The holidays are a time for traditions, and those traditions often revolve around food. Everyone has their favorite treats. I spend all year looking forward to my mom’s French puffs that she bakes every Christmas morning without fail. The fresh-out-of-the-oven, melt-in-your-mouth cakes get rolled in melted butter and cinnamon sugar. They barely touch the serving platter before we all fight to finish them!
When a family is affected by cancer, practicing these traditions can become more complicated. Perhaps whoever typically does the lion’s share of the cooking isn’t well enough to do all the work this year. Maybe a family member is on a restricted diet or doesn’t have the same appetite. Whatever the reason, just as cancer changes many things about a family’s day-to-day life, it also changes how a family celebrates the holidays. It can be especially hard to cope since the holidays have sacred, longtime traditions associated with them.
Here are some strategies for thriving during this family-oriented season:
Crowdsource holiday dinners.
Whether you’re the one battling cancer or you have a loved one who is, life might be too hectic to single-handedly feed a crowd, even if that’s the tradition. Lean on your loved ones, ask for help, and accept help when offered. Try making this year a potluck and enjoy tasting everyone’s unique dishes! Aunt Susie’s pumpkin pie may not be quite as good as your usual recipe, but the extra time that accepting favors affords you will be well worth it for some added sanity.
Balance social time and solo time.
The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year. Events are fun, of course, but if your energy levels are low, you won’t be in a position to fully enjoy them. Attend the events that mean the most to you, but don’t feel bad about staying home when your body needs to rest and recuperate. Your health and body is the priority, so listen to your needs and respect them.
Take advantage of technology.
Too busy or tired to fight the crowds at the mall? Rely on online shopping this year for your gifts. Or, write your loved ones a touching note in lieu of gifts. If cancer prevents a family member from attending holiday events, use video communication apps like Skype or Facetime to let them share in the festivities.
Focus on what’s important.
Ultimately, the holidays are about spending time appreciating family. No matter what else is happening right now, use this time to take a few minutes to appreciate your loved ones and savor these special moments.
Kaitlyn Magnotte, Senior Student in the Lipscomb University Didactic Program in Dietetics