Breast cancer doesn’t offer to give you time off at the holidays. With shopping, entertaining, cooking, and caretaking all ramping up to epic levels, it’s no wonder you want to pull the covers over your head this month. You know what? It’s OK. In fact, it’s a good idea. Here’s why.
You’re a mom. Maybe a grandma. You’re a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a mother-in-law… a wife.
You’re a woman – and that means you give, and give, and give some more, be it working two jobs to feed your kids, or doing homework with your 4th grader instead of kicking back with a glass of wine.
But this holiday season, everything is different. You have cancer. You’re going through treatment, or are about to start, or just finished.
Your energy level is zero. Your reserve of happiness – the glass-half-full attitude you always reach for, when everyone else is grouchy – has disappeared. You’re not giving; you’re barely living.
Do you feel the stress building?
Why do we, as women, feel it’s our God-given mission to take care of everyone around us? There’s an old saying, “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child,” and every woman I know smiles ruefully when I say those words.
Our personal happiness seems to be based on how successful we are at making others happy. So we comfort, and praise, and commiserate; and in the process of opening our hearts, we lose sight of the fact that the best relationship is a two-way street: equal parts giving, and taking.
This month, whether you celebrate Christmas, or Chanukah, or Kwanzaa – or nothing at all – you’re bound to get caught up in the crazy whirl of shopping, cooking, and entertaining. You can approach this as a stressful, desperate time, full of deadlines you can’t reach and tasks you can’t complete. Or you can look at it for what it is: the last month of the year, a time when the earth and many of its creatures are at rest. A time of short, dark days, but evenings brightened by the warm glow of lit windows, and happy friends and neighbors preparing for the holidays.
How will YOU handle the holidays this year? Here are some suggestions.
•If cooking the big holiday meal is hard for you – let someone else do it. If you’re a traditionalist, supermarkets often offer complete meals, from roast turkey and vegetables to rolls and dessert. If you’re a family with young kids, treat them to their favorite takeout – be it pizza, Chinese, or burgers. If you’re just a couple, find a church hosting a holiday community dinner, and volunteer – or just go and enjoy. Festive holiday food else is plentiful this time of year; enjoy it. Added bonus: if you’re not the cook, you’re also not the chief bottle washer!
•Forget the elaborate and lengthy gift-shopping list. If you like to cook, bake a couple of batches of cookies, and parcel them out to family and friends. Trust me, cookies are never returned – they’re one size fits all!