Monday, November 16, 2009

New Traditions

I was on a lupus support group site yesterday, and a couple of the participants were fretting about the holidays. Fretting about the holidays for a lupus person, can certainly be detrimental to whatever health we have. Stress is any kind of change, and it's not all bad; this is a good stress, thinking about the joyous holiday season and all its attendant preparations.

Just as I have emphasized that once you get lupus, you have to give up your ideas of what's normal. Just because you did everything all in one day -- like I did laundry, grocery shopping and house cleaning all in one day, in the pre-lupus days -- doesn't mean you have to attain those goals now. Now, my motto while looking at a list of To Dos, is "Choose One."

But the holidays are different, I hear you protesting. I have to do X, Y and Z, because I've always done it. Nobody else knows how. And besides I want to do it.

Okay, go ahead, if you want to spend part of the holidays in ICU. Or flat on your back, while everybody else munches on the feast you lovingly prepared.

What I've learned to do -- and this came gradually, understand -- is change your normal holiday routine.

Gift shopping. We now draw names. No more searching for that perfect gift for a nephew whose tastes change from day to day. We do this name drawing at Thanksgiving, and set the monetary limit at under $20.00. This year, due to the economy, we'll probably set it at $10.00. You'd be surprised at what you can find for under $10.00. Merchants are falling all over themselves almost giving away their top selling items. And don't forget the convenience of on-line shopping.

For years, I had the entire family at my house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have a fairly large house, but it shrinks a bit more as each guest arrives. Everybody brings something, of course, and my brother bakes the turkey and brings it to my house. Gradually, we did away with using the good china and silver and good linen napkins, substituting paper or plastic products. There are some very nice paper plates out there, with beautiful holiday designs. Sure saves cleanup and not much dishwashing. I also save the plastic carryout boxes for several of the family members to take home with them for "seconds." After names are drawn and pies loaded onto dessert plates, we settle down to watch A Christmas Story, aka, "You'll shoot your eye out." The little boy wants a bb gun, and there are obstacles along the way. We've seen it so many times, we say the lines along with the characters, and roar with laughter every time.

Saves money that would have been spent going to a pricey movie.

At Christmas, the tradition is the same as Thanksgiving....same menu, same place. I gradually left off some decorations, figuring the tree and a few candles would be enough. This year, since my niece will have Christmas at her house (bless her heart!) and my kids in CA won't be coming, I'm probably not even put up the tree, which has always been an energy-burner.

Am I being a Scrooge? Not at all. I will celebrate the holidays with my family as usual, but I won't have to do all the work. I'll be gone for Thanksgiving so my niece is having that meal, too, and when she found out I'll not be there, she yelped: "Who's going to do the cornbread dressing?" Not to worry. I emailed her my mother's Secret Cornbread Dressing Recipe.

So there goes another part of the holidays that I don't have to be in charge of. Funny thing, the family will survive the change in traditions. I didn't think I could do it, but now I find that's a really nice feeling, something like "passing the torch" to the next generation.

Even if it's just passing along the secret family recipe for Cornbread Dressing.



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