I love Christmas. I always have done, and severe M.E. has never doused that for me. I often can’t get out to any shops in December, don’t go to parties and can’t eat sugary treats but, rather than preventing me from enjoying this time of year, perhaps my physical limitations have helped me to treasure what I can enjoy and have prevented me from becoming jaded by the overkill of commercialism, empty small-talk and hangovers. Christmas is a wintry focal point to look forward to and plan for in the continuing years of ill health and seemingly uneventfulness.
Having been chronically ill since childhood, I have never been expected to engage in Christmas in any way that my body can’t cope with, and this is surely a benefit that many healthy people long for. The flip side is that it can be a lonely time when we imagine everybody else celebrating with friends and extended family, but this perception is often a partial myth perpetuated by those selling their aspects of Christmas to us.
If we do feel lonely at this time of year we can console ourselves by remembering that there are many of us ironically together in our aloneness. If we have enough energy, we can even seize this feeling and use it to inspire us to donate money, a single Christmas card, or whatever else we feel able to offer to isolated individuals, or to charities helping people in need.
How do you best enjoy midwinter? Snuggled under the duvet hibernating? With Christmas films or music that you return to every year? Does a friend or family member cook you a traditional Christmas meal; do you treat yourself to a special ready-meal? Perhaps you like resting on the settee, gazing at fairy lights reflected in glass baubles? Or maybe you like the fact that you can donate to ME charities with the cards you choose to buy (Invest in ME have some lovely ones, if you look in the fundraising section on their website).
This year, how about making an extra effort to gift your body with some self-care so that you enjoy the festive season without undue stress or too much physical payback? This, in itself, can be a selfless act as you’ll be happier company for those around you the less physically compromised or emotionally stressed you are. Christmas shouldn’t be a time of guilt, so don’t pressure yourself to carry out festive tasks just because your tradition dictates it, or you think others will expect this of you.
Christmas is about joy, peace and love in the darkness of winter, wherever and however you choose to express this. Perhaps it’s time to adapt family traditions or create new ones that suit your body’s requirements.
However you celebrate or humbug your way through Christmas, be sure to keep warm and know that not everyone is out partying the season away or surrounded by family members. We are, however, all here together in Hampshire Friends with M.E.