Now that Christmas is over, I’ve got to get this off my chest: I’m glad it’s done. All I wanted for Christmas was a “Fast Forward” button for the month of December. Yep. Call me Grinch, Scrooge, Grumpy, whomever you like. I know it’s not politically correct. As I went about the usual December activities with a cold and a Behcet’s flare-up, I secretly wanted to escape from all the holiday frivolity.
I don’t begrudge anyone who feels jolly – I had that twinkle in my eye for many years. I get it. I really do. And for the first time, I have some compassion for the Bah Humbug crowd.
This isn’t a complete swing of the pendulum from Holiday HO HO to Heck NO.
I’m not against celebration. It’s not anger, resentment, or loneliness. I’m just not feeling it.
But just because I lack enthusiasm doesn’t mean that I place a judgment on another’s fervor for the holidays. I’m not into that polar argument nonsense.
I remember getting sick after winter final exams – college kids often come home and crash for a couple of days before getting into the holiday spirit. The opportunity to catch up with friends and go out on the town was enough to distract a young mind from any holiday funk.
As I got older, a winter cold might take hold, often accompanied with a case of melancholy. There is a seasonal heaviness in my heart that is difficult to explain – a desire to nestle in at home, shed a few tears for no apparent reason, think deeply and introspectively and nap. This has become an annual ritual for the last ten years or so.
Before the onset of Polycythemia Vera and Behcet’s Disease, I thought I could outsmart the seasonal depression by planning activities to keep my brain and body distracted. It seemed to work.
But holidays with chronic illnesses is a whole new ballgame, and I’m still learning the rules. The strictest rule seems to be: the ill body is not as elastic as the healthy body. Translation: you cannot push yourself as far as you were once able. The force of will cannot over come the limitations of a weakened body.
That “one last errand” can trigger exhaustion that forces early retirement to bed and cancellation of later plans. A medication forgotten can result in severe pain or blood levels dangerously thrown off balance. Every day has to have Plan B & C contingencies based on health levels at the time.
If you invite me to an event, please do not be offended if I cannot attend. I don’t want to dress up and pretend to feel good. Just getting psyched up to get ready is exhausting. I don’t want people to see me looking like I do now – “moon face,” skin discolorations, and weight gain from steroids and other medicines. It’s hard for me to stand for extended periods of time. Sometimes I lose my balance (when I haven’t had any alcohol) and my short-term memory isn’t as reliable as it used to be. I’m self-conscious and uncomfortable in my own skin.
Do not mistake this for becoming anti-social. My methods of interactions are changing.
I find myself keeping up with people through social networking sites like facebook and LinkedIn. I enjoy seeing what family, friends, and acquaintances are up to in the comfort of my own home.
This holiday season required more conscious energy than ever to keep up enthusiastic appearances for my kids. Shouldn’t the enthusiasm naturally emerge? It always has before. Perhaps the reclusive tendency is more a means of self-preservation than holiday resistance.
I now have sympathy for the Bah Humbugs. They each have their own stories, just as I have mine. Rather than judge them, I silently or directly wish them a Happy New Year.