I didn’t get a Christmas last year.
Or a New Year’s Eve for that matter.
But here I am this year, spending the holiday with my family and extended family, like I have so many times before. If I don’t think too hard about it, last Christmas, my “hospital Christmas”, could just blend into the history of my life. Just like I think there was a Christmas in my history that was a “Jewish Christmas,” where we just celebrated Hanukkah that year. But since I’ve forgotten, I don’t think about that Christmas or last Christmas, and this one would be normal Christmas #26.
But when I do stop to think about it (it’s hard not to), this Christmas feels a little different. This New Year’s too, because last New Year’s Eve I was a day out of the hospital and, well, asleep at midnight. This year, I feel like i’m getting a special pass to be alive and fairly healthy this holiday season… a pass to buy gifts and receive them, and cook meals, and eat them, and watch zombie movies with my family (a holiday tradition), and make New Year’s Eve plans… like I have so many times before. But this year, I have cancer. And the Lindsey-with-cancer precedent is I spend the holidays in the hospital.
With this mindset naturally comes another: If I’ve been given this holidays to enjoy, I have to make them good. Perfect. Really special. I’m starting to sound like a corny holiday song.
That’s just a little too much pressure for me. How can I possibly orchestrate a perfect holidays? That requires too much planning… even though i’m studying to be a planner (but that’s a different sort of planning). Aren’t things much better and much easier and less stressful when you just let them happen on their own? Isn’t it counter to carpe diem to plan your day beforehand? That seems like a lot more work than just seizing the day.
For fear of inserting a new variable into this post… my uncle has early-onset Alzheimer’s. Maybe i’ll write more about him later, but for the purposes of what i’m trying to say, i’m just going to continue. He spent Christmas Eve with us–his first holiday in a couple years (because last Christmas, obviously, we didn’t have a Christmas). Once he got past the confusing and unfamiliar situation he was brought into, he just looked so happy. He enjoyed the food. He loved opening gifts. Everything looked so much more exciting in his eyes. Maybe he won’t remember it later. Maybe he didn’t know who he was spending the holidays with or which holidays they were. But, while it lasted, it was obviously special. Because he was so happy–and his default emotion these days is usually ornery.
Looking at his face last night helped change my mindset a little. Even if I can’t make this the most perfect holiday ever–I mean, I can’t even begin to imagine what that would look like–it’s pretty darn good. That goes for New Year’s too. Because i’m not in the hospital. And because i’m feeling good. My dad said something to this effect when he said the Christmas Eve toast last night, and had everyone raise their glasses to me: here’s to Lindsey, being out of the hospital and feeling good. That meant a lot to me… and that’s something I couldn’t have planned, but it made my Christmas that much more meaningful. I don’t have to have an overly special holidays this year just because I didn’t get one last year… and I don’t have to have an overly special holidays to compensate for any other holidays I might not have at some point. Today is today. That’s all. And that’s enough.
So, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you.
And… if you’ve been thinking of helping me out with my medical expenses in the past, now is the time. Or, if you wanted to get me a gift but didn’t come up with one in time. My campaign on Give Forward is ending in just under a week. While I have raised more than I ever thought possible to help cover my insurance premiums and prescriptions and copayments next year, I hopefully have a long road ahead, and the more help I have, the easier it will be. Thank you.