I have had a lot of experience with sick people at the holidays. Five years ago my husband was recovering from a knee replacement and could barely hobble from the bed to the Christmas dinner table. Four years ago I had a date with a surgeon on New Year’s Eve Best New Year’s date of my life. We joke about it when I check in with him a couple of times a year. Three years ago my son and daughter-in-law were at her mother’s hospital bedside during the holidays Two years ago my brother fell on Christmas Day. He was in the hospital, then rehab, then the hospital, then rehab, then the hospital. You get the idea. We spent the second week of January with him in a hospice.
A month or so ago my husband got a lousy diagnosis. and so he will need five-days -a -week treatment through the holidays and beyond. My oldest friend, amazingly, got the same diagnosis and is having her round of treatments. Another friend’s husband got a MRSA infection and is receiving massive doses of antibiotics. Even my toddler grandson had his first ear infection. He, fortunately, has recovered. But you can see that my unwanted memories of holiday time festooned with doctors’ visits continues.
So what do you do when all around you are making merry when you are feeling worried and grim? Well, I might say my best advice is simply to make the best of it. The knee replacement year when we were stuck in the house, we did fortify ourselves with tons of DVDs and lavish helpings of lavish food. Before my surgery I took myself off to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires, sat by the fire, and did all the touchy-feely things that are supposed to quiet the mind and relax the body. And though the last weeks I spent with my brother were very sad, first my daughter-in-law, and then my sons, were with me. We all loved my brother and hoped he felt our love.
This year, I am trying to indulge a little, buying my husband a new laptop, which he needs, breaking down and buying myself an ipad, just because. A friend invited us to sit in the front row at the best Christmas pageant in New York on Christmas Eve. The pageant is in a famous church and features adorable children as well as lambs, donkeys, and camels. Sounds like fun. And maybe that’s the key. Yes, people get sick at Christmas, but by finding a bit of fun as often as one can during this festive season there can be tidings of comfort and joy.
Myrna Blyth is editor-in-chief of ThirdAge.