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Christmas Memories, Part Three: The Darker Side of the Holidays

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The Gift of Receiving

By Jan Kendall St. Cyr

The week before Christmas one year, I was busily shopping, baking, and organizing the food for our family celebrations. I pridefully took on this momentous task, rejecting all offers of help from my family.

I awoke the next day with flu-like symptoms and a gnawing pain in my lower abdomen and had no choice but to put the Christmas preparations aside and go back to bed.

Two days later, my symptoms worsened and I feared an infection had set in.

Feeling very weak and frustrated, I finally went to the doctor. Having had infections like this in the past, I self-diagnosed that a round of antibiotics would soon have me feeling better, enabling me to get on with my Christmas tasks.

After a few tests were run, the doctor kindly put his hand on my arm and said, “Although you have symptoms, there is no infection.”

Shocked, I tearfully asked, “So you are not going to give me a prescription?”

“No,” he replied. My heart sank. “I believe that what you are experiencing is a result of stress. Your body is violently reacting to an emotional overload. My advice would be to figure out where the stress is coming from and then find ways to let it go.”

Dejected, I returned home and to my bed.

Not yet heeding the doctor’s advice, I struggled to finish my preparations, again rejecting any offers of help.

By Christmas Eve, I was too sick to participate in any festivities and spent the holiday in bed.

Missing Christmas became the painful catalyst I needed to make some necessary changes. I had experienced a couple of traumas that definitely had a hand in my current situation, but what really stood out apart from everything else was my inability to ask for or receive help! As one who loves to give, my self-worth had been determined by doing everything myself.

I further learned that giving and receiving are actually equal parts of the same equation. You cannot have one without the other. So by refusing the gift of help, I was actually rejecting the giver and making myself sick in the process!

I began practicing the wise admonition that tells us, “Many hands make light work.” And as a result, my body healed.

Christmas now is the most wonderful time of the year and I am so grateful that I’ve learned to accept the valuable gift of receiving!

Not Everyone Has Good Memories

By Anonymous

Not everyone has candy cane sugar Christmas memories.

We would go every Christmas out to my grandparents’ house. They lived three and a half hours northwest of Winnipeg, and they raised me until I was nine.

What I remember of Christmas was always being excited to go to my grandparents’ house. This was Christmas for me.

But I also remember something else. You see, my stepdad would always go out drinking the night before, and in the morning we would go for that three-and-a-half-hour drive. See, he wasn’t a happy drunk, so I had that to look forward to every year. Mom and I would have to wait until he was passed out, then load the car and carry him into the back seat.

Then off we would go, at about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., after Mom had cleaned herself up and the fear had subsided. That went on every Christmas until I was 16 and I could do something about my mom not being scared.

So that’s my candy cane Christmas memory.

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