Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, but this last one was difficult for me, having just lost my father last summer. The day after Thanksgiving, I asked my friend to bring the tree up from the basement and was all ready to break out the many boxes of ornaments in my closet when I flat-out freaked-out! I just couldn't do it; I froze! I told my friend to forget the tree, gave him his presents in a shopping bag, told him not to give me anything, and - END OF DISCUSSION - sent him out the door! I could not move toward Christmas! Grief held me tightly in its Grinchy grouchy grip.
After a few days, I relented. Taking baby steps, my apartment finally started to show signs of festive joy, with ornaments full of memories and frivolous trinkets adding to the usual dust collectors. The halls were not bedecked as beautifully as usual, but every room had something that held a bit of holiday spirit in it. I baked a couple dozen cookies, but nothing like my usual offering of sweet treats. Then on New Year's Day, all that glittered got stuffed back into their boxes. I was done with it. I'd had enough.
Though grief was the catalyst for my freak-out, chronic illness can do that to us, too. The whole prospect of Christmas or any other holiday, and everything that goes with it - the big meals, company, visiting others, endless shopping, giving presents, trying to look happy, the expectations and demands - all becomes way too much.
I was also trying to get back to writing my book at the time, which presented another source of struggle. I was wiped out from my father's death and its aftermath (closing his accounts, notifying people, organizing interment, clearing out his house). I was super exhausted, an emotional basket case, over-committed and totally overwhelmed. It doesn't take a death in the family to get like this. Just your normal everyday life with chronic illness can flatten you out like roadkill in the very same way.
Because of the state of my life at the moment this book was given to me, I could relate to every word. However, I was just too distracted and exhausted to write a review. But, no worries, you can buy this book now and be prepared for the next round of holidays! You can even utilize its wisdom for any time of year that demands more of you than you can give.
Andersen's sweet, humorous, and insightful book, Chronic Christmas: Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness, is written in the form of an Advent calendar, giving you day-by-day hints to navigate through the pre-holiday crazies up to the after-Christmas sigh of relief. Each day has a section of tips for the chronic illness sufferer, and another section for that person's caregiver or friend who is willing to share the holidays' demands and turn them into something more simple and memorable. Breaking down the enormity of the looming holiday into bite-sized bits, sharing those bits with a friend, and eliminating the unnecessary demands makes your Chronic Christmas so much more enjoyable and less taxing, mentally and physically! It's all about self-care, my friends; a hard lesson to learn, but oh-so-wonderful when you finally make it a habit!
I especially like the idea of hygge (pronounced hue-gah), a Danish tradition that Andersen has embraced since childhood. Hygge is all about making things cozy and intimate, and involves yummy food and time spent with your favorite people. Andersen says it almost always involves candlelight, and "it's nothing short of magical." Get the picture? Hygge isn't about running around malls and burning up your credit card on Amazon to get that perfect gift (or ten) to impress everyone on your shopping list. It's not about baking enough ham and turkey and side dishes and desserts to feed an army. It isn't about going to every party in the neighborhood and baking your best cookies by the tens of dozens. It isn't about winning the local house decorating contest. It's about being together and relaxing. Aaah, sounds good, doesn't it?
Andersen not only shares tips about achieving a more sane and enjoyable holiday season that won't tax your limitations, but she also shares recipes, book lists, gift ideas and giggly anecdotes to make your new kind of Christmas fun!
You and your carer or friends can actually improve the quality of your time, together and apart, holidays or not, by creating a whole new paradigm of approaching life in a very hygge way!
Buy a copy of Chronic Christmas: Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Christmas by Lene Andersen today, enjoy the read, then put what you learn to use when any holiday draws near. And add a little hygge to each and every day. It can only improve the quality of life for you and your loved ones, and that's the best gift of all, year round!
Chronic Christmas is available for Kindle or in paperback on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Chronic-Christmas-Surviving-Holidays-Illness/dp/0991858670/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488234461&sr=1-1&keywords=chronic+christmas