My dream holiday brings me so much excitement… and guilt 197



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I’m in my 70s and for so many years, in fact all of my life, I’ve wanted to have a white Christmas. It just seems like the most magical experience anyone who has lived in Australia his or her whole lives could have and this year in 2015 I think I’m going to get that experience! There is a part of me that couldn’t be happier – it will be wonderful spending Christmas in Canada with all four of my children, their partners and my 12 grandchildren. It’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience but the other part of me feels something ugly – guilt.

One of my sisters is ill with Alzheimer’s. She can’t properly interact with people anymore and she relies on care 24/7 to survive. While I want this White Christmas more than anything, I also feel like if I go, I’m abandoning her. We have never spent a Christmas further apart than a few suburbs and the idea of leaving her isolated in her nursing home for Christmas seems so cruel.

I feel like I’m in a catch 22. I’m not getting any younger and neither is my husband. We’ve both had our own health battles (him particularly, I pride myself on my health – fingers crossed it lasts!) and although we’ve dreamt of this trip we’ve never done it. I’m worried that we may never have the opportunity to do this dream holiday again, especially with our children and grandchildren but I also feel guilty abandoning my sister.

Christmas is one of the loneliest times of year for some people. Each year when I visit her in her nursing home, I bring little gifts for the staff and the other people living on her floor. Two years ago I was talking to a lovely man on her floor, Jim, who has since passed away. My husband and I sat down to talk to him and he told us that not one of his siblings, nieces or nephews visit him over Christmas. He’s a Vietnam veteran and has paid his own way into the nursing home where he enjoys his life, but he experiences incredible loneliness from the isolation of his family.

It’s hard as my sister never had children, so for her to go an entire Christmas season without seeing her relatives would put her in the same place as Jim – isolated and alone.

Even though she can no longer communicate properly and cannot leave the nursing home, she is still a person, with a heart, who deserves to feel loved at Christmas time.

I know this is a selfish dilemma but I want to make the decision I won’t regret and I just don’t know what that is.


Please share your thoughts on this in the comments – should I go? Should I stay? What would you do in a similar position?


Guest Contributor

  1. Go, one year out of so many is not selfish at all in fact, I believe you owe it to your husband and family. Don’t deny yourself and them this opportunity. I am sure there will be celebrations at the nursing home and perhaps you could have a pre-Christmas party with your sister.

    2 REPLY
    • Please go marijcke I was thinking along the lines Of some of the comments that have been made,it will be wonderful to be with your family at this time as much as you want to be with your sister,I’m sure she will be well cared for and Skypeis great

  2. You are a WONDERFUL SISTER ,however you should now have your Wish for a Christmas come true . You,Your husband and your family in Canada DESE RVE this .If your sister has Alzheimers she will perhaps not know when Christmas is or if she does she will forget quickly .I realise that your sisters ” forgetfulness ” is Not The Point . Perhaps you could have a pretend ” Christmas ” j with your sister just before you go to Canada or ” xmas in July . Please go you are a Fantastic person .

    6 REPLY
    • I agree with the idea of having an earlier celebration. It’s the idea of being together so it doesn’t matter when.My eldest daughter,her husband and my five grandchildren went camping for 3 wks over the Christmas/New Year period so my youngest daughter and I joined them the week before for a few days and had our beautiful Christmas celebration and exchanged gifts under a lovely ‘real’ tree complete with solar lights. It was also my daughter’s 40th birthday on Christmas Eve and I’ve spent every birthday with her up until this one and every Christmas day with my grandchildren for the past 19yrs. It was strange but just as wonderful and full of love.

  3. You sound like a fabulous sister. If your sister was well I’m sure she would encourage you to enjoy a special time with other members of your family.

  4. My husband always wanted to attend a Boxing Day test in Melbourne and to do this we would be away from the family for christmas but we had the kids blessing and they arranged to have their together in Brisbane. My mother was horrified that we should leave the family for christmas.,….they offered to have her with them but she chose to go to Sydney to my brother. The kids were all working mind you. We decided to do it anyway and had a wonderful trip and two years later I lost my husband Suddenly so we were all so glad that we had lived my husband’s dream. Strangely it was almost a white christmas it was so cold…. We had the heater on all day…snow in Tasmania that year. We drove on then along the Great ocean Road to Spend the New Year with our daughter in Adelaide. so don’t put off that trip. Your sister will be fine.

  5. Go. It is a one off trip how blessed are you. Grab it with both hands. Nursing staff will take care of your sister. You know she would want you to go. Life is too short to ponder over this.

  6. Your yconcern for your sister is understandable however don’t ou think you owe it to your family to have a Christmas with them?

  7. Much as you feel you are deserting your sister at this time, your first responsibility is to your husband. Your sister will not feel the same as you. She is probably unaware of the season and even who you are most of the time if she has Alzheimer’s. Caring people need a break too! Go and enjoy your white Christmas. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We don’t know what the future holds and I would hate your future to be full of regrets. You have nothing to feel guilty about.

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