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 the expectations of others, or the expectations we used to put on ourselves in our healthier days.
Times have changed.
This year we are not alone. Times have changed for everyone.
The restrictions chronic illness sufferers have learned to embrace for years, due to their disabilities, are now at risk of being forced on the healthy community, due to the impact COVID will have on Christmas.
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. My Leadership team and I would organise Christmas treats throughout December for the 350 staff. Morning teas, afternoon teas, team parties, you name it…we did it!
I set up a Christmas choir for my department at work, complete with singers, guitarists, a violinist, bass player and trumpeter. We moved through each level of my departments building 2 days before Christmas spreading 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 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 prevent me from participating in those wonderful Christmas past activities.
So it could sound like the end of a very sad story. It’s not though. While I loved the full on Christmas celebration, I equally love the quieter relaxed Christmas. It’s is my new norm and it’s likely going to be what a COVID Christmas will look like for many people this year.
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 unrealistic expectations of myself, 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 7th 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 which 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 we were together, relaxing and celebrating in whatever way we could.
All that mattered was Christmas Day, the most wonderful day of the year had arrived.
This COVID Christmas – An Adjustment Period For Everyone
This Christmas will require even more adjustment to the way we all celebrate, under the COVID-19 cloud.
Aside from COVID, I’m going to have to scale back even further. After 3 spinal surgeries last year which all failed, I’m left with an inoperable unstable spine and struggling to function with the days normal essentials, let alone add in celebrations.
We have a plan though. Everything will be paced even more than last year. It has to be. We did consider not decorating for Christmas or sending Christmas cards (which we love to do) but we quickly reminded ourselves the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the gift of eternal life that He brings.
Decorating our home brings joy and is a daily reminder this is a special time of the year. For me, the Christmas tree, the trimmings, the turkey, the presents, all have meaning and they remind me this is a time of great festivity and celebration, particularly for the Christian community.
So whether restricted by COVID-19 or chronic illness, we can still celebrate in our homes, even if it’s a Christmas for one or two.
If we all end up in Lockdown, we can be thankful we live in an era of social media and advanced technology. We can Skype, Zoom, What’s App our family and friends, or just chat via FB or text….not to mention a good old fashioned phone call.
We can still connect and we may even find those connections are more meaningful this year. We so often appreciate more deeply what has been taken from us.
A Special Anniversary Amidst It All
It’s also 25 years ago, on the 15th December, my husband and I got married! This year is a very special Christmas for us for that reason alone.
With that in mind and the fact I love the tinsel and the trimmings of Christmas, we will do all we can to make the entire season simply special.
Our anniversary will be spent at home enjoying each other’s company. We’ve organised some special gifts to mark the occasion, and we have a new Celtic Woman DVD, a romantic music concert, ready to enjoy in the evening, after a home cooked meal.
We are so looking forward to it
Back To Christmas
Our pre lit tree will be the focus for Christmas and is much easier to enjoy decorating. I’ll be able to help adorn it with special ornaments we’ve purchased over the years. 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.
It’s all I want for Christmas this year and I am so looking forward to it.
Perhaps COVID is giving the world a Christmas gift. The gift of time. Time to stop. Time to get out of the rat race for a season. Time to reconnect with what really matters in life.
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.
November 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, despite COVID despite chronic illness.
You never know, this may be your best Christmas ever!
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and 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 and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
If you prefer an audible blog post, please check out my Podcast, Medical Musings With Sam
I’m 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