Ten Years of Christmases
When I awoke December 25, 2000, everything in my life was at its best, or so I thought. I was the magical age of 45…that place in the continuum where respectable adults can still wear the fringe of unbridled youth, or at least hope to…try to. I celebrated the first year of the millennium with gusto. Great gusto. And, so I celebrated that Christmas, as reverently as ever but without a care in the world.
In a few hours from now, I will joyously celebrate Christmas, with no less enthusiasm and excitement than I did Christmas of 2000. However, Christmas 2010 is framed very differently, washed in a patina that only God’s grace can create. It’s a fabulously rich patina that I could not have fashioned myself, or quite frankly, even imagined.
The finish on the frame that surrounds my life today reflects the signs of a cancer diagnosis that came only hours after Christmas of 2000. The disease was treated swiftly and successfully by those who are the world’s best. The frame has the pockmarks of depression, anxiety, weight loss, weight gain, financial uncertainty, isolation and abandonment….many long-held so-called “friendships” vanished. Those dents and bruises don’t make a story worth telling. All of that stuff confronts most cancer survivors, and for many survivors, there’s even more of the nasty aftermath and in doses worse than my own experience.
Over the past ten Christmases, I have been in healthy cancer rehabilitation. I think of my rehab as my 50,000 mile tune-up. In every facet of my life, it has given me the chance to start over and live a better, happier, more fulfilling and more productive life. I did have to choose the path; while it sits there right in front of you, it does not come to you. I was able to accomplish it with three gifts: my family, my God and the spiritual re-birth He provided me, and the teachings and writings about my disease and its thereafter.
Three gifts. A coincidental parallel to the Christmas story? Not at all. What we are offered each Christmas is the promise of a new and prosperous life, if we choose it. Early on, I found that surviving cancer is not much different a pathway than the one of seeking spiritual renewal. Call me a Pollyanna, if you like. Whether I had lived these full ten years since my diagnosis or only ten days, I ultimately would have been at the same place in the end. The ways and means to overcome the disease are there for our choosing from the moment we are told we have cancer.
I love, love, love the Christmas season. I always have. I think because I enter it mindfully, I get the most enjoyment from it.
I hope you enjoy this season of renewal and carry it with you throughout the year as the framework for your own rehabilitation.
Merry Christmas! Now, where’s that wine for my Christmas toast? I still have a party or two ahead of me!