I had been ‘brewing’ this post for a while, then yesterday morning I turned over my calendar to December (a little late!) and this was the inspirational quote of the month.
I took it as a sign that I should definitely get my post written up. Then, early yesterday evening, our Prime Minister announced that our country’s Covid situation meant that the 5 day relaxation of rules had to be reduced to one day, and that some areas were not allowed to meet other households at all. I began to doubt whether this post was appropriate, given that so many people were upset and angry that their plans had to be cancelled or changed. (Luckily it didn’t affect us, as we already had to self isolate due to me hopefully going into hospital shortly after Christmas.) However, it is still something that was important to me, so I am tentatively putting it out there.
This year has been tough for everyone in different ways. For me, it has been hard due to health issues as well as the pandemic. Back in June, when I was told that my lymphoma had not gone, I was devastated. I found it really hard to be positive about anything and even though I knew I wanted to be thankful for things, I just couldn’t find them. That feeling continued when my second round of treatment failed. I kept trying to feel grateful, but I never quite got there. However, recently I have been able to achieve that, and I feel so much happier for it.
Despite the challenges of this year, I have so much to be thankful for. I couldn’t possibly remember them all, but here are just a few things.
- My home, and within it my family-we have spent much more time together this year then ever before. It’s not been all perfect, what with having to live on top of each other for months on end with no breaks or space, but there have been some wonderful times together.
- The family who I don’t live with, who have checked in on me with messages, cards and calls, and who I have also sent cards and messages to at difficult times.
- My friends-though I have not seen many people this year for any length of time, we have shared some lovely moments. Zoom calls, letters and messages, brief doorstep visits and a proper catch up during the short lull in Covid cases in September. I’ve also been lucky that so many people have shown me support even if not able to physically be there, with thoughtful little gifts and notes to show they are thinking of us.
- My children’s school, who have been very understanding about our situation. For example, when we had to isolate for two weeks prior to my stem cell harvesting, they sent home everything the children needed and provided online support.
- My son’s football manager, who dropped by with a selection box for him yesterday as he had to miss his final football training session of the year so that we could isolate. A lovely gesture that made my son very happy!
- My medical team, who even with the pressures of a pandemic have pushed for my treatment to continue. When there was a problem with my covid swab and the results weren’t back when I was meant to start treatment in September, one nurse rang up the processing lab and ensured that I was able to start. They sent me spare dressings for my Hickman line so that I could pop them over the top of mine if it peeled off, thus avoiding me needing to go into hospital between essential appointments. The list goes on, but they have certainly worked hard and looked after me as well as they can.
- A friend from church, who surprised me this morning by bringing round a Christmas card and some biscuits. She also told me I am still on the prayer list, another thing I really appreciate.
- My neighbours-our socially distanced evening chats in the summer when watering the plants really helped to break up the isolation of lockdown, and now it is winter we still chat, though more on Facebook Messenger than in person! When we have had to stay at home prior to and during some of my treatments, one neighbour has fetched treats for the children and left them on the doorstep, which was really kind and certainly made them happy.
- The place where I live-I will never again take for granted being able to go out and walk around our village and places nearby after not being allowed out for 3 months during shielding. There was one point where I didn’t know when I would next be able to walk down the street, so now each morning when I take the children to school I appreciate that freedom even more. Although we are (like everywhere) not safe from Covid, it is at least possible to social distance from others in a way that might be far harder in a large town or city.
- My hobbies, because without being able to create things I am almost certain I would have gone insane during these periods of isolation. Actually being able to produce things meant I still had a focus.
Every day, I remind myself of these things. I am not sure at precisely what point I learned to be genuinely grateful and think about my blessings, but I feel very different now I have achieved that. It has almost helped me to build resilience to setbacks and help me to see things more positively-I hope that I can keep it up. Even if I have to allow myself some ‘grumpy’ time to process the not so nice things, I know I am capable of picking myself up. If I take nothing else from this year, I will at least have developed gratitude. I guess the point of this post isn’t just to say what I have done, but to show that even if things feel really rubbish right now it is worth looking for some positives and trying to find some things to be grateful for (the small things count too, even the tiniest thing is a good place to start!)
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, however you’re spending it, and that even if your plans have been disrupted you can find a small glimmer of something to be thankful for. To finish off, I’ll leave you with a photo of our Christmas cake which is topped with my family in penguin form (we each made our own!)