Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Snow Village

Hubby’s paternal grandmother took up ceramics as a hobby later in life and made things for the grandkids. Now that we have a house and room to store and display such things, the boxes were finally moved out of storage. I was really impressed by how well everything has held up- this snow village hasn’t seen the light of day in at least 13 years. I glued the Bakery sign back up and we lost some of the clear “lights” from the centre tree, but overall it’s nothing that a little glue won’t fix.


Candy Shop and Toy Store (I couldn’t get a good pic, but there is a kneeling child with snowballs behind the lamppost):


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If there is anything that causes me to resent my rheumatoid arthritis, it is the impact that it has on my holiday activities. Travelling means special planning to transport my prescriptions, extra-warm clothing, packing my arthritis gloves and (literally) weighing my heating mitts against the extra costs for heavier luggage. For the second year in a row holiday cards are hit-or-miss and handwritten notes are kept simple because it is difficult for me to write neatly with a pen.  We have a large number of birthdays around the holidays in our respective families, and many gifts are being lumped together this year rather than gifted separately as we have done in the past. Children will have gifts, but adults get gifts cards (as much in recognition of the current state of the economy as any lack of imagination on my part). And, really, it is the changes in gift-giving that hurt most.

I love giving gifts. I work hard to find good matches- things that will delight and surprise. The past few years I focused on handmade gifts, and while it was always a lot of work it was also deeply satisfying. That just wasn’t an option this year, and I feel the lack.

In my family, moreover, gift-wrapping is an art in and of itself. With six of us in the family, the days leading up to Christmas involved locked rooms and whispered consultations as we worked together to wrap gifts for whomever was excluded from the room. Paper and bow,¬† ribbon and tag, were all carefully considered and were crucial parts of the final product. Tags often had cryptic hints, and the final shape of the wrapping rarely had to do with the shape of the item inside it. I remember my father wrapping a belt for my grandfather, which became a festive snake with a forked ribbon tongue that slithered out of a deceptively normal-looking box. A well-wrapped gift was an issue of pride, and it hurts that wrapping gifts isn’t the joy for me that it once was.

A wrapped gifts shaped like a t-shirt.

Thinking ahead, I may try holiday cookie gifts next year. Out of the all the holiday traditions, this is one I’ve never actually done. In past years I have made custom soaps, jewellery, tree ornaments, even flavoured chocolates (and what a lot of work *that* was!), but never holiday cookies. I have to resist the temptation to pick up tins when they go on sale after the holiday- we will hopefully be moving into a house in the coming year and I don’t need to haul along a lot of empty tins. But planning ahead helps compensate, at least a little bit, for what I feel I missed this year.

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M is for Migraine

Hopefully, you won’t see me write much here about migraines. Thanks to careful management I experience migraines much less often than I used to, and the right treatment now minimizes the impact they have on my ability to function. Unfortunately, I haven’t shaken them entirely, and today I’ve been flirting with one most of the day.

Any day that I wake up with a stiff neck I know to start watching for migraine signs. Sometimes a sore neck is enough to trigger a migraine all by itself, but I’ve found ways to minimize the chance. A year or so ago I bought an ergonomic pillow- one of the wavy “memory foam” ones. This has been a huge help in avoiding neck stiffness. I’ve found, though, that the memory foam needs to “rest” for a couple days every once in a while, or else it gets too soft. It may just be that it’s time to get a new one- I haven’t decided yet.

Gentle stretches in the morning can help get past any neck stiffness, but if a headache persists I know that I need to take steps. I’ve had to adjust the progressive treatment for my migraines to work around other medications, and some things don’t work as well as they used to, so there’s still some guessing involved. At one end of the spectrum is food and light caffeine, in the middle is Ibuprofen and a decongestant, and at the far end is Treximet (with other steps in-between). I’m managing my migraines well enough now that I only need to resort to Treximet once every three months or so (which is a good thing since it’s so darn expensive).

