Planning for Christmas when you or a loved one has a brain injury
So how do you start planning for Christmas when you or a loved one has a brain injury? The starting point may surprise some, but not Krysalis blogger, Anne Ricketts…
Anne Ricketts is the founder of Global Brain Injury Awareness (GBIA), a not-for-profit community interest company she launched after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in July 2000. GBIA aims to inform and support people in need after brain injury. Here Anne writes about the importance of planning at Christmas time, especially if you have a brain injury, but most importantly she urges ... have fun! Nobody will mind if things don't go quite right.
When you’ve lived for donkey's years without fully knowing who you are, things take on a new perspective, particularly at Christmas.
Priorities centre around joy rather than how much money is spent on someone.
I always remember both my neuropsychologist and my occupational therapist telling me they believed I had only survived as long as I did on my own because of my sense of humour.
I think, especially given the year we have all been through, that sometimes stress makes us forget just how important laughter is.
Life isn't about being serious – it is about being responsible, and once we have that covered, the rest should be fun.
We can fret about Christmas plans until the cows come home, but there is nothing like a good laugh over the burnt or still frozen Yorkshire Puddings or forgetting the cranberry sauce!
Who likes it anyway? Oh yes! I remember – Malc loves the stuff, but he has Alzheimer's, so hopefully he will forget if I forget!
So where does Christmas planning start?
It starts on the 'inside.' We have to think, visualise, and choose - and remember what worked in previous years and what didn't.
We have to plan, organise, set a budget, including other people and write lists – lots of them!
- Who do we want with us?
- Where will we all be?
- And what are we all going to eat?
I have to say that I am useless at all of the above! My memory doesn't work, and neither does my brain so pretty much anything I accomplish without error is not far short of a Christmas miracle.
For me, it is more about having ‘a smiley heart that makes a smiley face’ than it is about whether or not I remembered to buy the Christmas crackers.
Christmas is the perfect time for letting the inner child out and the more we do so, the less likely it is that we will inadvertently upset someone.
Our intentions are so much more important than many of us realise. If we fail to prioritise, then we will get caught up in the stress. When we let go, life jollies along.
High fun factor!
Planning for Christmas should be fun. We should allow ourselves a little giggle about the surprises we have up our sleeves.
We should be ready to let everything else go so that we are breathing and living the moment; undisturbed by all the 'what ifs' that rarely ever take place anyway.
I always flew by the seat of my pants before I fell on my head. What we often forget is that other people have a sense of humour, so why hold back?
Sometimes it feels as though the less we think, the better things turn out.
We always laugh at any disaster in hindsight, so why not just remind people to laugh now rather than later?
Half the time we put pressure on ourselves simply because we think we need to meet expectations. What would happen if we thought, 'People love me warts and all' instead?
Be the star! So what if you bought someone three presents instead of one because you were trying to plan and forgot?
Does it matter if it doesn't snow because shepherds were delighting at the red sky on Christmas Eve?
Whatever fears you have; they are just that – fears. Their existence is more to do with the way we think than their statistical possibility.
I know it is hard to see the light at the moment, but it is still there if we stop blocking it out. People may not be able to see what’s inside of you – but you know!
What matters is just this - we always have joy, we always have humour, and we always have love.
Joy doesn't cost anything and, if things are tight this year, use your imagination!
It’s the pleasure of Christmas that counts - and that can only ever start on the inside.
Anne Ricketts is the founder of Global Brain Injury Awareness (GBIA), a not-for-profit community interest company she launched after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in July 2000. GBIA aims to inform and support people in need after brain injury. More here: https://www.globalbia.org/