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A Very Merry Christmas in the Slow Lane Part II

Christmas is here/Bringing good cheer/To young and old/Meek and the bold/Ding dong ding dong/That is their song/With joyful ring/All caroling. – “Carol of the Bells,” Mykola Leontovych

I love the season of holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Since I’ve gotten COPD, though, it’s changed. This is part two of this series. Part one talked about what I and my family no longer do. This article talks about what we can do and how we make it a very merry Christmas living in the slow lane. For those readers who celebrate a different holiday, I hope these two articles will still help you.

Through the years/We all will be together/If the Fates allow (allow)/Hang a shining star/Upon the highest bough/And have yourself/A merry little Christmas now. – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” High Martin and Ralph Blane

We have realized that being together, the three of us, is one of the best gifts we have. We’re lucky all year long that we have each other to love. When our extended families can be together during the holidays we are even happier. Family is a broad term and means different things to different people. For us, family also includes good friends we’ve gathered around us.

The feeling of people we love sharing in a celebration is one of the best there is.

There’s a happy feeling/Nothing in the world can buy/When they pass around the coffee/And the pumpkin pie/It’ll nearly be like a picture print/By Currier and Ives. – “Sleigh Ride,” Leroy Anderson, composition; Mitchell Parish, lyrics

Other part of the holidays we love are all the festive decorations everywhere, the baking together, and the good food we eat together. The colored lights and the white lights add a beautiful glow to the night, and with the sun setting so early in the winter, this happy glow keeps the day going just a little bit longer. We love all of the trimmed trees with bright ornaments. We love the wreaths hung up on our doors, welcoming people. We love the red ribbons and the wrapping paper and the nutcrackers and the music boxes. It’s a birthday party that lasts a month.

We also love baking together and cooking together. There are a few treats that we make every year, including one passed down from my great-grandmother who was Swiss. It’s these comfort foods and the fun of making them that give us wonderful memories throughout our lives. And what is life but memories? Baking can also be pretty inexpensive and food is a great gift. It is also something we can do a little bit at a time, to fit in when we are feeling well.

And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy/Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time/But say a prayer and pray for the other ones/At Christmas time it’s hard but while you’re having fun/There’s a world outside your window and it’s a world of dread and fear. – “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure

We have learned that it means a lot to give to others. I mean beyond giving your friends presents.

Every year we donate to a food drive and when we can we sponsor a child through a giving program. If you can donate cash to a good charity or non-profit such as the COPD Foundation, it will feel good. Or if you could donate time and do whatever you can do for a local charity, that will feel good too.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… – Unknown

Yeah, right. The song’s “true love” was much more generous than most of us can be. Way more generous. And where exactly do you find lords a’leaping, anyway? Do they advertise?

Anyway, this year we held a family meeting and told my 14 year old son that his Christmas gifts would be few to none. His reaction? “That’s okay. I have everything I need. More than I need.” Yes, I am very lucky to have him. We all decided to make this season a more simple one of self-reflection and family rather than lots of stuff.

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander/And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees/When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur/And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze/Then sings my soul… – “How Great Thou Art,” Carl Gustav Boberg

If you’ve read my prior articles and seen my photos, you would guess that nature is very important to me, and one of the things I love best. The Earth is a wonder. During this time of year when a lot of the vegetation is hibernating, waiting for spring, and the northern birds are migrating through to their warmer southern destination, I feel the Earth resting. And I know that I don’t have to be busy this time of year. I know I can slow down and it will still be perfect.

I know it’s a good time, especially with New Year’s, to think about myself and my life and what I can or want to change.

Silent night/holy night/all is calm/all is bright. – “Silent Night,” Franz Xaver Gruber, composition; Joseph Morh, lyrics

Which brings me to this. Before I got sick I would go out to the barn around midnight on Christmas Eve and just sit with our rabbits, sheep, chickens, and geese. At first it was a joke to see if the animals really did speak at midnight like the folk tale, but then I liked it so much I started doing it every year. Because all of the animals we had were so quiet and so calm and peaceful they made me feel quiet and calm and peaceful. I could feel that, away from all the noise and the toys and the celebrations.

We no longer have all the animals and I can’t walk as far as the barn anymore, so nowadays I sit for a short while on the porch. In the country, it is still very quiet and peaceful and I can still take this magical time just for me and my thoughts.

If you are Christian, your thoughts would probably turn to the birth of Christ and all it means to you. If you are not Christian, your thoughts might turn to your life, your memories, your hopes. Carve out some quiet time for yourself; it is really worth it, especially for us COPD patients.

In conclusion I want to leave you with these song lyrics. I could not have said it better myself. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

So here’s my lifelong wish/My grown up Christmas list/Not for myself/But for a world in need…No more lives torn apart/That wars would never start/And time would heal all hearts/And everyone would have a friend/And right would always win/And love would never end. – “My Grown Up Christmas List,” Amy Grant

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.