S I M P L I F Y – Enjoying The Holidays With RA

Vanessa Collins Health Guide
  • Greetings, Fellow RAers! The Holidays are just around the corner, and it is time to come up with a plan. Just hoping everything will go well doesn't cut it. Trust me! I have done that many times, and I ended up worn slick, grumpy and hurting.

     

    I do NOT want to repeat my earlier attempts at celebrating the holidays by trying to ignore my RA. That just didn't work, because no matter how hard we try to ignore RA, it is always there. Our constant companion is just waiting for an opening to sneak up on us and knock us off our feet.....literally!

     

    Last year I had a wonderful holiday season because I came up with a plan and followed it faithfully. I intend to do the same this year.

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    The most important thing I do is to S I M P L I F Y. Gone are the days when I used to attend a Cantata, three church services, cook one family dinner, and attend another in the space of one week. When I think about it, that was an insane schedule and would have been tough on anyone.

     

    It is important to decide which events and gatherings you would most like to attend. We all must learn to pick and choose. We cannot do it all.

     

    By prioritizing your activities, and choosing only the ones that actually fit into your schedule, you just may find you enjoy your holidays more than you ever have. That is exactly what has happened to me. I sincerely wish I had done this years ago.

     

    I know, I know. I can see you shaking your heads and wondering how to say, “No” to people who keep insisting you attend this or that holiday function. I can hear them saying, “Don't be a wet blanket! Everyone else will be there!”

     

    I have been through all that, too. I just pleasantly explain that I appreciate the invitation very much, but that I just cannot fit another party, or whatever, into my schedule. If they persist, I start singing, “Fa La La La La,” and then I smile and walk away. Works well for me!

     

    When it comes to cooking holiday dinners, I use the same tactic. I simplify. Instead of cooking a whole turkey, I cook a Honeysuckle white turkey breast. I cannot handle cooking an entire turkey with my swollen hands, wrists and elbows. No way would I even try to wrestle with a big bird. The bird would win. Not a pretty mind image!

     

    Sometimes I buy a bone-in ham...usually a Little Dixie. I mix up my concoction of brown sugar, BBQ sauce, mustard and cloves. I coat that big old ham with my brown sugar mixture, and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. I put it in an oven set at 225 degrees F and let it cook for eight to ten hours. I promise that if you try this, your house will smell wonderful, and the ham will be awesome.

     

    If you need some help, ask someone else to take the ham out of the oven and slice it. Your dinner guests will love it!

     

    I make all of my pies or other desserts the day before the holiday dinner. I usually take a day off work for just this task. Or, I ask someone else to make the dessert. Both of these choices work well. Sometimes guests like to bring side dishes or desserts. It helps them feel more a part of the holiday celebration.

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    A few years ago, I gave away my pottery dishes and bought Corelle. Pottery breaks, but Corelle does not. I don't know if we all have this problem, but I drop things a lot more than I did pre-RA. Not having to worry about breaking my dinnerware is a stress reliever. Anything we can do to remove stress from our lives, especially during the holidays, is a wonderful thing.

     

    Another important tip for enjoying the holidays is to ask for help when you need it. It is not a sin. It is not a sign of weakness. I think a lot of us are Type A personalities. I also think we need to get over ourselves. We don't have to do EVERYTHING. Let's give our mere mortal non-Type A friends and relatives a chance. We might be surprised at how well they do!

     

    The most important tip I can share is this: Do not attend events or gatherings you do not really want to attend. We all know that life is short. We also know that those of us with RA have a limited amount of energy. I absolutely refuse to waste any of this precious life on things I do not want to do anymore. Well....except for work! I haven't figured a way around working for a living yet.

     

    The second most important tip is this: Listen to your body. Rest when you need to rest. We all know we need more sleep than people who do not have RA. We cannot “make up” sleep, either. I remember the days when I could go for 24 hours straight, and “catch up” on sleep the next day. Well, that doesn't work so well for us anymore. I do not think of sleeping as losing time. I think of it as preparing well for my next life adventure, or I think of it as preparing to have a wonderful time with my friends and family.

     

    I sincerely want to wish all of our HealthCentral family a joyous holiday season. Do you have any tips you would like to share to help us get through this most-busy time of year?

Published On: December 15, 2011