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Enjoy the Holidays, Especially When Living Alone with MS

By Mary Pettigrew

Here we go again. It’s the holiday season. First of all, can you believe the holidays are already here? Wow! What a year this has been. I’ll say it once more: Here we go again, yeah? For some people, the holidays may be better this year. For some it will be indifferent or worse. We all need to take care of ourselves and do our best to get through the seasons with or without friends and family. Prepandemic, I’ve found my way to get through the holidays with good health, good thoughts, and feeling and spreading good cheer all around. Whether you live with family or are alone, what are you doing this year? 

I live alone. I’m quite happy living alone. Even when it comes to holidays, I enjoy them, but still, I happily live alone. I’ve been the decorating and cooking queen for years, so “been there done that.” Who knows what this year holds? I didn’t decorate last year because of fatigue issues, but I do have a couple of prelit topiaries I placed on each side of the fireplace. At least that was something. I may do the same thing this year because it’s a simple placement and plugin.

It will depend on my energy and my mood, especially because I live alone. I always tell people I’m alone, but I’m not lonely. This catch phrase happens to be true for me. I’m happily married to myself. I have friends and family nearby. I also have friends and family worldwide thanks to social media and Zoom. Therefore, I’m never alone, unless I want to be. I’ve spent the last few years celebrating holidays by myself and, to be honest, I’ve loved it. Stress and anxiety and other triggers can be lessened and I always realize my family and friend still love me. 

Do what makes you happy this year and this year end. Do or do not do what brings you cheer, joy, and relief. Whether it be cooking, shopping, or decorating – or not. Just do you.

Here’s how I plan to enjoy the holidays: 
  • Prepare early.
  • Prep family recipes early and freeze them if possible. If you’re not holding family at your house, then freeze items and deliver entrees early.  
  • Decorate early. Ask for help, especially ask for help putting things away. This is huge. I love decorating, but taking things down is exhausting.

Tell your family how much you love them if you have to miss out. The actual holidays and events can bring along unwanted stress. Ask them if a smaller ‘get together’ is possible before or after Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever holiday you celebrate. If not, then discuss other options.

When we live alone with MS it can be depressing, but it does not have to be. There are a lot of us who live alone and can still enjoy the holidays in our own way. Find out who else is alone and set up a Zoom call or FaceTime to celebrate.  Remember, you’re not alone. 
  • What brings you joy? 
  • Set boundaries. What can you handle? 
  • If you can’t cook, then order something online or from a local store to be delivered. 
  • Ask for help when needed.
  • Say “no” when needed.
  • Do something for yourself. 
  • Gift yourself something special.
When it comes to shopping, don’t, unless you like to. Personally, I like to buy gift cards and be done with it all in one fell swoop.

Whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, do you and set boundaries.

Here’s the bottom line. We have MS and our symptoms or fatigue will set in without notice. No matter how much we rest, MS is unpredictable and that is what we need to remember. We can plan and plan and plan, but make sure you have a backup plan when things fall short of what’s originally intended. Remember, our friends and family love us no matter what. That’s the most important thing we must remember. We’re not at fault, we have MS.