DECEMBER 26, 2019
Christmas almost felt normal this year for one fleeting moment… as my family gathered to sing the “first” verse of Silent Night that my great-grandfather wrote decades ago, before sharing the ever-stunning array of festive Christmas cookies my great aunt makes, including personalized stockings for each of the grandchildren and great-children generations. We held hands as I looked around the dimly lit, fully decorated room at the faces of my aunts, uncles, cousins — beautiful souls who have all been so loving, so present, so generous of spirit all throughout my recovery journey, maintaining hope for a gentle hug at our treasured annual Christmas at my grandma’s house, yet never once pressuring me to push myself toward something either my body or brain were not yet able to do comfortably.
While Christmas Day had its highs and lows in terms of health, anxiety and stress, the time with my family was a gift, though sadly followed by more blood loss, extreme dehydration, an excruciating headache and the mustering of every ounce of strength I have to not return to the ER for a third time this week. Still, nothing could put a damper on our beloved Christmas tradition, elders rejoicing in seeing little ones running about, cousins chit chatting away as if not a day had passed, exchanging the most thoughtful of gifts (for me: organic, reusable goodness to support healing), sharing mashed vegan foods I prepared (and non-mashed foods by/for others!) and, of course, my favorite part of the evening: caroling and cookie-ing.
I marveled at, though couldn’t eat, my sugar cookie this Christmas, because I still can’t bite into anything, but that somehow felt like a jolt of normalcy — as I haven’t been able to eat my cookie in well over a decade, since becoming gluten intolerant. Yet my family still makes it for me every single year, loving and accepting me for exactly who I always have been. And my family still made it for me this year, loving and accepting me for exactly who I am now. And I love them back, more than ever.