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I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas: CFIDS/Fibro/Redneck Style

This year, it seems I'm in a "redneck" mood for thanks.  Having lived in our town for over 30 years, I use the word affectionately, not to mention that in some ways, our entire family has become at the very least a "country" family, if not a "redneck" one.  ("Redneck," "country"; you say potato, I say potato!)

Each year, one way or another, there's a new Christmas album underneath my tree; they've ranged from Elvis to Andrea Bochelli.  It's my daughter who notices which song or singer I'd been attracted to each Christmas season.  

Now, as a full-fledged CFIDS/ME/CFS and fibro-mite, I'm rather slow on the uptake.  It was about the 15th time that my daughter had gifted me a Christmas album that I realized the Christmas album had become a tradition between the two of us.  (OK, I may exaggerate: I might have caught on at about year 10!)  Not noticing this for so long, however, may pretty much land me smack into the middle of the "bad mom" category since at one time, one of her Facebook quotes was, "A day without music is like a night without the stars." Or something like that.  Techno-genius I'm not and I can't find the quote now - of course. <shrug>

Like most families, we have our little, as well as silly, as well as big, Christmas traditions. OK, so perhaps other families don't usually include a mom on Christmas morning who couldn't manage a bath in the last few days, nor get her makeup or hair done - a crying shame because it's REALLY needed - and it's why this mom stays out of most Christmas photos.  Like many families, if not most, we have our bumps that go on during the night and I don't mean Santa landing in the chimney. (Was that comment just a bit too corny?)  But we have great traditions as well - or so I try to tell myself.  (Hang in here, folks. There is a story and a point here, a picture of our life as well as the ME/CFS and fibro factor!  And ER visits! Promise!  Read on, my brave lovelies!) 

For the last 28 years - or thereabouts - we've bought our Christmas trees from a certain tree farm run by "Granma". (Here comes a CFS/fibro tip: try to get your tree delivered if you can't handle going out.)  Granma had to have been 80 years old when we first "discovered" her.  Or perhaps we felt as if she were 80 since hubs and I were still in our early 30's.  When the kids were growing up - and even in adulthood when they've been around - we'd all head out in August or September and go up and down the hills looking for a suitable Christmas tree, always a blue spruce.

When the perfect tree was found - and yes, after more than a few arguments along the way, none of which were ever tree-related - we'd tag it with our name and come December 10 (our preferred date) the tree would be delivered to our house, already mounted in the stand.  Understand the "we" part started to not include me after a few years, but that's OK since I'm not one who has ever loved walking up hills and down into dales. (Flashbacks of my many summers in 1-2 months-long camps and way too many hikes!  Help!  Agh!)  As for the years when we couldn't do the tree hunt?  Well, granma had about 10-years worth of trees she had a eye on for our family. 

This year, however, insurance got the best of Granma's place and they couldn't deliver their trees to their customers' homes.  So hubs and daughter had to get the tree themselves, driving up the steep hills during a snow fall.  Hearing them try to lug the thing into the house, as well as "place" it, made me "run" back to my bat cave: I really wasn't up for the keystone cops routine.  And my hands were itching: oh boy...I sooo wanted to do the job but couldn't.  (Lordy!  I so hope that this getting-of-Christmas-trees-on-our-own doesn't become a tradition!  We're too old to start now.) 

The TV stations started revving up for the holidays and (too) many specials were on, when not too long ago the TV happened to be turned to the Country Music Awards. I semi-heard a funny song as it was ending and hit "record" and then ignored the show, going alone with whatever I was doing.  But a few days later I found the guys singing the song who'd caught my ear. I'd never heard of "Duck Dynasty" and still have not learned anything about them.... Pretend there's a transition here, please.  My brain is blanking!

I find the hardest part of Christmas to be not just that I can't cook and bake like I used to. Like so many of you, I literally cooked and baked for at least a week before Christmas Eve (Russian/Ukie foods and traditions) and Christmas Day (American/Catholic/West/Italian foods and traditions) in order to get everything ready for those two dinners.  But what's been harder to take?  Gone are the days when the entire family would be home for Christmas. 

Somehow we always "officially" started our Christmas season by stringing the lights to Elvis' Christmas album. And it's always Elvis, to the point where I've forgotten how many times we've had to replace the album because of wear.  By the time "Blue Christmas" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" came on, I'd start to dance with the boys, camping it up, no matter how much they "hated" it.  And trust me, there were years where they hated it alright, but played along.  The one year, however, I forgot to put on the album and started stringing lights without first dancing with the boys?  They were outraged and hurt. Typical, right?

But getting back to this year and being in some sort of redneck karma, debt and gratitude.  With ER visit #1 of these last couple months, I had to drive myself to the hospital.  Getting out of the car was tricky not only because I had the mother of migraines, but the parking space was too small, combined with lugging out my bag and cane.  I stumbled against the trunk of the car and was righting myself when a guy came running over, yelling to his two women friends that "this nyice laady fell!  We need a wheelchair!"  I kept trying to reassure him that I was OK, but he insisted on half-carrying me to the ER, demanding a wheelchair and that I be seen immediately.  No one was going to argue with my knight-in-redneck armor.  Thank God!

Then with the ER visit #3 and the pancreatitis, I had to take a cab home.

Understand, you really don't want to take a cab in our town and, to be truthful, I was nervous.  After all, the one time I'd taken a cab, it felt like the tiny circus car where clown after clown keeps getting out and the audience wonders how so many people can fit in the tiny car.  Well, I was the 6th person in that cab - yes, that's sixth - and the only one not smoking! 

Hallelujah, this time I lucked out in being solo in the cab.  And the best part was that my cabbie was so nice, especially appreciated after the treatment by the ER staff.  (See the unbelievable "attitude/bully," which, hard to believe, is not the pancreatitis one.)  He was just so mellow and yet got the message across that if I wanted to talk, that was OK, if I wanted silence, that was OK as well.  That day I really needed someone who thought I was, sick, sane and not a drug seeker.  (Because really, they were the insane ones, practically accusing me of being a drug seeker when my blood work clearly showed pancreatitis!)  When I later told my daughter about the "knight" and how the man had practically carried me into the ER, she said, "Yep, mom.  Rednecks are the best!  They're REAL!"  Real nice and mannered in my book, which goes a long way.  

And so my Christmas song for the year: Hairy Christmas.  (I think that those on mobile devices need to hit the highlighted link to see the video.)

"So hunt you down a Christmas tree/
Thank God mama's cooking is free/
Round up your redneck family...."

How perfect?  A hunted-down Christmas tree is a tradition.  OK, so it's daddy's cooking that's free these days, but I'm in there somewhere too - or so I hope.  And we're going to round up as many redneck family members as possible - hoping that I can manage Christmas at the dining room table and not in my bed....all while hoping that next Christmas we'll have more Redneck family members to be rounded up. <wink, wink!>  In the meanwhile, enjoy my Christmas-song-for-this-year performance! 

As always, I hope everyone's doing their very best - only better!  Ciao and paka.

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1 comment:

  1. I love the style. But as a girl I love to wear stylish fashionable dresses on Christmas like short white dresses . I also love the stylish accessories for my Christmas outfit. It will be so stunning this time .