I realise the title of this blog is deceivingly depressing. To associate Christmas with our final hours isn’t exactly very festive. But stick with me on this one.
Anyone who has been following my blogs (livingwithmyelo.com – sorry merciless plug there) will know that my family, like many others, has been tarred with the blood cancer brush. It hit us out of the blue several years back now and since then we have been living (and kind of reeling) in the aftermath. Luckily for us things aren’t at a particularly terrible stage yet, all that is still to come – we’ve read the leaflets unfortunately. To be honest the prognosis doesn’t look great and it always makes us a little more apprehensive as a family about looking forward to the year ahead.
But with all of the unpredictable challenge that comes with a difficult diagnosis what we have learnt is that when life deals you a difficult hand it also wakes you up a little. It makes you think about what you want, what is important and what you shouldn’t worry about.
We often read about tragedy at Christmas – people who have terminal illness and might not survive, members of the older generation who pass away without anyone really noticing and more often than not the world sees something horrific happen. I personally will never forget 2004 when a dear old friend was lost forever in the Boxing Day tsunami. When this kind of devastation happens it really is an ironic twist of fate. After all we are supposed to be kicking back and having fun.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing Christmas. I actually love it and really believe in its value and message. We should be having a jolly good old time, partying with our work colleagues and getting together with family, enjoying and appreciating what we have and relaxing after a difficult year. But it isn’t like this for everybody – the luxury of the season isn’t exactly shared out equally. Some people are on their own, some people don’t have a home, some are estranged from their family, and some might be simply eating toast.
But it’s so very easy to get swept along in the commercial, television and social media euphoria of the season – take my local shop for instance which started to stock up their festive shelves in August this year! Just in case. In fact according to some recent TV ads we should all currently be running around famous supermarkets buying disgusting amounts of wasted food and ransacking toy shops, shouldn’t we?
For me this year I am definitely looking at things differently. My life and the life of my partner and everyone closely connected to us has taken a turn. Suddenly the things we took for granted aren’t a given any more and that is strangely horrible and liberating at the same time. You see we don’t feel under the same pressure as everybody else to have a ‘perfect’ Christmas with the best of everything shiny and sparkly. Something different has happened to us. You could say we have seen the light.
This year we aren’t worried about Christmas dinner or mountains of presents and stuffing ourselves senseless on mince pies and a box of Quality Streets. No we are paring it back. We’ve decided to focus on what’s important to us as a family. My hubby and I aren’t even buying gifts. No we’ve decided to do what we want, to do what feels right and not worry about anybody else or anything.
For us that translates as a Christmas abroad – we’ve always wanted to do this. Have someone else look after us and see the sunshine rather than the rain. I am mindful that this sounds quite indulgent and contradicts some of my earlier points. But the way we see it, we have to live our lives to the full because we don’t know if we’ll see another Christmas as a family. So we are doing what is right for us – choosing time over paraphernalia and Christmas clutter. I want to enjoy my family at this time, I want to have memories, I want us to feel relaxed and happy and together. This is most important to me.
So when you are stressing about Christmas cards and wrapping and if you have enough mince pies to last you until the shops open again on Boxing Day, please let go of the stress. Think about what you really want from this Christmas and really live it like it’s your last. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
Happy Christmas lovely people.
(Picture taken at Christmas 2006, three years prior to diagnosis).