Christmas is a busy time of year for most people, but it can bring unique challenges to those of us who have moderate to severe RA and are disabled. Society tends to demand that we participate and be jolly and merry, but for some all is not merry and bright. In fact I’ve read some dismal posts online from fellow RA’ers who are spending Christmas alone because they have been left out, left behind, or just can’t make a commitment to Christmas festivities due to physical inability. Others are so inundated with impossible tasks they are sure Christmas will be a disaster because they know they can’t perform to the expectations they have in previous years as the matriarchs or patriarchs of their families. Loss of income and inability to physically shop have stressed many who look at a bare Christmas tree skirt that in years past were spilling over with gifts for loved ones. It can be a challenge for some who have lost so much to feel like there is anything to celebrate.
If you find yourself among those who are less than happy about the holidays, let me assure you that you do have reason to have hope. Commercialism has turned Christmas into a shopping holiday and has left behind the true meaning. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ! God loved us so much he gave his only son to us to walk among us, live like us, to understand us, and then to die for us to forgive our sins. Even if you don’t have a single gift under the tree or don’t have a tree at all, you have the greatest gift that was ever given to man, Christ. I would challenge you if you are spending Christmas alone to pull out your Bible and read the first few chapters of the book of Luke which details the birth of Christ. If you don’t have a Bible, you can read it online at https://www.bible.com/bible/1/luk.2.kjv As you read the first chapters of Luke, it will become clear to you what the true meaning of Christmas is and it’s not the tree, the gifts, parties, or dinners. It’s about recognizing the day a Savior was born into the world for you and for me; the greatest gift of all.
As a nurse, I worked many holidays. Sick people needing hospital care don’t get to go home for Christmas. So I’ve seen the gambit of human emotion and response to being ill during Christmas-time, but none touched me more than a Stage IV breast cancer patient who was told that she should give up and go home and get her house in order. She more than any of the rest of the patients on my ward had a right to be angry, bitter, and down but she sat and crocheted scarves on her numb and tingling fingers ruined with neuropathy, a side effect of the chemotherapy she was receiving. She refused to give up. She never stopped smiling even when her body was broken with disease. Chemo had taken all her hair, even her eye lashes and eye brows, but her face glowed with an inner light. She didn’t fret over being in the hospital at Christmas, instead she had praise for the Lord on her lips for being alive at all. She listened to Christmas Carols and even had a miniature tree on her bedside table. Every nurse got a scarf that Christmas with a “God bless you”. As alone as she was in the world that Christmas, in the hospital, she never complained. Her family was out of town celebrating with other family members and there she was all alone, getting poison infused in her veins. She did not despair. She was fighting to live with everything she had. You just knew when you were in her presence that she was blessed and you were blessed for having met her! She knew the true meaning of Christmas!
Attitude has a lot to do with improving or worsening your current situation. I don’t feel that great myself. My body has rejected one biological agent after another over the last four years. My body hurts every day. I live on a income that is below poverty level and I can’t afford nice presents for others, but I am rich in that I know I can share the greatest gift of all with others. If you find yourself alone this Christmas, feeling down, as if you can’t go on another day, feeling that no one understands or cares how you feel let me tell you that God knows how you feel. Accept the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, and you will never be forsaken, forgotten, or unloved. God wants you to accept His perfect gift. Will you?