I was so excited to hear about Chronic Christmas Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness. It came to me at exactly the right time of year, and I was in the mood for some fun and practical advice about the holiday season. When this book arrived in the mail, I was excited to see what Lene might share to help me find that contentment and excitement about the holiday season. As a person with choric conditions, I sometimes have difficulty getting into the season. Lene’s words helped me discover some reasons I feel out of step with the rest of the world and gave me practical advice about how to overcome some of my barriers.
Lene shares such wonderful tips for slowing down and basking in the goodness of the holiday season. Her writing style is easy; her essays are well conceived, and the result is a partial guide to managing the Christmas season with a good touch of fun. She manages to capture the season in short bursts of narrative that can make even the grumpiest old man find his inner goodness. Here are a few chapters that especially spoke to me.
December 2, Pace Yourself When Eating.
As a person with diabetes, I often feel left out of the annual celebrations because I see others enjoying food while I enjoy the Television. In this chapter, Lene reinforces the well know notion that the holidays are not about the food. Rather they are about who is eating the food. Her chapter gives me permission to enjoy those who are at the gathering instead of the food at the gathering. I think it is sometimes difficult for people with diabetes to know this and Lene approached the subject in a way that offers constructive tips. For instance:
“Moderation is key, Instead of five pieces of Candy stick to one (okay, two).” (Andersen, 2016, p. 7).
“Instead of four glasses of eggnog, have one per occasion and drink sparkling water or tea for the rest of the evening. And so on. You won’t feel deprived. And you won’t stand out as that one person who’s nibbling on a lettuce leaf, making the other guests feel bad for scarfing down everything in sight.” (Andersen, 2016, pp. 7-8)
Lene reminds us that we need not remain isolated because we have a chronic condition. She suggests we try an experiment to break out of our shell. She suggests that on December 8 we leave the book or earphones at home and practice looking up and out at the world. She suggests we should look at and marvel in the crowds as they pass by. She reminds me that people watching is both entertaining and a great way to connect to the world at large. (Andersen, 2016). This is great advice for the many times we feel isolated or somewhat alone in the world. After all, connection is what the holiday season is all about.
For the person who cares about the person with a chronic condition Lene suggests that they offer a drive or a trip to a coffee shop to help people get out in the world. She suggests:
“Chat with each other, but reach out to others as well. The people at the next table, the clerk, a security guard. Slow down, take the time, exchange a few words. You could very well make someone’s day and you might meet someone really interesting” (Andersen, 2016, p. 35).
These are terrific ideas for helping both ourselves and others. In fact, opening up during the holidays might make everything brighter. Lene’s advice gives us the reminder that we need not be isolated while others are engaged in the business of the season.
December 21 – Celebrate Disasters
For me, this was the best advice of the book. When we celebrate disasters, we have a built in mechanism to make sure things go right. I love how Lene starts this chapter:
“What do you remember from past Christmases — the times everything went according to plan or the moments when imperfection snuck into the celebrations? We work so hard to make the holidays perfect, but that’s not what makes for enduring family legends. You know the type — the ones that get told and retold, with everyone talking over each other, adding details, and laughing together. Those stories always originate in disasters” (Andersen, 2016, p. 93)
I totally agree with her observation. The real stories of the season are the ones that revolve around disasters. So I took this chapter as the best advice I received from Lene’s’ book. This year, I vow to celebrate the many disasters in my life past, present and future. I will take time to celebrate this year: the time the lock was frozen on the storage barn where I stored the Christmas presents or the time the cat climbed/knocked over the Christmas tree because doing so can prolong the celebration of the season.
So how do I feel about Lene’s book? I loved it. You can pick it up on Amazon or Barnes and Noble along with some other retailers. It is a great gift for those who love people with chronic conditions or those of us who live with chronic conditions. I am glad I treated myself to this book, and I hope you will as well. Reading it is way too much fun to miss.
Andersen, L. (2016). Chronic Christmas Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness. Toronto Two North Books