The Fibromyalgia Holidays

The Fibromyalgia Holidays
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Christine Tender Points

It happened again. The season crept up on me before I could hide. Yes, I’m a holiday avoider. I wasn’t always. When I was young and energetic, I looked forward to the excitement, the tree, the gifts, the food, and particularly the music that accompanies the season. I am fortunate to have cherished memories of all those things. But times change, and so have I.

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 strived 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.

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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.

Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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