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The Ribbon - Care for Caregivers
Symbolizing the way we are all woven together
in our fight against Alzheimer's Disease

Volume 4, Issue 12
December 24, 2000


www.TheRibbon.com

We know we all come from varied backgrounds and we are woven together because of Alzheimer's Disease or one of the many other Dementias. It is because of our different backgrounds that we decided to make this our "Holiday Issue". You see, not all of us celebrate Christmas. This issue will help us to understand the way others celebrate the holiday season.


Hanukkah

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar (which is November-December on the Gregorian calendar). In Hebrew, the word "Hanukkah" means "dedication."

The holiday commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews' 165 B.C.E. victory over the Hellenist Syrians. Antiochus, the Greek King of Syria, outlawed Jewish rituals and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C.E. the Jews' holy Temple was seized and dedicated to the worship of Zeus. Some Jews were afraid of the Greek soldiers and obeyed them, but most were angry and decided to fight back.

The fighting began in Modiin, a village not far from Jerusalem. A Greek officer and soldiers assembled the villagers, asking them to bow to an idol and eat the flesh of a pig, all of which were forbidden to Jews. The officer asked Mattathias, a Jewish High Priest, to take part in the ceremony. He refused, and another villager stepped forward and offered to do it instead. Mattathias became outraged, took out his sword, and killed the man, then killed the officer. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked and killed the soldiers. Mattathias's family went into hiding in the nearby mountains, where many other Jews who wanted to fight the Greeks joined them. They attacked the Greek soldiers whenever possible. About a year after the rebellion started, Mattathias died. Before his death, he put his brave son, Judah Maccabee in charge of the growing army. After three years of fighting, the Jews defeated the Greek army, despite having fewer men and weapons.

Judah Maccabee and his soldiers went to the holy Temple, and were saddened that many things were missing or broken, including the golden menorah. They cleaned and repaired the Temple, and when they were finished, they decided to have a big dedication ceremony. For the celebration, the Maccabees wanted to light the menorah. They looked everywhere for oil, and found a small flask that contained only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. This gave them enough time to obtain new oil to keep the menorah lit. Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night, thus commemorating the eight-day miracle.


Kwanzaa

The year 2000 will see the 35th annual Kwanzaa, the African American holiday celebrated from December 26 to January 1. It is estimated that some 18 million African Americans take part in Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas. It was created by Dr. Maulana "Ron" Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966. At this time of great social change for African Americans, Karenga sought to design a celebration that would honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress.

Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years. The name comes from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits of the harvest." Karenga chose a phrase from Swahili because the language is used by various peoples throughout Africa.

 

The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba)

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa honors a different principle. These principles are believed to have been key to building strong, productive families and communities in Africa. During Kwanzaa, celebrants greet each other with "Habari gani," or "What's the news?" The principles of Kwanzaa form the answers.

PrinciplePronunciationMeaningAction
Umoja(oo-MOH-ja)unitybuilding a community that holds together
Kujichagulia(koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-yah)self-determinationspeaking for yourself and making choices that benefit the community
Ujima(oo-JEE-mah)collective work and responsibilityhelping others within the community
Ujamaa(oo-JAH-ma)cooperative economicssupporting businesses that care about the community
Nia(nee-AH)a sense of purposesetting goals that benefit the community
Kuumba(koo-OOM-bah)creativitymaking the community better and more beautiful
Imani(ee-MAH-nee)faithbelieving that a better world can be created for communities now and in the future

 

Colorful Celebrations

Families gather for the great feast of karamu on December 31. Karamu may be held at a home, community center, or church. Celebrants enjoy traditional African dishes as well as those featuring ingredients Africans brought to the United States, such as sesame seeds (benne), peanuts (groundnuts), sweet potatoes, collard greens, and spicy sauces.

Especially at karamu, Kwanzaa is celebrated with red, black, and green. These three colors were important symbols in ancient Africa that gained new recognition through the efforts of Marcus Garvey's Black Nationalist movement. Green is for the fertile land of Africa; black is for the color of the people; and red is the for the blood that is shed in the struggle for freedom.

