I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2011. Several holidays came and went while I was in treatment. Each holiday I woke up and thought, "I'm still here. No matter what happens today, I still get to be here."
I felt pretty rotten for some of the holidays -- the Fourth of July, in particular. But during each and every one of them, my eyes opened and I got to see my children.
Surviving breast cancer changed how my family and I celebrate the holidays, but we know it's for the better.
Holidays are different after breast cancer treatment
Holidays are different for us now. We don't have as much money as we had when I was diagnosed with cancer. Our house is simple, our meals are simple, and my expectations of the holidays are few, as are my children's expectations.
We have trouble with Christmas lists around here. Gifts given out of love are always welcome, but nobody here is making a long list of wants. All we want is to be together and giggle. And maybe to have some time to read some books and dance around the kitchen. Oh, and my kids do always want snow on Christmas, which, although not common in Dallas, actually happened last year.
One of our favorite traditions involves standing under an historic pecan tree in Dallas that is decorated with old-fashioned Christmas lights for the holidays. We stand under it, fling our arms out, look up and spin until we fall down laughing. Then we do it again.
Afterwards, we get hot chocolates and look at Christmas lights. The whole evening costs less than $5, but it's the one thing we make sure to do every year.
Every day is a holiday
Now I seek the least complicated, most joyful solution for my little family for each holiday. I don't want to stress myself out by driving three places on Christmas and not having time to hang out and play new games with the kids. And I'm really not interested in orchestrating a perfect holiday moment where everybody feels like they can't be themselves. I have done a lot of pretending, and thanks to cancer, I'm done with that.
I also quit buying presents for everyone I know. I don't have the financial resources, and I have a different perspective on amassing material things than I did before I connected with my own mortality. I don't need another cheese spreader. I'm betting nobody else does, either. I don't look at holiday ads, and I don't go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I don't want to expose myself to the "I wants" that those activities bring up. What is important for me is that I want exactly what I already have.
I am so overwhelmed with grace now that most days feel like a holiday. I often end my Facebook posts with, "Best day ever!" and I mean that. I wake up and think, "I'm still here."
For me, each day is an opportunity to connect with divine grace. Every day that I get to spend with no evidence of disease (NED) really is the best day ever.
Brandie Sellers teaches yoga, meditation, nutrition and cooking. She paints, writes, runs and plays with her children. She is a divorcee and two-time breast cancer survivor who's undergone a double mastectomy. Brandie is crazy about her three children, and is blessed with a slew of sister friends who pick her up when she's down, keep her honest with herself when she's full of it, and make her laugh until she cries. Follow her at simplelifeyoga.com.