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Cancer: Simplicity at Christmas
December 14, 2016 – Kim Johnson

Cancer: Simplicity at Christmas

Relearning the meaning of the season after cancer
PUBLISHED December 14, 2016
Kim is a nursing student who is hoping to find her place amongst the phenomenal oncology nurses and doctors who cared for her sister. She loves reading, volunteering and enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.
Everybody experiences the holidays just a little differently, and in so many ways and they can be incredibly draining. The baking, cooking, shopping and wrapping can certainly wear all of us down. That can be significantly increased when cancer enters that holiday bubble. I am not advising skipping Christmas by any means, nor am I advising that you forgo traditions. No, I am simply saying that it may be time to take a step back and re-evaluate what the season means to all of us.

With cancer in our lives for several holiday seasons, it was hard to maintain what we had once considered to be normal. The amount of baking and chocolate-making that was once done was cut in half because there simply wasn’t time with so many appointments on the schedule. When it came to shopping, my sister was unable to do so because of her low immunity, and online shopping become a far larger part of gift buying for all of us.

The holiday season consists of many traditions, and while some had to be altered, we did our best to maintain most of them. In some ways, the rest fell to the wayside out of necessity. But as we prep for our first Christmas post-cancer, I feel less obligated to do what I once did. It has caused me to reconsider why we did those things and how this year can be different: a simpler Christmas with more emphasis on tradition, family and friends, and less on all the rest.

This year, it is because I feel that I have a new perspective when approaching the holidays. While yes, I will make cookies from scratch for family, when it comes to those that I give away- store bought and homemade frostings will do. It is not that I do not care enough to bake them, it comes down to the fact that others don’t care. What is important is that you think and care enough to remember those you give to. It is about expectations. In so many ways, we have far higher expectations for ourselves than those around us have for us.

Many words are associated in our minds with this time of year, such as joy, happiness and festivities. My take is that if acts are not simple and fun, don’t do them. Make a choice to set aside all the stress and guilt for a more peaceful and practical holiday season this year. I think cancer has changed a lot in my life and in my family’s life. It certainly forced us to prioritize what was most important, and Christmas was no different. While I am so grateful that cancer isn’t a part of Christmas this year, I will most certainly be trying to hold on to the simplicity that was brought to our Christmases during my sister’s cancer journey.
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