Readers, I stumbled across this unpublished article I wrote about the holidays. I know it’s late in the season for this post, but I’d thought I’d share anyway in the hopes that a reader finds something in it helpful.
My guiding principles during the holidays are simplify, prepare, and prioritize. When we live with chronic illness the holidays can be especially stressful, but that stress can be reduced if we’re thoughtful about how we manage our time and energy.
I love a beautifully wrapped gift as much as the next person. But during the holidays, with multiple presents to prepare, I roll my gifts in tissue paper, put them in a gift bag, and call it a day. As long as the gifts look festive, no one cares if they’re wrapped or bagged. This helps me conserve my energy.
I begin my shopping in October. During the year I gather numerous presents that I’ve saved for the holidays. I take stock of my gift stash, assess who still needs a gift, and search the Internet for ideas. I pop into my favorite bargain store in October to stock up on inexpensive gift bags and boxes, and buy more than I’ll require, so I’ll be prepared for the unexpected. If I need to visit a mall during the holidays, I go as soon as the stores open, and I’m usually able to avoid the worst of the holiday crush and find a parking space.
If someone is too ill to shop in stores, there’s no shame in doing all of the holiday shopping on the Internet. The first year after Christopher Reeve’s riding accident, which left him a quadriplegic in 1995, he and his wife, Dana, did all of their holiday shopping through catalogs. (This was before people shopped on line.) No one would have blamed them if they’d skipped giving gifts that year. But they found a way to holiday shop, working around the actor’s extreme limitations. We can figure out how to work within our limitations too.
Many people like to make homemade gifts or bake during the holidays. I’m usually not up for a bake-a-thon, but still want some of my gifts to have a personal touch. I scout the weekly ads at my local markets and buy bulk candy when it’s on sale. Then I’ll purchase as much as ten pounds of a treat like chocolate covered almonds, and give them in holiday boxes or tins. These gifts are great for the office or an unexpected party.
None of my loved ones ever goes without a holiday gift from me. But I simplify the process as much as possible by preparing early, and being organized. I let go of small touches so I can save my energy for what’s important, which staying as healthy as possible while having happy times with my friends and family.
Make a plan
Cut corners where possible
On-line shopping is your best friend
Buying store bought food is OK