The table to set. The dinner is cooking. Christmas music plays in the background. Christmas Eve traditions are in full swing. This is my second year Christmas with cancer. But, it is really my first in my new normal. Last year I felt SO sick. I had just endured toxic chemo and 10 rounds of radiation to my spine. I had no hair and cancer was hanging out in my liver. I looked at everything as my last. Life felt so uncertain. Praying for more time, not knowing what was to come. I had hope. I was choosing Joy, but it was a struggle.
My boss gave me a necklace for Christmas. It had a mustard seed and the verse Matthew 17.20 attached to it. It was a wonderful reminder that no matter how small my faith. How tiny my hope that God had me. He was in control. I prayed nightly and envisoned myself sleeping in God's Holy light. I was cradle in his hands. I was safe. I believed in Christmas miracles and just tired to absorb it all. All the feels and to be present in EVERY moment. There was an air of desperation.
This year is a bit different. I feel better. I look better, some hair on my head. I can tackle all of our traditions. I do feel different. Everything takes longer. I get tired faster. I wonder how to simpilfy, to make Christmas about family and memories and not stuff. It is hard to make that shift as I want everything to be perfect and to keep all the traditions alive. I paced myself so that I did not get too worn out. I also feel somewhat manic this year. PTSD is real. Like my body holds on to the muscle memory of the last year. I move from crazy holiday excitment; overloading on Hallmark movies, and music and cookies. Then I drown in sadness for not feeling like me and the unknown of my life. Will I ever adapt to the new me? Then I remember...... Christmas is about the miracle of Jesus' birth. It is full of Hope and Joy. It is a time of year to love your family and friends anyway that you can.
I am blessed to be here. I am blessed to be NEAD. I will take being worn out. I will take the hot flashes. I will take the taxmaxifen weight gain. Because I am here. God is good. I choose JOY. I am so lucky to have this time. I am so lucky that I can be present in each moment and realize what a gift life is. With my new frame of reference, as scary as it is; it allows me to feel more deeply and live more joyfully. My Christmas wish is for you to find your joy and be completely present with your family and friends. Create new traditions. Create new memories.
Even if you move a bit slower. Even if you are sick and tired. Even if you are a bit sad or a whole lot of sad. The choice is yours to be happy. Find a happy memory. Find a speck of joy in the moment and hold on tight. For Jesus is born and we have so much to be thankful for. Merry Christmas. God bless you all!