Holiday Tradition and Family – To All, Good Night.

By Lauren Kovacs

Another MS enemy can be dealing with holiday traditions and family. Keep some, ditch some, and create some. MS is a big nasty gift. Pick through the mess for things you like.

When our kids were young, matching Christmas Eve PJs were a must. News flash, teens boys don’t like that. I still buy matching ones, but they probably won’t wear them. I enjoy getting a good picture, even if I have to take 20 to get one where they don’t look like I am pouring acid on them. I am surprised their eyeballs don’t roll away.

Our poor dog plays Santa. That is a tradition that no dog escapes. The wildlife won’t have glittery poop this year, as no reindeer food will be made. Reindeer food is no longer valid. The deer are happy about that. Our Santa Bear that served as “Elf on Shelf” for years prior to the creation of that creepy elf, is on sabbatical now. Some traditions weed themselves out.

We do Christmas on Christmas Day. The night before is church and anti-pasta. The boys used to wake at 4am, but now we have to drag sleepy teens out of bed before I need my nap. MS folks take our mid-day nap very seriously.

Family is family. Go with the flow, but resting is important. Don’t let holiday cheer stop you. Rest. It is our “to me, from me” gift. Ok, one of them. Rest is essential when dealing with over-stimulation. Drama, sights, and sounds add to our fatigue. Take refuge, if need be. If in my own house, my closet is my safe space.

If you need a nap, take one. Don’t think you will sleep well at night because you are holiday tired. Your brain might want to digest family drama at 2am. Rest when you can. Find a quiet, dark spot. Use earplugs, listen to soothing music, smell some lavender oil or whatever. Block over-stimulation and drama.

Plan ahead for your own personal comfort. If you know the basement is dark and quiet, make sure to bring warm clothes or a blanket. Often just being alone without stimulation can help.

Transitions and family may not fit into our MS puzzle. Just taking care of you and your needs is worth offending someone. You need to function for your life.

If sleeping is needed before you fight the Black Friday crazies, rest. If eating mince-meat pie is your thing (gross), do it. Have one treat with gluten. Just one, not 12. The holidays are for you, too.

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The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit or call (800) 532-7667.

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