more about celebrating gratitude and cherishing those we love than our annual meal of appetizers on Christmas Eve. 

As you plan for the upcoming holiday season and are facing challenges or changes, please know that you are not alone. We have a number of tips on our website about making the most of the holidays when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia. Our 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900)is available throughout the holidays, help and support is just a phone call away. 

From your family here at the Alzheimer's Association & my family, we wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving! 


Al Roker's Sweet Potato Casserole: My Thanksgiving Favorite 
This recipe joined our family line up one Christmas at our Kirksey family get-together at my grandmother's house. The Kirkseys are a gregarious, food-loving, wine-drinking, over the top kind of crowd. I know, it is hard to imagine that I fit in... dad saw this recipe on the Today Show and this recipe produces an immense amount of sweet potatoes, which we need to feed our family. We thought we would have a ton left over - but it was so delicious that the entire pan was gone by the end of the afternoon! I may or may not have eaten half...I demand this sweet potato casserole at all holiday gatherings, i.e. I make it then make everyone eat it. I wish I had pictures to share...but it is time to dig in! 


  • 6 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup crushed pineapples, drained
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 bag large marshmallows
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the sweet potatoes until they are soft. Peel the skin off of the sweet potato and place into a bowl with all of the ingredients, except the marshmallows. Dump into a large Pyrex dish and bake for 30 minutes. Then add the marshmallows on top, turn the heat up or the broiler on and bake until the marshmallows are brown. Then make sure you serve yourself first! 
Happy Thanksgiving! Until Next Week! 
Laurel K.

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