 

The Seven Symbols

Celebrants decorate with red, black, and green as well as African-style textiles and art. At the heart of Kwanzaa imagery, however, are the seven symbols.

SymbolMeaningAction
kikombe cha umojaCelebrants drink from this cup in honor of their African ancestors.honor of their African ancestors. Before drinking, each person says "harambee", or "let's pull together"
kinarathe candleholder, which holds seven candlesIt's said to symbolize stalks of corn that branch off to form new stalks, much as the human family is created.
mazaofruits, nuts, and vegetablesThese remind celebrants of the harvest fruits that nourished the people of Africa.
mishumaa sabathe seven candles that represent the seven principlesA different candle is lit each day. Three candles on the left are green; three on the right are red; and in the middle is a black candle
mkekamatThe symbols of Kwanzaa are arranged on the mkeka, which may be made of straw or African cloth. It symbolizes the foundation upon which communities are built.
vibunzi (plural, muhindi)ear of cornTraditionally, one ear of corn is placed on the mkeka for each child present.
zawadigiftsTraditionally, educational and cultural gifts are given to children on January 1, the last day of Kwanzaa.

Ramadan

RAMADAN IS THE NINTH MONTH of the Islamic calendar. Islam uses a lunar calendar - that is, each month begins with the sighting of the new moon. Because the lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar used elsewhere, Islamic holidays "move" each year. This year Ramadan begins on November 28; in 2001 it will begin on November 17.

For more than a billion Muslims around the world - including some 8 million in North America - Ramadan is a "month of blessing" marked by prayer, fasting, and charity. This year Ramadan overlaps Christmas and Hanukkah. But while in many places these holidays have become widely commercialized, Ramadan retains its focus on self-sacrifice and devotion to Allah (God).

 

Why this Month?

MUSLIMS BELIEVE that during the month of Ramadan, Allah revealed the first verses of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam. Around 610 A.D., a caravan trader named Muhammad took to wandering the desert near Mecca (in today's Saudi Arabia) while thinking about his faith. One night a voice called to him from the night sky. It was the angel Gabriel, who told Muhammad he had been chosen to receive the word of Allah. In the days that followed, Muhammad found himself speaking the verses that would be transcribed as the Qur'an.

At many mosques during Ramadan, about one thirtieth of the Qur'an is recited each night in prayers known as "tarawih". In this way, by the end of the month the complete scripture will have been recited.

 

Fasting

MUSLIMS PRACTICE "SAWM", or fasting, for the entire month of Ramadan. This means that they may eat or drink nothing, including water, while the sun shines. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars (duties) of Islam. As with other Islamic duties, all able Muslims take part in sawm from about age twelve.

During Ramadan in the Muslim world, most restaurants are closed during the daylight hours. Families get up early for "suhoor", a meal eaten before the sun rises. After the sun sets, the fast is broken with a meal known as "iftar". Iftar usually begins with dates and sweet drinks that provide a quick energy boost.

Fasting serves many purposes. While they are hungry and thirsty, Muslims are reminded of the suffering of the poor. Fasting is also an opportunity to practice self-control and to cleanse the body and mind. And in this most sacred month, fasting helps Muslims feel the peace that comes from spiritual devotion as well as kinship with fellow believers.

 

Eid al-Fitr

RAMADAN ENDS with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which this year will occur on December 27. Literally the "Festival of Breaking the Fast", Eid al-Fitr is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations (the other occurs after the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca). At Eid al-Fitr people dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give treats to children, and enjoy visits with friends and family.

A sense of generosity and gratitude colors these festivities. Although charity and good deeds are always important in Islam, they have special significance at the end of Ramadan. As the month draws to a close, Muslims are obligated to share their blessings by feeding the poor and making contributions to mosques.


Links

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12/20: AOL Health News: Possible Alzheimer Vaccine Found

AOL News: Study Finds Possible New Alzheimer's Gene


Poetry Corner

They only need a moment,
That's not asking very much.
Just give them each a greeting,
A hug, a tender touch.

Stroke the greying lock of hair.
Or kiss the weathered cheek,   
And go about your business,
Your full and busy week.

It won't take long to visit.
They have nothing much to say.
Their days are pretty much the same
But pause along the way,

And join them in their world,
For just a little while.
Long enough to greet them,
Long enough to make them smile.

