My New Holiday Normal With MS
I’m old enough to remember when spring, summer, autumn, and winter were four distinct seasons, not the mash-up of not-quite-anymore and nearly-there-but-not that global climate change has made of the calendar.
I’m also old enough to remember when there was a gap between when the Halloween decorations came down and the broad array of Thanksgiving representations went up.
Now it seems as though the time between Canadian Thanksgiving in early October and Nollaig na mBan (also known as Little Christmas or Women’s Christmas) on January 6 is just one big ball of stress for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other chronic conditions.
“Holidays,” me arse!
I’ve Learned to Take a Pass on Holiday Stress
I’ve (for the most part) learned to give the stresses of this long holiday season a hard pass. We don’t have any children in our neighborhood to come calling for sweets on Halloween. Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday in the country we now call home (though the multinational retailers still try to get away with Black Friday sales here).
And though the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have given people the itch for something to celebrate, and Christmas has seeped in a little early the past couple of years, it’s traditionally not until the 8th of December before the real red and green hits the fan.
All of this has surely made it easier for me to sidestep the physical and emotional trappings of this festive time of year, but I’m neither immune to the traditions, nor am I a Scrooge. I love the end-of-year holidays! I just don’t (and can’t) observe them as I once did.
But I Still Love Some Parts of the Season
The key to enjoying this new version of the holiday season for me isn’t in what I no longer do. It is because I do only the parts that energize mind, body, and spirit that I now enjoy the holidays — I jettisoned all the rest.
As with just about every part of living with multiple sclerosis at which I consider myself “successful,” there were failings, false starts, and face-plants on my journey to holiday enlightenment.
It’s still a process, but once I got past the bulbous hump in my learning curve, it has become increasingly easy to let go of the superfluous and hold firmly to the sublime.
Some parts of the season’s observations are very enjoyable and even important to me. Those are the bits on which I focus. The other parts — some fun and very nice, I must admit — are simply no longer worth the drain they put on me, limiting my participation in the parts I really want to. It’s a game of filling my life’s shopping cart with festive foods that nourish me within my limited budget.
My New Holiday Traditions Tend Toward the Simple
A walk (or drive) around to look at the lights with which others have adorned their gardens has replaced most of my outdoor decorations. One (or perhaps two) evenings down the local pub for a bit of Christmas craic is now enough, where an advent of meetups was once the norm.
A simple gift of experience is given, rather than a raft of “stuff” over which I fretted and stressed.
A long day of simple, tasty nibbles has replaced a massive meal that took days to prepare and minutes to consume.
Not everyone is “there” yet. Giving up some things to more thoroughly enjoy others is complicated calculus.
But I’ve ended enough holidays (let alone the whole season) both literally and figuratively on the floor to know that doing it the old way was just not worth the bill.
Do I miss some of the things from before? You’re damned right I do. I miss the person I was from before even more. That guy, however, the one who could do all of it … I’m not him anymore.
My (Limited) Advice for Others Living With Chronic Illness
I don’t have any magic top 10 lists for how to make what has worked for me work for you. Anyone who says they do is probably trying to sell you something. All I can offer up is this:
Remember how you felt after it was all over last year, and realize that you’re another year older on top of everything else. Find the things that filled your emotional tank to at least as much as (and preferably more then) they took from your physical one.
Keep to the tank-fillers. And remember, they’re only traditions if you pass them on and allow someone else to carry them. If you hold on to them and insist that you’re the one who must carry them out, then they’re obsessions.
It’s a long haul until Little Christmas, people … Take her handy.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
- Repos Production UNBOX Now | 7 Wonders 2nd Edition | Board Game | Ages 10+ | 3...
RRP PRICE: £45.19SALE PRICE: £34.76YOU SAVE: £10.43 About this item Make the right decisions to lead your civilisation to prosperity You are a […]
- Hornby R1234 Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Train Set
RRP PRICE: £199.99SALE PRICE: £165.53YOU SAVE: £34.46 5972 ‘Hogwarts Castle’ Locomotive Hogwarts, Mk1 SK Nos. 99721 coach Hogwarts, Mk1 BSK […]
- LEGO 75969 Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle Astronomy Tower Toy Compatible with...
RRP PRICE: £89.99SALE PRICE: £71.99YOU SAVE: £18.00 About this item Delivered in Frustration-Free box that perfectly protects the original LEGO […]
- Melissa & Doug PAW Patrol Activity Rug – Adventure Bay
RRP PRICE: £53.99SALE PRICE: £46.99YOU SAVE: £7.00 About this item Act out PAW Patrol missions on the Adventure Bay activity rug with wooden play […]