It may look a little different this season…

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe we’re already stepping into the holiday season. It’s bizarre to think that this year is almost over. I think many will be glad to see its end, as 2020 has for sure brought so many changes and ups and downs. In what has become a most unconventional year, the holidays may rightfully look a little different too. But that’s not to say that they will have any less meaning or celebration. This holiday season may just have a uniqueness unlike years before.

In this context, different doesn’t have to mean non-existent or absent. Maybe it means just having to tweak or modify the way the holidays are celebrated. It may not be the same nature of holidays past, especially with large gatherings and mingling. But you can still connect, still rejoice, and reflect. I always believed this time of year held special beliefs and a bit of magic. That does not have to change.

So instead of large family gatherings with everyone being in the same place at once, maybe celebrations are broken down into smaller groups at a time—much smaller groups. Weather permitting, maybe dinners and activities are held outdoors this year. And heaters and fire pits can be used in chillier climates, unless MS heat sensitivity is an issue, then the colder temps may be welcome. There’s also the possibility to find community traditions and events still being held in your area this season too. Again, with some changes, but still bringing a sense of festivity and merriment for this time of year.

Virtual connection remains a strong, ongoing theme of 2020, and throughout the holidays it will be more important than ever for many. Still being able to talk to and see one another, even if miles apart, will help keep holiday spirits alive. Whether it’s having virtual game nights and mealtimes, watching holiday movies or reading/telling stories to one another. The holidays can still create happiness and cheer. Especially after what this year has brought. Not celebrating the season would be an added sting that we don’t deserve. Staying connected through the holiday season is what’s going to keep beliefs strong, and joy possible.

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Home for the Holidays

Guys, it’s November. Um, what?!

I can’t believe we are already in the month of November. It seems like just yesterday we were in the month of March, and the entire country was quarantining. Now here we are in November with the country opened up a little bit more, and we have officially entered into the holiday season. So, now that most of us will be home for the holidays, let’s talk about Continue reading

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Nurturing Relationships After Holiday Gatherings

By Stacie Prada

Family relationships are hard. I look back at decades of immediate and extended family holiday gatherings, and I notice what has changed and what seems like a given. Long-held disconnects or resentments lie beneath the surface and feel ready to erupt at any moment.

Consider as mere mortals, it’s rare to be perfect in these moments. I’ve left family gatherings spending huge amounts of time thinking about Continue reading

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Starting New Holiday Traditions

Ah, the holidays. It feels like they came around mighty fast this year—even quicker than years past in my opinion. My husband and I will spend this holiday season in a new home and with that comes the possibilities of new holiday traditions. I look back fondly with love and joy at traditions my family engaged in this time of year. I want to re-create those meaningful and festive times and also create new memories for years to come. Well, let’s just say that’s always my intention.

One tradition my family carried out when we were young was Continue reading

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Genuine Gratitude

As the leaves change colors and fall off the trees and the temperatures drop, most of us cannot help but think of what makes us grateful. Gratitude does seem to go hand and hand with turkey and mashed potatoes and all the other holiday traditions. According to dictionary.com, gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Being part of the chronic illness community, I feel this is one of the loveliest qualities we possess and need to hold onto.

A Genuine Feeling

Gratitude outshines all other emotions. So much so that when you experience it, your smile and eyes shine with genuineness. Hopefully everyone has experienced this feeling at some point in their lives. Close your eyes and imagine one time when you were so thankful and genuinely happy. You may have smiled so hard that your cheeks had gone numb from being so overwhelmed from your love and joy. That moment may have been so touching that even still to this current moment, you cannot come up with the appropriate words to express your thankfulness or gratitude.

Daily Gratitude

I would like to think that most of us experience gratitude daily in even the simplest of things. Some of my daily moments of gratitude are from my dog Lacie, my nephews and family, and when someone holds the door for me. When that happens, I light up and will very excitedly yell ‘thank you!’ out of my appreciation for them and their small act. That moment will usually make my day, and the person may never even understand why I shouted thank you so quickly, but I hope they do.

Tracking Your Gratitude

If you wanted to, you could keep a little journal to help track and find what you are grateful for. In the morning you could write down one or more things you are grateful for or how you will make today great. You could even include a positive affirmation. During your nighttime routine you can write down a good deed or two that you did that day or even some great experiences you had. Of course, you can mix and match or find even more ideas online for doing a gratitude journal if it is something that interests you.

I wish you all the happiest and warmest of holiday seasons to you and your loved ones.

About Me

*waves* Hi MS community, my name is Kelly and I am an intern at the MSAA for the fall semester. I’ll be graduating in the spring with my Associates degree in Human Services. I’ve been disabled now for about 13 years, since I was 17 years old. I am a type 1 Diabetic, and have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum, plus a few other diseases. I use a walker or cane daily. My hobbies include advocating for the disabled, playing video games, and lounging with my dog.

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Holiday Assistance

The holidays can be a magical time of year. There’s a different feeling in the air—of wonder and joy, that feels unique compared to any other time of year. Though the season can evoke much happiness and excitement, it may also create stress and challenging expectations for some. Financial stressors and limitations can be especially difficult this time of year.

Holiday celebrations can symbolize something different to each person. Special traditions and pastimes may not center around gifts or feasts. The holidays can be what you make of them. But it’s important to know that for those who may need a little extra help in carrying out their holiday activities, there are resources available to help.

  • Salvation Army
    • Offers seasonal services and holiday assistance programs to help families in need with holiday dinners, toys, and clothing.
  • The United Way
    • Provides information and referrals for holiday assistance programs in the community.
  • Toys for Tots Program
    • Distributes new, unwrapped toys during the holidays to children in need through community outreach and support efforts.
  • Catholic Charities Services
    • This group and other local religious organizations may offer seasonal assistance based on location. Contact groups directly to inquire of services available.
  • Lions Club organizations may also have holiday assistance programs available in the community.
  • County department offices of family/social services may have additional holiday assistance and resources.
  • Local schools in the community may know of holiday assistance programs for families.
  • Community food banks may also be able to offer holiday assistance programs in the area during the season.

Many community assistance programs have specific application deadlines and requirements in order to receive holiday assistance by a certain time. Be sure to reach out to the resources to see what’s available in your area and how to apply.

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The Stillness of Christmas

By Alene Brennan

In the midst of the holidays, with all of the shopping, decorating and parties, there is a moment when all is well. A moment when the chaos quiets and I am reminded of the true meaning of the Christmas holiday. It’s a moment that I’ve treasured since childhood and now living with MS, I treasure it even more.

It arrives Continue reading

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Holiday Hope and Faith in Humanity

"Seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing." Holiday Hope and Faith in HumanityThis is a quote from one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies, The Santa Clause. When I heard the quote again this week watching the movie for the millionth time, it got me thinking. What does this really mean? For purposes of the movie plot they’re talking about it in terms of jolly old St. Nicholas and the happenings at the North Pole. But I started to think Continue reading

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Some Extra Holiday Help

The holidays can be a joyous time of celebration and cheer. But they can also be stressful and challenging. When it comes to expectations of what should be done throughout the holiday season, financial limitations can be especially difficult. For those who could use some extra holiday help Continue reading

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It’s beginning to look a lot like…the most stressful time of the year

Wow, I can’t believe its November already! I don’t know where this year has gone, but its end is quickly approaching and with it, the holiday season. Any time of year can be hectic and stressful. For many, the holidays bring an added helping of overload and chaos a lot of the time. While some are able to focus on Continue reading

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