Going Away for Christmas

This week Joan Jordan reflects on Christmas and why she has decided to spend this festive period with her family away from home.

“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. But the very next day, you gave it away…..”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that! You don’t need to thank me for planting that song in your brain for the rest of the day. See, I love Christmas but alas, Christmas does not love me.

Let’s start over.

Last Christmas, I suggested to my husband and kids that we go away for the festive period. It was like I had told them that Mr Tayto was an axe-murderer! “But we always stay home for Christmas!” “How will Santa know where we are?” “But we will miss one of a million events here!”

There is a lot of effort involved in Christmas. My son was born on the 29th, so just when you should be hitting that dip in the middle, we are singing “Happy Birthday” and trying to find somewhere to rent a party room. He has never had a bouncy castle (scarred for life he is!).

At the start of December

The disabled parking spaces tend to be all filled and the shops are as packed as the Luas at rush hour. People would give Conor Mc Greggor a run for his money as they fight over the last pack of mince pies. It’s especially no fun if you have MS. People are impatient with me at the till as I fumble with loyalty cards and bag packing (here is an idea, “why not offer to help if someone is obviously struggling? You will get home faster that way”). If they refuse, it’s on them but it can diffuse a stressful situation.

Planning for Christmas 2019

So, this year, something magical happened! The seed I had planted in 2018 started to take on roots. It is much more common for people to go away for Christmas these days and conversations started about when and where. We spoke to a few people we know who had previously been away for the big day and how they found it. We told our families and friends early of our intentions so they could get used to the idea and not include us in planned events.

I want to share an excellent blog by my dear friend Zoe Bradley about the practicalities of travelling abroad with MS but that it not what this piece is about. It’s about telling you that I honestly felt like a breeze block had been lifted from my chest when the decision was made in our house to go away for Christmas.

I want to do EVERYTHING at Christmas. I love it. I am the #GrinchOpposite. The thing is, my MS prevents me from doing everything I want to do. I over commit and let people down because I can’t fit all the fun in with the fatigue monster on my back. I get cross at myself because I can’t be Rachel Allen and whip up a Christmas feast without failing miserably and collapsing in a heap of non-crunchy roast potatoes and a turkey drier than the Sahara Desert. Thank goodness Gordon Ramsey turned down my invitation for dinner!

So, this year, we are heading away for the festive period. We are all on board and very excited. Santa has been informed. I will let you know how it goes. I’m hoping for a less stressful time, but time will tell. Christmas Darling, “It’s not you, it’s me” and something must change.

Do you have any coping strategies for the Christmas whirlwind while living with MS?

Wishing you and your loved ones a splendid festive period- whether you are home or away!

Further reading