Theres no longer very many
Who take time out of their day
To concern themselves about them.
Its too depressing, so they say.

They are diapered, and they slobber,
And they dribble at their food.
They may not talk intelligentily
Or be in a happy mood,

But spare a smile, a tender touch,
Knowledge that they exist,
For there may be a point in time
When you end up like this.

When your loved ones will forsake you
Cause you won't know they are there,
But you need a hug from someone,
You need someone there to care.

written by Grandma402


Email Bag

From SewingBabe

Dear Lorraine,

I read your letter in the ribbon and just wanted to give some advice using what I have seen over the years. I used to work in Long Term Care and in Adult Day Centers specifically with Alzheimer Patients.

From what you described about your husband it sounds as if the stroke could have left him without the ability to control his emotions. That can happen with Alzheimer's as well. His anger may also be a way of telling people around him that something is wrong and he cannot vocalize it in the way that he wants to.

Since he is at home you might want to look for things in the enviroment that would trigger angry behavior. That way you can learn how to set him to right before a big blow up occurs. sometimes the hardest part is trying to figure out what they are trying to tell you. I think that cause a lot of agitation. They have so mauch to say, mostly the basic things, and it just will not come out.

If after a while you realize nothing is really setting him off but he has a certain level of anger or agitation you might want to talk to the doctor about medications that can relieve that agitation. There are many out there. It can take trial and error to find the right one. But once you find the right one that calms him without putting him to sleep it can be a big relief, for him and for you.

One last thing. You might want to look for an adult day care center in your area so you can get a break. That is most important. Ask the local agency on aging to help you. Or find the local Alzheimer Association in your area. They can help too.

Good Luck.
Karyn Bowman


From DKThomp

Dear Family and Friends,                            Christmas 2000

Another year has gone by, and we are getting ready for this Christmas season. I have started to decorate the house, but Karen and the children are coming this week to let me go to Iowa and they are going to finish up for me. I say, what are grandchildren for? At any rate, we are looking forward to a good time with our family over the holidays.

It has been a busy year; with this week's trip I will have made six trips out of Ohio since July. Twelve of us drove down to North Carolina in July to clean out the farm. Ann's mother had been in a nursing home and the farm had been vacant for over a year so we decided to go and clean out the buildings. There are two houses and three barns and there were three generations of stuff to sort through. We did it in three days and all returned safely. Then in July, Lois Thompson, Gordon's wife, died and so I drove to Iowa for her memorial service. I went alone, and I was surely glad to have the opportunity to go. In September, I was able to spend a weekend with Dave and family, and with Tracy who is going to college in Pittsburgh. Ann's mother passed away in October so five of us flew down to North Carolina for her funeral. She was ninety-one and had been sick for several years so her passing was not unexpected. Next, I drove to Grand Rapids in November to spend Thanksgiving with Karen and her family. We had a ball! Finally, I am going to Iowa for my younger brother Russell's memorial service this weekend. He was only sixty-four and was taken after a ten-week stay in the intensive care units of two different hospitals.

Each time I left Ann, there was someone, mostly family members but also friends, to come in and take care of her. I am truly blessed in having such great and loving children and others who have helped me. Ann is in the final stages and yet she seems to be holding her own at this level. Please pray with me that the Lord will help me to care for her here at home (as He has for the past seven years) until He takes her home.

Christmas time is a time that we celebrate the first coming our Lord and Savior. I have been rereading Richard Baxter's The Saints Everlasting Rest, perhaps because of the number of deaths we have had this year, but there is a passage in his book that ties this year's events together so well for me and gives the purpose of Christ's second coming. That purpose is the joy of our hope we have in Him. "The most glorious coming and appearing of the Son of God may well be reckoned in his people's glory. For their sake he came into the world, suffered, died, arose, ascended, and for their sake it is that he will return. Did he buy us so dear and then leave us sinning, suffering, groaning, dying daily; and will he come no more to us? Far be such a thought from our hearts! He that would come to suffer, will surely come to triumph. He that would come to purchase, will surely come to possess. He will have us live by faith, and not by sight." I can only say amen and amen to those comforting words as we come to the end of this year, and as we come together to celebrate His incarnation.

