In 16 years, not a single snow storm or blizzard deterred me from seeing my family during the Christmas season.
Dating back to my freshman year of college, I would pack the car to the brim and drive to Minnesota. I usually brought a giant pile of dirty clothes to wash at my parents house, as I had typically run out of quarters by the end of the semester. In the years I had my job as an Occupational Therapist, I loaded the car with gifts that I had proudly purchased for my family. When I got married, my husband became part of my holiday traveling tradition also.
By 2011, I was no longer well enough to take those trips.
Christmas with my family is huge. Parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, children, grandchildren and friends all congregate at my Aunt’s house in what invariably turns into a 2-3 day marathon of food, fun and some serious card playing. Games like Canasta, Continental Rummy and Nuts have been a family tradition as far back as I can remember. I grew up playing cards and learned to count while playing poker with my grandmother. My cousin, Julie, is the undisputed card-playing champion of the family. Her hands move so fast, at times they’re blurry.
I miss those days.
Not yet strong enough to endure the Christmas festivities, I find myself trying to create new traditions in Chicago.
In our apartment, we have a small, decorated tree that sits on our mantel. We tried a 7 foot tree one year, but my beagle tried to eat it so we had to downsize.
Every year, I pose the beagles in costumes just long enough to snap a pic or two. I have a reindeer, a Santa suit and a snowman costume. The costumes are decided based on their cooperation. This year, I had a pocket full of yummy treats so I had their full participation.
Like last year, my mother will be coming the day after Christmas. We will partake in our annual tradition of driving around looking for the best displays of Christmas lights. We have been doing this since I was a child, first in my hometown of Winona, and now in Chicago. This is one of my favorite Christmas-time activities.
There are moments however, where I realize I am not yet adjusted to my life with Lyme and such an uneventful holiday season. There will be no big, family meal and no presents to unwrap, as every spare cent we have goes towards my treatment. Such quietness seems foreign to me.
Hopefully, I will one day soon be able to enjoy Christmas and the busyness once again!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from me, Tom, Seven (15 yrs) and Caylie (12 yrs)!