I’m really excited about is the Christmas Holiday Season. I was very proud of myself for being able to let go of the need to micro manage every detail of getting the house ready and decorated. Most years I have to go to two or three places checking prices and searching lots for the “perfect” tree. What a waste of energy that is for me! Since I have to hold on to as many spoons as possible, I’m learning – still – to let go when I can. I asked Doug & my Dad to just buy the tallest tree they could find in our budget of $40 – $50 and look at this beauty they found! I could get used to this letting go thing!
So here’s our tree before – stay tuned and check back in for the after. We’ll see how many days it takes me to get it put together.
I’m thrilled my parents are still here and Doug & Dad can get the lights on so that I don’t have to do that part. Getting through the holidays with a chronic illness is about finding the things that others can help with especially the tasks that are more physical in nature like hanging lights and bringing up the boxes of decorations. Here are a few tips that may make it easier on everyone.
1. Ask your family or friends to help with these things – state it in a matter of fact manner that you need them to do x, y, and z. You don’t have to follow it with the why – they should know why and it shouldn’t matter really – everyone helps especially when asked and presented that you are saving spoons for shopping and cooking and decorating and all the things that add to the celebrations of the entire family.
2. Decide on a schedule to get the house decorated and give everyone extra time. Don’t expect that just because you need help with these physical tasks that your schedule should be their schedule. Let people know in advance that you’d like the task done by tomorrow noon. Give them time to work it into their schedule but give a definite deadline so that expectations are set. We have a difficult road with chronic illness but it doesn’t give us the freedom to demand instant action at all times. Choose wisely when you need immediate help and give clear directions as to what you need when for the less time sensitive needs.
3. Give yourself extra time. Don’t expect that you can get the tree decorated in one afternoon. If the tree sits up without all the decorations on it for a few days it is not the end of the world. In fact you will probably be the only one who notices. I’ve learned to start in late November or early December so that I can move on to the other holiday tasks and fun without the pressure of still needing to get the house ready.
4. Don’t Push! When you push yourself to get something done in a set time frame you are adding stress to yourself and others. Let go! Let someone else decorate the tree. I promise you it will still be beautiful even if the glass icicles aren’t spaced, “just so”. When we let go, we feel better and so do those around us.
5. If decorating the house is too much this year. So be it. Buy a poinsettia and call it good. There is always next year and there are no decorating police who will be fining you for not getting in the holiday spirit. For the record – there was one year we never put an ornament on the tree. It was beautiful with just the lights. Cutting back on how much you do is also a good option.
6. Thin out your decorations! Over time the decorations can take on a life of their own. Perhaps this year is a good time to give some decorations to your children for their families or a relative who just bought a new home. Goodwill loves receiving holiday items at the beginning of the holidays and the items will go to people who are thrilled to have them. Keep the pieces with the most memories or sentiment but clear out what you don’t need. Less is easier and simplicity is freeing!
7. Let Go! There is nothing about a life where you live with chronic pain or illness that is easy so the sooner you grasp that you need to do less than you’d like the sooner you can let go and enjoy.
Living in joy is most often accompanied with living in simplicity. Stuff and to do’s are stressful – the less you have of these the more you can enjoy and experience what truly makes life happy and that is sharing and loving and giving.
Until next time!