By John Aubin
Christmas is a marathon. Although it is a time where people go out of their way to get together with friends and family, generally speaking that time is short. Everyone stresses to squeeze as much as they can out of it, and it can be exhausting. The holiday season with my clan is no exception. We are lucky.
Both of my parents, as well as Amy’s parents, live in the same town as us. This saves us from the bartering that many young families deal with. We don’t have to deal with alternating years with each other’s families or anything of that nature. Both sets of grandparents are afforded opportunities to spoil my daughter — and myself. I have managed a system where I eat Christmas dinner with both families, netting me two turkey dinners in one day!
The downside is that it leads to tons of running around. We will spend our Christmas shuttling back and forth between the two houses. It is literally a three-minute drive between our families, but with all the back and forth, you can’t help be feel that you are spending more of the day on the road than you are at a destination. Still, I would not have it any other way, because in my mind, Christmas is about making the effort to be with those you care for. You might be exhausted at the end of it, but it’s worth it.
It gets harder when you have a family member who is fighting cancer. What doesn’t? But the great thing about our Christmas routine is it is largely unchanged. Sure there are differences; Amy may need a nap during between the “morning rush” and Christmas dinner (dinners!), but the essence of what we do — and who we spend Christmas with — has stayed the same. In fact, I cannot think of anything we did at Christmas before Amy got sick that we cannot do now when she is fighting cancer.
That might not sound like a big deal, but trust me, its huge! Cancer has taken a lot from my family. We do everything differently than we used to. We plan for our future differently than we used to. Our very relationship we each other is drastically different than it used to be because cancer is involved. But Christmas is still about watching an excited child opening presents on Christmas morning, it’s still being with family, it is still me having a turkey dinner with the in-laws (and then having another one with my parents!). We may have slowed down a little bit, but that’s ok. We still have the staples of what I consider a Merry Christmas.
I think it is important to note that the biggest changes my family has faced in the Christmas season have little nothing to do with cancer. My daughter continues to get older (much to my dismay), and that changes the way we celebrate. Amy has changed her religion, and technically, she doesn’t even celebrate Christmas any more. For me this is not much of a factor though. I am not pious, While I understand it may be for some, religion has never been a big part of the holidays for me. As long as we have family and friends in the holiday season, we have something to celebrate that cancer cannot take from us. And the fact that cancer cannot take it away is yet another reason to celebrate.
Being a supporter of someone with any serious illness is about finding the good in situations. For me Christmas is as good as it gets.