Christmas With A Chronic Illness


December Days and Struggling to Live With Chronic Illness

It is December and a cold rain is beating against my window, the clouds are thick and gray. The weather matches my mood today, a mood that says “meh!” There is a running list going through my head. I need to finish the Christmas shopping, plan the Christmas Eve party that I am supposed to be hosting this year and I haven’t even baked a single cookie.

This past weekend I decorated my home for the holidays, also known as putting up the Christmas tree with my family. Even though I knew I would most likely suffer a flare up afterwards; nothing prepared me for the intensity of the fatigue that now seems settled in like an unwelcome guest. 

This fatigue is all-encompassing. It makes me feel like I have been drinking poison. I have fought with it for the past several days, pushing through the exhaustion and hoping that if I ignore it long enough, it will just go away. 

Christmas With A Chronic Illness How It Changed My Plans

To be quite honest, I should know better!

I have always loved Christmas, everything about it! The lights, the music, the time spent with family and the  holiday baking. Christmas has always had the ability to fill my heart with joy. I love the light and life of the season. But, I have not been able to truly enjoy it for the past several years due to the sickness that has quite literally tied my hands behind my back. 

Christmas With A Chronic Illness

It feels a bit like being on the outside looking in. I can see the beauty of it, but I just cannot get close enough to it to actually be a part of it. In years past, I would take an entire day and spend it baking cookies and candy with my children. I can remember those days as if it were yesterday. But now, I cannot even spend one hour in my kitchen without feeling totally wiped out.

Every year my baking list has dwindled to almost miniature proportions, due to my struggles with chronic illness. Old favorites that have been a part of our holiday season for at least twenty years have fallen by the wayside. All of this trimming down falls on the alter of chronic illness. I am stubborn. I love family traditions. But, I have had to come to the terms with the fact that I can no longer do what I used to do!

It literally breaks my heart. Several years ago, I felt that winds of change were on the horizon when it came to what I can actually manage during the holidays. Then last year, my health took a mighty turn for the worse. What had been persistent sickness became worsening sickness. I became weaker and more fragile. 

Frequent rest breaks failed to recoup my flagging energy levels. Like a thermometer in January, I watched my health drop lower and lower. Until, I was left to look back on the battlefield of my life and realize what had been lost. All sense of normalcy is gone. I do not even have the energy to sit at my little piano and play Christmas carols. 

The joy of spontaneity has been taken away.

We were driving through our neighborhood last night and there were so many beautiful Christmas light displays. I immediately thought how lovely it would be to take a moonlit walk all bundled up to see the lights with my family. My next thought was, I barely have the strength to walk from my kitchen to the couch, how would I walk around the neighborhood. Maybe someday…

If I am not careful, I will waste my life away waiting on someday. So I had a new thought, why not plan something that I can handle!

Christmas with a Chronic Illness The Chronic Christmas I Can's



The Chronic Christmas “I Can’s”

I can watch a Christmas movie with the kids while they drink hot chocolate.

I can put some pre-made cookies in the oven to bake for my family.

can sit by the fire and listen to old Christmas records with my husband.  

can do some Christmas shopping online. 

can enjoy time with my family.

can count my blessings and be thankful for the joys that do remain.

In this season of commercialism and being overly busy, I can be glad that I have a home, a family who cares and the privilege to just rest and heal. 

I can find joy hidden in the simplest places.

Happiness is a frame of mind. Christmas should be a season of counting our blessings. I just need to learn to find that hidden joy in simple things. To dwell on the “I cans” of my life and not to wait on someday.

Has chronic illness changed the way you celebrate the holidays?

I wish you joy for the journey and peace in your heart. 



You can read more about how I manage my life with Lyme disease, Fibromyalgia and CFS here: Learning to Accept The Limitations of Lyme Disease



22 Responses to Christmas With A Chronic Illness

  1. Pam says:

    I have an autoimmune condition that is exacerbated by gluten, so.yhe holidays are tough.for me.too. Thank you for the inspiring list of can-do activities!

    • ValerieB says:

      Hi Pam,
      Gluten is not good for me either, it is never a good idea for Lyme patients. I have sensitivity to both wheat and gluten. I’m so sorry you have to deal with it too! I’ve found it helps to buy a special holiday gluten-free snack for myself. I love Trader Joes gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Thank you for your kind comment and happy holidays!

