Wednesday, December 16, 2015


When I was a  little kid, I absolutely  loved the Christmas season. I loved the store decorations, the Christmas music, making Christmas cookies and anticipating Santa Claus dropping off presents around the Christmas tree. As I think back I realized that I had only one thought on my mind. “What was I going to get for Christmas? Would Santa get me the toys that I asked him for?” ”Already at my young age, I was conditioned to think  that Santa would make me happy by getting me a toy or a doll. And it did make me happy for awhile. Until it didn’t. 
The perfect Christmas card! (1996)

As I got older, Santa was out of the picture, but my childish thoughts were still focused on what  I would get for Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong. I loved getting together with family and helping my mom with the Christmas preparations but my thoughts always seemed to go to a dream present that would make me happy. Was I being selfish? Or was it something else?

It wasn’t until I became  chronically sick with Lyme disease  that I realized that I didn’t need presents to make me happy. I felt sick every day. I didn’t need presents under the Christmas tree. I now wished to get better.

I wished to be well. I wished to have my life back.

My main symptoms were chronic fatigue, brain fog, depression, digestive problems, hypothyroidism, chemical sensitivities and environmental and food allergies. My sickness brought out the worst in me. I became overwhelmed and stressed  with each passing day. Life was a struggle.  And when you are feeling lousy, the holidays can be slow torture.

I began to resent all the “extra”  Christmas preparations that I felt that I had to do:

  • CHRISTMAS CARDS: I grew up believing that Christmas cards were an important part of the Christmas season. I remember counting all the Christmas cards we would receive and my mother making a big deal of it.  When I became a mom, I also  felt it was absolutely necessary to send Christmas  cards, too. But when I got sick, I didn’t have the energy for anything extra, so I dreaded the whole process  of taking the perfect picture of my kids (had to be a photo card!) and writing the addresses on all the  envelopes (about 60). And to top it all off, on Christmas day, my mother would always want to know how many cards I received! So sending Christmas cards became a stressful drama that I ended up resenting instead of enjoying.

  • CHRISTMAS SHOPPING: I couldn’t stand all the perfumes and fake evergreen scents that permeated stores and my  overly sensitive eyes burned and teared up from the florescent lighting.

  • CHRISTMAS BAKING: Sugar, sweets, etc., caused my symptoms to worsen so I had to stop eating it. As a result, baking all these goodies that I couldn’t eat made me feel  exhausted and deprived.

  • CHRISTMAS DECORATING: I decorated my house to cheer myself up but I confess I also felt I had to  to keep up with my friends who lavishly over decorated their homes.

  • CHRISTMAS PARTIES:  I couldn’t drink - my already fuzzy brain couldn’t handle alcohol.

For many years, I just wasn’t in the Christmas spirit.  Christmas had become an obligation.

And ... depressing!

When I began to slowly recover from chronic illness, I started to become aware of my thoughts. I was awakened to the thought that happiness  comes from within. And then the next time Christmas rolled around, I began to change my tune. I realized that I had forgotten the real meaning of Christmas. The real meaning had nothing to do with sending Christmas cards, shopping for the perfect gift, baking or decorating.

The real meaning is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ - the greatest healer and teacher of all time. Jesus brought us  the true  Christmas message:  unconditional love, forgiveness and compassion. Jesus healed through unconditional love. Jesus taught us “to forgive those who hurt you.” Jesus taught us to have compassion for the poor and the suffering. He taught us not judge each other.  Jesus taught us that God is within each of us and that we are unconditional love. Jesus taught us the golden rule: "Do unto others as they would do unto you.”

And this is why we celebrate Christmas. And with this new realization, I began to feel better during the Christmas season. Instead of feeling burdened, I began to feel blessed! Instead of feeling deprived, I began to feel thankful! Instead of feeling depressed and alone in my dark thoughts, I began to have more loving thoughts toward myself and others.  And, of course, I had to dial down on the holiday activities that were stressing me out!

So now I can relax a little more and enjoy the Christmas season. I send cards to only those who send me cards and I’m not pressured to send them before Christmas. I do my holiday shopping mostly online! I bake a traditional dessert for Christmas Day and make a healthier and satisfying substitute for myself. And if I feel like it, I will decorate a little. I’m not comparing myself to anyone any more. It just doesn’t make me feel good. And since my recovery I am clear headed, so I can drink a little wine on social occasions.

I can now say that I feel blessed and thankful during the holidays.The child in me has reemerged and she has no expectations and no obligations. I am thankful for everything that I have. And I am happy just to be.

Each of us  can live with the Christmas spirit of goodwill, love and compassion every day of our lives - no matter what our religion is.  For we are all a  part of God’s unconditional love here on Earth.

And with that joyous thought, I wish everyone a Blessed Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year!

God Bless Us!