Today was a borderline day. Sometimes light exercise will help, other times it can make things worse. I was hoping for the first and ended up with the second. Unfortunately, I am sensitive to artificial scents at the best of times- when I’m skirting a migraine they’re a killer. The gym at our apartment complex went a little overboard with the holiday cinnamon scent today, and my head was pounding almost as soon as I walked in the door. I stayed on the treadmill for my minimum (20 minutes or 1.25 miles, whichever comes first) and then got out. The cool air outside helped immensely and I took something as soon as I got home. I’m really annoyed that I felt well enough to work out but still couldn’t do much due to headache and air freshener.

And, really, this is a terrible time of year if you are sensitive to smells in any way. A combination of allergies, asthma, and migraines make artificial scents pretty much a bad idea for me at any time. I skirt the perfume aisle and candle or bath shops just in case, but sometimes I’m caught by surprise. Twice in recent weeks someone went overboard with the air freshener in the restroom at work. The first time I ended up with a lungful and had a all-out asthma attack, scaring the daylights out of me and a few of my co-workers. I then had to go to a different part of the building to find a usable bathroom- it was a miserable experience, and rather embarrassing.

I’ve never really seen the point of artificially scenting your home. I remember how much I loved the smell of a school friend’s home, which always smelled like Indian spices and curry. Who would want to cover that up? I do like natural cinnamon scent, and baking or making hot mulled cider is my favourite way to fill the house with holiday scents. I’m not sure if I dislike artificial smells because I’m sensitive, or just because they seem unnecessary (maybe both).

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This is one of those weeks where I am struggling from event to event, just trying to get through. Work is ramping up for the end of the semester and the holidays are looming, so everyone is cramming in as much as they can. While I enjoy potlucks it compresses the rest of my workday, and what with staying up late to bake goodies I find my days getting longer and longer with very little downtime. The past few nights I’ve had trouble getting to sleep thanks to a busy head, so I wake grainy-eyed with a full-steam-ahead schedule staring at me.

This week also has the added excitement of Jury Duty on Thursday (my busiest day or the workweek, of course), and I will not know until after 5 pm today whether I will be called in or not. I am more than willing to serve, but the havoc it wrecks on my work schedule takes days of planning beforehand and catchup afterward, and the fact that it could all be very well moot if they don’t need me after all just adds to the frustration level. So this week I have been getting as much of my Thursday schedule out of the way as possible, plus arranging coverage for the meetings I normally run or participate in, just in case I won’t be there. It is also the department’s holiday dinner which is always a fun event, and I will be very sorry if I miss out. It would be more bearable if it was only this week, but next week will be the same but only moreso since it will be short workweek.

It makes me think of A Chronic Dose‘s article on “just make it work“. I feel that I have to do as much as possible while I can, because it needs to be done and I may not be able to do it next week. Or tomorrow. Or in a few hours. But it doesn’t stop me from feeling overwhelmed, and somewhat resentful that I am being asked to do so much, even while being fully aware that everyone else is going through the same schedule crunches and holiday obligations. Having this layer of illness on top of the regular holiday madness requires more planning and forethought than I can dredge up some days, when all I’d really like to do is crawl back into bed.

A few positive thoughts- my sinus infection is down to between a mild headcold and bad allergies. I am looking forward to driving down to visit my aunt and uncle for Thanksgiving- they have generously extended an invitation for the full weekend if we are so inclined, and their heated lap pool is incredibly tempting. The few gifts I have sorted out so far are wonderful and I can’t wait to present them. I have plans for holiday decorating and cards so that should not be overwhelming this year, and plane tickets to visit my parents have already been booked, so I can cross that off my list. After work today I will get a haircut (which always makes me feel better) and stop by the pharmacy before my personal training session. While I could really use the hour tonight, I know that I will feel better afterward and that it is good for me. I also ordered a snuggly robe for cooler days and for Christmas up north- I know folks are asking for gift ideas, but I really need it before then.

And, as hectic as the next few days will be, I can look forward to having a lazy weekend. Anything that gets me through the day.

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