Counting Down the Days - Tuesday, December 21 2010
0 CommentsAs the days wind down to Christmas, I can feel my anxiety growing by leaps and bounds. Even with my pared-down expectations and advance planning, there’s still so much to do. I know it’s time to scale back once more, and I’m coming to terms with the fact I probably won’t get it all done. So here are the makings of my last-minute Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Holiday Survival Guide.
Gifts. I still have names on my list, but I’m going to forget about what to get and how to organize my day so I don’t have to drive so much. I’m not going to wrap. I’m not going to ship. I’m turning to gift cards that can be purchased and delivered online. (I will choose online businesses from which I know the recipients would buy stuff.)
Cards. I’ve seriously cut back on my card list. I only send to people I don’t see. And I no longer do handwritten notes with each card. Yes, I’ve succumbed to the typed Christmas letter. For a while I felt guilty about that decision, but I’ve tried to make it sound fun rather than like a documentary. These will probably make it out the door by Christmas, but I doubt they’ll arrive by Christmas. And I’ve decided that’s okay. (You can take this one step simpler and send e-cards. This online card shop is a favorite of mine.)
Food. I’ve given up on the full-course turkey dinner idea this year. Instead, I’m getting trays of vegetables, fruits and deli meats, plus a few salads, from my grocery store. We’ll start a very simple slow-cooker meal in the morning, which will fill the house with good cooking smells all day, and if we’re still hungry after we’ve spent our day nibbling, we’ll dish up bowls of stew. And as my grandmother used to say with a wink, Sara Lee was very good at what she did. (Dishes are festively-decorated, sturdy paper, and utensils are color-coordinated and disposable--minimal clean-up.)
Decorating. If it’s not up now, it’s not going up unless someone else does the work. In my case, very little is up, which means there will be very little to take down (there’s a silver lining in every cloud!). My decorating this year will be aural: we plan to listen to lots of Christmas music.
Laying Low. I’m going to introduce anyone spending time with me over the next few days to my refrigerator. I will extend full household privileges to root through my cupboards and help themselves to whatever they find. (I will not feel guilty that my cupboards aren’t spic and span.) And, because socializing this week would probably send me through the roof, I have declined invitations, with explanations and sincere apologies. For people I would love to see but can’t, I plan to call on or around Christmas day. I will make one exception: if someone invites me to a quiet meal for which I don’t need to get dressed up, I’ll go.
Timing. I’ve skirted around this one, but here it is point blank: if I can’t get something done for someone else by Christmas day, then I’ll get it done in the days after Christmas. It’s okay if Christmas extends beyond the actual day. Really!
As the days tick down, try to remember what’s important. Fill your head with positive, nurturing messages. The holidays are about giving … not things, but love. Having Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue may mean you have a harder time doing as much as you used to do; it doesn’t mean you love anyone any less.
Extend that love to yourself. Don’t stint on sleep. Make time to rest when you feel yourself approaching your limit. Remember to eat (remember to breathe deep relaxing breaths!). Laugh and smile and hug those you love as often as you can. Sidestep the guilt. Try not to accept the burden of other people’s expectations of who you should be, and be realistic about who you are and can be. Tell yourself it won’t always be this way, that as your treatment progresses, you will be able to do more.
Perhaps you and I will discover a valuable lesson from our efforts to trim the unnecessary from our holiday celebrations. I expect that if we look carefully and open ourselves to the possibilities, we may find less is more. This could be one of our most meaningful holidays ever.
Be on the lookout with me.