Dear Christmas Malady
So we here we are and as I write this I have a pounding headache, I’m oh so tired and my muscles ache… Basically I’m suffering from a seasonal condition called C.A.D… Christmas Affective Disorder…
Every where I go, I meet people who are similarly afflicted – sniffing and croaking and bravely battling against Christmas maladies, afflictions, conditions, illnesses, or what ever label you choose to stick on them…
So this is Sickmas and what have we done to deserve this disease? Why is this when now should be the time to rest and rejoice and yet our bodies rebel and implode instead?
So many Christmases I have spent with a box of tissues by my elbow, with antibiotics, paracetamol and a ready cupboard full of medicines, that I wonder what provokes this, and why it is such a part of the common Christmas experience of so many fellow sufferers..?
Could it be the mystery of the change of season? Winter comes in, bringing chill and ice and fog… does it permeate the bodies of creatures – even human ones, who should slow down and find a form of hibernation, instead of speeding and shopping and labouring and living too hard for the time of year?
Without realising it, thinking we are modern and hardy and masters of the planet, we are still prone to the time of year… so as the seasons slow, so should we too?? In many ways we do… I have endless conversations with female friends about how the cold and dark inspire us to stay indoors more; to love the cosiness of winter clothes – to retreat to our caves until the spring sunshine beckons us outdoors again.
And it is as if we are attacked with illnesses – the viruses and germs coercing with nature to force us to slow down and lie down, swaddled in blankets – to take seasonal care of ourselves. It is as if our bodies allow the onslaught so that we store and nurture our energy for the new year to come.
Yet here is the thing… Christmas for so many of us means to speed up, to run around, to work at playing… To travel; to shovel food and drink of Christmas excess into our bodies… To please, to chatter, to try, to cook, to wrap, to run, to share, to please…
And ‘to please’ turns to disease… Otherwise known as dis-ease – an unbalance, a causal effect wreaked on our systems, as we humans ignore nature’s balance. Yet as earth’s children and creatures we must survive – we cannot stop completely, we must keep the wheels of the world turning and feed the body; and so in our 20th Century brains, we would not reckon on being slaves to the rhythms of season and solstice.
Yet our ancestors knew. Our pagan parents knew when the solstice turned the tide towards longer and lighter days; and this feasting time began back then – not as the Mass of Christ, but a feast of celebration for the end of the dark winter era; of moving back towards the light, of quickening and growth and the start of a new cycle of seasons…
And our bodies still have this history imprinted in them – we respond to moon and weather – whether consciously or not, and so Sickmas is a reminder of this natural fact.
And could Christmas, itself, make us sick?? Could it be that all this expectation and energy expended into a seasonal and universal mass celebration turns in on itself and attacks us when we are wintered down?
Or is it simply that we know that there is a ‘slow’ (time) coming, that we can be ill and therefore still, and so let the latent stress and illness that has been lurking and kept at bay by busyness, creep out into the open, presenting itself to be healed and cosseted and given its’ due attention?
I believe that it is all of these things and that the knowing or not, probably does not make an iota of difference, quite literally to how we feel. That is the mystery of malady…
So the Solstice is turning now and as the lengthening day light calls us to a new year, let’s choose comfort and healing and cosiness, choose them over the rat race and speed and effort and electric light.
And in accepting and surrendering to this so called seasonal ‘suffering’, most of all, let’s accept ourselves and not dwell with the devil of disease, but simply be, and to simply let our hearts accept the message that the season and our bodies are telling us… that it is time to slow and to heal and most of all to love… as well as to celebrate.
Yours with sweet surrender
PS: To admit to a Christmas Cliché – the published version of my Peachey Letters will make you feel better and be a perfect present too, ALL year round… A collection of the Letters from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, into book form. It makes the perfect present, for you, family and friends… You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), and from all good book websites around the world…