It’s on its way! There is no stopping it! Christmas is coming!
This thought will either excite you or leave you trembling with trepidation. Or maybe the jury is out on how you feel, but generally the Christmas/ Holiday Season and the lead up to the big day, is forefront of mind during November.
For those of us who love Christmas but live with chronic illness, we tend to approach the season with a little dread, mixed with joyful anticipation.
We simply can’t keep up with expectations of others, or the expectations we used to put on ourselves in our healthier days.
Times have changed.
A Trip Down Memory Lane – Christmas Past
I love Christmas. First and foremost I love the reason for the season. I love that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus.
My Christmas pasts were filled with preparing Sunday School classes for the Christmas Eve Nativity play. Choir rehearsals for Carols in the Park. Helping my husband prepare Orders of Service for all the Christmas services so that those who attended, who weren’t usual church goers, wouldn’t feel lost and could participate and relax.
I had rehearsals to attend for my annual Christmas Eve Service solo performance of “It came upon a midnight clear”.
In between all that I was Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, decking the halls, baking our Christmas cake. I was also working full-time and involved in numerous Christmas celebrations at work.
Every year we would decorate the Banking department I managed. We’d put on Christmas treats throughout December for the 350 staff. Morning teas, afternoon teas, team parties, you name it…we did it!
I set up a department Christmas choir at work and complete with singers, guitarists, a violinist, bass player and trumpeter, we moved through each level of my departments building, spreading Christmas cheer through song, like the Victorian Christmas carollers of old. So much fun!
On Christmas Day I would head to church in the morning with my husband. After the service we headed together into my work, where we would hand out Christmas gifts to the staff on duty. We’d help set up a Christmas buffet lunch for everyone to enjoy and then we jumped in the car for a 2 hour drive to spend Christmas with my family.
It was full on. It was focused on giving and celebrating. It was joyous and rewarding on so many levels.
My New Way Of Celebrating – Christmas Present
Fast forward to today and those wonderful memories remind me that so much has changed. My love of Christmas remains. My joy in celebrating the birth of Jesus is even deeper.
My body, chronic disease and disability however prevent me from participating in those wonderful Christmas past activities.
So that could sound like the end of a very sad story. It’s not though. While I loved that full on Christmas celebration, I equally love the quieter relaxed Christmas that is my new norm.
I remind myself how blessed I am to have experienced such joy sharing Christmas so actively with so many, for so many years.
I remind myself how blessed I am now to have a wonderful husband to spend a quiet romantic “Christmas for two” with.
If I had expectations of myself that were unrealistic, this season would be awful. I’d either push myself beyond my capabilities and end up sick or in hospital, or I’d just feel miserable thinking of all I can’t do.
This is my 6th Christmas season with my bone disease. The first two Christmas seasons following my leg break were an adjustment period. I grieved my Christmas pasts. I missed not being able to go to church. I missed family and friends. My beautiful step family came from interstate on the second Christmas post my leg break and that was so special. It helped me have the best of both worlds that year. We had a quiet Christmas Day as they arrived Boxing Day. It was a lovely new memory created within my new limitations. It was such a timely visit as it helped me adjust my Christmas Expectations further, from old life to new life. It was a gentle bridge.
Last year I really embraced our “Christmas for Two”. It was one of the most special times Peter and I have ever had. We had no set expectations. We decorated the tree, we bought beautiful food, I set a table for two with all the trimmings, we listened to Carols, opened way too many presents ( I went a little overboard on online shopping) and we watched a Christmas movie in the evening.
There was no set agenda. If we ate at 3pm it didn’t matter. If we didn’t get dressed up it didn’t matter.
If I was really unwell or struggling with pain, it didn’t matter. Expectations were non-existent. All that mattered was that we were together, relaxing and celebrating in whatever way we could.
All that mattered was that Christmas Day, the most wonderful day of the year had arrived.
This Christmas – Another Adjustment Period
This Christmas will require even more adjustment to the way we celebrate.
I’ve just had 3 spinal surgeries this year which all failed. We moved house and are still trying to recover, and I’m struggling to move and function with the days normal essentials, let alone add in celebrations.
We have a plan though. Everything will be scaled back even more than last year. It has to be. We did consider canceling Christmas altogether but quickly reminded ourselves the reason for the season is not the tinsel and trimmings. It’s to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the gift of eternal life that He brings.
Plus we do want to make the first Christmas in our new home a little special. New traditions need to be established, like where should the tree be placed.
It’s also 25 years ago, on Christmas Day, my husband and I got engaged! This year is a very special Christmas for us for that reason alone.
With that in mind and the fact that I love the tinsel and the trimmings, we will just approach everything on a mini scale.
Our pre lit tree will be the focus and is much easier to enjoy decorating. I’ll be able to help adorn it with special ornaments we’ve purchased over the years. It can hopefully be done in a paced fashion without me ending up in hospital so that’s a bonus! Our nativity scene will also be centre stage.
We are going to listen to carols and watch as many Christmas shows as we like.
We will have a Christmas dinner but will eat it in the lounge room in comfort, while watching a movie or Christmas TV Special. We’ll keep it all very simple with easy to prepare festive food.
All I Really Want For Christmas
I need peace and quiet and no pressure. Isn’t that really what Christmas is all about? Peace on earth, goodwill to men?
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2 v 14 KJV
Time to heal, time to adjust, time to relax in peace. Time to reflect on what lies ahead.
That’s all I want for Christmas this year and I am so looking forward to it.
Mary and Joseph had a very uncertain and tumultuous time ahead of them that first Christmas. They needed to find a home. They needed to protect their baby from harm’s way.
Life doesn’t always run smoothly and the perfect Christmas card picture isn’t a true reflection of the real meaning of Christmas.
Whether you have chronic illness or not, sometimes stopping and questioning how you can simplify Christmas, can be quite the epiphany.
Now is a great time to set your realistic Christmas expectations. You can then head into this “most wonderful time of the year”, relaxed and ready to enjoy a very special and achievable Christmas…..one that’s just right for you!
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding & friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic & complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
I’m also a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women
If you would like to read a little more about my journey, here’s the link to My Story