Banish the Word ‘Should’ for the Holidays

Banish the Word ‘Should’ for the Holidays

Christine Tender Points

I have this storybook picture in my mind of what a holiday should look like, and I knock myself out trying to make it happen. Of course, in this picture, I don’t have fibromyalgia.

When I was young and my symptoms were less severe, holidays meant an onslaught of out-of-town relatives, all staying at my home for several nights. I began cooking and freezing meals about a month ahead, intent on enjoying their visit rather than spending the entire time in the kitchen or (worse yet) lying on the couch.

Then came the year when everyone got the flu the minute they arrived. I spent the entire time making chicken soup, borrowing extra blankets from the neighbors, taking temperatures and distributing Tylenol. Somehow, I stayed healthy until the day they all left. But, by that evening, my temperature soared. I was in bed for the next three weeks. I swore then that I wouldn’t be at home the following year. And I wasn’t. We spent the next holiday at Disney World.

So, here’s my point:  Holidays will be what they will be. Some will work out just fine. Others may not be ideal. Either way, life goes on. It’s pointless to punish yourself with the shoulds.

My advice is to listen to your body. It will tell you what you’re capable of doing. This may be the year you have all kinds of energy, and you prepare a whole meal, including that special pumpkin pie that everyone loves. Or, it may be the year you buy a pie at Safeway (or someone else buys it for you), or you have no pie at all.  Either way, it is what it is.  Do what you can, not what you think you should.

If people congregate at your home every year, maybe this is the year to make a change. Let someone else have a turn. Or, if your house is the only possible choice, let it be known that you’re having some health challenges. This year, you’ll be happy to set the table, but others will need to bring the food. Or perhaps you’ll even delegate setting the table to a younger or healthier member of your tribe. Just don’t knock yourself out because you think you should.

If you’re in the habit of traveling on the holiday, allow yourself to reconsider. Don’t go because you think you should and regret your added pain and fatigue when you get there. Yes, traditions are important.  But so is your health. If you can do it, then go and have a wonderful time. You may forget your health issues, and be very grateful you made the effort. Only you can judge.

If your symptoms just won’t allow it, then stay at home. Call your family and friends to wish them well instead. Watch the Macy’s Parade on TV. If you’re a football fan, enjoy the game. Buy yourself a prepared turkey dinner and be thankful for the things you do have — rather than those you think you should.


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today 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 Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Karen says:

    This is so true. After my kids were grown & had kids of their own my daughter took over having a party for our now large family. I still continued the tradition of Christmas morning brunch for those who could come to my small home. Then came the year that I knew I could no longer continue with the Christmas brunch. My oldest son hosted for 2 years & now my grand kids are taking charge. I am so pleased that they enjoyed the tradition enough to do the work of continuing it. Getting myself ready for the day is a big enough challenge without getting the house & food ready, too.

  2. Helen says:

    Got right upper lobe pneumonia for the first time, and turning 65 in a month. This may take time to heal. So your article was perfect timing. Can shop off the tv and send out the gifts. Staying home thanksgiving….maybe christmas too.

  3. Janine says:

    Personally I banished the word “should” long ago before I even had fibromyalgia. What does it even mean really? I find it’s the root of a lot of stress, not just because it allows people to keep expecting too much of you for no good reason, but it stops you making unreasonable judgements about other people. If you ban yourself from using it with your teenage children, it stops you from clashing with them over demands that to them seem totally senseless.

  4. Robin Smith says:

    Most powerful 2 words in this piece: allow yourself. I feel I should be thanking you. Whoops! I mean, thank you. To all my fibro family I say make this holiday season one of peace and joy. Begin by gifting yourself with the 2 powerful words Christine Lynch presents here. Re-gift as needed.

Leave a Comment