If you are anything like I had been before chronic pain, you have had your entire home decked out with all your treasured holiday décor! I think I counted 40+ snowmen at the highest count I’d strategically displayed literally around the house! As the years go by you find yourself lugging out countless boxes, unpacking each one and going about hunting out places to stick our treasures, only to have to duplicate all this action in reverse weeks later. Just writing about this makes me want to just forget it all this year. It has seriously become a problem for me since the last three spine surgeries and the resulting Central Pain Syndrome spreading from my upper body to my lower body after the last surgery.
I just cannot do it all like I use too! Thankfully, Hubby carries the boxes up for me and helps to set up the tree and the lights. Then the boxes would sit there in the living room and dining room for over a week with decorations slowly getting put out as I was able. With all the time that had passed, Christmas was closing in and I was seriously considering putting it all back, why bother getting the rest out to just to turn around and have to suffer through undoing it all. All the repetitive movement of lifting, reaching, twisting and bending gets your nerves and muscles burning and screaming! I’d climb out of bed every day with great intentions of getting it completed! However, it just wasn’t happening! Eventually, the leftover boxes ended up getting put away! FULL! And the next year, those “extra” boxes remained in the basement. I opted to just put up the minimal. I felt a bit sad, but it is better to be thankful and happy with less to be able to have less pain cause by all that decorating!
These are some of the things that I had to incorporate into my new “normal”:
· Simplify – you know what your body can do, it lets you know! If you are finding yourself overwhelmed and having increased pain from all the decorating, you might want to consider what options you have as far as eliminating some of it. I had to cut back to a few choice areas to decorate instead of the whole house, as well as the outside. Oh, and the basement! We put up our Christmas tree, my snowmen on the fireplace mantel and the nativity. Hubby hauls all the stuff up and down the basement steps for me and helps with the lights as well as the nativity. I decorate the tree over several days. As well as put out the snowmen.
· Ask for help – Make it a family activity. Make a party out of it, order some pizza to be delivered and put on some Christmas music. Unless of course you enjoy doing it yourself. Spread it out over several days. If you are having a hard time, maybe a friend would be delighted to help you, or even do it for you? You just never know who might be interested!
· Use fewer decorations -- I picked out about half of my snowmen to put out. I left many decorations for the tree in the storage boxes. It makes for less to pick up and put away after Christmas is over!
· Give the extras away - After you pick out what you want, clear out what is left over and give it away to your kids, a newly married couple that hasn’t had a chance to get a collection of decorations, someone that just got an apartment or a home, or take it to Goodwill or some place for someone less fortunate. There are many that would cherish your unused items!
· Downsize to a smaller Christmas tree - less to carry, less to decorate and un-decorated!
· Just put up a Christmas tree - and nothing else, or a variation of a tree like branches in a glass container with a few choice decorations! So stunning! There are many ways to decorate. You can explore on the internet what others have done! Pinterest may be a great place to start. Or Google, "alternativeChristmas trees images" by hitting this link and see what pops up!
· Poinsettias and some candles – Stunning! Simple, easy and elegant! I knew someone that decorated with a few placed around the main areas of her home with candles and it was so warm and inviting!
· A Nativity Scene - would be fitting as well. The reason for the season!
There as so many elegant and fun ways to decorate in a trouble-free and uncomplicated manner! Change can be hard, but if it is what you need to do in order to enjoy the holidays, give it a try! I expect that you might really love it! Living with chronic pain, simple, effortless and down-to-earth is what we require! It is a part of our new “normal.” There are many choices you can make to get through the holidays without increasing your risk of a huge flare! I know for many of us, no matter what we do, our bodies have no respect to what our goals are and just are going to continue with the horrific pain but at least you can say you tried!