Does Breast Cancer Change The Holidays?

English: A Christmas Tree at Home

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I feel the giddy anticipation of a wide-eyed child as I take in the aroma of my fresh-cut Frasier fir and watch the mesmerizing dance of a hundreds of twinkling colored lights. Why is it, then, that I just can’t seem to get in the spirit this year?

I seem to have hit a minor rough patch on the holiday road. I know that part of it is the sadness I always feel when my brother and his family pull out of the driveway after our annual Thanksgiving visit to head home to Florida. As I get older, I really feel the pain of separation more. There are some things that only those who’ve known you forever can comprehend. Inside jokes, family dirt, and a truly warped sense of humor that not even a spouse can relate to. I’m in my happy place when my brother is with me.

Usually, though, I perk right up when I realize that the festivities of Christmas are right around the corner. I have enough distraction with the decorating and the shopping to forget any momentary sadness I feel when the relatives leave. Right now, though, I just have kind of an odd sense of emptiness. Perhaps the events of this past year have made me unable to appreciate the superficial things like I used to. Family has become everything, and I feel their absence acutely.

I’ve been making plans these past few weeks. As some of you know, I’ve been toying with the idea of finally opening a chiropractic office. As I sit and look at my 5 year-old daughter tonight, I have major second thoughts. She is so little and so precious, and these days will fly by. Before I know it, she’ll be wanting to spend all her time with friends and snuggling with mom will be ancient history.

There’s a big part of me saying that I need to slow down and savor these moments on so many levels. It seems that I’m always running in my life. Running late, running toward the next goal, running to an appointment. I’m constantly behind and feeling pressured to do it all. I never just stop to enjoy the moment and truly live in the present tense.

Nobody is guaranteed a long life, but those of us who have survived cancer must learn to see time as a gift. I may live another 40 years or I may live 5. There is no crystal ball to tell me, and I’m not sure I’d want to know anyway. I do know that if I had only 5 years left, I wouldn’t look back and wish I had spent more time starting a business or attracting new clients. I would wish that I had listened to that little nagging voice telling me to run outside in the sun barefoot and bake gingerbread men and play dress-up with a little girl who will savor those memories for a lifetime.