“Half of joy of life is in the little things taken on the run..so let us keep our hearts young and our eyes open that nothing worth our while shall escape us.”
Here we are again, like in olden days, gearing up once more for a busy and stressful season especially for those of us who live with chronic illness. Ironically, this is the time of year where peace, joy and harmony are frequently spoken and shouted from churches and corners alike. Yet, harmony can be an elusive word when family is concerned but even more so when the needs of the few superseded the demands of the many.
Every family has some sort of tradition for celebrating the holidays. Whether elaborate or not if it involves traveling, preparing meals for larger than usual group, shopping, sharing space, socializing in loud environments it will require some planning ahead to make the best of your time with family without letting illness interfere too much robbing you and loved ones of quality time.
In order to avoid losing heart and feeling like you might just want to skip holidays all together, I have devised a few tips to help you retain your joy and have a good time with faithful family and friends once more.
Have a plan
This means you have to be realistic about your health and family situation. If traveling is difficult ask members of family to come over to your place instead. If this causes too much chaos or is not feasible for others to travel either then consider gathering with close friends or a smaller gathering with loved ones. If you must travel allot enough time to travel and take breaks or break trip into segments to make it easier.
Growing up Hispanic, I certainly know the value of a good nap. I find that laying down for half an hour to an hour especially when traveling or have packed days serve to reboot and re energize the body and mind even if you don’t fall asleep. Find a nice cool and dark place. Helps if you bring your own pillow and blanket preferably a heavy one (I love my faux fur blanket- the weight of it tricks the nervous system into thinking that you are being hugged thus releasing feel good chemicals and relieving stress). Let family know that you need to be excused for a while so that you can have strength for the remainder of the day. This means no electronics! Pretend you are far away from civilization and have no access to any gadgets. Allow your mind to drift.
As most of us that live with chronic illnesses will attest to the fact that mornings are usually not our best time. So don’t kill yourself trying to do everything in the few good hours of the day. Ask others to chip in either by helping to prepare meals, help with shopping or wrapping, being in charge of itinerary.
Do things that make you Happy
If having too many people around give you anxiety, go for smaller gatherings and have furniture rearranged as I just did so there are various cozy sitting areas for intimate conversations around the house so you don’t strain to hear and company does not strain to listen to what you are saying either. Play games together (fun entertaining game that also stimulates mind is Skategories, cards, etc.), bake together or decorate Christmas cookies like in an assembly line or siting around the table so you don’t have to do everything alone but still participating. Open up a dance floor if the whim arises and make up your own moves even if still wheelchair bound. Instead of going out to the movies gather around friends and family for at home movie night.
Rethink the Big Picture
Before you commit to anything, ask yourself what are the pros and cons of doing whatever it is you are attempting to accomplish? Are there shorter ways to accomplish same thing like buying on line rather than having to drive all over the place. Will these activities give you joy or cause you to be more worn out? Having a clear purpose in mind can be extremely gratifying as well as help you reduce stress and burden brought on by PD leaving more room for the memories…
So I say to you, “Have yourself a little Merry Christmas now…”
Feliz Navidad Joyeux Noel God Jul
Merry Christmas Feliz Natal
Meri-kurisumasu Buon Natale Frohe Weihnachten
For another wonderful joy filled year together….
Love to hear how you keep your joy through the holidays….
All rights reserved by Maria L. De Leon
song by Nancy Lamott- Have yourself a merry little christmas!