Before my diagnosis, I thought of myself as a traditionalist, at least when it came to the holidays. I baked cookies, decorated the house, and shopped for the perfect gift for everyone on my list. I planned get-togethers for family and friends and went to great lengths to pull off a memorable meal and celebration.
Nowadays, inconsistent traditions are my tradition.
Some years, when I’m feeling up to it (and the stars have aligned just right), I engage in as many traditions as I can. I do as much as possible during the good years. I bake, I send cards with individual messages that require a good deal of thought, and I shop for gifts. I plan get-togethers and meals for the family to enjoy.
To keep my efforts as stress-free as possible, I start my planning early in the holiday season. Sometimes it works out rather nicely. More often than not, I’m unable to cross off everything on my to-do list. However, I have learned that it is OK, and even to be expected.
Most years are a little lacking when it comes to tradition. Some years contain little tradition at all, years when a minor setback forces me to focus on my health. I spend my time visiting a few more doctors than usual and taking care of myself. Unfortunately, tasks related to holiday traditions take a back seat.
During these nontraditional years, shopping and baking don’t get done. Cards aren’t sent, and decorations aren’t put up. Sometimes, I accomplish a little bit of every holiday tradition. Other years, I accomplish a single facet of the typical holiday fare. It’s unpredictable and inconsistent.
At first, it was difficult to “miss” holiday traditions. I love the holiday season — the sights, the sounds, the sweets — and have a Type A personality. But I have made peace with my new, nontraditional approach to the holidays.
I would prefer to be consistent in my approach to the holidays. I would love to celebrate to the fullest every year. However, in some ways, I believe my lack of tradition has made me appreciate the traditional years, aka the good years, so much more.
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