Well, why not? The baby Jesus was born in a manger. Weather permitting; there must have been a toad in that hay, dust and dried, old wood… somewhere. I know when my grandchildren erect my tiny nativity set we throw in many animals for the affect, not accuracy. We’re surrounded by traditions this time of year, whatever our religion. Families have their own way of reliving the past, enjoying the present while wading through the many changes all of us face. When you live with the companion of chronic pain, it shines a light on the whole season and it’s not always a bright luminescent star in the sky. Chronic pain leaves its mark or scar on our everyday lives, and there is no denying that.
Thus far, this year, it has definitely been a “hang the tinsel, drag Sue; nail the wreath onto the door, pick up Sue.” There are so many days each of us are faced with going along to appear normal. Well, I have a Christmas Express for you, we’re not normal. I’m searching my mind right now to try to find something or someone who is normal and I’ve decided we should ban that word from the good ol’ Webster’s Dictionary. Normal has changed with the times as any old movie will bear witness, as society is always in a state of flux.
I think we should just forget all about normal and fulfilling demands to please others and just concentrate on what is important to each of us. There are days when my list of problems is so long, if I read it to you, you would surely nod off before I finished. Santa’s naughty and nice list comes to mind. You know the one that drags the ground like the reams of old copy paper. Due to various parts of my body misbehaving, I find each year, I reduce the decorating, decking the halls and can’t yule or nog at all, thanks to some of my medications. In my own way, like many of you, cutbacks have a different meaning than they do on the news. They simply mean, “Hey, I can’t do that anymore. Find a new way.”
Finding that sweet spot in your life that allows you to find some degree of comfort while carrying on is like searching for a hidden gift in the back of your Mom’s closet. Most of us have found we go too far, begin to hurt or feel rotten before the realization of what we have done sinks in. In other words, we find ourselves in trouble. Our friends and family tell us we should “Just take it easy.”
My reply must be, “Okey festive dokey, I’ll do that.” NOT!
Then, the voice inside my head says, “If I did that there would be laundry hanging on the Christmas tree. My feet would stick to the floor in a less than festive manner and it wouldn’t be wassel. (By the way, someone should explain wassel to me sometime, but I digress.) The stockings would be filled with outdated cans of soup and the garlands I have always loved would still be in the big red Christmas box in the basement.”
Life calls out to us and hustles us along. It just happens to do it in a more festive manner this time of year. Each day I find myself inventing new shortcuts, as my woes and body demand. For instance, on Thanksgiving after my husband had to lift the stuffed free range turkey into the oven, he had to make a run to the jail where he works. Oh yes, my man is in and out of jail every day. Think what you will. He, blessedly, had peeled a large Dutch oven full of potatoes, thanks to his training in the US Army. The time arrived on my kitchen schedule of events to make the dinner all appear and be ready on time. He was still stuck at the jail and I knew I couldn’t lift that huge pot of potatoes onto the stove. Necessity truly is the Ma of invention. I shoved a kitchen towel under a couple of inches on the bottom of the pot, spilling the excessive amount of water he had added into the sink. I then proceeded to slide the pot over to the stove. The lesson being; I cannot lift heavy objects but apparently I can slide them. Incidentally, I must add that was the worst turkey I ever cooked. I’m not sure what that bird was doing out on the free-range, but me thinks she worked out too much because she was stringy. Next year, I’ll return to that overfed Butterball from the past. Oh come on, it’s only once a year. Lighten up.
I find my life infused with compromise, like cloves in a Christmas ham, it sharply stings but smells great. Compromise is everywhere. Frankly, I find that refreshing. It indicates to me I am not out of the game, I just have to play by my own rules. I can’t lift a stack of plates, but I can lift two at a time. I can decorate a section of the tree and then rest while reading or watching a favorite Christmas movie. I have learned to share the joy of decking the halls with the grandchildren and kind of like Tom Sawyer and that painting the fence ruse, I make it look like fun. Actually, that part is easy because it is enjoyable to me, I just can’t manage all of it any longer. I realize there is more to passing on holiday traditions that gifts and tinsel. Some of that passing it forward involves letting our children and grandchildren learn how to cook or bake some of the family favorites as they grow their own traditions mixed with ours.
As far as living up to expectations of days gone by, I don’t even try. I’m a fine cook and have always enjoyed the holiday baking but that too, will face revision this year and the next. There are many fine bakeries and other food distributors in the area and available online.
Well, my friends, I must get this in but I am going to think about that Christmas toad that I seem to be turning into and might find a sweet story in there about the little bugger. Be good, stay safe and figure out new ways to approach life. It’s not over ‘til the toad croaks.