Ready or Not, the Holidays are Coming

Boy! I don't know how you feel about it, but for me, 2018 has sped by like a bullet. I cannot believe that we are about to begin the holiday season. In some ways, I love this time of year.

What I love about this time of year...

I like the weather better, for sure. I live in Texas where it is hot a good portion of the year. I look forward to cooler temperatures and always dream of a "white Christmas," though the likelihood of having one is quite slim.

I like the holiday atmosphere, too. It seems like people smile more and are more optimistic. Complete strangers are more likely to smile and wish us a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays."

How cancer changes the holidays

But, I also think that cancer changes how we look at the holidays. For some of us, they mean a time when we can make special memories with our loved ones. For others, they represent the most stressful time of the year.

Truthfully, even without cancer, the holidays can bring with them a lot of stress, especially if you are the person who takes responsibility for all of the extra cleaning, cooking, shopping, decorating, and entertaining that the holidays bring. Sometimes, just thinking about it all exhausts me. And, it definitely doesn't fill me with joy.

More memorable, less stressful holidays

I have some suggestions for ways that you might be able to make your holidays more memorable and less stressful, all at the same time. Please add your own ideas in the comments below.

  1. Don't try to do everything. Delegate!! It doesn't matter if "you've always done all of the cooking." Start a new tradition! Let others in the family help or order out or celebrate at a restaurant. This may be the year to begin having potluck dinners. In the end, does it really matter WHO cooks the meal as long as you have the opportunity to spend the time together? Do you love to decorate, but just don't have the energy or are you not in the mood? Ask your kids or family or friends to help you out. They might not do it the same as you would, but that's okay! "Perfect" is over-rated.
  2. Remember that it is okay not to feel joyous all of the time. Even without cancer, the holidays are very stressful times for many people. Add a cancer diagnosis and I think stress levels increase by at least tenfold. Don't add to the emotional distress by thinking you have to put on a smile, no matter how bad you feel mentally, physically, or emotionally.
  3. Communicate. Tell your family and friends how you feel. Anyone who matters is going to understand if your treatments and/or your disease have zapped your energy, made you sick, and stolen your ability to do what you were able to do before.
  4. Focus on what is important. The little ones in your family may be excited about opening glittery gifts and getting the latest toys. But, the adults will understand if you didn't feel like or didn't have the money for big shopping expeditions.

Focus on you and creating memories

The bottom line is that you should give yourself permission to face the holidays in a different way than you did before cancer invaded your life. Do what you can, what you feel like doing physically and emotionally, and let go of what feels like too much.

Take care of you! And know that the best memories are those of time spent with those we love, not how clean the house is, how beautiful the decorations, or how delicious the food.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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