Chronic illness can make the holidays complicated. Here's why I'm letting go of holiday expectations this Christmas and spending it at home.

Why I’m Letting Go of Expectations This Christmas

As a child, Christmas was such a magical time.

The lights, the celebrations, the gifts (let’s be honest, who wasn’t giddy to rip open their packages each year?). Everywhere you looked, every store you entered, there were signs, sounds and smells – OH THE SMELLS – of the season.

On Christmas morning our family had a rule that we weren’t allowed to wake our parents before 7…or 8? I can’t remember. But we were allowed to check our stockings. And if they were full at the time we woke up, we could open them.

I’m the eldest of four siblings – two brothers and a sister. Somehow I was usually the first one up each and every Christmas morning. Maybe it was the excitement, or perhaps the ultra-deep-vein of being the eldest and feeling it was somehow my responsibility to be up first for the holiday. 😉

Whatever the reason, I was the first one up. I don’t know how my parents managed to peel themselves out of bed in the middle of the night, but I learned there was a sweet spot for the “sock drop”. Typically after 4 am I could guarantee they’d be ready.

Reading that now I’m thinking I was officially a crazy child who was way too serious about this stocking business…

Anyway, because of my stocking-craze, it became tradition that I would wake up all of the other kids so we could dig into our stockings together. To this day, it’s one of my favorite memories from growing up with my brothers and sister.

The Christmas lights would gently warm up the living room as we opened our stocking gifts before the sun came up. We’d survey what everyone else got, guess what our gifts were under the tree and eat candy before breakfast was even a thought in the day.

It was simple, but it was special.

Christmas remains one of my favorite times of the year, but it certainly doesn’t feel the same as it did when I was a child. Life happens, chronic illness happens, traumatic moments interfere with the childlike glow that surrounds the season.

And celebrating the holiday with chronic illness, in spite of very real limitations, pain, a long list of treatment and therapies can be…complicated. Draining.

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Simply put: the holidays are hard.

Nearly every major holiday I have pushed myself to celebrate in ways that are more than difficult for this body. Partly for myself, perhaps an even bigger part being that I love our families. And I know they want to celebrate with us. So I’ve gone to restaurants, their homes, had visitors and I’ve loved and cherished being able to have that time with them.

But this year, I’m celebrating with just Trev.

We have very little planned outside of a simple, easy meal at home and perhaps getting out to see some Christmas lights. A Christmas movie and a lack of plans honestly sound perfect for this bod.

It was a hard decision to make, but it’s something we decided we needed this year. I’ve made it through another year of fighting for my life and it feels well deserved to have a quiet holiday with my love.

We will miss our families, yes. We will hope for future holidays with a healthier Kami and lots of celebration, always.

But our reality right now? It’s that I’m very sick.

However normal and healthy I look on the outside, we live with the moment to moment truth that my body is not my own. That every bit of “extra” I put into my day has an effect on my health and ability to function, and it can interfere with treatment.

This life isn’t easy, whether you’re sick or not. And learning to respect our boundaries is a hard lesson to learn. Step by baby step, I’m trying. To find a balance and to do so in love. Learning to give of myself, yet not be unfairly swayed by others requests. (I’m the sick one, after all). And to find freedom in caring for myself first, so that I can then care best for others.

You are worth caring for, my friend. Your needs are important. And your health and wellness can be a priority.

Whether it’s shortening the time you spend outside of the house, picking up something pre-made to take to the potluck, or skipping an event altogether – I’m here in your corner. Reminding you it’s OKAY.

Christmas will still be here, however changed it may be. And I pray you feel the warmth of the season somehow, wherever you are this year.

If you’re reading this and struggling with how to make it through the holiday weekend with chronic illness, some of my fellow bloggers shared some great advice in this post a few weeks ago. Be sure to check it out!

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12 comments

  1. Clodagh says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post, it is so relatable. I think I’m opting for the same kind of low key relaxing Christmas. Hope you have a lovely Christmas. As always thank you for inspiring me with your words.

    • Kami says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Clodagh. As much as family will be missed, the relief of no expectations can bring a sense of calm. Thanks for reading and encouraging. Hoping you have a wonderful Christmas!

  2. Danby miller says:

    Thank you for your sweet post. It’s Christmas morning and I’m
    partly ready for worship. I wouldn’t have made it this far without heavy planning and weeks back preparation. I’m so tired right now, I believe I could sleep round the clock. I’m going to make it, but I will have to have serious recovery time. Everyone is aware of my illness but it is at the back of their minds. I’m happy about that. I know some day it will be at the front. God bless and Merry Christmas.

    • Kami says:

      Thank you for reading and leaving this comment, Danby. Yes, it sure does take us a ton of effort and planning for even the basic of events/tasks. I hope you were able to enjoy the morning service and am thinking of you as you recover this week. Wishing you a Happy New Year as the next holiday approaches! Big hugs. xo

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