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What Christmas means to me

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: December 14, 2012

  • Taken by Elizabeth Fleming

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So, it's the festive season! As if it wasn't obvious. Stores have been playing Christmas songs since November and Christmas deals are shoved in our faces everywhere.

There is a lot of pressure at Christmas to 'get it right' and usually start the new year virtually bankrupt. It is a good time for stores, but what about for us? The festive season is enough to stress anyone out, make them feel lousy, worried, run down and so on. Though it often is worth it to see faces light up and people smiling.

Families squabble around Christmas but on Christmas day, they come together and nothing seems to matter except for the fact that everyone is together. Well, a lot of the time. There's also a lot of families who aren't like this and those who don't celebrate Christmas. It is one time of year that people seem to have a noticeable appreciation for other people, which is a little saddening.

Let me explain. Since I got poorly, I've had a much bigger appreciation for things others often take for granted. One of these things is often family. Unfortunately people pass away and you need to make the most of time with your loved ones, despite all the pressures of the festive season, it's not about the presents, it's about... well, it's about religious value, but I have to admit, I'm not Christian. To me, it's about the gift of being blessed with a family who love and care for me. Okay, so my family isn't perfect, but whose is? I wish I could see my relatives more though. I see them even less since moving to Stafford, although we have seemed to have become closer since I moved.

I've always loved Christmas, but I love it now more than ever. I suppose it is the lead up and the thinking about what I can do to make people smile that I like. It's different now. I can't sit at the top of the stairs shouting "can we come down yet!?" while Santa and Mrs Claus have a cup of tea and wake up a little. I can't go and jump on my brother's bed and try get him to swap pressies with me. If I'm honest, this makes me really sad, I miss those traditions, but I'm starting to make my own traditions now. I feel so grown up!

This changes my whole overall outlook on the festive season. I feel that now I really do appreciate what goes into Christmas and have just tried, and am still trying, to enjoy the festive buildup. The getting presents, the cards, the wrapping, the tagging, the posting and such. Because it's so much just for anyone, especially without mummy here helping, but for a chronically sick and disabled person like me, it's that much harder.

People are awkward and I never know if I'm doing the right thing in the gifts I buy, but I try. I love going out and shopping for them, I do, but my condition has declined and I've hardly left my home in two months and when I have, it's only round the corner, so I have had to do all of my Christmas shopping online, minus the few things I bought months in advance. This makes me sad as I like going out and plucking things off the shelves. Then comes the writing the Christmas cards. I was raised to believe cards are more important than gifts, it shows you're thinking of the person, but I'll be honest, gifts are easier for me. I can only write a few cards at a time. You can see the steady decline in my ability when writing cards, they get scruffier and scruffier and some go in the bin and get re-written because they're such a mess, so I always have more envelopes than cards!

Writing them is physically painful, the cold in my joints, my joints not wanting to do what they should, the exhaustion from physically writing and the taxing in my brain of what I am actually meant to write despite the fact it's written right there in front of me. It's difficult. Similar issues with wrapping gifts, but I find this part really fun. I always have. It's fiddly and really painful for my fingers, it is tiring, it hurts my back when I lean over to do it, it feels like my tailbone is going to pop out of the bottom, it feels like my knees are going to shatter whether I kneel or sit crosslegged or any other way possible. How can that be fun? Simple. I went through the effort of picking and choosing the gifts I am wrapping. I imagine the faces of the people peeling open the paper and seeing their gifts, I like to think they are happy and this makes me happy. It does really wear me out and put me in a lot of pain though. But mentally I feel happy, satisfied.

It's hard to cope in winter. The cold gets into my joints, it makes them stiff and painful. There are a lot less daylight hours which makes my brain think it's bedtime even sooner when I'm already exhausted and yet my tired body won't let me sleep, leaving me in an almost permanant state of being run down. My partner has to cook meals as I'm just lethal in the kitchen. I end up covered in burns, with burnt food and could set the place on fire on my own as I completely forget I even put anything in the oven. I'm like this 99% of the time anyway, but in winter, my head is even worse.

I physically need even more care than I would through the rest of the year, I have more black outs and collapses, just another reason I can't really go outside and most definitely not on my own. It's scary. But it's also this time of year where it emerges who really cares, who's really there for you and wishes you the best. It all just sort of... falls in to place, and that makes it bearable.

Despite the pain, despite the fatigue, I have my family. They make it all worthwhile. They give me hope and motivate me to become better. I feel renewed and determined. This is my Christmas.

Written by Elizabeth Fleming of BeneBelle.

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