As a young mother, I bought into the fairy tale that the perfect “Hallmark” Christmas was not only possible but that it was obligatory. It was up to me alone to create it in my home. Each year I strive to outdo the last — cooking more, decorating more, and spending more, but enjoying it less. And each year I was disappointed in the results. It was lots of work that no one particularly noticed but me.
Eventually, I figured out that “Hallmark” Christmases only take place in greeting cards and on television. Nowhere else is this perfection seen, certainly not in my less than perfect home with my less than perfect family, and especially not with my less than perfect health. At about the same time that I began to question all my efforts, my fibromyalgia said, “Enough!”
Surprisingly, I’m perfectly fine with the outcome. I have realized I can do a whole lot less (translation: barely anything) and still enjoy the season. I’ve had my turn at brightening up the world. Now it’s up to someone else to do it. And, of course, they do. Let me assure you that young, healthy people and especially retail merchants will supply all the Christmas anyone can handle — and more.
As for me, these days I manage to do something special for my grandchildren — usually from home, thanks to the internet. I hang a fresh wreath on my front door. (The smell of fresh pine is one item I refuse to do without.) I buy Christmas goodies at the bakery and an already-cooked turkey with the trimmings from the local grocer. The cards and letters I once sent have become emails.
I enjoy a seasonal visit with my family who live in another city, but never on the holiday itself. I have memories of my one and only Christmas Eve airplane journey that was scheduled to take five hours door to door. Instead, due to weather in another part of the country, it took 13 hours in crowded airports to reach my destination. Unwilling to risk a similar situation, I make my visits about a week before or after the actual holiday. I still get to see their tree, perhaps a Christmas pageant, and share in their excitement. But then I get to go home to the familiar routine so necessary in preventing fibromyalgia flares.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia doesn’t take a holiday vacation. So, rather than try to pretend it doesn’t exist, I’ve learned to do only what I can comfortably do. This is just one more instance where less is more. By Christine Lynch