So while lately I haven't been able to do very much, for two days last week and again this week I had to rest my right arm completely as it was really painful and everytime I used it my shoulder would spasm, meaning that I have been a lot more dependant. And making a mess of myself trying to feed myself with my left hand. In other ways though I am actually really organized (old habits die hard). Yes, as the title of this post suggests I am actually prepared for Christmas. Mainly because since I had that spell of being completely bed bound I have really taken advantage of the times that I have been able to get out of the house, by getting to the shops. Appreciating that my health has allowed me to get out and being mindful of the fact that you never can tell when you will take a turn for the worst or just not be well enough to cope with getting out of the house. Afterall shopping can be an exhausting experience. With this in mind I started my Christmas shopping in August. Thinking about Christmas in August! Usually I am averse to being spoonfed Chrsitmas once the shops have had their Summer sales, especially since I have a November birthday, but needs must. Fortunately now I only have one more gift to get, which is a relief with the way I have been feeling and it will probably be an internet purchase. Again where would us spoonies be without the internet.
I think that if it came to Christmas and I had nothing to give, I would feel embarrased and a bit rude. I know that the recipients, or non-recipients in that case, would understand and know it wasn't because I was being a Scrooge but it would make me rather uncomfortable. I guess, with not being able to contribute much else in the way of help during Christmas, that I see gift giving as an extended form of giving back. Saying thankyou for all the things that they have done for me and that I really do appreciate all that they do for me.
Another reason to start the shopping early is of course for financial reasons. I find it better to spread the cost rather than all of a sudden get to the end of November/ December and have a chunk of money to pay out. Christmas can be a costly time of year as it is so any ways you can keep the cost down the better. Especially if you are not earning.
When it comes to Christmas, like any big events in a spoonies calendar, it's important to think about the way you intend to use your spoons. Other than for delving into lots of yummy desserts of course. It's even more important if your celebrations last over a few days. For example if you have a Christmas Eve or Boxing Day celebration tradition or visiting other family members or friends. In my family we have a tradition of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, yes including presents. Impatience or what? The family all get together at whoevers 'turn' it is that year, to eat and share presents. When we were young, after tea we used to all 'go hide' upstairs, unless we were in my Nanna's bungalow of course, and pretend to be asleep. Then one of the grown up's would shout out "he's been," and we would all pelt it to the lounge, where all the presents would be laid out. One year my Nanna got into trouble for filming the parents putting out the presents, oops! Of course now I am scarred for life because as a grown up I never got to meet Father Christmas, like my parents and siblings did but it made for a special childhood. Anyway enough psychological fodder.
My point is that you have to think about what you can honestly handle. Because Christmas might be the season of miracles but sadly one of them is not a 'get out of jail free card' from chronic illness. So this may mean choosing one 'celebration' or gathering and focusing on using your energy for that, rather than spreading it out. Or perhaps you fare better the other way around and being careful to limit your time at each. Because of our Christmas Eve tradition to be able to join in then is my goal. We have made things easier by hosting it at our house. I just hope I don't get overwhelmed and throw a diva fit where "everybody needs to leave, now". My aim is to get downstairs and make the most that I can of it. Even if that means I am in my pyjamas and hopefully Christmas jumper. Even if I need to be fed or have someone else distribute and open my presents. That is where my Christmas spoons are being spent. I would love to be able to make some of my novelty cupcakes for the ocassion but I've not been able to bake since about March. If I can make it to the table or downstairs the next day to eat Christmas dinner then that's a bonus. But if I can't, I can't and that will be understood.
My first Christmas that I spent as an ME sufferer was odd but also an experience that taught me a lot about the understanding and compassion of others. A friend that I had been on my masters course could not afford to go home to California for Christmas and was facing having to spend it alone. Well in the words of the song "no body outta be all alone on Christmas," so I invited her to come stay with us. She knew about my situation having been there when I dropped off the end of the world and she had stayed with us a few months before too. However, I did warn her that unfortunately I might not be very sociable. Luckily she completely understood and was just grateful for the times that I could spend with her and that my family had been so welcoming. Honestly, my family are just all heart. It did feel odd though when I was upstairs and I could hear them all downstairs, especially during Christmas dinner.
So like I said this year my aim is for Christmas Eve and if I don't make it to thr dinner table or downstairs on Christmas day, then that's okay. To be honest ( shocking revelation alert!) I don't even like Christmas dinner. That's no slight on my Mum's cooking. I'm not even fond of roast dinners. Oh how un-British of me! This has been even more pronounced since having ME, aswell as a myriad of stomach pronlems, I just can't seem to stomach it, even the smell.
So think carefully about what it is you want to celebrate this Christmas and about what Christmas means to you. Does it matter if you can't manage to cook a 'proper' Christmas dinner? Would it even matter if you ate a microwave meal? Would you rather put the energy into spending time socialising. As ever be realistic with yourself and accept help. Shop online if needs be. Decorate or write out Christmas cards early to give yourself some time to recover. All my presents this year are being put in gift bags to avoid the pain of wrapping.
And of course you have to also expect that something may throw a spanner in the works and spoil what you had intended to do. So perhaps you need a back up plan in place. Also remember that your plans over Christmas may mean you are not up to celebrating New Years, so be careful what you plan. I think again it's about challenging those expectations. Who says Christmas has to be celebrated a certain way? Do what you can.
Perhaps my posts with helpful tips on food shopping and cooking and preparing food may be helpful to help you prepare for Christmas and organise how best to put those spoons to good use.
Another great resource that I've found is these Christmas gift planners http://www.pinterest.com/pin/351632683377328016/ or http://www.pinterest.com/pin/561190803538255069/ or a Christmas Dinner planner http://www.pinterest.com/pin/414894184392845051/ . Then there's also this link to a list of good gifts for someone that has a chronic illness. And another link to what I think is the best gift/ spoonie accessorie. I've included some funny spoonie gift pictures too for giggles.
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas but I'm sure you'll be hearing from me before then.