I've been an MD Anderson patient for close to four years and, in spite of it all, I've continued with our annual Christmas explosion. There's never been anything left undone ― from gifts for all, to decorations everywhere, to special goodies in the kitchen. Here's a secret: it hasn't always been fun.
Two years ago, my son and his wife gave me one of the best gifts ever. I walked in the back door after our trek home from a Dallas Thanksgiving and discovered a note on our kitchen door: "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"
That was news to me. But when I walked inside, I soon understood what the message meant.
The 12 large plastic tubs full of decorations that live in my attic were now in the laundry room. I walked into the living room and found the Christmas tree with the lights sparkling and all ready to go.
What a present! Still working through the fatigue of my cancer, I hadn't been certain how I would get everything ready for the holidays. Having that shining tree up gave me the motivation I needed and we had a Christmas to remember.
Now, once again, it's the most wonderful time of the year. My fatigue is much better, but my right hip is not. I've decided to give myself a present. I can start with what I do about decorating the house. It's a week-long chore that I have a love/hate relationship with. I won't even tell you about packing it all up again. But I've always done it.
Never say never
I have a distinct memory of the Christmas when my grandmother decided not to put up a tree. I was horrified. I would NEVER not have a Christmas tree.
Then my mother passed on the decorating, too, and settled for white lights on the fichus tree in the corner. This was a stunning revelation. Again, I was confident that I would NEVER not have a Christmas tree.
But now it's the year that our three children and their spouses celebrate with the in-laws. No one will be coming to ooh and ahh over all of my white lights, draped garland and zillions of ornaments collected over the years. I can't count on a surprise tree set-up this year.
I had my own epiphany.
Maybe I wouldn't put up a tree, either. Maybe I would invite my husband and myself to celebrate with our Dallas daughter and her young family, who will be staying at home this year. I could see my only (for now) grandchild discover the joys of cooking when Santa brings her a kitchen with all the trimmings.
Take the pressure off
I've cut back on the number of gifts I'm giving, and I've purchased most of them online. I even have a stack of wrapped presents that I enjoy looking at.
I'm not worrying about sending holiday cards. I think I might wait until after Christmas and write special New Year notes to those who sent me a Christmas card.
I'm hoping that I might have a friend who bakes and drops off some of those yummy cutout cookies with sprinkles.
I've decided to take the load off my back (and others!) and remember the reason for the season. I'm giving myself time to be thankful for my family, my faith and for my recovering health.
There will still be a fire in the fireplace every night. I found an adorable 3-foot, pre-lit tree. I know where to buy some delicious gingerbread cookies.
It's a guilt-free Goodwin Christmas for 2012 and I'm excited.
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