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Surviving and Thriving with Chronic Illness

Spoonie Holidays

Dr. Diana, as patient, shares with you her holiday spoonie tricks for survival!

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Happy HOlidays, Diana!

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, that means there isn’t one cause or one cure.  What may help you might not help me. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a ginteec connective tissue disorder.  This means that at the ginteec level my collegen (the glue that holds your body together) isn’t made right.  Collagen is supposed to have a rubberband effect,  while my collagen is more gummy and doesn’t hold my body together like it should.

My children are adults now, but I have some suggestions for the holidays to tone down the hype and simplify the season. Winter in a cold climate is pretty painful with hypermobile EDS so reducing holiday stress is crucial for survival. What I am suggesting here worked so well for our family and still creates happy, meaningful holidays today.
SPREAD OUT THE HOLIDAY Start with your children in infancy, celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, Dec 24 to Jan 6, and spread the holidays over a longer period of time to take the pressure off Christmas Eve and Day. Bake Xmas cookies and fruitcakes in October and freeze them, wrapped in double layers of freezer paper.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN SIMPLICITY Firmly guide your children to understand that simple traditions and modest gift giving are more important than “what their friends got” or “how their friends family do it”.  Speculation causes anxiety and stress, so do not put any presents under the tree until after the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve [children can put presents out just before going to bed]. On Christmas morning they can open their stockings first thing. Parents get to sleep in on Christmas! so everything else waits until after a civilized breakfast at 9am.  Presents are opened one at a time and savored, with each person getting a present in turn. Create traditions that you can control and do not let them grow into big productions.
KEEP DECORATING REALLY SIMPLE Do not put the tree up until the week before Christmas.  Acquire an apple box from your grocer. All ornaments and lights fit in this box. More? get rid of any ornaments that are not special. Put your special ornaments up year after year. Bad year, just put up lights and a topper on the tree. Turn the lights on every morning like a ritual. Creating a few basic repeatable traditions is more important than a yearly glitz extravaganza of new stuff.
CUT THE GIFT GIVING LIST Plan to give gifts only to immediate family. Tell your aunts/uncles cousins, in-laws etc. that you are doing this at Easter and stick with this tradition for a lifetime.  Buy/make things your children need [school and clothing items] and only give one or two “want items”. Only buy or make things for others [friends extended family] on a one time basis if: you are truly, intensely inspired by a gift or person that year or you if are visiting them and there is that obligation thing.
LESS WORK PARTY Explore giving a holiday party where the fun is inviting others to join you to make something to take home.  We have a Tamalada Party where everyone makes the tamales production style,  eats the finished product at a sit down meal, and takes home 6 -12 tamales.  Remind your friends of the Twelve days of Christmas if they are confused by the Jan 4 date for your party!
SHOP ONLINE for anything acquired after Nov 15. I have been shopping online since 2000, what a relief. Shop for groceries at least 4 days prior to Thanksgiving or Christmas and avoid the bumping crowds. Avoid big box stores from Thanksgiving to New Years Day.
LOVE YOURSELF Love your family.  Show how important they are to you by keeping the holidays so simple that you can enjoy the celebrations too.