The frost glitters on the sharp needles of green firs; the winter sun ignites the sky, flushing its cool countenance with the sizzling tint of ginger. My apartment is snug, warmed by the heat of the oven, the ruby lights on the tree and tiny flames quivering from the tea lights. The mild scent of cinnamon and cloves rises from the mulled wine warming on the stove. The faint aromas of gingerbread and cranberry dance in the air. It is quiet, the roads bare, a rare stillness found in the wake of the winter solstice.
The dark days of wintertime are brilliantly lit with the spectral glow of festive lights; people are more relaxed, cheerful and generous. RA has also been generous, giving me more challenges to face in the dark bitter days, lighting up my joints like the crimson bulbs on the tree – but the coming of the winter solstice will change all that. The days will lengthen and the light will gradually return. Following the wild rush of holiday preparations comes this bout of lazy days – it’s a peaceful time when families and friends gather, work stops for a little while and I can clean up, catch up, and put RA to rest.
The days are winding down sealed with the battles, failures, victories and success of another year living with chronic illness. I won’t find my presents under the tree this year. My gifts are not tangible, they are wrapped in the vibrant ribbons of my soul – determination, hope, strength and perseverance. They are born in the awareness that each day is a gift, no matter how bad my struggles. They are found in the wreath of our universe – the blue skies, the great oceans, the fertile trees, in friends and family, and the fearless inspiration brewing in the amazing people with whom I’ve connected.
My wish is that everyone have time to savour lovely moments with friends, family and self, to appreciate today and find courage for tomorrow. I can’t change the past or predict the future. I can’t worry about tomorrow. It is a season to be grateful for what I have accomplished, to welcome the coming of a new year and look forward to new miracles lingering on the horizon.
I won’t let RA stop me from enjoying the holidays. My family will come and fill the vacant space between the walls with love; for one peaceful day I will peel off the husk of inflammation, and temporarily step out of the relentless role of chronic illness and just be a host, a daughter, a sister, and a spouse. Every year I learn something new about how RA reacts with me and how I react to it. My seasonal gifts will be unwrapped in the light of my own magic and will blossom in the fervent glow of hope the New Year will bring.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy season, warmed with the shimmer of life’s hidden gems.