Recently I have come to the realization that my holidays need to change quite a bit.  I am watching my spending more, my handwriting is not quite as good, and my energy levels get used to support my family and the day to day instead of boosting festivities.  When you live with a chronic illness your priorities often change as your abilities change.  During the holiday season, which is often built on tradition, this can be difficult to accept.

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We expect that traditions will be upheld year after year.  After all, that is what makes them a tradition.  As our abilities change, we need to be able to adapt our traditions to accommodate our newest normals.

For me, the end of the year holidays used to mean indulging in comfort food, traveling amidst big crowds, and spending way too much money.  This year, I have found that this all needs to change!

During the Thanksgiving holiday I attempted to forgo my generally healthy diet for the typical holiday fare.  I scarfed down holiday ham, pecan pie, and pumpkin turnovers like I hadn’t seen them before.  As a result, I spent five days feeling weak, lethargic, and having fingers so swollen they looked like summer sausages.  So now that I am back to “normal” I feel like I betrayed my health for a few moments of indulgence.  I didn’t pay attention to the processing of the foods that I ate.  I didn’t make it a priority to drink plenty of water.  I didn’t make myself fill my guts with healthy greens.  For the next five days, I was miserable.  Let this be a lesson to me, and I am writing it here to not only remind me that it is not something I want to go through again, but to caution you to be aware of how you are treating your body in your attempts to enjoy the holidays!

Immediately after Thanksgiving, I usually begin the shopping, decorating, and outreach part of December.  In the past I have watched every sale and stocked up on what I want, what I think my family and friends want, and what I imagine strangers or acquaintances would want.  What I mean is that I spent a ridiculous amount of money on what I thought would spread the love.  This year I am refusing to buy into this as a reason for the season.  I am not going to send cards out to everyone who has passed my way this year.  I am going to be stingy and send warm wishes to the people I actually know and love.  I am not going to buy presents so that I have things to randomly give.  I am going to save my money so that I can invest it in the things that matter.  A nearby town has experienced a truly devastating event, so I have donated what I might have spent on knick-knacks to strangers who may have lost everything. I am lucky to be able to donate, and not to be one of those people.

I am staying away from the big crowds this year and trying to focus on my little family and friends.  I didn’t go to the holiday parade in our town, but I have noticed all the lights and pageantry in my neighborhood.  Instead of stressing myself out trying to navigate the sales in the local mall, I am smiling at strangers as I walk past them.  I am sharing cute and silly pictures on social media instead of engaging in political debates.

I think the reason for this season that begins with Thanksgiving is love and friendship.

I think the reason for this season that begins with Thanksgiving is love and friendship.  That is what is important for me this year, and I hope that if I can be nice to anyone other than myself and my family this year, I am able to be a bright spot in your life!  I really hope that you take care of yourself as the weather changes this season.  Smile and try to be happy.  You are loved and appreciated.

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