  2. Priscilla says:

    Send the Christmas Eve Party to another home this year. It’s ok to do that. Don’t make your fatigue and illness worse by doing a party because it’s simply your time. The family should understand the situation. Good Luck

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Mom,
      Thank you for the encouragement. I actually had written this over a week ago. So now, more plans are actually in place. I am keeping it very simple and others will be bringing dishes so that helps a lot! I will play it safe and be careful as the hubster is planning to do most of the acutal hosting. Plus, I will have daughter number one here to help me out. Lots of love and hugs, can’t wait to get together for the holidays. Val

  3. Shelly says:

    I had just made some of the exact same comments regarding my chronic illness to a friend only mere moments before reading your post. Thanks so much for sharing. It is a great help. I pray that you have a blessed and relaxing holiday.

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Shelly,
      I truly appreciate your kind comment and that you found encouragement from this post. That is exactly why I blog, to encourage and help others to know that they are not alone. I hope your holiday season is wonderful and filled with light and love. Take Care, Valerie

  4. Oh Valerie, I wish for you that moonlit walk. Sending you love.
    Kari Wagner Hoban recently posted…Potato Chip and Pretzel Fudge Because HELLO, DO YOU NOT KNOW ME?My Profile

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Kari,
      Thank you SO much. Maybe one day. =) I have lots of hopes and dreams. I appreciate your friendship. I have really enjoyed reading your blog. You have such talent. Blessings, Valerie

  5. Eilish says:

    Love this post, it’s inspiring! You can have a lovely Christmas! 🙂
    Eilish recently posted…3 Day Meal Plan That is Tasty and FillingMy Profile

  6. Jayne says:

    We ordered on line this year. Hubby has broken his foot and my body is intolerant of shopping (probably for more reasons than one!). Yes it’s about adjusting but there’s still great joy in that. Have a great Christmas Valerie x

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Jayne,
      I did 90 percent of our shopping online this year. Thank goodness for the internet! I love that there are still so many things that I can do, because the world is right at my fingertips if I have access to a mouse and a keyboard. 😉 Blessings and Happy Christmas. Valerie

  7. maria says:

    Glad that you are focusing on all the things that you can do because in the end all your family wants is time with the healthiest you possible. Very inspiring, one day at a time!

    • ValerieB says:

      Hi Maria,
      Thank you so much for your kind comment! Yes, I have to remind myself often that all my family really needs is for me to be as healthy as possible. I’m hoping for a much healthier 2017.Happy Holidays. Valerie

  8. Lynn says:

    I love this! What CAN I do? This helps everyone, even those without chronic illness. Valerie, this has lifted me up so much today. When I look back at some of the past shipwreck in my life, I tend to think, sadly, that I cannot go back and change anything, but I need to look at it as “what CAN I do now?” Love and hugs!! Lynn
    Lynn recently posted…My Sweet Old 100-year-old House and GardenMy Profile

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Lynn,
      Thank you so much sweet friend. I think you are so brave. To mourn the past is hard, but to face the future is sometimes even harder. You are doing a wonderful job of doing “what you can.” I admire all that you are and have overcome. We can do this together. Friends are the flowers in the garden of life. xoxo Happy Christmas. Love and hugs, Val

  9. Tonya says:

    Maybe that’s why Christmas movies have become such a favorite for me :). When I first got sick it felt like Christmas & New Years were a double punch. I’d barely recover from Christmas and there was New Years.

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Tonya,
      Yes, thank goodness for the Hallmark Channel! As mushy as they are I am a fan of Christmas movies. I agree with you about the double punch between Christmas and New Year, it is twice as stressful. xoxo Happy Holidays, Valerie

  10. GGMandy says:

    I can relate to a lot of this myself. You are so right though we must dwell on the “I cans” not the “I cants”
    Thanks for this reminder

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear GGMandy,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I am so sorry that you are struggling too. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season. Blessings, Valerie

  11. Dario says:

    Fantastic blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a
    little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free
    platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out
    there that I’m totally confused .. Any suggestions? Cheers!
    Dario recently posted…DarioMy Profile

    • ValerieB says:

      Hi Dario,
      Thank you for reading and the compliment. It all depends upon what you want to do with your site. If you intend for it to be more of a hobby blog, then I would probably go with the free platform on WordPress. If you intend to grow your blog into a business, then you would want to probably purchase your own domain and go from there. Best wishes with your new blogging venture.

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