Nov 29, 2016

Christmas With Chronic Illness - 5 Tips For Making it Beautiful

It's here, it's upon us! The holiday season is now in full swing.

Are you feeling it yet? Discouragement, overwhelm, frustration, defeat?

I wanted to encourage you before you go too far down that road.

I know it all to well! I've experienced it, lived it and quite frankly, I'm writing this to remind myself.

Holidays are stressful. There's so much to do and so many people to please. The Hallmark Channel portrays the perfect Christmas love stories, commercials are reminding us and our children of everything we don't have that we NEED and those posts on social media showing us perfection are glaring at us in the face every day.

Sometimes we think everyone else has it all together; their homes are perfectly decorated, their children are in every Christmas activity in town and you get to see all of those magnificent pictures coming at you every day on Facebook compounding your guilt.

My first few years of chronic illness with tick-borne diseases were devastating. Not only was I pretty much out of the game we call life but holidays were not going to happen without a miracle.

Here are some of the things we did and maybe they'll help you too.

1. Completely throw out all expectations.

I couldn't do anything but lie on the couch or in bed, I was miserable. My body was weak and wracked with pain. My husband and I decided on what was important in order to make our holiday enjoyable and memorable and we literally crossed out the rest of the list. No baking, no homemade gifts, no Christmas cards and no guilt!

2. Give everyone a job.

Now, I'm a bit particular about decorating and especially decorating the tree. During those difficult years I had to give up my type-A, OCD tendencies and allow my children and husband to take over. The lights on the bushes outside were crooked and not exactly like I would have done but they were up. The tree was a bit lopsided with too many ornaments bunched together but decorated the way my children wanted it and trust me, I had to work very hard to enjoy their creativity.

Imagine how wonderful they felt that they could decorate and help mommy out.

3. Order gifts online.

I was not strong enough to walk through the mall, much less a store to go shopping up and down the isles for the perfect gifts. Our Christmas shopping for those years was pretty much done online. Certain things that couldn't be purchased online were picked up by my husband.

4. Order a holiday meal to go.

Our Christmas meals are always spent at extended family's but there was 1 year in particular that we couldn't attend. We ordered a pre-cooked meal from the local grocery store and my husband put it all in the oven to heat. I can't say it was the most fabulous meal but we were able to keep our tradition, gather around the candle-lit table and enjoy time together celebrating the Savior's birth.

5. Focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

When you let go of your expectations, other's expectations for you and the guilt that most likely comes from inside of you; you are able to focus on what's really important.

Make memories by spending time with your loved ones, have great conversations, and ask your family to help you create a beautiful atmosphere. Play beautiful Christmas or worship music, light a candle or diffuse essential oils and enjoy each other.

My husband always asked me, "what's the most important thing you have to do today?"

So I would ask you, what's the most important thing you should do when you're sick?

When I was really sick during the holidays, I deemed the most important things to be loving my family, resting so I could get well, and worshiping the Lord.

When you let go of everything else you're truly able to enjoy the busy holiday season. I know it's still hard, I know the guilt will creep in but honestly my children don't remember anything about those years except that they had a wonderful Christmas.

Take some time today and make a list of everything you think you have to do for the season, then grab a marker and start crossing off those things that are causing you stress or that are physically not possible. Talk to your family and friends and come up with a doable plan.

Let's purpose to have a beautiful Christmas no matter how much or how little we're physically capable of doing.

Memories are made from the time we spend with others.

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