As Christmas Day fast approaches I imagine most of us, in the chronic illness community, are musing about what we want to realistically achieve over the holiday period.
For those of us with Chronic Disease it can be an incredibly overwhelming time. Just trying to be happy for others, when your body is screaming at you, is enough to make you want to run and hide.
Even if, like me, you have a super quiet Christmas for two planned, there are still concerns. Will I be able to function on the day? Will I manage to stay out of hospital?
No amount of pacing or planning can ensure my body will do the right thing. I will pace though and my husband and I have removed all expectations. We will go with the flow and it doesn’t matter if it turns out to be a struggling day does it? Does it?
Does It Matter If You Can’t Handle Christmas?
Hmmm…..let’s be honest….it does matter. I’d be kidding myself to say it doesn’t. It matters a lot to me. I want my husband and I to enjoy Christmas dinner at the very least. He sacrifices so much without any complaining, so I want him to enjoy our festive turkey with all the trimmings.
I want to feel as pain free as possible on the day so I can enjoy opening presents and chatting to family on the phone or online. I’d like the energy to look forward to this.
I want to have some energy in reserve to really enjoy the Christmas movie we choose to watch on Christmas night, plus the special Christmas Eve tradition of watching Carols by Candelight, televised from Melbourne. This just can’t be missed! I don’t want to be wishing it would be over because I can’t find a comfortable position for my broken bones.
I don’t want to be dealing with a stoma blockage because I’ve eaten something on the “naughty list” in the lead up to Christmas.
The Things I Miss
Then there’s the things I miss. I miss not being able to travel to see my Dad and his wife for Christmas. Even more so this year being the first Christmas since Dad has passed. He used to live so close, only a 2 hour drive away, but it was so far when you have a broken body. As a result we hadn’t spent a Christmas together for many years. I so wish we had…life is so short!
I miss not getting to a Carol Service and Christmas Eve/Day Church Service. I miss not being able to go to large shopping malls and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere.
Even for those of us who don’t suffer mental illness, the lead up to Christmas can be a melancholy time. It’s important to acknowledge all those feelings. They are real, important and very, very normal for the chronic illness sufferer.
Feeling a Little Melancholy Is OK!
If you are feeling a little melancholy…….you are not alone.
I will have a lovely Christmas but it will not necessarily be a season of constant joy. It will have moments of delight, moments of extreme fatigue, moments of excruciating pain and then moments of relaxation and rest.
This is the reality for those of us with chronic illness.
Moments full of comfort and love with my husband will always be the highlight for me.
Can Christmas Really Be Cancelled?
“What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.”
The carol is based on a poem entitled ‘A Christmas Carol’ by English poet Christina Rossetti. The poem was first published in January 1872.
This is the last verse of the beautiful Christmas Carol, “In The Bleak Midwinter”
To me it is one of the most poignant Christmas messages and it means Christmas can never be cancelled. Not the true meaning of Christmas!
We are celebrating Jesus birthday. All our traditions of Christmas Trees, giving presents to others, receiving gifts etc, are all symbolic in terms of the birth of Christ and celebrating his coming.
The Christmas Tree represents new life, the lights on the tree represent the light of the Christ coming into the world. The star or Angel on top of the tree are part of the nativity story.
Giving gifts are what we do on someone’s birthday. Receiving a gift is symbolic of us receiving the gift of new life through Jesus birth.
There was no big family gathering on the first Christmas. There was no turkey dinners, no champagne flowing.
There was love and joy, wonder, awe, no doubt a little fear and much uncertainty of what lay ahead for Mary and Joseph and their new born son.
Christmas is, should be a celebration within our hearts. We are celebrating the gift of a Saviour. The gift of redemption, forgiveness, new life.
A True Christmas Can Never Be Cancelled But It Can Be Different
Christmas can’t be cancelled when we focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
Yes, family gatherings may not go ahead in the normal way. The Christmas dinner table might be small, perhaps empty.
Unopened presents may be under the tree for longer than expected.
Perhaps the gift the COVID crisis gave us in 2020 was the gift of time to think about why are we celebrating Christmas. In many regards it’s still giving us time to connect with the real meaning of Christmas as many borders are still closed globally.
So much of how we live our lives is self centred. Do we really know what it means to give our hearts?
Do we take time to think about our true motives? Do we search our hearts?
We could use the restrictions, of chronic illness and COVID, to think about the relationships in our lives. Are we adding value to them? Are we really giving others a place in our hearts or is it more about what value they add to our lives?
Christmas might be isolated or different this year, but we could write a loved one a letter/email letting them know how much they mean to us.
We can fill our homes with carols and watch beautiful carol services.
We have the blessing of being able to video chat with loved ones. What a gift! You could even all eat a meal together with tablets/laptops on the dining table. The options are endless.
Christmas and the true Christmas Spirit will never be cancelled. Not if it’s in your heart.
I’m going to leave you to ponder what it means to have nothing left to give of yourself, to feel the devastation of plans snatched away.
Yes grieve the disappointment, then step back and think about what it means for you this Christmas to give your heart.
I know many of you are having a very quiet Christmas for two or on your own.
I want to share a beautiful carol service with you. If you do find yourself alone this is just perfect to fill your home with the true meaning of Christmas.
This Christmas season, whether you are surrounded by loved ones, home alone, in hospital or dealing with worsening health issues, my hope and prayer for you all is you’ll have moments of a “Merry Little Chronic Christmas”.
Lots of love
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 a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page