Lessons of Cancer…Christmas without Stress

Cancer has taken a lot of things from me.  One positive thing it has taken is holiday stress.  I have none.  It’s all gone.  It has been removed from my life.  What a great feeling.  All of the should dos, ought tos, and why don’t yous are gone!   Evaporated!

One of the great blessings of Chemotherapy is learning about your energy.  When you have absolutely no energy, you cannot do anything.  If you have a little, you can do just a little.  There isn’t any more.  Now that I have much more energy, I still keep those lessons in the forefront of my mind. DO NOT EXPEND ENERGY THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE,” I say to myself in a mantra!  If I start to put some unrealistic or even realistic Christmas expectation on myself, I first ask, “Do you have enough energy to do that from beginning to completion?”

For so many years I put so much pressure on myself to do this, see that person, go here, do this, do that, cook this, bake that…it is a form of self-punishment, I decided.  I have 365 days to do those things.  Why did I think I had to do them in the course of a couple of weeks?   I was delusional!

Last year paved the way as I was recuperating from a mastectomy and started chemo two days after Christmas.  I have a difficult time even remembering last Christmas.  But even in the midst of that, I did learn to shop online — free shipping and delivered to my door.  What a great thing.  That new and improved behavior is being repeated this year because I like to buy gifts.

I have a cute collection of small Christmas trees that I enjoy, and I put them up this year.  But I didn’t decorate my fireplace or my staircase.  So what?   I would have never NOT decorated my fireplace or staircase in the past because of some stupid expectation I put upon myself.   I look at my fireplace and staircase now and want to applaud.  I’m free!

Yesterday I visited an historical home in my area that the park system owns. Each year they decorate it for Christmas in lovely and beautiful ways. This year was no exception. My friend and I enjoyed every minute of being there and felt like a mini-vacation. But when I left, I left. I didn’t come home and think, “Gee Denise, your house should look as good as that one.”

So this year my celebration consists of thanking God for being alive. Everything else is secondary!