Ann and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

In His Great Love,
Doug and Ann


From Cwadephill

Friends,

This is the first in a series of articles that I am submitting to the Alzheimer's Association, The Ribbon, AARP, and other publications - There are many unsung 'heroes' in our lives, people that have profoundly affected the way we are today. For me the people in my series are not published well known authors, but rather real people making a difference by their caring, their outreach, their ability to share unselfishly. These people have made a difference in me, in my life, and in my ability to find a joyous today and a hopeful tomorrow. Perhaps you'll share your stories too. - Jan/Mina


Heroes

Hero -- a small word, uncomplex, simple, that holds fathoms of unsung praise and awe at the wearers abilities, accomplishments, being.

Not everyone has heroes in their lives - I am blessed, as I do. In my present family of persons with dementia, the heroism is staggering -- and I am sure should I get to know all of my cyber-friends on a more personal level, the ranks would grow.

Montana, quiet place, majestic beauty. At home here you will find a good friend, and a hero - Laura. Far from the city, far from the physical contact of the outside world (since she no longer drives) is where you will find her. A mile or so off the Highway to Yellowstone, up a dirt road in the "Little Brown House" on the far side of the main Farmhouse. Roy, her Boarder Collie will be there to greet you, and maybe the odiferous territorial markings of the skunk family who reside under the porch. You'll most likely find her in her favorite chair, Chrissie her (blind) cat at her side, kittens frolicking at her feet, laptop computer firmly in place, busy on the Internet connecting lives, giving hope and understanding to the many who call her by various names -- Laura, Tanarose (short for Montana Rose), List Mother, PRx_Tanarose (her chat hostess name) - a multidimensional person that is a Godsend to many.

Laura found me about three years ago wandering aimlessly about on the Internet, desperately trying to find support for my diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease in Caregiver message boards, as there were none that I could find for the patient. She invited me to join a support system called Coping With Personal Memory Loss ( eGroups : CWPML) a site that she created not just for the AD person, but for anyone with memory loss problem. Laura's is the ONLY site that I am aware of on the Internet exclusively for the support system of the dementia patient. Here I was able to connect and share for the first time with a group of people who understood my dilemma and frustrations, as we all shared the common bond of dementia. Then as a personal challenge and incentive to me, she gifted me with a web site. (Jan/Mina's Home Page). She still maintains that site as my webmaster, adding my daily journal for me and has created within the site a page for photos, and published articles as well a links to other related sites. Laura shares her life support with many others too, and helped in the creation and founding of the Caregiver's Army, a group that is collecting signatures to bring the need for more research dollars to the forefront in congress. When she became a member of the PlanetRx site she became a chat hostess, and brought the CWPML group together in a more personal setting. As we shared and bemoaned our lack of support within the Alzheimer's community, under her leadership DASN (Dementia Advocacy and Support Network) was founded. She pursued and attained a nonprofit status for the group, worked diligently on the design of our mascot and organized the presentation of DASN to the Alzheimer's community at the Heartland (KS) Memory Walk this past October. With lofty goals and ideals -- we look to the future as a hopeful promise. And yet she is tireless, committed to helping people. Her outreach continues, DASN now has members in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. But I have only been able to share what I know of her endeavors, and there is so much more................ did I forget to mention, Laura is also a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease? Yes, 2 years ago at 59. Because she also has MS her symptoms and distress are compounded and complicated. So when you go to visit her Web site, Laura/Lorraine's Home Page, you will find the diversity of her support of other people. You will find a strong, caring woman who helped to give me purpose to this crazy journey of AD, who supported, who held my hand, and who gave me that 'swift kick' when I needed it. My hero, my friend.

Jan ~ Mina Phillips

Nothing the heart gives away is gone ~ It is kept in the heart of others . . . The Heart Remembers

Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but,
the realization of what you have


There will not be another issue until the year 2001 so we all would like to say "Happy Holidays" and "Happy New Year". We have been so blessed this year by your support, encouragement, and the tremendous outpouring of love. We hope that you feel the same in return.

Hugs and Peace,
Kevin, Karen, and Jamie

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