About this time every year my friends and family will always ask me a variation of the same question; which is “What did you get for Xmas [substitute any occasion]?… Something nice…?”
In the past I have always smiled and wondered, nervously, what to answer. It has never occurred to me, until now, that I could freely and unashamedly tell the truth. And I am not sure why. Perhaps I always thought that telling people the truth would make them think us strange or to be pitied; and that would be such a terrible shame…
You see the truth has to be seen through my eyes to be truly appreciated, but perhaps it will translate if I do my best to explain it properly.
When I got sick, very sick, each year became an enormous struggle just to get through each year, so when holidays, events and Christmas would come around and I would think of who wanted what and who would be expecting things from me, it became terribly stressful, financially and physically. A stress too heavy that I really didn’t need or could bare.
You see, we live alone. Hubby is my full time carer. We share the house with our fur kids and our garden. We don’t have any biological family in the city where we live, but we have some wonderful friends now that have been a real blessing and have proven true and strong through all the ups and downs. The internet allows us to keep in touch with all those others that we are not geographically close to.
Anyone with a Chronic illness / Autoimmune Illness will tell you that your life and social circles become very small indeed. The earlier that you can make a peace with that, the easier it can be to cope with.
Anywho… Given that we really don’t know WHAT level of health I can experience or expect on any of these days, and we HATE letting people down, we try not to commit to anything where we will potentially upset or inconvenience anyone.
So this means we are usually on our own. This does not really bother us anymore, as we are not particularly religious or demanding people, but during times like public holidays, it is usually a wonderful time to catch up with people who may otherwise be rushing to jobs, schools or something equally important. Wonderful, if the health is on our side. Impossible if my health is poor or flaring.
However, we learned very quickly that being alone is not the same thing as being lonely. When we have to be alone during any event, we tend not to complicate these times by pouring shame and self loathing on top of it all.
Sadly, illnesses never take a holiday or stops, regardless of what the rest of the world is doing or celebrating.
So we have learned to celebrate days whenever we can. No matter what day they are on the calendar; if we can manage to do something then we do it!
Years ago we decided that because we are more loving than healthy, we would not ‘save up’ times to appreciate and celebrate each other, we would do it anywhere and anytime we could. There really is NO time like the present. And the present really is ‘time’. Time to relax. Time to smile. Time to go for a drive. Time when we can move about and interact with the world and each other.
For example, a few months ago Hubby bought me some lovely Rose bushes for my garden, it wasn’t my birthday, our anniversary or Christmas… it was a Wednesday. Another time I surprised him with a book set I had found on eBay.
So when we have a moment, some savings, an opportunity or a chance, we celebrate whatever we can in whatever way we can.
So… On Christmas day we actually bought each other no gifts, for no other reason than we do things for each other EVERY day of the year. AND WE LOVED IT!!
Lunch this year was a ploughmans lunch. A few nibbles. Something soft. I took my meds and some antibiotics for my newly developed ear and throat infection, and we watched some television/movies. We cuddled up with our fur kids and took a nap. In between these times we did try to call a few family / friends that would be celebrating in the usual manner, and we try and do our best to remind them that they are in our thoughts and hearts and we wish them every happiness. Always.
We love knowing that they are happy and well, but for us Christmas, or any day for that matter, doesn’t have to look or feel any particular way for it to be enjoyed. It can be very simple and still as special as any day can be.
We have taken this attitude to almost all things these days. Weddings. Anniversaries. Birthdays. We know that they are milestones and we appreciate that we are together for these events, but what they look like no longer factors into our judgements or plans for these days. What will be will be!
Our only hope for each year, and each event, is that we are well enough to be able enjoy it. Anything else is just a bonus. We take each others health and happiness very seriously. All through the year. The gift we give each other every day is that we do our best to be our best on that day…
We value the ability to pay the utilities, vet bills, grocery bills so much more than the ability to buy a lavish gift or expensive trinket. Making sure the little things are done are our most important priority. Which also means that we would sell anything we owned, give up anything or change anything to make sure these things were possible. We would do it without hesitation…
So we have never needed a particular day, place or event to show each other how much we mean to each other and we try to show our friends and family this same thinking.
If/when people ask us what we would like for a present or gift my answer always seems so embarrassingly cliched, but I really can’t stress it enough… Or in any other way… but truthfully. I don’t need ANY gifts. Or presents. Ever!
The things I want you cant buy and the things I value are not things you can ever ask for… they are either freely offered or not available.
Things like love, kindness, empathy, truthfulness, encouragement and laughter… they are really the things that I think about when I look back on life. Not the gifts that I have been given.
There have been some very kind people who have dropped me off a hand made cake, a candle or a little tasty treat but it really is not necessary. Truly. I am grateful for whatever little thing someone thinks I might enjoy, I am NOT ungrateful. But the biggest joy is their company and their thoughts. Positive energy is not something that can be wrapped in a box or have a ribbon placed around it.
So… what did I get this year? I got nothing AND it was perfect. I get love, care, good prioritizing and respect all year long, and there is nothing more important to me than that!
The only other thing I could possibly want would be a cure for us all… who knows, maybe one day!?!