It’s here: December. The month of merriment, where folks expect you to be holly-jolly all the time. And yet, as a part of the cancer community, it can be much harder than that. We are observing holidays and traditions without those that we’ve lost. We’re ringing in the new year, and we thought things would be different by now. We may be approached with that all-too-common question “how are you doing?” by our great Uncle Malcolm who just does not get it.
Dear reader, I want you to know that I am right there with you. While I can’t be there, sipping eggnog and conspiring an exit plan with you, I have a few things to suggest that have helped me in the past with feeling pockets of comfort and maybe even seasonal joy.
Eat: One of my personal heroes, Glennon Doyle, talks about carrying a mug of something warm at family functions as some kind of shield. I like her thinking: you can use it as a convenient excuse (“I’m going to go refresh my tea!”) or hold it with both hands so you don’t *accidentally* slap someone who asks why you’re eating dessert since sugar feeds cancer.
In this spirit, I challenge you to perfect your hot chocolate. The Spruce Eats came up with a great collection of different recipes, ranging from the global tradition of Mexican hot cocoa to making a big batch in a crockpot. I take mine with a candy cane to swirl, or maybe a square of dark chocolate melting at the bottom. Not into hot chocolate? Consider a steamer: milk of your choice, flavored just the way you want it. You can use a milk frother if you have one, or consider this easy recipe which calls for shaking a jar with hot milk inside to build the foam.
See: One of my favorite things to do is to walk around and look at the Christmas lights in my neighborhood. While this might be out of the energy range for some of us, there are other accessible options. One of the few good things to emerge during the pandemic is the concept of drive-through light shows. Give it a quick google and see if there are some near you, recruit some safe contacts if you want, and hop in the car. It’s even more fun when you make an event of it: bring some cozy blankets in the car and a thermos full of something warm to drink. If you’re staying home at the moment, take some time to watch some amazing lights coordinated with music. There’s this one featuring The Weeknd, and a throwback to 2015 that was featured on an ABC television show.
Do: Being invited left and right to in-person and digital events? Plan for some downtime, and treat it like a serious commitment. If you use a calendar, schedule it just as you would another appointment. When folks ask you to do something, tell them the truth: you’re busy. And you are! Busy caring for yourself. Set the boundary that your downtime is sacred, instead of using it as a flexible time that you must offer to others. My formula is that for every one big event I go to, I need two days of rest after. It’s how I conserve my spoons this time of year.
Cancer fam: I see you this holiday season, and I understand. As your Friday correspondent, please know that I care not for the opinions of the others around you, I care about you. Go ahead, say no. Disappoint someone. Put yourself and your rest first. And if you do, and want to share that with me, send me an email: email@example.com. I’d love to hear about it and cheer you on.
Have a great, chocolatey, shiny, deep breath of a weekend!