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Holiday Happiness: A Guide for PWCs
For people with CFIDS, the holidays can sometime seem like
just one more hurdle to clamber over. But if you plan ahead, you can save
energy, money and time, lower your stress level ó and enjoy the season much
Christmas will always be different than what it was before you
got sick. Try not to compare how much better everything was in the past, but
focus on whatís good about this yearís celebration and the things you can still
Here are some tips to help you unplug the Christmas Machine
and make everything more manageable:
Take a hard look at family traditions and
discard those you donít want to (or canít) continue doing. Donít let false guilt
make you endure things that just arenít fun, appropriate, necessary, meaningful
Learn to say "no" to activities and people that are
"life-takers" rather than life-givers. If a family member is highly critical of
CFIDS, limit exposure to him or her as much as possible. Choose to be around
those who love and support you instead. Thatís the whole idea of the holidays,
Carefully pace yourself. Before you do
anything else, write down all activities on your calendar/date book ó including
wrapping, shopping, parties and scheduled rest time. Stay within your energy
envelope by doing only half of what you have energy for so you wonít
Eliminate and simplify as much as possible. I used to bake
oodles of goodies the whole month of December. Now I just make one special
dessert for Christmas dinner and buy other treats at the bakery if I need
Delegate tasks to family members or friends. Send them to do
some shopping with ads from the newspaper. Have them address envelopes or
decorate. No one said that women ó especially those with CFIDS ó have
to do everything thatís done for Christmas.
Go to only those parties that you really want or need to
attend. Allow yourself a set amount of time, perhaps an hour or so, then say
your good-byes. That way, you can enjoy your time and keep your energy for
another day. To keep from becoming tongue-tied, think of some topics of
conversation ahead of time. Eat wholesome food before you go so youíll have some
energy. Avoid alcohol and sugar because CFIDS patients donít tolerate them well.
Rest all day before going and schedule a day or two afterwards to rest.
Donít try to visit everyone in your family on Christmas Day.
For example, have one of the get-togethers the Sunday before. In the old days,
we visited my in-laws at 8:30 a.m. to open presents, then dashed to another
relativeís home for breakfast and more presents. We returned to the first house
for dinner, to be followed by a visit to a different family for more
festivities, finally dragging home about 8Ė9 p.m. Stop! Thatís too much!
Spend wisely and youíll save money that you
need for the other 364 days.
Try drawing names from a hat so that youíre not required to
buy gifts for everyone. Or give gifts only to children. Buy practical, useful
gifts; donít splurge on gag gifts. Begin shopping several months early to take
advantage of sales (make sure you save receipts in case someone needs to return
a gift). Do not feel pressured to keep up with othersí spending, because they
will not be paying your credit card bills for you.
Have your children make a list of everything they want, in
order of importance. Buy the first three or four things on it. If a friend or
relative asks you what your child wants, give them something from farther down
Send cards to out-of-town friends only, and purchase them when
theyíre on sale. Recycle old cards into post cards for next year ó the postage
Use Sunday comics in place of expensive wrapping paper. Buy
spools of yarn or ribbon to make your own bows. And be sure to save and re-use
bows you receive on your presents next year.
Buy a few decorations on sale after the holidays. Youíll have
a couple of new pieces for next year, and you wonít have to break the bank.
Going out the day after Christmas is not a good idea, however; the crowds and
traffic can be very difficult to handle. There will still be plenty on sale a
day or two later.
You can make decorations yourself ó or embellish those you
already have with a new ribbons, glitter, sequins or gold paint. String popcorn
for garland. Cut fresh greenery from trees in your yard (or ask the Christmas
tree salesman for a few pieces he cuts off the bottom of his trees). You can
make these boughs into wreaths, centerpieces of decorations for your mantel.
Fill a pretty bowl with bright red apples or fresh lemons, and garnish with a
sprig of evergreen.
Take advantage of catalogue and Internet shopping. You can
save lots of time, energy ó and money ó if you buy gifts this way. You also
could adopt a year-round buying strategy. If you see something that would make a
great holiday gift, buy it and save it until Christmas. That will even out your
spending, and keep you from buying gifts that are too expensive or not exactly
what you want just because you have to buy something.
Remember that Christmas is basically an
American and Western European celebration. Most people in the world donít
observe it, so keep things in perspective.
And if your holiday doesnít turn out as perfectly as you had
hoped it would, remember that others in the world donít have it as good as you.
When I focus on that, my own disappointments donít seem so painful.
I hope this gets you started on the road to a happier and more
satisfying Christmas. Feel free to come up with your own ideas and new
traditions, and discard those that didnít interest you or work for you.
Most of all, Happy Holidays!
Sharon Clem lives in Tennessee.