The Perfect Christmas

Last updated: December 2019

After my lung cancer diagnosis, every holiday and birthday that came around had much more importance and significance than ever before. I didn't want my thoughts to go dark, but I did wonder, would these holidays and milestones be my last?

Never happier to be getting older

I was diagnosed in August 2015. My 45th birthday was that October. I had never been happier to get older and a year closer to 50. I was extra thankful to be sitting at the table on Thanksgiving. I decided to put up my Christmas tree that year and set out every Christmas decoration I had in storage instead of just hanging a few ornaments at the fireplace. I went all out to experience the perfect Christmas.

Creating new food traditions

A friend had mailed me a care package that included BBQ sauce from a restaurant in her town. That settled that. I was going to have BBQ ribs for Christmas dinner. Not the most traditional Christmas meal, but it sounded perfect to me. It sounded just as delicious and traditional as a Thanksgiving lasagna. Yes, I made lasagna in place of turkey dinner one year. A 5K Turkey Trot, red wine and lasagna. That's the makings of a perfect Thanksgiving.

I found breakfast recipes to replace my traditional made from scratch Christmas pancakes. I could make pancakes any day of the year. This was either going to be my last Christmas or the first Christmas that would set the bar for every Christmas to come. Ordinary pancakes were not going to cut it.

Making extra efforts after diagnosis

I got up extra early on Christmas morning to make the cinnamon french toast and a hash brown casserole. Luckily, I picked one-dish meals. Not having to wash dishes on Christmas was an added unplanned bonus.

I hadn't used my fireplace for years. I added that to my perfect Christmas planning list. I made sure to have my chimney cleaned and inspected weeks before Christmas day. A perfect Christmas must include a roaring fire, Danny Kay, Bing Crosby, Natalie Wood, Chevy Chase and every funny moment and quote from A Christmas Story.

Do the people around me get it?

So far, so good. Breakfast was easy to prepare, with no mess to clean up. And it tasted wonderful. That afternoon, I would take breaks from the fire and movies to prepare and cook dinner. The ribs turned out perfect. I was back on my couch, by the fire, watching my Christmas movie marathon, as planned.

It really was seamless. But my perfect Christmas wasn't really perfect because I was experiencing it with someone else. By my explanation of the preparations for and happenings of that day, you would have thought I was alone. My caregiver/boyfriend was with me. The significance of the day, the extra touches and me being alive and well enough to plan and prepare a perfect Christmas didn't have the same meaning to him.

Extra efforts rewarded

I now surround myself with people that love and appreciate me and value my life and worth. At least I know my dog will appreciate my extra efforts to make this Christmas a perfect day for us.

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