Monday, December 7, 2009

A holly jolly perspective

I get it now. Christmas through the eyes of a child. And my child, at that!

This year, Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning...because there's a little miss somebody who is enjoying every minute of this holiday season.

It started with the Macy's Day Parade over Thanksgiving - I've never given a second thought to those big, oversized, floating characters on the TV. But watching Deirdre's eyes light up as the floats, balloons, and music kept coming, it was if I was watching the parade for the very first time.

And then the Christmas decorations in our house; I've never had such a captive audience! She loves the santas and the reindeer, the wreaths and the nativity. She thinks those caroler figurines are the coolest, and she can't keep her eyes away from the Advent calender (what could be behind tomorrow's door?) And what's great are the lessons she's teaching me (or at least offering gentle reminders) about what Christmas really means. Here are just a two examples of how I'm rediscovering the true meaning of the season, thanks to Deirdre's fresh, new perspective:

Baby Jesus and the Nativity - Okay, so I've put my wooden figurine nativity set out for years, but it's been a long time since I've taken the time to really contemplate the reality (and profundity) of the scene. I think I've explained the scene to Deirdre, oh, maybe about a dozen times now, and each time, I think to myself just how precious that little baby in the manager must have been. Not sure if Jesus napped as well as Deirdre does, or smiled as big and brightly as she does, but I'm sure he was just as much of an angel (literally and figuratively) as she is. And I know his mother loved him more than anything in the whole world. I know - I speak from experience.

Advent calendar - So we're 7 days into the month of December, and Deirdre's opened the first 6 doors on her wooden advent calendar. I actually received the calendar a few years back (thank you, Jen!), but it always just sat untouched for the season. Sure, it looked pretty out on display, but I never took the time to enjoy and celebrate every day leading up to Christmas. Not only am I appreciating each day that goes by (because we're ceremoniously opening up a door each day), but I'm reminded that it's not the size, quantity, or value of a gift - it's the thought, the surprise, the experience.

So far, we've "found" four goldfish crackers, a few teddy grahams, a sticker, and a total of 31 cents (Johnny's contribution) behind those magical, wondrous doors. The change went upstairs in her piggy bank (where she has a whopping 56 cents now), and while she doesn't have any idea of the value of that change, she couldn't have enjoyed anything more than dropping those coins into that bank. And you should see her face light up when she opens a door and finds 2, count 'em, 2 teddy grahams waiting for her. She actually giggles, and loves fishing them out with her little fingers.

So what do we have to show for our first week of Advent? Not a lot. But Deirdre couldn't be happier! Forget all of the "stuff" - Christmas is about watching those little eyes light up as she opens each door for the first time. Priceless, I tell you. But more than that, it's enlightening.

Enlightening to see things through her eyes. Enjoyable to see the appreciation she has for the little things. Invigorating to rediscover Christmas from her perspective.

This idea of seeking out and benefiting from the perspectives of others is a common theme throughout my book, Despite Lupus. Even though I resisted (vehemently) this concept, entertaining the opinions, suggestions, and concerns of others was a major breakthrough along my path to wellness. First - it was a sign that I no longer felt like my way was the only way. It wasn't so much that I thought I had all of the answers (although with a nickname like "The Godfather," that might not be too far from the truth), but I thought I had a responsibility to know all of the answers, or at least fake my way through. I thought this unpredictable, unmanageable, painful life with lupus was my burden alone - but I came to find out that there were a ton of people out there, waiting and wanting to help me figure it out. And they had some pretty ingenious ideas on how to make life more bearable. I just had to ask.

Two, I was able to step back from the disease, and look at my life in a more clear-headed, unbiased manner. Was I being unreasonable about the things I was asking my body to do? Was I ignoring signs that my body was sending me? What was I doing right? What could I do better? Contemplating life with lupus through someone else's eyes can only help- it may offer a much-needed wake up call, making you realize the pain and suffering you've become accustomed to really isn't acceptable, or it may reinforce the tough, life-altering decisions you're making.

"When you have as intense and intimate a relationship with a disease as you do, it’s difficult to make unbiased, unemotional decisions. You’re embroiled in the fight of your life, therefore compromising your impartiality. You’re too accustomed to the pain, the pills and the discomfort to know when “enough is enough.” It may be impossible for you to overcome your bias completely; after all, it is your body. Realize that at this point, you’re incapable of having an honest, objective point of view and acknowledge the missing link that those around you might provide. Considering another person’s perspective doesn’t obligate you to accept or adopt all aspects of his/her stance. Instead, entertaining that person’s viewpoint can enlighten, inform and encourage. At the very least, you’ll be equipped to form a better, more balanced perspective of your health. " ---Taken from "Despite Lupus", Chapter 5, Communicate Wisely

Thanks, Deirdre, for helping me rediscover what Christmas really means. Now let's go open door #7!

2 comments:

  1. I just love your excitement of the season with your daughter! It takes me back to when my daughter was small, she's 14 now and all grown up!
    I still haven't finished my book yet but as I laid in bed all weekend with the flu, reading "Despite Lupus" I decided I'd better take better care of myself! Although I try to lay down for a couple of hours a day, I am so guilty of closing my eyes and laying there while my mind goes crazy with all the other things that need to be done.....then I get up exhausted! I've made an appt. with a new doctor and hope our personalities mesh better. Although my current doctor is brilliant, he is also very good at making me feel stupid and insignificant. Thanks for all your great advice....I'm looking forward to more!

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  2. Marilyn - Sorry you've been down with the flu! And I know how your mind can race during nap time - I've gotten pretty good at filtering, quieting and "dumping" (as my girlfriend calls it), but I've been working at it for about 6 years now. No joke! Best wishes for your new doctor - crossing my fingers that he's smart AND amiable. That combo can be oh-so-hard to find. And thanks so much for your comments about the book. I really appreciate them - and I agree, you SHOULD take good care of yourself. No excuses! :)
    Happy holidays - Sara

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