Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Wish

Christmas Wish
Originally uploaded by katzeye

Christmas Wish: Pneumonia for Christmas

What did you get for Christmas? Warm and fragrant gingerbread men? New Toys? Sweaters?

I got pneumonia for Christmas.

It’s not the first time. The first time I got pneumonia for Christmas, it was so bad that I was unable to do ANYTHING. I was sucked into feverish delirium each day around 3 PM, and before that, it was feverish coughing and lying around like a pale rag doll with half the stuffing missing.

When I was not delirious, I worried that there would be no Christmas without me. I had four kids and needed to get busy creating Christmas for them. That Christmas, my daughter, who was just a girl at the time, pretty much took over and did all my wrapping and quite a few other Christmas chores.

Somehow Christmas happened even with my minimal feeble attempts. I was amazed at my daughter and amazed that it happened and on schedule, and no one was disappointed.

That was about 18 years ago. Since then, I have enjoyed many Christmases without pneumonia. I’ve had some occasional colds, but nothing to knock me off track entirely. Up until this Christmas, that is.

Let me begin with here I am and go back in time a bit. Where I am presently is mostly stopped. Mostly coughing as if my lungs themselves have gone bad and must be eradicated. Not much else. I sit around and cough, that seems to be what I am good for these days. Last week was even worse. I did attend some family events and sat like a lump, just trying to survive and breathe.

The week before that, I knew it was coming, so I was mostly slowed down.

The week before that, I started to feel like I was coming down with something, so I ran around even faster to try to get stuff done before I was no longer able to.

The weeks before that I was burning the candle at both ends, working a lot, too much. I knew I was working too much. Six days a week until midnight or 1 AM sometimes. But I felt impervious. I had had a run of many years of pretty good health, so, perhaps I could just keep meeting deadlines and catch up on sleep when I could.

So, I was running around, working long hours, not getting enough sleep, not getting enough exercise, and thinking of myself as practically infallible and strong like some kind of super hero.

Pride goeth before the fall. And the bigger the pride, the more one is so involved in doing and doing, the greater the fall.

So, all Christmas preparations on my part, came to a halt, along with dishes and laundry. My focus became just getting through another night with, hopefully, a few little naps in between coughing-up-a-lung episodes.

I had a Christmas Grid that I had made for my desktop. It was so fantastic because, at a glance, I could see what still needed to be done. And there were still a lot of things that needed to be done.


I thought that I was strong enough, if I just do a lot of vitamin C, and fluids, and stuff, that in a couple of days, I could be off and running again, and to the store to get ingredients for Christmas cookies. YES! I would be back in action in no time, just you watch and see.

But I was wrong. And I was still being prideful, and committing hubris. I needed to let go and surrender to pneumonia. I had to pry my fingers, one by one, from their tight grip on my Christmas Grid.

I had to surrender and watch Christmas happen all around me.

Ordinarily, I have a pretty good idea about what I am getting for Christmas, but this time, I had no clue. And really, there was only one thing that I wanted for Christmas, and that was to breathe through the night, and during the day, and, if it were possible for one more thing, to be able to have my health restored.

That’s all.

Pneumonia for Christmas was very humbling for me some 18 years ago. I must have remembered that lesson for 17 years. I guess it was time for a strong reminder of a few things. For instance, Christmas, and life, is not about running around and doing so many things that there is no time to breathe. It’s not about being perpetually busy.

If one gets too busy to breathe, one might get pneumonia and suddenly not be so busy and not be able to breathe.

Christmas, and life, is about giving the best gifts, time with loved ones, savoring moments that will become memories, listening to one another, caring for one another.

Hurriedness will squeeze the life out of, well, life.

I knew that.

I guess I just forgot.

I will admit, that in my stage of being slowed down, I found some peace in what I could do. I broke out the watercolors and did a painting as a Christmas gift. I knitted some scarves for people. One can still be useful, even when holding still. And there is a great deal of peace to be found in such quiet activities.

So, for next Christmas, who wants a scarf? Who wants a watercolor? I will be building in time for quiet things even if I am fully capable of running about like a crazed creator-of-Christmas, a title that I cannot assume in any case. Whatsoever.