I love the holidays, especially Christmas. This year is certainly different in just about every way, except for one: If anything, I think we all need more holiday cheer to shine some light during this incredibly difficult time.
This holiday, like Thanksgiving, will look nothing like normal. My brother and his wife can’t make their annual trip from overseas. I can’t visit my grandparents or get together with extended family. These things are undoubtedly disappointing, but the reality of the current health crisis and keeping people safe are most important.
I’ve noticed while driving back and forth to work that many people put up decorations earlier than usual this year. More people also seemed to go all out with more decorations than I’ve ever seen. I must not be the only one who feels the need to share love and light where possible right now. Noticing and enjoying these little things helps to momentarily distract me and others from the darkness that’s hovering over the country right now, and that’s priceless.
One thing I love about Christmas traditions in particular is that completing them has rarely affected by my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). One thing I can do easily is string holiday lights. Coming home in the dark at this time of year can be a bummer, but driving up and seeing multicolored lights makes me do a momentary little happy dance.
I love baking cookies of all kinds, and giving them to others is one of my favorite holiday pastimes; a bite of a Christmas cookie is a few seconds of happiness. Thankfully, electric mixers mean that my EDS-damaged shoulder doesn’t prevent me from making tasty treats to share. Homemade molasses cookies are a particular family favorite. We also make double-chocolate iced cookies with red and green M&Ms, peanut butter chocolate candies, and spritz cookies.
My EDS doesn’t prevent me from hanging or displaying decorations. I have a small collection of holiday items in my house that add a little bit of festive cheer. I have a small light-up tree on the counter, as having an adventurous blind cat means a traditional Christmas tree would be a poor choice. A door swag with bells and fake greenery adds a little color to the entrance, and an electric candle with a timer shines light in the window. None of them are expensive or over-the-top, but seeing them makes me happy.
None of these things, unfortunately, can make up for all of those who are under enormous stress this holiday season. Exhausted frontline workers putting themselves in harm’s way each day. Those who have lost their jobs in the economic downturn and are struggling right now. People who are ill with COVID-19 or have lost loved ones to it. This holiday, and likely many to come, will be different.
I’m trying to find ways to share short moments of joy and a brief distraction from the current pandemic. I’m thankful to have kept my job and have a supportive employer. And I’m aching for those who have been hit so hard by the pandemic in incredibly painful ways.
Nothing can make the holidays normal this year, and pretending that they can or should be is wildly inappropriate. I do believe that in this year of extreme trials, however, spreading moments of cheer, however we can, is more important than ever. Here’s to hoping that everyone has as happy a holiday as possible under the circumstances, and that 2021 is the beginning of a brighter year.
Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.
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